Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Game Poster Image

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag



Rich, epic, historical action game with very mature themes.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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. 


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.


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.


Strong language isn't heard frequently, but words including "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t" are spoken.


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.

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.

What's it about?

ASSASSIN'S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG continues the rich and historical narrative established by its predecessors but introduces new protagonists. As with previous Assassin's Creed games, it has two very distinct settings. One is the present, where players take control of a rookie researcher working for a game company in Montreal who explores the genetic memories of Desmond Miles, the modern-day protagonist of past games in the series. But the bulk of the game takes place in the past, within the genetic memories of Desmond's ancestor, Edward Kenway, who lived during the golden age of pirates in the Caribbean. Kenway was a privateer, a pirate, and an Assassin -- a member of an ancient order pledged to protect the freedom of humanity through the ages. As Kenway, players explore a massive open world in which they can take on missions that further the story, or they can choose to simply explore. Activities include sailing the seas, searching for treasure, hunting animals, melee-fighting on land, and epic ship-to-ship battling on the ocean. A multiplayer component pits assassin against assassin, with players trying to track down and identify one another in environments crowded with civilians.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about violence in media. Why do you think so many stories, regardless of format, include violence? What is its narrative significance? Does extreme violence have a valid place in works for more mature audiences? Does violence belong in any stories meant for children?

  • Families also can discuss history as it's portrayed in this game. What aspects of the golden age of pirates did the game get right? What did it get wrong? Do you think that the game glamorizes the pirate lifestyle?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Subjects:Hobbies: collecting
Social Studies: exploration, geography, historical figures
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: logic, solving puzzles, strategy
Available online?Not available online
Release date:October 29, 2013
ESRB rating:M for Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence

This review of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Inventive and enjoyable spatial puzzler with mild violence.
  • Uneven shooter blends tower defense tactics and fast action.
  • Exciting Indiana Jones-like action with lots of violence.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byBrady Branham November 10, 2013

Detailed and informational review of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Ok... First off, let me say that i personally believe that common sense is highly strict and untrue/dramatic about their reviews. In other words, i don't think that common sense is a reliable source to collect data from for games. So now, lets dive into the review! POSITIVE MESSAGES: This game doesn't have too many positive messages in it. The only i can think of is that his determination and his motivation is to support his wife/family. POSITIVE ROLE MODEL: Edward Kenway, the main protagonist in the sixth main Assassin's Creed game, or AC4 Black Flag, is not a great role model but at the same time is not a bad one at all. The main story, without giving any spoilers, is that Edward ventures out to go privateering to earn extra money to support his family and his wife. His ship ends up crashing and he sets out on an adventure to get home but winds up in a war between the pirates and other nations. So basically, he's not a great role model, but not at all a bad one. VIOLENCE: Ok. This game, as the title states, is a game about killing people, but again, Common Sense has again made this game sound COMPLETELY over the top violent, which its not. You play as a pirate and kill the people that are trying to take over the main pirate city, Nassau. You fight for your land and your freedom from the others. Very minimal amounts of blood is visible and yes you can hit people and shoot people, but there is NO GORE. No body parts/ limbs come off at all. So, I can see violence as a little issue, but definitely nothing even a 11 year old or so can handle. Also, you will get in trouble in the game for killing innocent people/civilians. SEX: There is honestly NO SEX IN THIS GAME! The game does show a man and woman in bed (Edward and his wife, Caroline) but a second after the scene starts Edward gets out of bed and he is fully clothed except no shirt and his wife is COMPLETELY covered and is actually fully clothed, so that is not a problem. LANGUAGE: There is minimal language in this game. I have played the whole game through and did most the side missions and I heard the F word like ONCE. I've heard s**t twice I believe but have not heard c**t, which common sense says is in the game, but I have not heard it yet. So really, if your kid is in 5th grade or higher the would have definitely heard these words before, so that's not particularly a problem. CONSUMERISM: All this game does, is advertise the other games in this series. Nothing bad at all :) DRINKING: This game is a pirate game as you have realized. The main source for money in the golden age of piracy was rum! In this game, you can go on ships to steal and get rum for money. The main portion of drinking in this game is at taverns throughout the game is you can buy shots of rum to drink. If you drink more than around five shots, you will get drunk and become intoxicated for a few minutes. In this game when you are drunk/intoxicated, you may have visions, you'll stumble around, and other things like that. This game does a great job to make drinking look bad because of it's outcomes. So yes it is a problem, but it does a great job to portray that the outcome of drinking too much is a dangerous and harmful fall. SAFETY AND PRIVACY: This game, like nearly every other game on the market, has multiplayer in it. You may hear other people cursing online, but if that is a major problem for your child, there are three easy solutions. 1. Mute the people who are being mean/innapropriate 2. Not let your child talk to others and turn off chat completely in multiplayer. 3. Don't let them do multiplayer at all. It's such a small portion of the game, and in my opinion, the weakest part, so they hopefully wont care at all. SIDE NOTES: This game is GREAT FOR LEARNING HISTORY!!! This game features real time periods, people, places, and events that happened in the golden age of piracy. It really is the game's strongest point. As in all the other games in this wonderful series, history is Assassin's Creed playground! VERDICT!: I believe this game is appropriate for 12 years and older. None of the parts in the game have a strong impact. You have to remember. Games were not created for learning! They were made to give people an opportunity to HAVE FUN!! So please, allow your child to get this game if he is 12 or up because it's not that bad! And believe me, it's one of the most fun and entertaining games I've ever played and that's what games were made for. This game completely blows expectations out of the water for entertainment! Have fun!
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator and Parent of a 12 year old Written byLDonegan November 1, 2013

Not that bad

This game is very great game, and I was impressed when I got it for my 12 year-old-son. He had been begging for it and I finally pre-ordered it when I saw gameplay videos from III. There is nothing too bad in this game, and anyone in middle school knows about the topics discussed in here (sex, drugs, etc). Children cuss everyday in my son's middle school on the bus especially, so that isn't a huge problem. Violence isn't that bad here, and if your son understands why killing in real life is seriously wrong, he won't pick up on it. Pause for 12 and under, but mostly on for anything above
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byMovie Nerd November 2, 2013

Not supporting

It ain't too bad in the beginning but contains something really surprisingly unacceptable for kids later.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?