I’d guess I got halfway through Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, and I still couldn’t give you a succinct plot summary.
It’s not that Black Flag is lacking in interesting characters or topics. If anything, the game is crammed over-full with features and potential plot arcs, many maddeningly under-explored. Black Flag is overflowing with things that would, in a more restrained title, be enough to carry it on their own – naval battles! Stealthy assassinations! The story of the short-lived Pirate Republic of Nassau! The exploitation of the New World by imperial powers!
And let’s not forget the modern-day conspiracy drama, just in case there wasn’t already enough material in the historical narrative. Better still, let’s – it’s not bad by any means, but it’s mostly a cheeky tweak at the gaming industry itself.
Protagonist Edward Kenway is a layabout on a rambling mission: get rich quickly. Whenever you’re at the helm of his stolen Jackdaw, Black Flag picks up the pace. But whenever he gets dragged back into the hoary old conflict between smug Assassins and sneering Templars – usually after some bizarrely self-righteous criticism about following a higher purpose by carrying on an endless and to all appearances pointless clandestine war – Black Flag, well, flags behind.