Upon the recommendation of my cowboy and other gamer friends, I finally gave in and purchased Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. Whaaaaa? No, I’ve never played it. I know, I know, but let me explain why.
The other AC games that include naval battles, like Origins and Odyssey, the ship stuff was my least favorite part of the gameplay. It could be just me and my barely average gaming skills, but the aiming and the bracing and the firing, it all felt cumbersome. Definitely not as satisfying as the combat: timing that perfect block to stagger your elite opponent or Sparta kicking a mercenary off a cliff.
And I have gone through the entire AC backlog in the last eighteen months, but when it came time to play Black Flag, I just swooped around it and went for Rogue. Hey, it’s my gamer journey and I’ll skip titles if I want to. I don’t like AC ship battles…or at least I didn’t think I did. I’m woman enough to admit when I am…umm…less than correct. Yeah, let’s go with that.
Two days ago, I gave into peer pressure and bought the damn game. Of course, I love it. The climbing mechanics remind me of the Ezio titles (loves me some Ezio), but the naval battles, far superior to Odyssey. This leaves me scratching my head. Why change the mechanics for later titles? It’s the same question I had for Ubisoft when they scaled back the fighting mechanics from the super cool Odyssey style to the simplified Valhalla style. Why, Ubisoft…whyyyyyyy??? Sorry…I need a moment…
Okay, I’m back. Turns out, Black Flag is so much more than just a bunch of ships firing on each other. It’s a deep dive into pirate life. And c’mon, who doesn’t love pirates? Look at the success of The Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise (loves me some Captain Jack Sparrow). There’s The Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Vegas. And of course there’s the beloved literary classic from which the hotel takes its name. Hell, my most popular erotic romance series featured a cowboy pirate (hmmm…reminds me of someone else I love. Heyyy, Charles 😏).
So what is it about pirates that are so freaking intoxicating. Well, first of all, the wardrobe is *fabulous*. Scarves, earrings, beads, gold chains, over-the-knee boots, flowing lace up blouses. Pirate fashion is fierce. Then, of course, there’s the swashbuckling swordplay. Who doesn’t feel like a bada$$ duel-wielding Persian scimitars or British cutlasses? Yes, there’s something intoxicating about the trappings of a privateer, but I think it’s something more.
For me, it’s the freedom. Wind in your hair, salt spray from the open ocean, no rules but the ones you make and break for yourself. As I rediscover the liberty to be 100% Cindy, no apologies and no diluting my 80 proof personality, I get it. I spent too many years either denying her existence or shying away from adventure because there *might* be consequences.
Yes, we all have responsibilities and adult things we must do. Like doing the dishes and working an evil day job to pay the bills and making sacrifices for those who depend on us. But part of the human spirit yearns to be free. Rebellion is a natural reaction to bonds that hold us too tightly. It’s easy to dream about a life less ordinary and less restrictive and therefore idealize it. Nothing wrong with that as long as you keep in mind, it is indeed a just a dream.
Edward Kenway’s adventures throughout the game are full of daring, liberty, and bad ideas that turn into good stories. We’ve all had those nights 😉 And did I mention his fabulous wardrobe? I think I did. It’s easy to sink into your gamer chair and imagination for a few (or several) hours that you are not bound by the rules of society.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, games give us the opportunity to live out our fantasies in a safe and controlled way. As the historical founder of the Hashshashin, Hassan-i Sabbah, is credited with saying, “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” What that means is, once in a while, it’s oh so healthy to embrace your inner Edward Kenway and find the spot on the map of your soul that reads: here, there be pirates.