Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag Jackdaw Upgrades Guide

The Jackdaw is Kenway’s prized possession in Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag, and is an all essential part of the game.

With heavy emphasis on sea battles in this game, the Jackdaw is an integral part of the singeplayer campaign, and thus needs regular maintenance and upgrades to remaining an unmatched force on the seas of battle.

Upgrading the Jackdaw is no easy task though, as it needs a large amount of money.

Heck, money isn’t the only factor that comes into play; more advanced upgrades require other collectibles as well, including the more difficult to find: metal. Thus, you need to strike a balance of priorities, and upgrade the Jackdaw accordingly.

If you plan on invading Naval Forts and taking on Naval Contracts, then it might be worth to invest plenty on your boat. For more help on Assassin’s Creed 4, read our Elite Design Plans, Fast Money and Hideout Upgrades Guide.

Hull Armor
The Hull Armor is the primary defensive upgradable part of the Jackdaw. It directly determines how much damage you can take before your ship sinks. Because of these reasons, this should be your first priority in upgrades.

Upgrading your Hull Armor will be an extremely expensive process though, with the requirements of plenty of money and metal. Make sure you get the intermediate upgrade before getting any of the others, and when you can afford to, come back and get some reinforced, followed by advanced armor.

Broadside Cannons
Ah, Broadside Cannons; they’re the most well-known weapons for a ship, and it’s no different with the Jackdaw. These medium/close-ranged weapons are located on both sides of the ship. While using them, you want to avoid enemy ship’s broadsides, so sometimes it’s useful to use a different angle of attack.

There are two upgrades that are associated with the Broadside Cannons. One upgrade is called Broadside Cannon itself, while the other is Heavy Shot, explained next.

Upgrading Broadside Cannons won’t increase their power, it will only increase the number of cannons on both sides of the ship. This will mean more shots fired – think of it something similar to ‘attack speed’.

I recommend upgrading these along with the Heavy Shot, as the two go hand-in-hand. Broadsides are your most powerful and most reliable medium to close-ranged weapons.

Heavy Shot
The Heavy Shot is a very powerful upgrade to the Jackdaw’s broadside cannons. While the previous upgrade increases the number of cannons on both sides of the ship, Heavy Shot significantly increases the amount of damage each individual shot would do.

You should get the first upgrade immediately alongside the Broadside Cannons upgrade, because it’s fairly cheap. However, it’s a steep road from here onwards, as the prices jump to ridiculous numbers.

Consider acquiring the second upgrade for the Heavy Shot only once you manage to get your hands on 13 broadside cannons and reinforced hull armor to strike optimum balance between defense and firepower.

Getting this too early will mean that you are either very powerful and fast but lacking in defense, or you have good defense and power but lack attack speed.

Although many would rate Mortars as optional bonus weapons, but they are an absolute must-have if you are serious about taking on Naval Forts and Naval Contracts.

Mortars are long-ranged, powerful weapons that rely heavily on aim. They’re more or less useless when within broadside range, but there’s nothing more rewarding than making enemy ships sink from a distance.

Mortars are excellent initiators, and most enemy ships have no ways to counter their harassment (except the man o’ war, which can strike you back with mortars). Thus, they give you added dominance and make things much easier, especially when you’re aiming for Naval Forts and Naval Contracts.

I would recommend acquiring intermediate mortars after investing the first set of upgrades into the Hull Armor, Broadside Cannons, and Heavy Shot. Leave it till that, invest more in the previous three, and then come back to Mortars again once you can afford another upgrade.

Round Shot
The Round Shot upgrade is a critical hit based feature added to the broadside cannons. It allows you to inflict critical damage after a successful volley from the broadside cannons.

There is a reloading delay after each round of shots from the cannons, between which you can land a perfect round shot and inflict more than double the damage the enemy would be expecting. The stronger the round shot is, the more critical damage you can inflict.

The first round shot upgrade is cheap, and worth the money. However, after that, there is no real reason to come back to this, unless you’re done upgrading each and every other component.

Powerful Mortars, Heavy Shots, and loads of cannons with a preliminary round shot upgrade are more than enough for the most part of the game.

Chase Cannons
If you’re having a bad time getting chased all around by enemy ships, you might want to consider this upgrade. For most of us though, it’s just a bonus, and not even one of the important ones.

Chase cannons are cannons mounted on the rear of the Jackdaw, shooting from its behinds (giggity). You will actually start off with fire-barrels for this purpose, but you can quickly upgrade to the more reliable cannons, make the barrels completely redundant.

It’s unlikely you will find yourself using these often, so there is absolutely no need to go further than the first upgrade. Consider saving up for the more expensive and more essential upgrades.

Swivel Shot
Swivel Shots are just mean. You pound a ship into near non-existence, and then you destroy its crew with swivel guns. It’s harsh, it’s fun, and it can really save up time. Sometimes Swivel Shots work so well that you won’t even need to board the enemy ship you just crippled.

However, they have one major problem: swivel shots only work with ships with decks that are lower or the same height as yours. Higher positioned decks won’t be effected by swivel shots, which means they don’t serve much purpose against man o’ wars.

If you are boarding from a tighter angle, you won’t be able to aim the swivel guns enough to harm the enemy crew. Thus, it can be said that swivel shot upgrade has less perks than it should, which is why it isn’t an upgrade with high priority. Enjoy the other upgrades before you consider it, and even if you do, just invest for the initial bit.

Chain Shots
Chain Shots latch on to enemy ships from the front of the Jackdaw. It’s a pretty useful upgrade if you’re in the habit of chasing as if you were driving a car, but even then you won’t have much prolonged use of this weapon.

Upgrading the chain shot is more or less useless actually, because even at maximum upgrade, it doesn’t to as much damage as the broadside canons or mortars would. Thus, just ignore it for the most part of the game, and get yourself into the habit of aligning the Jackdaw for broadside cannons, and maybe even shooting from a distance with mortars.

Haider is a freelance contributor, who loves video games, playing guitar, and aviation. He is a competitive FPS player and also enjoys exotic RPG games like Diablo and Xenogears (his favorite game of all time) ...