It’s Official: Assassin’s Creed 4 Has Pirates

Warning! We’re including Assassin’s Creed 3 spoilers in this post, and speculating about Assassin’s Creed 4.

It seems Ubisoft learned something from Assassin’s Creed 3: namely that the nautical portions of the game were both its best ideas and its most criminally underdeveloped.

So when it comes to Assassin’s Creed 4, we’ll be seeing more of the high seas. Ubisoft announced today that the game is called Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the black flag being a pirate flag and the assassin being you.

Taking a look at the keyart Ubisoft shipped with this announcement (which is really all it is — the information that this piece of art exists and that the next iteration on the formula is Assassin’s Creed Pirates), I think we can glean some quick information from it. First off, that assassin on the cover: not Connor from Assassin’s Creed 3. He looks more Anglo to me than previous assassins, what with his two-day scruff and brownish-blond hair. Also, if you’re currently playing the Generic Video Game Hero drinking game, you can go ahead and take two: one for white male, one for scruffy, rough-but-handsome facial hair.

That makes for some interesting points to my mind. For one, we’re ditching Connor, a character who was lackluster at best last time out. Two, the ancestors of Desmond Miles have run the gamut as far as ethnic background, but they were all of Middle Eastern descent originally, and all had dark hair and relatively darker complexions. If we take from this piece of art the assumption that the pirates are Western European, likely British, and that this dude looks more Anglo than previous assassins (admittedly subjectively), plus the fact that former protagonist Desmond Miles supposedly died at the end of the last game — well, I think that’s a recipe to suggest there’s a new boring present-day person in the Animus. And that probably means a new assassin bloodline.

Still, and here’s the real thing: Do we need another Assassin’s Creed game this year (which is likely when it’s coming out, given Ubisoft’s track record)? My answer is a vehement, loud “No.” As fun as Pirates of the Carri-Oh god my jugular sounds on paper, Assassin’s Creed 3 failed to meet expectations on a number of levels. The degree of polish we expect from this series was definitely not there, and a lot of the new systems in the game didn’t work as well as they should have. A nautical refresh might be good for the series, for sure — but what it really needs is a sharply designed game that has had the proper amount of time in development. You don’t have to rush to market, Ubisoft. Come back in a few years and you’ll come back a hero.

Plus, the ship combat in Assassin’s Creed 3 was pretty thin, and really needs to be much deeper to hold up a whole game.

Also, here’s a pertinent question: How does one sneak up on a ship? Or sneak up on people while on a ship? Please don’t say “magic wolf invisibility powers,” Ubisoft.

All that said, we have exactly no details about Assassin’s Creed 4 outside that image up there and the name. Ubisoft says we can expect more info on March 4 — that’s Monday. So stay tuned for updates then.

Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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24 Comments on It’s Official: Assassin’s Creed 4 Has Pirates


On February 28, 2013 at 12:24 pm

You got something against white heroes Phil? If this is game is dealing in a time period where pirates still pillage the high seas then you’ll be dealing with mostly the English, Spanish, Dutch, and French navies, and there wasn’t much skin tone variety there.

Phil Hornshaw

On February 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm


Nothing against them except that we have a whoooole helluva lot of them in video games. But what makes it notable mostly is that it indicates a separate bloodline from Desmond Miles’, theoretically.


On February 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm

God, please not more of this guilt rubbish. It’s bad enough when Ross expects us to give a toss about his patronising feminist crusade without expecting to also feel bad that a protagonist in a videogame would happen to be white as if that’s somehow a cause for industry shame. Tokenism has no place in art.

Phil Hornshaw

On February 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Whoa, guys, no one is complaining that he’s white. We just have no shortage of white representation in this medium, that’s all.


On February 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Rather have a standalone IP named “Black Flag” than a overly milked ” Assassin’s Creed 3(+v0.1)=4: Black Flag”.


On February 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm

OMG. After that horrendous ending in Assassins creed 3 Im done with the series.

All this is is Pirates of the Carribean.


On February 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Phil, sounds like a typical guilt-ridden white american……….

why does it matter if he’s a “white” male….. video games are targeted towards white men in particular so its not like its a big issue

most of the pirates at the time were English, anyways

race doesn’t matter to a character, unless its part of the story…. like Connor’s was (being half native) other then that it doesn’t matter


On February 28, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Ubisoft took another franchise that was doing well and completely said F|_|CK you to its fans. Loved the series up until about a third the way into 3. There is no longer the feel of the templars vs assassins anymore, did anyone really feel that we were fighting templars in the third game? If you say yes, im going to backhand you.


On February 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm

“Whoa, guys, no one is complaining that he’s white. We just have no shortage of white representation in this medium, that’s all.”

That in itself is a complaint Phil. Quota representation is also a form of reverse racism, his skin colour however unimportant should be chosen through story reasons and not a racial quota fulfillment. Anyway, we should be beyond this in this day and age, skin tone is a non-issue.

I remember the developers of Assasins Creed 3 attacking fans for coming up with stale un-inspired settings for the next Assassins Creed game, now they show the next one is a… pirate. How inspired and superior their ideas are, my word, -so- original, my mind is truly blown.

Phil Hornshaw

On February 28, 2013 at 10:59 pm


Not to get into this debate, but I think there are plenty of people in underrepresented groups who play games and might differ on whether it’s an issue or not, and while we might want to say that we’re beyond race politics today, even a cursory glance at the kinds of characters we see in games proves that’s not the case (not to mention, like, all of the rest of life). And being pro-diversity in video game representation is not “reverse racism,” if you can even with a straight face pretend that’s a thing at all in this case or any other game-related situation in the industry as it stands. Also quotas? If you can call lamenting seeing another carbon-copy main character as being pro-quota, which is a huge stretch (and what would that “quota” value supposedly being supported be? Two? C’mon). I’d also like to see more women characters and I’m bummed that in this series they’re relegated to the Vita, but I don’t think that makes me reverse sexist (or regular sexist). I’m not sure why anyone would want to argue for more of the exact same thing, especially when Assassin’s Creed has been cool often because it is so different.

