‘Assassin’s Creed 4′ Lead Writer on Edward Kenway’s Character Arc

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Edward Kenway keeps his eye on the prize in Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag

Ubisoft has some excellent looking games lined up for the next generation, including brand new hacker vigilante sandbox Watch Dogs, but the company’s current annual staple is the ever-popular Assassin’s Creed series, which places the player in various periods of history and allows them to run around irresponsibly over famous pieces of architecture. There’s also some kind of subplot to do with Templars and conspiracies and the end of the world, but if you’d rather not get into that then you can just swan-dive off the Colosseum in Rome and then stab a passing guard in the back of the head for fun.

The next game in the series is Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the protagonist of which is a swaggering young pirate named Edward Kenway who roams the waters of the West Indies in the eighteenth century searching for booty to be plundered. This will be the first game in the series without a modern protagonist, since Desmond Miles’ story was brought to a close at the end of Assassin’s Creed III, and the player will instead take on the role of an unnamed Abstergo Industries researcher digging through genetic material, presumably to unlock the location of another Piece of Eden.

According to an interview with lead writer Darby McDevitt on the official Ubiblog, the driving force behind Edward’s story arc for the game is his desire to lay his hands on a mysterious object that can make him both powerful and wealthy (possibly made from that rare mineral known as MacGuffinite), that the Templars are also relentlessly pursuing. Playing Capture the Flag with the Pieces of Eden is by no means a new plot device for the Assassin’s Creed series, but it’s worked well as a motivator so far, and this game franchise is really all about the journey rather than the destination.

High seas adventures in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Speaking of the journey, McDevitt opened up a little about the differences between Edward’s story arc and that of previous Assassin’s Creed protagonists, particularly his grandson, Connor, who was the star of the last game. One of the chief complaints about Assassin’s Creed III was that Connor was too dour and serious in comparison to the Italian Renaissance playboy, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, who had appeared in the three previous games. Perhaps this is why Edward’s story arc will be a flipped version of Connor’s:

“Edward is almost a counterpoint to Connor in some ways. Connor begins very idealistic and the experience he has through ‘Assassin’s Creed III’ starts to make him really jaded. He’s doing all these things he believes are right and they don’t pay off in all the right ways.

“So [with Edward] I started with a guy who was already jaded. He was cynical. He’s out for himself. He has this marriage that’s really rocky. He’s estranged from his wife. He wants to try to prove he’s a man worthy of her affection, so he goes to the West Indies to become a privateer, and that falls apart really fast and he falls into piracy.

“He kind of bounces between the Assassins and Templars for a time, trying to find something that makes his life more meaningful. At first he has all these selfish goals but his experiences focus him on what is and isn’t important in life.”

One thing that the Assassin’s Creed writers have successfully managed to do so far is to give each of the main protagonists their own unique characteristics, from the stoic seriousness of Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad in the first game to Connor Kenway’s dogged determinedness in his quest for revenge against Charles Lee, but one thing that each of the protagonists have had in common is an urge to do the right thing. The characters have had their flaws, like Altaïr’s arrogance and Ezio’s hot-headedness, but they all eventually work to overcome those flaws for the sake of the greater good.

Edward however, just might end up being the exception to this rule, as McDevitt suggests that the pirate’s major flaw is his self-centeredness and his willingness to bend the Creed in order to serve his own purposes. Since he is in the pirate game for the gold and the glory, Edward takes the central tenet of “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” to mean that he can do whatever he wants – even killing or robbing innocent civilians – without fear of reprisal.

Assassin's Creed New Protagonist Time Period

This is an interesting new direction in which to take the series. Morally ambiguous characters obviously aren’t new to video games, and if anything seem to be undergoing a surge of popularity at the moment (see also: Far Cry 3, The Last of Us, Spec Ops: The Line etc.), but despite their dedication to exploring certain philosophical and ethical boundaries, the plots of the Assassin’s Creed games do have a tendency to boil down to good Assassins going up against evil Templars. Having an Assassin protagonist who is “good at heart” but otherwise completely out for himself is fairly novel, in that respect.

