Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a 2013 action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the sixth major installment in the Assassin's Creed series. Its historical timeframe precedes that of Assassin's Creed III (2012), but its modern-day sequences succeed III's own. Black Flag was originally released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U in October 2013 and a month later for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. It was later re-released on the Nintendo Switch as part of The Rebel Collection alongside Assassin's Creed Rogue in December 2019. The game was released for Google Stadia in September 2021.
The plot is set in a fictional history of real-world events and follows the millennia-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight to preserve peace and free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The framing story is set in the 21st century and depicts the player as an employee of Abstergo Industries (a company used as a front by the modern-day Templars), who is manipulated into uncovering secrets related to the Assassin-Templar conflict and the precursor race known as the First Civilization. The main story is set in the West Indies during the Golden Age of Piracy from 1715 to 1722, and follows notorious Welsh pirate Edward Kenway, grandfather and father of Assassin's Creed III protagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton / Connor and antagonist Haytham Kenway, respectively, as he searches for fortune and a mythical location called the Observatory, which is sought by both the Assassins and the Templars. A major plot element concerns the attempted establishment of an independent Pirate republic in the Caribbean.
Unlike previous games, gameplay elements focus more on the ship-based exploration of the seamless open world map, while also retaining the series' third-person land-based exploration, melee combat, and stealth system. Multiplayer also returns, albeit with only land-based modes and settings. The game's setting spans the West Indies with the three main cities of Havana, Nassau, and Kingston, along with numerous islands, sunken ships, and forts. Players have the option to harpoon large sea animals and hunt land animals. For the first time in the series, naval exploration is a major part of an Assassin's Creed game, where Edward captains the Jackdaw, a brig he captures from a Spanish fleet in an early game mission. A number of downloadable content (DLC) packs were released to support Black Flag, including Assassin's Creed Freedom Cry, a story expansion that was later made available as a standalone game in 2014. Set over a decade after Black Flag's main campaign, Freedom Cry follows Adéwalé, Edward's former quartermaster who became an Assassin.