Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- 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
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: October 29, 2013
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Pirates
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence
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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.