[Update: be sure to check out the official announcement trailer of Black Flag here!]
It was clear that Assassin’s Creed 3 wouldn’t be slowing the momentum of the series, and now the next release, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has been leaked and officially confirmed by Ubisoft. We still await official details from the studio, but from what’s been leaked thus far, Black Flag will be set in the Caribbean Sea circa 1715, with a brand new ‘part-time pirate’ protagonist.
Since the brand new protagonist fans were promised is a maritime Assassin living just decades before the events of AC3, reports have surfaced claiming that the new lead is in fact Edward Kenway, grandfather of Assassin Connor Kenway (and father of Templar Haytham Kenway). But what’s in a name? We’re taking a closer look at Edward Kenway, and the mysteries of his life that the game will be likely to explore (assuming he is, in fact, the new hero).
The Kenway name may have been irrevocably damaged due to Haytham Kenway’s treacherous betrayal, abandoning his Assassin upbringing to act as the first Grand Master of the Templar order in America. But long before Haytham even came into the world, his father Edward had established himself as a capable member of the Assassin Order.
As an English privateer apparently working along the Florida coast and Caribbean at the time, the exact distinction between privateering and piracy is, for our intents, fairly murky. After all, a privateer was essentially a private citizen authorized by a government to act as a pirate against its enemies. Besides Kenway’s presumed licenses attained from Britain, little is known about his younger years.
Most of what is actually known about Edward Kenway comes courtesy of “Assassin’s Creed: Forsaken” by Oliver Bowden, a novelized account of Haytham Kenway’s life preceding and during the events of Assassin’s Creed 3. Haytham reveals what he knows of his father, mainly that he married a woman by the name of Caroline Scott, with whom he had a daughter, Jenny Kenway.
Exactly how Scott and Kenway met, married, and had a child is unknown. What is known is that the marriage ended, leaving Kenway to return to London, marry Tessa Stephenson-Oakley and father Haytham in 1725. His birth year is unknown, but it’s clear that in the year in which Black Flag is set, Edward would be almost the same age as Connor or Ezio Auditore when their time as an Assassin began.
Obviously, several questions are raised: was Edward an Assassin before becoming an English privateer, or did his travels brings him face-to-face with the Order? If the Templar and Assassin presence in the New World was much smaller at that time, where will the intrigue and action take place? Clearly, the early years of Edward Kenway’s life is where the greatest mystery – and therefore, chances for Ubisoft to tell an untethered story – lie.
Since almost nothing is known of Caroline Scott, and given the presence of romantic subplots throughout the Creed series, there’s a good chance players will witness the budding relationship between the two. The lack of a real romantic figure in Assassin’s Creed 3 didn’t help Connor develop beyond a man seeking vengeance, so we’re optimistic about the possibilities of a Kenway-Scott affair (especially if it gives players a reason to not spend hours upon hours sailing the high seas directionless).
What transpires during Edward’s years abroad will likely make up the heart of Black Flag, but whatever he found in the Americas, it followed him to England. “Forsaken” tells us that some time after 1733, Edward’s close friend Reginald Birch (1705-1757) used Haytham to reveal the whereabouts of his father’s “most prized possessions,” triggering an argument when Edward realized his deception. Not long after, a group of masked men invaded the Kenway home, kidnapping Jenny (in whom Reginald had shown romantic interest) and killing Edward.
As it happens, Reginald Birch was actually working for the Templars, and following the incident, took the young Haytham (trained as an Assassin to that point by his father) under his wing, and ushered him into the Templars. Birch ultimately paid for his deceit in the extended fiction, but was seen in the opening act of AC3 giving Kenway his mission in America.
The mystery obviously lies in what Edward had found and kept hidden, apparently an ancient book containing secrets of the First Civilization. If we were prone to predictions (which we are), we’d expect the discovery of that information to lay the foundations for both Haytham and Connor’s missions decades later. Ubisoft had explained that AC3 would be “planting seeds” for future games, and revealing the first chapter in a story players didn’t know they were bringing to a close is certainly one way to do so.
What Edward Kenway was sent to do in America, what his role was within the Assassin Order, and how he came upon the ancient book (among other possible information and relics) remains to be seen. We know how his story will end, but how it begins could very well be the story Ubisoft wishes to tell.
If that’s the case, how do you feel about the relatively small shift in time frame and environments? Much of the game will still take place on the mainland, but where do you see the best parts of the story possibly taking place? Leave us your thoughts, and any theories you might have, in the comments.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is expected to hit all platforms this fall.
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