The internet may still be reeling from the official confirmation and box art for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and the newly leaked announcement trailer, but for those who’ve been following the series’ fiction thus far, the revealed setting and apparent connections to past Assassins poses a few potential challenges.
Fans were promised a brand new hero for the next game, and it looks like they’ll get it in the form of Edward Kenway. As an ancestor of Desmond Miles (and grandfather to AC3 protagonist Connor Kenway) Edward’s presence implies that Desmond will return. To discuss why that might pose a challenge, and the alternatives, consider this article spoiler-filled from here on out.
Beside the fact that Ubisoft claimed from the outset that AC3 would be the end of Desmond’s story, anyone who actually played the campaign to completion will know why he might not be available for a trip in the Animus. Mainly, because he was killed.
Before people accuse AC3‘s somewhat disappointing ending of being even more of a cop-out, explaining that Desmond somehow survived to keep on fighting isn’t the only option. We wouldn’t put that solution past them (since we’ve seen worse storytelling), but it’s hard to believe Ubisoft would flat-out invite criticism for undercutting the finale of the previous game.
The immediate question that one might ask is: if Desmond’s parents and possible siblings also possess the genetic material of Edward and Connor Kenway, could Desmond’s father, mother, or other relative be taking his place in Black Flag‘s modern portion?
Excuses have been made in the past for why Desmond’s father, William, couldn’t carry out the mission himself, so doing so now would open up some serious plot holes. That being said, another Miles taking up the mantle could be interesting, if done properly (the historical heroes have changed over time, why not the modern ones as well?).
It would certainly be more acceptable than anything that reeks of an excuse or quick-and-dirty explanation or deus ex machina. Something along the lines of ‘Desmond’s memories were somehow stored in the Animus,’ or allowing another character to adapt to Desmond’s genetic memory (we didn’t tell you the Animus could do that?). While these work on paper to different degrees, they also mean that any significance placed specifically in Desmond’s training over the course of the series was more or less a deception.
The other, perhaps most promising (and riskiest) solution is for Shaun, Rebecca and William Miles to recruit an entirely new modern-day Assassin who is also a descendant of the same bloodline. We’re not sure that such a new character would be introduced in a subtitled game – as opposed to Assassin’s Creed 4 proper – but given that Ubisoft seems to be changing their release strategy for what could be the next crop of games bearing the titular ’4,’ anything is possible.
There’s one thing that makes the selection of Edward Kenway as the new hero particularly interesting: he was married more than once. Haytham Kenway, the son of Edward and Tessa Stephenson-Oakley is already familiar to players. But Jenny, Haytham’s half-sister and daughter of Caroline Scott, Edward’s first wife, is a complete mystery.
Especially considering that Jenny was kidnapped at a young age to act as a concubine in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace – a key location in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. There’s no evidence of Jenny mothering a child in the extended fiction, but her time spent in Istanbul leaves plenty of theories wide open. And that’s not even considering the endless children and grandchildren possibly a part of Edward, Haytham, and Connor’s lineage.
It’s anyone’s guess what move Ubisoft will make: going back on their word and keeping Desmond present in some sense, or taking this chance to do something truly fresh. Maybe even introduce a female protagonist (not on Vita) at last? Even if it’s not in a historical period, letting Desmond’s sister, cousin, or fellow oblivious Assassin continue his fight would be enough to grab the attention of even those who feel the series is growing tired.
What would you like to see in Black Flag? A brand new modern Assassin, or Desmond’s survival? More importantly, what solution would you most be disappointed to see used? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is expected to hit all platforms this fall.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce for all your AC updates.