Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Preview – The E3 Primer
Game Front’s E3 Primer series is focused on providing previews of key games, companies and gadgets leading up to E3 2013 (June 11-13, 2013). Bookmark our E3 channel and check back for more in-depth preview coverage leading up to the big show.
UPDATE 5/15/13 Here’s a brand new trailer!
The yearly update to Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series is making a few key changes to the formula. For one, it’s about pirates. For two, it’s set on the high seas of the Caribbean in the early 1700s. And for three, it abandons the last game’s protagonist, Connor (or Ratonhnhaké:ton) in favor of his grandfather, who we know is a bad-ass pirate mostly because of the implication in trailers that he sometimes bangs two women at the same time.
Much in the same way that The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker took Link to the ocean instead of the vast hilly landscape of Hyrule, it seems Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is set to expand the world and rework the formula of the well-loved Assassin’s Creed series. With a release date pending in the fall of this year, we’re sure to see Black Flag as one of the big games discussed at Ubisoft’s booth at E3 2013. So in preparation for all the new stuff we’re sure to learn, here’s a rundown of everything we already know. This is your Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag E3 Primer.
First, a little bit of an update, and a spoiler warning: We’re about to talk about the ending of Assassin’s Creed 3. If you’re unfamiliar and you don’t want the story ruined, you’re going to want to back away quickly.
This is your chance.
Okay, at the end of Assassin’s Creed 3, series protagonist Desmond Miles made the ultimate sacrifice to help protect Earth against solar flares that would have wreaked havoc on the population of the planet. In so doing, he allowed Juno, a powerful member of the First Civilization, to be released from a temple and theoretically enslave all humanity. So, you know… you’ll probably have to deal with that. On the plus side, the world didn’t cook.
Even though Desmond’s gone, it seems we’ll still be able to access his genetic memories, which is how we’ll get to interact with his ancestor, Edward Kenway. Apparently, those memories have been uploaded to “the cloud,” making them accessible by Abstergo Entertainment, a division of Abstergo Industries, the modern, corporate front of the Templar organization. The new main character of the game, then, is You — an Abstergo employee, and presumably a silent protagonist of some sort. Just how that will be handled, we’re not sure, but members of the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations team are involved with AC4, and that game was the first in the series to include first-person gameplay sections — it might not be crazy to assume we’ll be seeing that again in the Abstergo portions.
It also has been confirmed that modern-day characters that we’ve seen in other AC games will be making a return, but Ubisoft hasn’t really explained just how they’ll be integrated.
As for the portions that concern Kenway himself, it sounds as though linear storytelling might be taking a back-seat to a more open-world gameplay drive. We know the Templars will factor into the story in some way, and that Kenway will perform assassinations against other characters, but much of what Ubisoft has described suggests that the primary thrust of the game will concern Kenway dealing with other pirates. The game is set to take place over about a decade, starting in 1715 or so, and will feature a number of interactions with real events and real people, including Blackbeard, Calico Jack and Anne Bonny. Ubisoft has said it means to take a sort of “HBO” approach to pirates — so expect a darker, perhaps more adult tone, and more sex, as well.
It’s worth noting as well that Edward Kenway is the father of Haytham, the most interesting character in Assassin’s Creed 3 and a man who somehow wound up going from Assassin to Templar in his young life. This is speculative(!), but for my part, I think the developing story of Edward and Haytham, and some emotional gulf between them that results in Haytham’s ultimately joining the Templars, could be a major part of the story of AC4.