A Diatribe on Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

I just wanna get one thing out of the way:

Edward Kenway is, hands down, the best assassin. I don’t care what anyone else thinks; he’s awesome and even better than Ezio Auditore de Firenze. Now you’re probably thinking that I loved this game? “Love” is probably a bit too strong but I definitely didn’t hate it. Nostalgia tells me that I had more fun playing Brotherhood but thinking back I feel like I can easily say that AC4 is better. Likely even the best Assassin’s Creed to date.

Let’s talk about Edward; Grandfather Kenway. Immediately the name reminded me of Connor Kenway; his grandson. I fucking hated Connor. He was a goody two-shoes foreign boy who just… Ugh! Haytham Kenway was the only meat behind AC3, I’ll just say that much. Haytham being Connor’s Father and Edward’s son. Edward wasn’t necessarily supposed to be the ‘charismatic’ assassin, that role belonged to Ezio. However, he definitely felt a lot more appealing. Ezio had charisma but it was like feigning humanity. He wasn’t charismatic because he naturally was. Ezio almost felt like watching a sociopath for the reason that he was charismatic at almost every point you play him. Until the most boring AC I’ve played; Revelations where he was this wise old man that- fuck I don’t even remember what he did in that game. I don’t think it was worth remembering. He held onto some of that “charm” but for the most part he settled in being the ‘Obi-Wan’ of the series. I liked Ezio, I really did. But his story hardly felt as humane as Edwards.

Ezio’s process of growth depended on learning how to go about building the Brotherhood which is a huge part of the Assassin’s history. And the first game he was in was growing into an assassin. Revelations was, more or less, supposed to sell his “deep” background; wasn’t feelin’ it. I mean, the game was fucking boring! I can’t say that enough. So, I’ll just dismiss that entry going forward. AC4 was a lot more about Edward and his role in the story which, to be honest, it’s a little sad he wasn’t that relevant. Certainly not as relevant as Ezio. However, that allowed them to focus more on his own story. His own legend. A pirate legend! Man, it took a little out of me, I’ll admit. As you spend time sailing the open sea; Edward, like the money-grubbing pirate he is, slowly descends into greed. He carries on like this blissfully unaware but based off the opening scene we can tell that despite his noble cause, what he’s doing is gonna consume him. If you don’t know here’s the DL: Edward leaves his wife, Caroline Scott, to become a sailor as he finds piracy to be the quickest way to build a luxurious future for him and his wife. Caroline heavily argues against this but Edward shouts and screams that he will succeed and regurgitates all sorts of nonsense; an origin story that suits a pirate.

He gets stranded on an Island with Duncan Walpole. An assassin. He kills him- takes his assassin gear and sails on a nearby ship he dubs the Jackdaw towards Havana where Mr. Walpole planned to defect to the long-time enemy of the assassins; templars. Edward did this because he saw some money in it for him and thus starts his story within Assassin’s Creed. Denote that Edward was not an assassin for the majority of the game. He saw no reason to align himself with such an order as his only loyalty lies within cash or, excuse me, ‘reales’ as they call them in this specific age. But saying that he “only” cared for reales seems… Wrong? Like, he never felt like a greedy, bad pirate. He always carried a level of concern especially for those around him. His ultimate goal was to essentially to get rich fast but he seemed to get sidetracked, not with obstacles, but with other goals in partnership with fellow pirates by the likes of James Kidd (who turned out to be a trap; Mary Read), Thatch Blackbeard and Charles VaneJack Rackham‘s also included. But nobody likes him. Hilariously you set his ship on fire and ram it into a fleet. Fucking loved that. Edward would try to build Nassau into a republic for pirates; that didn’t pan out. He would help the other pirates from getting out of life-threatening situations. He would go through so much trouble until he’d find his way back to his goal of finding the observatory to, eventually, sell it.

The whole thing with the observatory is that it’s capable of seeing through the eyes of any human being so long as you have their blood. He planned to sell this to whoever would pay the most. In this endeavor, he found his friends falling one by one and none of their deaths is particularly emotional; at least, not for me. But I’ve noticed they were distracting Edward from carrying out his goal, somewhat. It’s like that kind of thing where your friends know you’re not exactly in the right mindset so they covertly try to keep you away from making terrible decisions. Regardless, they die. With each death he comes closer and closer to ‘reaching’ his goal. Notice I don’t say “achieve”. Even his quartermaster who I’ll just call ‘Ade’ eventually leaves him due to Edward’s obsession overtaking his priorities over his captaincy. Even after Ade recommended giving the Observatory over to the assassins to aid their cause Edward simply responded with: “Aye, I’ll hand it to them. For the right price.” Ade groaning intensifies!

Finally losing everything and every one he loved; Edward realizes the pain he’s caused others and the greed that has overtaken him. Having this misconception that he’s been the “bad” guy this entire time is part of what makes him endearing. Because, like I said, he fucked up. A lot. But he cared about everything around him. He tried. He bled. He lost. I can’t condemn a guy like that. He sails to the assassin’s order to atone for his sins; believing he’ll never be able to redeem himself. He joins and quickly grant them success by killing the templar antagonist and locking up the observatory for good. I will say one thing I didn’t like about my main man here. He didn’t wholly sell me on the emotional impact his descent into greed was supposed to reflect. I understood the implications and I felt his losses. But I didn’t feel them “enough” because it didn’t really feel like he collapsed into depression. He was really sad, sure. But there was never any super emotional scene that grasped all of what happened to him.

But the very end of it was impactful enough when Edward receives a letter that his wife had been dead for a few years. Silver-lining, Edward’s a Father to a little girl. I will say, if you played this game and skipped the credits; you’re a monster. The credits consist of Edward sailing to England with his baby girl and having a sweet conversation. We later learn that upon reaching England; he retires his flag and settles down with a second wife and pops another young boy by the name of Haytham; I told you bout him. 1124 words talking about one man sheesh… Actually that’s about right because most of everything else isn’t much of a discussion.

The gameplay is pretty fun albeit clunky specifically when roaming on land. Definitely didn’t feel like they went backwards with the PvE combat. Playing in the sea can be really fun but can see improvements in some areas. A.I. is extremely bad. Not hilariously so but bad enough to warrant me severely ragging on it. However, I won’t do that as it’s a waste of my and your time. It fucking sucks, though. The game can also get very glitchy. I’d sometimes hang on a ships outer woodwork railings and I’d find myself falling due to the bullets of the A.I. going through the ship and into my body. That’s only 1 of many things that can happen.

I think for a pirate game, in this day and age, it’s pretty good. It’s on-par with Sid Meier’s Pirates if not technically better due to having a lot more content. As a pirate game, however, it can see a lot of improvements. I think one thing pirate games really need is… First there needs to be more pirate games- and good ones. Not like fucking Sea of Thieves. Secondly, pirate games need the crew members to matter, to some degree. Like, when I recruit someone into my crew I wanna know their name. Maybe give me a bio of their character. Give them a semi-interesting design. Give me something! I don’t like treating crew members as a ship stat. It’s just lazy. I don’t mind not being able to switch ships but I would’ve liked more grandiose upgrades. Imagine if I could’ve made my ship into some huge ass hotel that I can walk around in and, shit, converse with my crew members who’re living in one of the most luxurious pirate ships ever. That’s an idea! Maybe not quite that one but… Something like that, right?

Anyways, I loved the character a hell of a lot more than anything else. It has a lot of content; not much of it maintains a consistent amount of entertainment. It gets pretty stale after awhile. Those are my closing statements. Yar-har…

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