Multiplayer Basics

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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Official Digital Strategy Guide
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Multiplayer Basics

With a wide range of features, game types and maps, the Assassin’s Creed IV multiplayer mode may seem a little daunting to a first-time player. In this chapter, we provide a wealth of explanations, insights and techniques that will help you to play at a competitive level from the get-go.

Game Principles

The Assassin’s Creed IV multiplayer mode is a very different experience than the single-player adventure. The focus here is on free running, social stealth and assassinations, with a simplified combat engine. Instead of open brawls, you will acquire and use a range of unlockable skills to improve your ability to hunt and kill targets, or to evade aggressors.

Once a multiplayer session has been launched, your character will appear somewhere on the chosen map. You will notice that all citizens around you resemble one of the many playable characters, or “skins”. In most Game Modes, some will look identical to you. All you know at first is that other human players are out there, hiding among the crowds, and you will be assigned a contract to kill one of them.

The most important thing to understand about the Assassin’s Creed IV multiplayer mode is that winners are determined based on points, not kills. While a high kill count is certainly an accomplishment, performing well in each match is a matter of how you execute your assassinations – not your final body count. With special bonuses acknowledging worthy feats, there is a definite onus on playing the mode in the way its creators intended.

You will regularly find yourself cast in the dual role of hunter and prey. As you walk the streets in search of your contract, other players are likely to be tracking you. Naturally, stealth is of paramount importance. A covert approach can be employed to evade the attention of your victims and potential executors, but you must always be ready to adapt your tactics and flee or hide if a rival assigned to kill you is closing in fast.

The Main Menu

You can cycle through the various tabs of the main menu with the indicated shoulder buttons of your controller.

A Progression: Used to check your progression in the game, as well as statistics and ladders.

B Customization: This is where you can prepare yourself before each game session. Select this menu to edit your Ability Sets, change your character’s appearance and animations, and set up your player profile (emblems, pictures, titles, and so forth).

C Home: This is the menu that enables you to play games. You will find a description of all game modes in the Game Modes chapter.

D Abstergo Network: This tab covers all of the interactions you may have with Friends.

E Options and Data: This provides access to the Animus Database, where you will find information on all manner of topics. You can also modify game options and read news updates. Finally, your Personal Folder is where you can view story-related Abstergo Files that you will unlock as you progress in the game.

Onscreen Display

1 Players List:

  • Press the required button to display a list of players in the current session, as well as their scores. The list will disappear after a few seconds.

2 Player Data:

  • This shows your current rank and score, as well as the time remaining. Victory is handed to the player with the most points at the end of the round.
  • You will also find information specific to your game mode here, such as team scores.

3 Assassinate/Stun Button and Lock Button Icons:

  • A contextual button prompt that appears above a character’s head indicates when a kill or stun can be performed by pressing .
  • You can also lock on () to a target by pressing the Lock Button. The lock lasts while your target is in your line of sight, or until manually disabled. It will break if you lose sight of the target for more than a few seconds.

4 Abilities:

  • Icons in these slots show which Abilities are currently available to you.
  • Abilities in Cooldown (that is, recharging after use) are replaced by a timer until available.

5 Compass:

  • The primary function of this directional indicator is to show the approximate position of your target. The width of the “fill” arc increases as you approach your target, becoming a full disc when you are in close proximity. It will turn bright blue whenever your target is in sight.
  • There is no Compass in Deathmatch and Domination modes.

6 Target Data:

  • This portrait shows the skin of the character you must kill. Beware of lookalikes and disguises. It will take a little while to become acquainted with all characters, but you’ll soon gain the ability to recognize your target with a brief glance at his or her picture.
  • The portrait is greyed out when your target is not in your line of sight. It turns blue the moment your target enters your field of vision – which means that your victim can see you as well. The display zooms in on the portrait when you are close to your target, and the portrait itself reacts to the heartbeats that can be heard – a clear cue that you are almost within assassination range of your target.
  • The Approach Meter illustrates your level of discretion and directly affects your kill bonus. The more careful the approach, the greater the bonus. Subtle, Low Profile actions (such as walking or hiding) gradually fill up the Approach Meter. Conversely, performing High Profile actions (such as running) will cause your Approach Meter to drain.


As Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii U and PC players own different control devices, we use the standardized terms presented in the table below to refer to each button in many areas of the guide. These should be easy to recognize, but you can refer back here if you need to refresh your memory at any point.


PS3 & PS4


Standardized Term


Basic Movement

Camera Control

Taunt; switch Targets in Team modes; select Ability Set

Fast Walk

Shove (High Profile mode only); drop from a ledge; vault over obstacles

Assassinate; Stun

Use Ability 3/Ranged Weapon (hold to aim)



Lock Button

Lock Target



High Profile Button

High Profile Mode



Ability 1 Button

Use Ability 1 (hold to aim with abilities that can be thrown)



Ability 2 Button

Use Ability 2 (hold to aim with abilities that can be thrown)

Center Camera

(Xbox 360)

(Xbox One)




Pause Menu

(Xbox 360)

(Xbox One)


Touchpad (PS4)


Display extra information, such as the Players List and scores

Note for PC Players

To avoid confusion and over-lengthy lists of buttons and keys throughout this guide, we reference console button commands only. If you don’t already own one, we can’t overstate the difference that a good twin-stick joypad will make. Any brand of wired Xbox 360 controller will suffice, and they’re now widely supported by PC game developers.