The downside of this is that the series as a whole seems to be shifting further and further away from the actual assassination element, to the point that the trailers for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag so far have given the impression that it’s a new pirate game IP that happens to have the Assassin’s Creed label slapped on to it. As much fun as it will probably be to go diving for gold and getting into elaborate naval battles, the assassinations seem to be falling by the wayside a little, and the fact that Edward Kenway apparently isn’t all that interested in being an Assassin doesn’t bode all that well for the chances of plentiful good old-fashioned stalk-and-stab missions.

Tell us which of the Assassin’s Creed protagonists has been your favorite – and what you think of Edward Kenway so far – in the comments.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag releases October 29, 2013 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U. PC, Xbox One, and PS4 release dates have not been announced.

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Source: Ubiblog

TAGS: Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed 4, PC, PS3, PS4, Ubisoft, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One

23 Comments

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  1. Agree.What they should have done is to map the whole thing from start in the first place and not jump back and forth like they are doing it now.Specifically, what i don’t like in AC4 is that whole sense of major loan from all other AC games.Why grandfather of Connor?Why pirates at all?Just give us French Revolution and move with the series,also bring back Juno subplot, because obviously her time is to come

    • Thing about that, though is that it means they’ll write themselves into a corner. The brilliance of Assassin’s creed is that it can happen anywhere, in any time in history. I don’t think they were ever intending to set every game in a later period than the last as a rule – it’d just limit them more and more. This is just the first occurence which shows that they’re free to jump in time as much as they want. I imagine Juno’s subplot will be in this one as well.

      • I agree, that was never a rule, it was more the Desomond story rule, because they were searching for the vault and such.

        I agree btw. on the comments here saying the series has strayed too far.

        But not because of AC4, hell, it might even give you a new start for more AC focused play.

        I thought AC3 was too far. Why? Well, although focusing on Templars and Assassins, it showed an Assassin (Connor) who was very simple in his worldview. Despite the things the Templars tried to achieve and the fact that they did not spill that much blood this time around he believed them to be evil and a threat.

        Non the less AC3 was important. Maybe it just showed us that neither of the sides are right all the time, and that it is a tricky balance between the two going on throughout history.

        Don’t get me wrong, I expect a lot of non-assassin stuff. But with Edward encountering the Assassins and still shifting between the two sides and searching for a purpose in life he might get a sequel where he is a full-fledged Assassin.

        On the other hand, I think it was never about Assassins themselves, it was more about their philosophies, which contradicted each other but had the same goal and about how these philosophies showed up over and over and over in history.

  2. Ezio has been my fav assassin to date. loved hin in each game (only reason i played revelations was for him). Hated connor with a passion; he wasnt determined, he was a whiney little bitch (no wonder i disliked 3 so much). I do feel like this series has jumped the shark a bit. Its more adventure creed than assassin

  3. “to mean that he can do whatever he wants — even killing or robbing innocent civilians — without fear of reprisal.”

    I hope this means you can kill civilians without fear of ‘desynchronizing’.

    • Ha lmao

  4. Altair is, by far, my favourite. There’s just something I love about his serious, no-BS attitude.

    • He like Altair too.

      I think it goes like this for me:

      1. Altair // Ezio => both good in their own way in my eyes.
      2. Connor

      It’s just that Connor is a little naive and he is very bland in many ways. Sure, he has his personality traits, but I just can’t identify with him.

      Ezio is a womanizer, a playboy, out of rich house and very badass and arrogant, but also understands the problems of the poor people over time. I think he is about one of the if not the wisest Assassins ever and he has experienced a lot. He grew from a boy with the need for revenge over a honored member of the Assassins up to a Mentor and wise master and then to a man who accepted to have seen enough in his life.

      Altair was about the most skilled Assassin alive and very badass. In the beginning arrogant and dis-respecting the creed he grew to be the most loyal-to-the-creed and one of the wisest Assassins. He withstood the apple in many ways and he lived for the Assassins Brotherhood with devotion. He loved, lived and studied, all with respect to the creed and he rebuild it from scratch after Al Mulaim and after Abbas.

      Edward might be one of the Assassins I like too.
      Struggling between all those things in his life.
      Trying to prove himself to his wife, to the pirates, to the world, etc.
      Maybe trying to prove himself to himself :)

      A man who seeks fortune an riches, but also respect and a greater meaning in life. An understandable role.

