Guaranteed to Jolly your Roger.
The Pitch: Taking the Assassin’s Creed formula and applying it to the pirate heyday of the early 18th century, Black Flag puts you into the spit-shined boots of Edward Kenway, devil of the sea, captain of the Jack Daw, and throat-slitter extraordinaire.
What It Really Is: As far as we can tell, the mother-effing pirate game we’ve all been waiting for someone to make. The fact that it’s a part of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is sort of inconsequential because, if Ubisoft just called this game “Black Flag,” we’d still wait in line to buy it on launch day. Black Flag does mark the first time the AC series has taken a step backward in both history and the lineage of its hero (Edward is the grandfather of AC3’s Connor Kenway), meaning there’s hope for everyone who’s been calling for the series to jump back and explore feudal Japan or ancient Greece or when and wherever the Vikings came from. But that’s the future, and the here and now (rather, the Caribbean in the early 1700s) is all about Edward Kenway’s exploits with the most ruthless pirates that history has to offer: Naval battles, ship-boarding, and treasure hunting, all happening in a HUGE Caribbean world with environments influenced by a variety of colonial powers. Make no mistake, this is not a video game version of Pirates of the Caribbean and, even though we wouldn’t mind a 30-minute sword fight on a rogue windmill, we prefer our pirate adventures loosely based on history, not a ride at Disneyland. Of course, there's always potential for things to go awry in the nine or so months between now and the release date, but so far, this thing's looking pretty damn good, and we are officially excited.
Fun Fact: The unofficial mascot of the Assassins has always been the eagle, but Edward Kenway captains the Jack Daw, and a jackdaw is a raven-like bird of prey. If Ubisoft doesn’t include a ravens vs eagles minigame in AC4, we’ll consider it one of the biggest missed opportunities in video game history.
Special Editions: No details have been revealed yet, but we think it’s pretty safe to assume that it’ll include an artbook, some DLC, and, if we’re lucky, a scale model of Edward’s ship that you can take into the bathtub with you.
Who It’s For: We grew up playing the Monkey Island games and always dreamed of the day when a pirate game would give us the freedom to loot, pillage, and plunder in any way we want. If this thing lives up to our already-unreasonably high expectations, that day is October 29th, 2013. Ready your patches, mateys.