Control Notes:

  • The Fast Walk command (hold ) enables you to increase your movement speed by a barely perceptible degree, which can be invaluable for closing the gap on a victim, or pulling away from a would-be aggressor. This incurs no Approach Meter penalties, but experienced players can identify you when you change pace.
  • If you are forced to flee, can be held to barge past civilians in your path as you run.
  • While walking through crowds, you will notice that the Assassinate/Stun button icon can appear above any civilian when you face them in close proximity. Killing innocents leads to the loss of your contract, so this is where the Lock function comes in useful. Press Lock when your suspected target is in your immediate sight, or hold to aim and release to Lock the target from a distance. A white padlock will then appear over your target’s head (). The advantage of the Lock function is that the Assassinate icon only appears for this individual, meaning that you cannot accidentally strike an innocent. The Lock will break if you lose sight of a target for more than a few seconds.
  • If an enemy makes a High Profile move while in plain sight, an icon will appear over their heads to enable you to focus your attention with ease.
  • When running away from an enemy, press or to vault (rather than jump) over small obstacles, or to quickly drop from a rooftop (01). This might surprise your pursuer, who will usually expect you to perform a jump, whereas this move can make you suddenly disappear from their line of sight.

Line of Sight

Line of sight is one of the key concepts in the Assassin’s Creed IV multiplayer mode. The principle is simple: whenever there are no obstacles between you and your target, you are within each other’s line of sight. This is reflected on the onscreen display by the fact that your target’s portrait changes color. It is grayed out initially, and turns bright blue when you enter each other’s line of sight.

Whether or not you actually see your target is irrelevant. You could be facing away from each other, and the portrait will nevertheless turn blue (02). Conversely, you will often experience instances where you can physically see a target on your screen, but the portrait will remain grayed out if there is a wall breaking the line of sight between you and your quarry (03).

The most important implication of this concept is that it governs the pace of the game and how you should behave.

  • As long as you are not in your target’s line of sight, you can use High Profile moves and rush towards your target, sprinting or free running at will.
  • The moment you enter their line of sight (as indicated by the portrait’s blue color), however, you need to slow down and switch to Low Profile – walking and blending being your best options. Any High Profile action you perform from this point forward will not only deplete your Approach Meter, but also send a signal of your presence to your opponent – a red icon () appearing on their screen to show them your position.

It will usually take you mere seconds to locate and reach your target while sprinting. This means that, as a general rule, you should spend most of your time in the game in Low Profile. As soon as the portrait on your screen turns blue, this is your cue to release the High Profile Button and behave in the same manner as the bystanders around you. With experience, and plenty of game time on individual maps, you’ll eventually gain the ability to regularly anticipate these transitions and adopt your preferred subterfuge just before the portrait changes.

Chasing & Fleeing

A chase usually begins when a target spots an incoming pursuer.

  • Pursuer: Once you are revealed, it’s often a good idea to start free running and ascend to higher ground. Not only will your target have to work harder to hide, but you’ll also increase the effective range of assassination through free running tackles and aerial kills. You could also try to use shortcuts whenever you have a good idea of where your target intends to run next (04), or employ relevant Abilities at your disposal. As exhilarating as a chase can be, note that protracted pursuits will waste valuable match time.
  • Target: When you are made aware that an assailant is closing in to assassinate you, your best option is often to escape. Use Chase Breakers to gain distance (05). Even if a pursuer is hot on your heels, hope remains right up until they hit the Assassinate button. With a little luck, good reflexes or tactical sense (if you lure them to a hiding place, for example), you can strike them with your character’s stun move. This will incapacitate them for a few seconds and earn you extra points.

Hiding Places

Carts filled with hay (or leaves or hides), bushes and straw piles are the most obvious hiding places featured in the multiplayer game, and completely remove you from view when you jump inside. All kills made from such places of concealment lead to generous bonuses (05), but with the obvious drawback that you must remain stationary while a rival may be closing in on your position. Furthermore, entering and leaving these hiding places is clearly not the behavior of a civilian: such acts telegraph your intentions to anyone who happens to glance in your direction.

Social stealth is the most common method of finding a hiding place, either by blending with a crowd of bystanders or by sitting on a bench (07). It is easy to make Low Profile transitions from one group to another, and you need only move briefly through a passing crowd when closing in on your target to earn a related kill bonus. Use the Fast Walk move to catch up with groups of citizens walking ahead of you.

Chase Breakers

Each map features a number of Chase Breakers to enable competitors to briefly evade opponents in pursuit. There are four types to look for, readily identified by the white shimmer of their Animus matrix outline. As Chase Breakers are triggered by any High Profile activity, such as running, you can pass them stealthily without incident. They also reset after a short period of time, so always make good use of the valuable seconds of grace they offer. In Assassin’s Creed IV, you can set a trap on a Chase Breaker with the Booby Trap Ability: this causes the device to explode the next time an opponent activates the Chase Breaker.

Lifts: Collide with the front of these devices to trigger them, and the counterweight will propel you instantly to roof level. Note that you can also drop onto a Lift from above – a tactic of great merit when a rival is almost directly behind you.

Closing Gates: Running through these passages will cause doors to swing shut. Time your entry carefully, and these Chase Breakers will slam closed in the face of your would-be assassin and force them to take another path.

Vines: Vines disappear immediately after you use them, giving you (but not your pursuer) the opportunity to proceed on a fast and direct free running route.