As For Honor heads into
Year 6, a new hero is sailing into the game’s roster. Available now, the Pirate
is the first fighter from the new Outlanders group, and she’s joined the battle
wielding a cutlass and flintlock pistol. Representing a new class of Heroes, The
Pirate is an adventurer seeking treasure and artifacts in Heathmoor, an outsider
among factions. For Honor’s Associate Narrative Director Elise Trinh and Game
Writer Ian Cardona sat down with us to share insights into the inspiration
behind The Pirate, her backstory, and how she fits into the For Honor narrative.
How did the idea for The Pirate come about?
Elise Trinh: That Hero has been a long time in the making. The dev team
wanted to approach new cultures and types of fantasies. Many wanted to have some
sort of pirate included in the Hero roster we already have, and this seemed to
be a good window for us to achieve that. We also didn't want to make the usual
pirate, like another Jack Sparrow, because it's less exciting to us. We always
want to put our own twist on things – to use the opportunity of the game to
bring new cultures to the platform. So when we brainstormed ideas about pirates,
there’s a very iconic figure in Chinese history called Ching Shih. That
inspiration came super early in our brainstorming processes, and is something
that we kept looking towards throughout the development of the character.
Can you tell us a bit more about The Pirate’s inspiration, Ching Shih, and why
call her The Pirate?
ET: Ching Shih was a “pirate queen” of her time in the 1800s, and was one of
the key inspirations for The Pirate character. Though not much is known about
her personal history, she brought that sense of a very buoyant type of figure,
but still legendary. There are some hypotheses that she is from a specific Hong
Kong community living on the sea as fishermen who were sometimes treated as
outcasts. We wanted to pay homage to that in For Honor, even in the way The
Pirate speaks – she’s speaking Cantonese instead of Mandarin like the Wu Lin
faction. The voice actor is from Hong Kong as well.
There was also the Age of Exploration that was not exactly piracy, but Chinese
explorers. Zheng He was one of the big commanders who traveled the world not to
conquer territories, but to distribute goods or make trades. China in the 1400s
also had the Ming treasure fleet, which were these massive boats exploring the
world to discover and learn new things, and that's been a key inspiration for
Lastly, “Asian piracy” at large, especially from medieval times to the 1900s,
was always a combination of things. There's a word being used, “Wokou,” meaning
Japanese pirates. We've read stories about them, but those accounts are always
from people who hate the pirates, so even the word itself now has a very
pejorative connotation in many Asian languages. Historically speaking, pirates
navigating on the seas and oceans were of a mixed culture. The common knowledge
is most of them were Japanese at some point because they were invading China,
but then at different times in history they were also known to be more on the
Chinese side, and sometimes on the Korean side. Grounding piracy in a specific
time and place is hard, because you don't necessarily know where they're coming
from, or where they were born. We try to pay some sort of homage to that in The
Ian Cardona: The name “The Pirate” is a long story, because it's important
to remember that there's a difference between the character’s identity and the
archetype. We did create a pirate character, and her name is Bou Yin, which
translates to “precious swallow” in Cantonese. But there's also The Pirate
class, and that's who people play when they fight as The Pirate. We brainstormed
a lot of different names, and tried creating some new terms that captured that
spirit of sea travelers – but ultimately, by using “pirate,” most players know
exactly which character you're playing and why.
What can you tell us about The Pirate’s backstory and how she came to be an
IC: The backstory I wrote for Bou Yin, leader of the pirates, is that when
she was a young girl, she lost her entire family during the Wu Lin civil war,
and because of this she has no allegiance to Wu Lin. That’s why she's not a Wu
Lin character, but an Outlander. When she lost her entire family, her mother
sent her away on their family ship, so alone as an orphan she had to fend for
herself. She learned to survive on the seas, thieving where she could, crossing
paths with other travelers, strangers. She picked up some different fighting
styles, gained a tough edge, and she was really driven by that need to survive.
But along the way, and inspired by her mother who saved her, she had that
motherly quality to her. She wanted to give other people the home that she lost.
That's why she found other like-minded individuals – lost souls and people like
that – and gave them a home, and that's how she built her crew: by offering them
this family unit.
If players are really interested in the lore of the of the character’s
backstory, they can look at the names of her weapon sets, because I gave them
names according to adventures that she had before she came to Heathmoor. There
is a progression of how she went from this lone survivor to a queen to an
adventurous seafarer. There may be some hints as well to things that may be
Outlanders aren’t loyal to any faction, so what motivates The Pirate?
IC: The way we saw pirates in the game, their primary motivation is
treasure. That's their language. They brought with them that they've collected
throughout the years, but they're also on the lookout for more, right? That’s
how we will segue into Year 6. They’re searching for new treasures which will
lead to lost relics that are tied to the past of Heathmoor. Their drive is not
necessarily about riches but more about collecting, I would say.
ET: We are diving into that fantasy of treasure hunters and treasure maps.