      If he is charismatic he might be my NR. 1 together with Ezio and Altair.

      Connor is just the one I do not like quite as much, because of above mentioned reasons.

  5. I liked all the characters if I’m honest. I mean don’t get me wrong Connors general attitude in the entire game did rub me up the wrong way. But it was a change from the norm I suppose. As to this new twist. I porsonally love the naval battles an I was sad that there wasn’t any more. That said I think they might have jumped o. That bandwagon and though we could make money out of that. Who knows how there kinda work. All said and done i will probably be getting it. Just hope the game is t a complete let down. Time will tell.

  6. Assassin creed 2 was the best f***ing game among the franchise…..and 3 was worst………well no high hopes for this…..!!!!

  7. To take the motto “Nothing is true,everything is permitted” to mean killing innocents is permitted betrays the tenet of the creed that requires Assassins to stay their blade from the flesh of the innocent. How can Ubisoft expect us to respect their series when they are inconsistent with stuff like this. The pirate theme I can get on board with but I don’t want to see the series betray it’s own vison.

    • I agree completely, the series has lost its way a lot. they built up this whole doomsday thing – and nothing really happened. the whole basis of the series has gone, and in its place is just a random game with the same IP. which is fine for some. me personally however, i get games when its all the about the story. i wish to become invested in the game. (which is why I HATE far cry 2, but thats a side note) the fact is AC has lost that story. granted AC1 wasnt great but people still completed it to see how the story progress. I LOVED the cliff hanger at the end seeing 16s blood. then we had 3 more games to build up to AC3, then……..

      Desmond just kinda collapses. WTF!!!!????

      the reason why people love Ezio so much is that there was a beginning, a middle and an end with a very satisfying, and in my opinion f**cking awesome, ending in ACR. We were invested in his story, life, values, ethics etc and when it finished we wanted more yet still felt complete.

      Desmond and Connor it was just a case of pppfftttt…..

      I get it that they are trying to make it not good guys v bad guys, but rather people of different beliefs etc. their is a grey area between the Assassins and templars which is why you play as kenway. but still a little more direction and focus in terms story and of what they wish to achieve, which was found in the previous AC games par 3, will go a long way to restoring peoples faith in the series.

      Thats my 2 cents anyway :-D

      • I’m in absolute agreement with you.

    • No, you understand that wrong.

      I read the original interview and the Leader Writer said that Edward BENDS the rules of the Creed to serve his needs in the beginning. He does not understand the true value of it, like Altair did in the beginning of AC1 (I think that’s a little comparable, he also killed an innocent).

      Like the article says, Edward shifts between both. The pirates here, at least originally, stand for the need of freedom and liberty, the passion and longing for this freedom they can not get under the rule of a king (kind of like the Americans some time later). With Nassau as capital and it’s surroundings they want to build an independent country with their own rules and without a monarch who isn’t honest.

      The Assassins approve of that, but despite pirates they do not plunder or kill innocents to reach their goal. That is what differentiates them.

      The Templars now, the nobles and the nations, here Spain and England mainly, want the Pirates gone, to have the economy of their countries save and the colonies under control.

      Order vs. Chaos, that’s how it was always.
      I am sure you are aware of that.

      The Templars killed everyone standing in their way, they always tried to gain power and rule to establish order.

      The Assassins refrained from killing innocents. they only killed their enemies (mainly Templars) they fought for the (relative) freedom of civilization and it’s development.

      Now, the pirates are think, and with that Edward, is in between that. He likes and sympathizes with aspects of both sides and yet has to find his own way in the world. He is no real Assassin (at least not at start of the game as far as I understood), but also no Templar. He is a Pirate.

  8. Ezio was everyone’s favourites including me I liked Connor more than Altair though

  9. In my personal opinion, they could have just ended the series with AC3 or wrap it up in 4 with a different theme. It would have been totally acceptable to have a spiritual successor to Assassin’s Creed than just play it safe and have a fleshed out pirate game being called an Assassin’s game.

