Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag accessibility review

Josh Straub4 minute read

Our first next gen review is in. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on the PS4 is stunning both visually and from a story and gameplay perspective. Unfortunately, while accessible in certain areas, there are more than a few areas that will pose major barriers to many disabled gamers.

Gamers with sight disabilities that do not affect their ability to see color will have little problem with this game, since Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has a system for highlighting important objects to make them highly visible regardless of their size. The only area in which this principle does not bear out is in the game’s map. Although it can be brought full screen, it still features icons that can be hard to see if a gamer is sitting farther away from the TV. The good news is the story driven icons are always large and readable, and there is so much side content available in Black Flag that players won’t have to use the map if they are looking for something to do between story missions.

The bigger issue arises for gamers with some form of colorblindness. This is because one of the tried-and-true mechanics of the Assassin’s Creed series relies heavily on the gamer’s ability to distinguish between red, yellow, and white. Players will need to use “eagle vision,” a mode which highlights enemies in red, targets in yellow, and civilians in white in order to identify particular assassination contracts in a crowd. But since this method of targeting is not used too heavily in the game, this feature does not pose a game-breaking barrier, especially since players always have the option of scanning an area. Even if they cannot see the difference between colors, they will be able to see the icon over the character’s head once the character has been picked out of the crowd.

More issues arise for gamers with fine motor impairments. Honestly, I’ve struggled with how to rate this game. Let me give you an example of why. Early on in this story, there is a portion in which Edward chases down a fleeing target on foot. Players have to hold multiple buttons and control the sticks in order to run and maneuver through the narrow alleyways. Yet, try as I might, I could not accomplish this mission, even with the help of a non-disabled gamer holding down the triggers for me. In frustration, I stopped playing until later that evening when I picked the controller back up and succeeded by myself on the mission on the second or third try. The problem is that, yes, the barriers are there, but the gameplay is forgiving enough that I don’t think it poses a game breaking issue. The bigger concern when playing this game will be making sure you are using it on the right hardware. I recommend playing on PC to help mitigate these issues.

Free running aside, the gameplay in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is incredibly forgiving, and even if a player is stuck on a story mission, there are usually dozens of other activities they can engage in—everything from hunting and fishing to freelance assassination contracts and good, old-fashioned pirating. This freedom of choice and the stealth mechanic are what save Black Flag from the standpoint of fine motor accessibility, especially since other reviewers have stated that the game’s actual enjoyment lies more in the side activities than in the story-based missions.

The largest issue, however, will be for those with hearing impairments. This is because only the cutscenes are thoroughly subtitled, and even these are missing the labels that tell players which character is speaking. Beyond this, none of the ambient dialogue or sound effects are subtitled, which can make it difficult for deaf or hearing impaired players to determine when they’ve been spotted during stealth sequences, or when they’re about to be shot by guards in a tower. This means that only the side activities that have no story and are wide open to a trial-and-error approach will be accessible to those with hearing impairments, which is disappointing since these players are excluded from a large portion of this game.

On the whole, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag offers a mixed bag of accessibility. Players with sight and fine motor disabilities will probably be able to enjoy it, while players with hearing impairments should probably just avoid it.

Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Auditory Rating: Partially Accessible
GameInformer Score: 8.25

The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag


– Nothing relies on fine detail.
– Important objects are very easily visible.
– A large majority of the game does not require the ability to see colors.

Certain areas require the ability to see the difference between red, yellow, and white.
Fine Motor

– Game is extremely forgiving.
– Game offers lots of choice as to which activities the player engages in.

– Game must be played with multiple fingers on both hands.
– No controller customization.


-Cut scenes are subtitled.

– No ambient noise is subtitled.
– Subtitles are poorly executed.

This article has been transferred from DAGERSystem (now AbilityPoints). Scores, formatting, and writing style may differ from original CIPT content.

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