You could even see that in the in the Hero trailer for The Pirate, how they are
looking to collect more cool objects and artifacts for various reasons. They are
arriving with some, and also maybe unearthing some in Heathmoor soon.
Is The Pirate looking for anything specific?
IC: She’s definitely looking for something, and it’s someplace, and it’s
going to reveal things. You’ll have to play to find out.
How will the arrival of The Pirate and her crew affect the narrative and
landscape of Heathmoor?
ET: Year 6 is going to be about the relics, and their arrival is
kickstarting that search for lost treasures, lost stories, even lost legends
from the world of Heathmoor. Being Outlanders, outsiders, gives them a different
perspective, but they also have different stakes in it, and that's how they will
discover things that the usual Heroes haven't discovered yet. The Heroes in
Heathmoor were so focused on doing something else that they didn't always take
the time to unearth those treasures and lost stories. In terms of physical
presence, besides being able to fight on the battlefield, you will see The
Pirate’s ship in the game, so they're in the world map.
IC: In the trailer, the Pirate says “Get ready. ‘Cause you’re in for a wild
ride.” and this is the character in a nutshell. They're not here to fight some
war, they're just here to upend everything and they want to dip their toes into
a bit of everything without taking a side necessarily. They’re here to change
things up a bit.
Speaking of changing things up, why does The Pirate choose to wield a pistol
instead of a second cutlass or another naval weapon?
ET: Like the meme says, subtext is for cowards. The character is meant to be
very flamboyant, boisterous, and explosive, and we’re going all-in on that
piracy fantasy. The pirates are also playing by their own rules, so that
disruptive aspect of things is really embodied by that pistol. The Pirate wants
to be the most fearsome character possible on the battlefield. We want a
character that doesn't care about the usual rules, but also has their own way to
express themselves. The pistol, in that case, was the best idea for that
IC: From a narrative standpoint, she learned to survive on her own, and part
of that is defending yourself with the most powerful weapons you can have. So of
course, if she came across somebody who had guns, she’d be like, “Oh well, I
need this on my side now, because this is going to help me a lot.”
This is the first time For Honor has had a projectile weapon, not just a feat,
and the pistol is much more advanced than a lot of the current weaponry in the
game. Is this new technology addressed in the narrative?
ET: We used the opportunity of people coming from afar to suggest a
different continent where technology might have evolved differently. That was
the starting point of whether it would make sense for us to bring those kinds of
weapons to For Honor. Our game is not historically grounded in a specific time
in history. We say “medieval times,” but it's a very broad area because the
Vikings are from a much earlier era than the Samurai and the Knights, and we
have references to historical characters from different centuries – but that's
totally fine, because we are being playful and using the cataclysm as a starting
point for some sort of an alternate history. Based on that, when you think of
pirates, it would be hard to have fights without those kinds of flintlock guns
because they’re so embedded in the piracy fantasy. The designers did a great job
to not make the game a first-person shooter, but still find creative ways to
have that explosive aspect, and have the character reflected in the gun.
To go back to the history of fire weapons: In China, gunpowder was something
that was actually created super early. They had some types of cannons already
that were available much earlier than in other countries. Over the past two
years in For Honor, we’ve tried to move the story forward a little bit, for
example, weapons having a Renaissance aesthetic in Battle Passes. It still
works, because there are people on the team who are super brilliant and
talented, and are making those things coexist beautifully somehow thanks to
their magic. The gun is a mix-and-match of various mechanisms; we don't have
reloading or things like that, because in the flow of the fighting game that we
have, it would be too disruptive and slow the character down. Pirates are also
fast swashbucklers and we wanted to own that. We made various decisions to make
sure that we can have a gun; it's not a long-range type of weaponry, but it’s
still something that's playful, fun to play with, and aligns with the
IC: We've had teleporting monks. We even had a big hammer that summoned the
Asgardian powers. A gun isn't that far off, and it remains true to For Honor’s
playful take on mythology and history. It’s not a new mechanism or anything like
that. It's still true to the flavor of the game.
How are The Pirate’s feats influenced by her backstory and lore?
ET: We had many different ideas at the very beginning for that character,
whether The Pirate should bring a gigantic cannon, and things like that. Over
time, we took a more straightforward approach, because the character is somewhat
practical. They obviously have to have flashy moves, but there’s still the focus
of surviving everything. The feats were decided based on that core aspect of
“I’m a pirate, I'm unknown on the battlefield, and I'm here to survive no matter
the cost.” For the gun, there were a lot of iterations in terms of whether to
include it only in the move sets, or also in the feats and in what capacity. As
we did more research, something that worked for us gameplay-wise was using the
imagery of a Swiss Army gun. We wanted a character being a jack of all trades,
in a way, but also being able to survive any situation and having a quick weapon
that could embody that.
IC: If the gun cemented the pirate fantasy, the feats are about maximizing
the pirate fantasy.
For Honor is available now on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC, as
well as Ubisoft +. For more information on For Honor, check out our previous