There’s an endless debate that’s raged on playgrounds and barstools across the world, and it goes something like this: Which is cooler? Pirates or ninjas? What’s that got to do with Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag? Well, consider that Edward Kenway, the new hero of the latest chapter in this epic franchise, starts out his life as a pirate. Next, consider that assassins (lower-case “a”) are pretty much a Western take on the mighty ninja. And knowing that Edward’s journey will place him in the ranks of the mighty Assassins, the debate is pretty much over. After all, why choose just one when you can have both in a single larger-than-life character?

Edward Kenway Profile

Of course, the combination still left us wondering how these two very distinct sides of Edward’s life could possibly work together. Pirates, on the one hook, are loosey-goosey rebels who rejoice in revelry. Assassins, on the other (hidden-bladed) hand are a disciplined lot: there’s a finely honed method to their madness, and they create order in the swirling chaos of life. It’s a conflict that, according to Game Director Ashraf Ismail, plays out in multiple ways – both in Edward’s story and in Black Flag’s gameplay.

Gold and Glory

“The best way to describe Edward: he’s an anti-hero,” Ismail says. “He comes with his own set of morals that are – because of his background as a pirate – a bit selfish and reckless.”

Ismail rattles off a list of other adjectives and phrases to describe Edward: Estranged. Doesn’t accept rules. Rebel. Brash. Reckless. Cocky. Handsome. The one thing they all have in common? These aren’t typical characteristics found in the selfless and disciplined Assassins. (Except, perhaps, handsome. There’s no rule in the Creed saying you can’t be good-looking.)

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag
“So Edward is this really interesting personality that rubs… not in the best way with the Assassin’s Creed,” Ismail continues. “And this is the story that we want to tell, because it’s refreshing. We want to tell the story about this guy who doesn’t quite know who he is in life. He’s poor, but he’s charismatic, and he uses this for his advantage. And then he gets lured into the pirate life for all the gold and glory.”

But Kenway is no mere cad. Even though he’s heave-ho’d himself into a swashbuckling life, he realizes that piracy alone won’t bring him happiness. Somewhere on a deeper level he suspects there’s more to his existence. “When he gets mixed up with the Assassins, he starts learning about the Creed,” Ismail says. “He starts understanding that maybe this is an interesting way of life, this Assassin’s Creed. But it goes against his inherent selfishness.” That conflict – between the selfish and the selfless, or the pirate and the Assassin – is at the heart of Edward’s story. “This conflict is what makes him an interesting character,” Ismail says.

By Land or Sea

Whereas Edward’s story is all about his internal turmoil, the gameplay goes offers the opposite experience: “We wanted to make sure that the pirate and the Assassin elements were really fluid,” Ismail explains. “Edward acting and behaving like a pirate but having the skills of the Assassin – “This is one example of dirty pirate combat that really enhances the combat of being an Assassin”the two really merged well together.” Pirates, being outlaws, are naturally stealthy. (Because, duh, it’s counterproductive to thunder while you plunder.) “Pirates were sailors and they would climb rigging, they would climb masts, so they had this really incredible navigation ability,” Ismail says. “This is another reason why the navigation abilities of an Assassin really worked well with Edward.”

And perhaps most important: the combat. “Pirates fought a lot, and they also used pistols,” Ismail says. Edward also spends a lot of time aboard his ship, the Jackdaw, both navigating from place to place and engaging in naval combat. All of this works together intuitively, Ismail promises. For example: Edward has an assassination target on land, whom he chases. The target escapes Edward by boarding a ship and sailing away. “All of a sudden, you have to climb onto your ship, and you have to sail after him,” Ismail says. “If he’s just a target you have to kill, you can destroy the ship. Or you can board the ship and assassinate him as Edward. But any of this goes. It is important to make sure the players feel that the two mechanics of being a pirate assassin is fluid and seamless.”

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - pistols
But it’s not just about a seamless integration. The two styles of gameplay that stem from being a pirate and an Assassin allow for some altogether new aspects of combat. Take, for example, Edward’s pistols. In Black Flag, you can upgrade Edward so eventually he’s carrying four guns, all of which can be used in a combat loop: pull out one, then the next, the next, and the next – bang, bang, bang, bang – to do some serious damage. “This is one example of dirty pirate combat that really enhances the combat of being an Assassin,” Ismail smiles.

Finally, Ismail points to a common pirate navigational tool that also can be used as an Assassin: the rope. “It’s part of the pirate fantasy to swing across ropes. From here, we have assassinations that you can do from the rope. So a lot of the new ingredients that are pirate-themed also have a connection to the Assassin gameplay.”

It’s all part of what makes Edward a unique, compelling character – and a rip-roaring new anti-hero for Assasin’s Creed IV Black Flag.

Assassin's Creed 4 Black Flag

Assassin's Creed® IV Black Flag

Release date — October 29, 2013
Developer — Ubisoft Montreal
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag tells the story of Edward Kenway, a young British man with a thirst for danger and adventure, who falls from privateering for the Royal Navy into piracy as the war between the major Empires comes to an end. Edward is a fierce pirate and seasoned fighter who soon finds himself embroiled in the ancient war between Assassins and Templars. Set at the dawn of the 18th Century, the game features some of the most infamous pirates in history, such as Blackbeard and Charles Vane, and takes players on a journey throughout the West Indies during a turbulent and violent period of time later to become known as the Golden Age of Pirates.

ESRB Rating: MATURE with Blood, Sexual Themes, Violence, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol
the author

Gary Steinman has won numerous editorial awards, but you probably don’t care about that. He also ran multiple industry leading publications and websites including PlayStation: The Official Magazine,, PC Gamer and Newtype USA – but that’s all in the past. The real truth about Gary? He loves cats, he takes too many selfies on Facebook (according to one co-worker, at least), and he occasionally crochets. And now he’s helping share stories about Ubisoft’s amazing games and their incredible creators in his role overseeing the UbiBlog and other select Ubisoft social channels. Follow him on Twitter: @GarySteinman

36 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Marcos on May 28, 2013
    Hi Ubisoft.I would like knowing when will have a trailer Watchdogs and Assasins creed 4 on Wii U i want to see the features of the GamePad. Already acquired both games. =]
    • Gary Steinman | Communications Manager Author on May 28, 2013
      Thanks for pre-ordering both games. No date yet on specific Wii U info, but stay tuned!
  2. Eleanor on May 28, 2013
    I'm incredibly excited for Assassin's Creed 4! I have already preordered it :) Is the the exclusive poster going to be sent home along with the game itself to customers who preordered online?
    • Anne Lewis | Communications Associate on May 29, 2013
      Hi Eleanor! Thank you for pre-ordering! The poster is a GameStop exclusive and will need to be picked up at your local store. You'll need to provide proof of your pre-order.
  3. Sergej on May 29, 2013
    Hey Guys. I've already preordered the Skull Edition. Very excited for this game! Can you maybe tell us who's the composer of the soundtrack from AC4? Thanks.
  4. Chris Shaw on May 29, 2013
    Hey, I'm just wondering, can you preorder assassins creed 4 at Game in the UK and is it coming out on both ps3 and ps4 or just ps4?Thanks
  5. Chad on May 29, 2013
    It sucks to be a 13 year old Filipino that didn't play any game of the AC franchise , and also don't have any gamestop her.
    • Ureh on June 4, 2013
      Don't worry, you can always play them in the future, when the time is right. :)
  6. Chad on May 29, 2013
    It sucks to be a 13 year old Filipino that didn't play any game of the AC franchise , and also don't have any gamestop here.
  7. Maria on May 29, 2013
    Hi Ubisoft, as a huge Connor fan I was wondering if you can say at this point if we'll be seeing more of him?
    • Majed on June 2, 2013
      I stand along side Maria, I'd like Connor back.
    • Manuel on June 7, 2013
      Yes. Connor could get back and visit France to fight in the French Revolution. In a conversation Lafayette invited him. And Juno said: "You have made a difference... and you will do so again".
  8. Walter on May 29, 2013
    Looks like Watch Dogs will be more like Assassin's Creed than the actual Assassin's Creed.
    • Manuel on June 7, 2013
      True story bro! AC is losing its esence :( Now the assassins participation is so insignificant... And the cities... I MISS THE BIG CITIES!
  9. Arun on May 29, 2013
    Very interested to see how the Modern Day part plays out. Does our character have a voice?
    • Mark on June 6, 2013
      The modern day sequences you will be playing as yourself .. you will be some sort of tech guy hired by abstergo to research the life of Edward Kenway using Desmonds DNA.
  10. Dome500 on May 29, 2013
    Hey guys, since there is now a UbisoftBlog (awesome idea guys, another way to get info and criticize (in a constructive way of course) I have a question to your article. Ismail said you will be able to board the ship and take out the captain.1. Is the stealth system better than in AC3 (it was horrible in AC3) ? 2. Is it possible to go on the ship as Edwars, take the captain (and maybe his crew) out and go back to your ship? I'm asking this because the ships are moving, which means either your ship is sailing alongside the other one the whole time while you are not on board, or the ship stays behind. Which means you will have to get back to your ship. That leads me to my third question 3. Will we be able to drive the ships of other captains (for a short time) if we conquered them?
  11. Rodney M on May 29, 2013
    Please make an effort to have stealth be part of the game again. It feels like this is an aspect of the franchise that has been getting neglected, especially in 3.
  12. Christian on May 29, 2013
    First off let me say I have lost a lit of my admiration for AC3 the lack of updates & glitches that have uet to be taken care of. I constantly get kicked from games & logged off the server. The online play for this game has gone to crap. First off if this game is supposed to be about getting lots of points why have a fu**ing gun that's just makes it almost pointless to have it cause most people just stand around spamming guns like it M.W C.O.D. or maybe fix the glitch with the animus hack which makes it seem even pointless to play at all when people run around hacking repeatedly. I even think all the vision perks should be taken out along with the poison dart this skill is totally retarded.
  13. CheetyPants on May 29, 2013
    Hello Ubisoft family, just wondering if the U.S. will be getting the Black Chest edition. I hope very much to get my hands on this great edition of Assassin's Creed.
  14. David on May 30, 2013
    OKay first off I want too say that I love all AC games but i'm really hoping for this one that it's more stealthy. looking at the trailers and gameplays it seems like it'll be more naval battles and shooting redcoats instead of the assassin way. and when recruiting sailors or new assassins to join the cause. can you customize them like in AC brotherhood? hoping that'll come back. Also when conquering lands or ships can you keep them? and create an army or whatever. I know these are childish questions but i gotta know!!
  15. Mark on May 31, 2013
    I have pre ordered the Bucchaneer editions but since the announcement of XBOX ONE will there be any announcements anytime soon for special editions for the next gen ?
  16. Dome500 on May 31, 2013
    I have to agree with all of you stealth just have to be better this time, SC3 attempted to make it better but failed, it actually made it a lot worse. non the less I will keep my eye on AC4 - but AC3 has made me careful about future AC titles for various reasons. (don't want to explain them all now, most of you know what I am talking about)
  17. Nikolas Davidoff on June 1, 2013
    How have I only just now discovered this site?! Fabulous article with some great insight on one of my most anticipated games. Greetings from an old Official Playstation Mag reader Gary!
    • Gary Steinman | Communications Manager Author on June 2, 2013
      We only launched the site last week, so you're coming to visit us right on time. And an old OPM reader, eh? Welcome, friend!!
  18. Majed on June 2, 2013
    I'm really curious about the visual/art style of the game, it seems a bit too colorful and 'jelly-like' to some extent. Assassin's Creed 3 looked amazing to be honest, especially in the frontier, this seems like a step-back, which is quiete surprising knowing that this is a next-gen title.
  19. Delilah on June 2, 2013
    Hi! I'm really excited for the game and this Ubiblog is awesome :) my question is, I live in the United States and I want the Ubisoft Black Chest edition of the game! Will this edition become available for us?
  20. Guillian on June 3, 2013
    Hey i pre ordered the collectors edition in the shop and i don know did i pre ordered the buncaneer or an other edition someone help
    • Alfred on June 3, 2013
      I'm assuming this is for Ubishop? Try one of these: 1. Try logging in to your account and check order status/history. 2. Check your transaction history for your bank account, paypal, and/or card. 3. Check your email inbox for any receipt and/or notification from Ubishop. 4. Email Ubishop to inquire about your pre-order.
  21. Pingback: Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – Digging into the Gameplay Demo - UbiBlog | Ubisoft® 20 Jun, 2013

    [...] Edward Kenway – Portrait of a Pirate Assassin [...]

  22. Pingback: How Edward Kenway Becomes an Assassin - UbiBlog | Ubisoft® 8 Jul, 2013

    [...] For another look at Edward Kenway, be sure to check out: Edward Kenway – Portrait of a Pirate Assassin [...]

  23. James on July 9, 2013
    Hi Ubisoft, Very excited for this as well as watchdogs. Huge fan of the brand, the game and the company. I've placed my pre-order for the collectors edition of AC4 here in Canada, but there's been no release or hints as to whats inside, when will you be releasing the details of the North American collectors edition? I hope its just as good as the Black Chest edition. Thanks for all the amazing games, keep it up Ubi!
  24. Tiffany on July 10, 2013
    When it is coming out?I can't remember i can't wait anymore longer so excited!Edward Kenway is going to be great!:D
  25. Pingback: Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – Stealth Spotlight - UbiBlog | Ubisoft® 22 Jul, 2013

    [...] For more on Edward Kenway and Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, set course for the following UbiBlog exclusives: How Edward Kenway Becomes An Assassin Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – Taking on the Forts, Smugglers’ Coves and Plantations Edward Kenway – Portrait of a Pirate Assassin [...]

  26. Brandon on July 25, 2013
    Um I had a question when your out at sea can you let one of your crew mates take the wheel while you explore the deck or the crows nest etc. and another thing when you finish the game will you be able to go back into the game and finish things you still haven't finished for example you never finished a side mission or a assassin contract etc .
  27. Pingback: Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Meet the Pirates - UbiBlog | Ubisoft® 26 Sep, 2013

    [...] Edward Kenway – Portrait of a Pirate Assassin [...]

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