Anyway, my point was this: Assassin’s Creed protagonists have been a diverse lot up to now, from a number of different standpoints. This hero is decidedly more cookie-cutter for the games industry than Connor, Ezio, Haytham, Aveline or Altair (not so much Desmond), from what we can see. It could easily be Nathan Drake under there, or Commander Shepard, or Adrian Pierce from Watch Dogs, or just about any other character from any other game. That bores me. Different characters with different backgrounds and different points of view are more interesting than getting the same thing over and over and over. But it’s not about the dude being white so much as it is about him LOOKING like a character we’ve seen many many times before.

Then again, who knows. Maybe he’ll be a Dutch dude and Ubisoft will bring some culture and insight to his character that will make him unique. Maybe we’ll find out on Monday. So far, though, he looks a lot like Every Game Hero.


On March 1, 2013 at 12:08 am

I really wish they would have went with another well done, yet underutilized part of the game, the Templar’s side story. That would give them a chance to really breathe new life into the game.

Phil Hornshaw

On March 1, 2013 at 12:14 am


Good, good point. The Haytham bits of AC3 were my favorites, and it’d be really nice to see the Templars as more than greedy SOBs for a change. I wrote something to that effect back when AC3 first dropped, and I’d love to see it explored more in the series. There’s some serious potential there.


On March 1, 2013 at 4:36 am

“Not to get into this debate,”

The second you typed, you got into the debate. ;)

I agree, he is a person we have seen before Phil, he is identical to all other Assasins Creed characters, similar outfit right down to the hood and identical physique, likely right down to the lurching run and tippy toe balance act. I am highly skeptical that skin tone would not make the character more unique as skin tone should be irrelevant.

Now if you are asking for a more diverse ethnic background, so far we have had;

European (British & Italian), Middle Eastern (Syrian), and Native American (Mohawk). All taken from the wiki, quite a diverse bunch ethnically speaking.

Black Flag’s protagonist is white with blonde hair, we know literally nothing else, he could have any number of heritages and every one of them (Excluding British) would quite different than what has come before. Unless you think all white people are the same?

I am for diversity I have quite the colorful range of characters on my favorite MMO games, but in story driven games it should not be chosen for diversity sake but because the story dictates it.

What you should be doing is petitioning for the story for Assassins Creed 5 to take racial equality account, not complaining that Black Flag has a white guy.


On March 1, 2013 at 4:40 am

My beef is with the fact he is a pirate, I can visualize all the Pirates of the Caribbean references already, oh dear.

They should have gone to Japan or China, but that is not original enough for Ubisoft. *rolls eyes*


On March 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

As usual gamefront are always sure they know how the gaming industry run. If you are so inteligent why not open your own game company yourself instead of posting news and whining about it.

Phil Hornshaw

On March 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm


Dude, great idea. Wanna invest?


On March 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm

As usual, Wesker comes in with an absolutely idiotic statement. That alone is enough reason to believe that Ubi is screwing up. If Wisker comes to your defence, you’re F—ed. I gave up on AC after they felt the need to ignor the keyboard and tell us if we want to play AC3, we need a controler. Then they’re trying to get in good with the pc crowd according to the other article on here just a few days ago? Not happening.

Team Ryan

On March 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Asking for diverse character = racist.

Keeping characters generic white = not racist.

I think I got the hang of this.

Phil Hornshaw

On March 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Thanks, @TeamRyan, I think that’s the diagram I needed. :)

Phil Hornshaw

On March 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm

If you guys haven’t seen it, AC4′s trailer has leaked. Confirms that this dude is Hatham Kenway’s dad and he’s British. So maybe Desmond isn’t dead. Or maybe we get to play as Desmond’s dad (John de Lancie for the win).

T Wal

On March 4, 2013 at 9:04 am

Okay okay okay, all this racist crap aside, I just want to say: I WANT MY DAMN PIRATE GAME! Ever since Armada of the Damned was scrapped and Risen 2 flopped horribly I’ve been itching for a pirate RPG! But yes, if AC is doing this, they better do it well, so…take your time, Ubisoft.

Red Menace

On March 4, 2013 at 11:50 pm

I’m intrigued, but Ubisoft is a bunch of rotten-timbered, barnacle-bottomed, yellow-bellies.


On March 10, 2013 at 6:31 am

It’s funny you mention the need for more development time (as opposed to a yearly CoD schedule). AC3 was being developed at the same time as Revelations, and despite that, Revelations was by far a more polished (although less experimental) game. Maybe the development team, rather than development time, is what reqires more thought on Ubisoft’s part.

The main character’s last name is Kenway, so I’m guessing that the present-day animus person will either be Desmond’s father or up-until-now-inexistent sibling.


On March 10, 2013 at 6:53 am

By the way, remember how the AC3 trailer showed Connor heroically charging across a battlefield and fighting dozens of soldiers, then leaping axe in hand to assassinate Pitcairn? Remember how in the actual game, this scene required you to hide behind logs and dirt mounds between volleys, then sneak up to the left side of the enemy’s mound and jump out of a tree to attack him in an incredibly scripted sequence bearing absolutely no resemblance to the trailer?

I seriously hope that all of the awesomeness shown in AC4′s trailer, of leaping between boats and clearing the deck of enemies, is not somehow lost in translation from trailer to gameplay.