For Adéwalé, freedom isn’t just a vague concept. The charismatic quartermaster who co-starred alongside Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag was once enslaved himself – until he forged his own path to freedom, then turned to a life of piracy and eventually embraced the Creed. And now he’s taking center stage in the story-driven single-player DLC Freedom Cry, which will be out on December 17 on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Set 15 years after the end of Black Flag, Freedom Cry stars an older Adéwalé, who has since stepped out of Kenway’s shadow to become a seasoned Assassin and valued member of the Brotherhood. When the DLC begins, Adéwalé is shipwrecked in St. Domingue (modern-day Haiti), where he comes face to face with some of the most brutal slavery in the West Indies. As he makes his way through St. Domingue, Port-au-Prince and the surrounding seas, Adéwalé will counter the abominable cruelty festering in the region with his own ruthless justice, delivered via bloody machete, powerful blunderbuss – and while aboard his fearsome brig Experto Crede.
What drives Adéwalé to get so involved in this local struggle? According to Lead Writer Jill Murray, his choice isn’t as simple as it might seem. “Adéwalé was a slave as a child, and he escaped around the age of 14,” Murray says. “For many people in history who were slaves, once they managed to free themselves, they just wanted to be left alone to live their lives in peace. And so they would turn to subsistence farming, raise a family, that kind of thing. For Adéwalé, he flees to piracy, and he becomes a self-made man with his own idea of liberty that he’s able to maintain throughout his life. I think it’s a very human reaction to not necessarily want to go back and get re-involved with slavery. And, as we see in Black Flag, he does not make freeing other slaves the point of his existence. He chooses piracy, and then he chooses the Creed.”
Murray also points out that Adéwalé is from Trinidad, not Haiti. In other words, when he begins Freedom Cry, he finds himself stranded on a strange island populated by, well, strangers. Furthermore, Adéwalé was responsible for his own freedom – so why shouldn’t others also take similar responsibility? And finally, there’s the Creed itself: “Where do the Assassin ideals match up with being involved with conflicts on this scale?” Murray asks. “And where is the Assassin more of the solitary figure?”
As players, we get to follow Adéwalé down this road. “He can try to get off the island as quickly as possible and go back to being an Assassin,” Murray says, “or he can deal head on with systemic slavery and oppression, and try to help the Maroon warriors in their quest for independence.”
This personal conflict plays out in a fully realized single-player quest, featuring the aforementioned new weapons, new gameplay – including freeing slaves and a unique take on the plantation sequences from Black Flag – and, of course, new assassinations. But perhaps best of all, Freedom Cry stars fan-favorite Adéwalé himself – a character that Murray eagerly and fully embraced. “I always think it’s important to keep in mind that a character is first and foremost themselves,” Murray says. “When I write them, I hope they’re never just a stand-in for an issue, and the idea isn’t just to confront this thing.” Instead, Adéwalé is an individual – a ferociously compelling man we admired and adored in Assassin’s Creed IV.
“We’re still true to how his character was established in Black Flag,” Murray says. “He’s not standing in for every black man who was ever a slave in the 18th century. He’s Adéwalé. He’s the character we know. He has the wit that we’ve come to expect; he has heart. We see him as an older guy. He’s matured and changed in some small ways. I think those are the kinds of character details that always take precedence over pretty much everything else that can happen in the story.”
Freedom Cry was developed by Ubisoft Quebec, and will be available for $9.99 on December 17. Season Pass owners can download it at no additional cost.
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