  10. Assassin creed is About being a assassin and not knowing should i be good or bad or even a spy.
    The thing i Dont get is that pirates are bad and assasins good now the assassin creed 4 is more a piret game and not a assassin game edward kenway to be hounest he does not even look like a assassin not becouse he Has weapons like a assassin makes Him a assassin
    If its cold assassin creed It should be assassin creed
    Readers doent you think
    Dis is my opinion but wat is yours :-)

  11. Me, I kind of liked AC3. Did it surpassed AC2? Of course not. But it is a good game in it’s own right and it doesn’t deserve all the hate.

    A lot of people loved the Naval Battles introduced at AC3 – including myself. It’s pretty amazing, IMO, and I’m pretty excited about seeing more this at AC4. I just wish that they won’t go overboard and forget the whole “Assassin” part of the game. Also, I hope they’d at least expand the ending of AC3. Well, Minerva’s still out there so there are still things we can to look forward to…

  12. Well, I loved Connor and hoped they would show more of him in future games (man, last I left him, he was a virgin) , and I loved the world of AC3 where you hunt.
    It will be interesting to see what AC 4 will be like, but sure wish AC 3 have continued

  13. Assassin Creed 3 sucks that was the worst game ever. i’ve been following Desmond story from the begin, that was the reason i play the game personally why kill him at the end of AC3. my request Ubisoft don’t get us attached to a character and kill him down the way.

  14. well the opposite of the pirates is the British I guess and their meant to represent order while the pirates represent freedom so that’s why the assassins are pirates. Connor was definitely the worst of them all even desmond miles had more of a personality than him. ac 3 had some improvements over the previous games but the game play was messed up.it seemed like in ac3 even if you looked at a guard they would try to kill you

  15. i agree a open world pirate game is awesome but it should be a new ip the Caribbean is far from the best setting for a AC game from what i have seen the pirate setting is another move away from what makes AC great the AC elements are going to hold back the pirate side of the game and vice versa i cant imagine there are going to be many structures to climb i like the fact ubi are giving you the choice to handle missions how you see fit but given the environment you will be in i don’t think you will have more than a hand full of options

  16. Oke so I’ve been reading these comments here and decided to post as well.
    I’ll first go over the characters:
    Altair: A true Assassin dedicated to the Creed, this is why he is serious, a man in medieval times and where they put us in you can’t really expect him making jokes so I don’t mind his attitude. And the first game left us on a very interesting start

    Ezio: The story of this Assassin is most explained probably because the fans liked him so much, his story sheds light on the original, the character was done so well, he gains his skill through what he’s met with and is a good Assassin, now some of you might think Altair doesn’t have skill but think of the progress the developers were limited with moves. Personal opinion is that they did a fantastic job with AC2, did improvements with Brotherhood though I kind of felt sad that the Brotherhood on its own wasn’t so well presented. Revelations gives us the end of Ezio and a bit of a twist with the story, the Multiplayer got some great improvements from what I saw.

    Connor: First of all, I don’t get some people that dislike or hate him he is a Native, he has a whole different culture and has his own belifs and thinks good of the Creed, he is a good depiction of an Assassin but kind of lost, the game I liked but it had a lot of rough edges, the battles were strictly limited with instrctions, hunting down Templars was good so was the hunting in general and with AC3 Eagle Vision became useless, the animations and combos as well as Naval Warfare were quite good. And the story takes a huge twist leaving you concerned and shocked, why kill Desmond is odd to say the least.

    Edward: I don’t have the game so I won’t be judging that, the start of the story just confused me, who are you playing as, how? Weren’t we supposed to be Desmond, you killed us then. Now, the character is set before Connor which is hard to explain why but the situation seemed to bring most realism, a pirate seeking fortune and glory enjoying the company of women plundering ships and so on, yes it is all interesting but it’s just not what you made us, this also includes AC3, it should of been a melee based game, using a pistol with Ezio fine, but I think almost none of us like getting shot at by a lot of people, and struggling to use someone as a meat shield.

    Other than Ubisoft, I like the series so much that I want to tell you the big problems where you messed up, Edward cannot be an Assassin at the start he kills an Assasin and takes the suit, the game however looks amazing and obviously you put a lot of effort into it and good job with that! But the story is very important. Maybe you should have done more with medieval times. I hope whoever is reading this agrees with the things I’ve said, I respect everyone’s opinion.
    Cheers,

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