A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Although elements of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag focus on historical figures and strategic reasoning, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence and mature themes.
Morality is gray throughout this tale in which the cost of freedom and happiness is explored in both historical and modern settings. It touches on themes of responsibility and righteousness while glamorizing pirate-age violence.
Positive Role Models
The game's hero has light and dark sides. There are people he cares for and defends, but he also spends time as a pirate and privateer, ransacking and looting ships. He spends much of the game in combat and performing dangerous acrobatic and athletic feats that few people in the real world are trained or qualified to safely emulate.
Ease of Play
Tight and responsive controls, excellent maps and menus, and plenty of in-game instruction make this game pretty easy to get into, even for rookies. The difficulty of both melee combat and open ocean battles slowly ramps up, albeit at a pace roughly mirroring the growth of the player's skill.
Violence & Scariness
The player's character, viewed from a close third-person perspective, is an assassin who kills his human prey using hidden blades and swords. Primitive pistols and rifles are used as well. Red blood often gushes from wounds, and defeated foes cry out in pain. The camera sometimes shifts to provide a better angle of some kills, emphasizing the vicious nature of the attack. In addition to melee combat, the game shows cinematic sea battles wherein entire ships filled with crew quickly sink and disappear into the ocean.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex is implied to have taken place just prior to at least one scene, which begins with a man and a woman in bed together. Dialogue occasionally references prostitution and rape, with one character mentioning the "violation" of women.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Strong language isn't heard frequently, but words including "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t" are spoken.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
This game is part of Ubisoft's blockbuster and prolific Assassin's Creed franchise, which now has associated comics, toys, and even an upcoming film.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Beer and wine are present. Players can make their character imbibe alcohol, which compromises his vision and mimics real-world drunkenness.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a adult-oriented historical adventure filled with pirate warfare and melee fights. Players use knives and swords in bloody and brutal close-quarters combat while firing cannons and explosives to sink enemy ships loaded with crew. The game strives to accurately emulate many historical elements of the early 1700s and includes characters and locations modeled after those of the era, but its vicious combat, mature themes, and adult language make it suitable only for older players.
Is It Any Good?
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag stands apart from its predecessors in plenty of ways, but none more evident than its focus on sea-based exploration. Building on the terrific sea ship mechanics of Assassin's Creed III, nearly half the game is spent sailing around the Caribbean, exploring small islands, and getting into spectacular cannon battles with other boats. It's an exciting, visually sumptuous, and undeniably fresh way to approach both sandbox play and water-based combat. There's little else like it in the world of games.
Beyond the piratical element, the primary draw remains the series' rich storytelling and immersive, historically accurate world. Players get to explore virtual versions of cities including Havana, Kingston, and Nassau -- recreated using maps, images, and artifacts from the era -- and interact with historical figures such as Blackbeard and Anne Bonny, all while working through a complex and engaging story that seamlessly jumps between modern and historical eras and is filled with unexpected twists and turns. If you're a mature player with an interest in history, few games are likely to satisfy as much as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Games That Teach History
Learning Tools for Out-of-the-Box Thinkers
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate