Ubisoft Confirms Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Is The Next Assassin's Creed

The worst-kept secret in gaming is no longer "secret", as Ubisoft has revealed the cover art for the next Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. The game stars a new pirate assassin and turns its focus to the Caribbean, mixing open-ended ship-based exploration and combat with land-based adventures on a number of Caribbean islands.

The fact that this year's AC would be Black Flag -- and that it would be more of a nautical adventure -- was becoming more and more clear on Tuesday, as a poster leaked to Kotaku, showing both the new character on its front and the game's map on the back.

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But let's drop the pretense of "breaking news" for a moment and let me level with you, folks. I was shown Black Flag this past Monday. I already knew this was the new game even prior to us running those two poster images. As is standard, I'd not informed my reporting team about most of the game's details, freeing them to react genuinely if anything came up.

On Monday, I had talked to two of the game's creators, saw a presentation on the game and some video footage. As is common with seeing games early, I signed an embargo agreeing not to talk about what I'd seen and been told -- in this case for a full week, up until noon Eastern on March 4.

The advantage of an embargo is that it allows the people showing a game to present something in an unhurried manner and allows the reporter to take time to compose their thoughts. Some embargoes are signed documents; others are verbal agreements. They're not unique to corporate game publishers (plenty of indies request holding coverage until a certain date, though typically only verbally), and they're not unique to covering games. That said, the severe disadvantage of embargoes is that they put us in the position we found ourselves in on Tuesday, a day after I saw ACIV, of not being able to speak freely to you, the reader about material we're publishing.

By Tuesday, as anonymous tipsters began to send us the images of the front and back of a poster that none of us had seen in person -- but that squared with the game I'd been shown -- we faced a conundrum: 1) refrain from publishing what we knew were valid tips that would be of interest to our readers, thus failing to honour our commitment to informing our readers about compelling news, 2) play dumb and publish, while pretending we didn't know the images were probably real, thus intentionally misleading you, the reader, 3) potentially tick off Ubisoft to whom I gave my word we'd hold off on covering the details of my briefing until March 4 -- a date that began to seem like it was tied into a pre-order incentive. In both instances on Tuesday involving those poster images, the instinct to inform you, the reader, won out. Cynics will say that the instinct to get pageviews is simply what won out, but that is inherently intertwined with a sense that it is anathema for a news outlet to ignore compelling news tips -- for a week, no less.

It is reasonable for the creators of any video game to ask that their new baby be kept under wraps for a time and to ask for such an agreement from the reporters to whom they show it. But it is maddening to not be able to level with you guys and gals; it is unacceptable for us to sit on news tips sent to us independently; and it is nauseating to recognise that this situation was partially of our own making. Some may say that the simple solution is to refrain from signing future embargoes, but, as I wrote above, verbal agreements are common on this beat and often are simply a matter of courtesy -- the price for seeing something rough-edged a bit early. In the future, we can be more clear with those who show us games that we will run tips that are clearly sent to us independently and that, if and when we do, we will have to be able to more clearly acknowledge their veracity.

We will never leak information ourselves, but we can't sit around and fail to report when information starts leaking. If that spites us some access, so be it. I don't want Kotaku readers waking up on any future March 4ths feeling they were misled by our site. We worked hard to not seem like we were playing dumb in our AC IV posts this week, but that doesn't feel like it was enough.

So, yes, look for more AC IV coverage from me on Monday. I still feel I should honour my agreement to not divulge the many, many things that were shown to me about the game that haven't leaked. But, rest assured, we'll do everything we can to make sure this kind of awkward situation doesn't happen again.


Comments

    If I do end up playing the game it certainly wont be on PS3 after ACIII. That game has no business existing on that platform.

      What's wrong with the PS3 version? I thought the PS3 version of AC games always get exclusive content at no extra cost?

        I have an issue playing a game that rarely if ever hits 30fps. Also after the first round of patches vsync was disabled so now it tears constantly.

        Also the exclusive content for PS3 were some of the worst missions in the game.

        Last edited 01/03/13 8:53 am

          I agree, I switched from PS3 to PC because of the terrible FPS issues, I haven't looked back. The games are much cheaper and look/run much better.

            oh, I went from PC to XB360 because the game was poorly optimized on PC and suffered from regular frame rate issues.. though the times it did run fine it did look 100x better.

        Nah mate, it was Xbox that always got exclusive packages. Such as Templar missions, weapon missions and sometimes a free Multiplayer map pack.

    If it's early Flag, I'm in. Morris was always a better frontman than Rollins. Wakka wakka!

      While true, Henry frikkin' Rollins baby!

      Boo i came here to make a Black Flag/ Rollins joke, but you beat me to it :P

    This type of setting and style of adventure appeals to me more than III. Colour me curious.

      I agree. I've skipped the last few, but I'll be buying myself a piratey adventure. I hope it comes out in September.

        I've got a feeling it will be released in November as a PS4/XBox (Durango) launch title. Because all the other AC games were released in November.

        I'll have to get cracking and get started on AC: Revelations and III.

        I have to say that I'm am interested in this new game, at least they're trying to keep it fresh by giving us a new setting. That said I seriously hope Jesper Kyd is back.

        Likewise - skipped the last few releases too. Brotherhood still has me mildly interested. M. Serrels made a comment somewhere that he thought it was worth a crack.

    Talk about flogging a dead horse

      in keeping with their current east coast North America theme, i'm looking forward to AC5: Martha's Vineyard, in which our protagonist must fight the growing influence of those dastardly Templars on 19th century yachting regattas.

    This is awesome, the best thing about AC3 was undoubtedly the naval missions. That said, I'd have preferred a new IP; a pirate game from Ubi using this engine and gameplay that wasn't attached the Assassin's Creed name. But beggars can't be choosers :)

      We already have a new IP from Ubisoft called Watch Dogs :)

        Aye, but that be naught to do with pirates, cully!

    Thanks for the rambling diatribe on what an embargo is.

      I thought it was interesting, actually. It's worth remembering that in an age where information both leaks and 'leaks', that embargoes can put conscientious journalists in pretty awkward and confusing positions.

      Last edited 01/03/13 9:10 am

      I'd like to see them change the title of the article, seeing as how it isn't really about AC4.

    Assassin's Creed IV: Pirates of the Caribbean

    Why does Assassins Creed 4 have/need a subtitle?

    Sorry for being a princess bit I mad.

    I thought this was meant to be a cut and dried trilogy. Each numbered AC was a radically different environment and time period with gameplay to match (so pirates huh? we totally didn't have sea-faring in AC yet...) Not only that but this is the first numbered AC with another oh-so-popular-these-days subtitle. The spinoffs had that, but they are spinoffs!

    It would be like when they announced Halo 4 with no new aliens or anything, just more covenant and flood and called it something like Halo 4: Retribution

      (so a city huh? we totally didn't have free-running in AC yet...) - your logic applied to AC2

      Last edited 01/03/13 12:56 pm

        Oh you!

        Actually I do think the difference is more clear. AC1 was free-running across the city and countryside during the crusades in the middle-east and the gameplay was pretty focused on just free-running and assassin targets. AC2 was set in the verdant european countryside and cultured venice with a whole host of new gameplay types. The setting was a unique enough shift as well as an important (nay, very important) shift in era as it fits in well with the entire AC storyline. They continued to do this in AC3 with a whole new shift to the American countryside and frontier cities and once again adding new gameplay concepts to fit (including sea-battles)

        My point being that Black Flag would be a fitting spin-off for AC3 but not a new numbered installment as the shift in setting and era is just not enough.

          Depends who the Assassin is though...the whole numbered game thing seems to come up to who's life Desmond is looking back to..the original was Altair, then 2 and brotherhood were Ezio's life aswell as winding up with the end of Altair's, then 3 of course was the 3rd assassin with Connor, and the matching handheld or iPod games, matching up with whichever assassin was in the latest release console game, only the Vita edition actually following its own story really with a completely different main character to play as! Much better than previous handheld versions, that's for sure, but not quite up to console erosion! I hope them keep releasing games Til they get to the founding of Australia and other countries and up to where Desmond was born and originally captured by Abstergo! I've loved every game!

    So it just means i have to speed through AC2 the other 2 AC's and AC3 so i can grab this on launch busy few months ahead for me then.

      If you just do the story missions then the games themselves arent long. AC2 probably the longest. That said youd be missing out on alot of awesome side content, especially in 2 and 3.

      Try not to rush too much though, you don't wanna miss out on stuff by not going through them all 100% w the add ons etc, but def play tem to fill in on the story line! They're the best games around! Best series!

    I wonder how this will tie in with 3... if
    Whats his name died at the end of 3, if he chose to kill himself... supposedly you're playing as the woman from the Vita game? How does she tie into it? Is she from Desmonds history line as well? Colour me confused. I thought the idea was she was meant to be 'eve', a lineage of female assassins, and he was 'adam' a lineage of male assassins... bummer.

      I'm thinking new modern-day protagonist, with a brand-new line of ancestors. Remember that Desmond is now dead... or something. His story, and presumably his bloodline, is now finished.

      Last edited 01/03/13 12:11 pm

        Yeah possibly... or

        LAST MINUTE DEUS EX MACHINE TO SAVE DESMOND!!!! Thus extending the franchise...

        Either way this is a much better idea than 3's. Personally I find the setting, the character and quite frankly the whole IDEA much more intriguing than AC3's.

          IDK how to make the spoiler thing so here goes.

          New modern day protagonist is a given, however this new Assassin is the Grandfather of Conner supposidly.

    Yar had fiddle me dee
    Being a pirate is all meant to be
    Do what you want cause a pirate is free
    You are a Pirate!

    The yearly release schedule has ruined this series for me. I lost interest at Revelations. I hadn't played Revelations so I didn't get 3. I doubt I'll get 4 either. Maybe when they've finished ruining the franchise and they stop making them I'll start catching up from the bargain bin.

      The yearly release really cheapens it. I enjoyed III, Brotherhood had some cool moments, but not much and Revelations felt milked. I'm yet to be convinced, I will wait and see

    I will be most upset if random pirates don't tell me that I fight like a cow.

    In fact, Assassin's Creed IV: The Secret of Templar Island would put the series back as a day one purchase for me.

    Here's hoping it's hyper-violent so they can rate it ARrrrrr

    AC2 2 was my first and last AC game. it was an ok game. AC series has the worst enemy AI in current gen

    As a big AC fan, playing every game in the series when they come out, I'll buy it no matter when info leaks :P

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