After my post last week and with the release of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it seems only fitting to continue this AC theme a just bit longer. In the summer of 2013, I was introduced to the Assassin’s Creed series. I had always thought the games looked fun, but just never wanted to spend the money for a game I wasn’t sure I’d like. Fortunately, Xbox Games with Gold gave me the opportunity when they gave away Assassin’s Creed II to Xbox Live Gold members. I was hooked almost immediately.
After completing Assassin’s Creed II, I jumped straight to the third game, skipping the rest of the Ezio games. Looking back, this was probably a mistake, but I knew the fourth game would be coming out that fall, and I was already super hyped for it. I rushed through the story in AC3, wanting to know what happened and hoping to finish before Grand Theft Auto V came out. I absolutely loved some of the characters in AC3, both historical and fictional. I was never a huge fan of the Revolutionary War, but the independence of America is definitely something I appreciate, and I enjoyed living it through Connor. The Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s ride, helping George Washington, and so on. I had completed the naval battles in the game quickly and was sad there were not more of them. It was only fitting that this would become the basis of my favorite game in the series: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
As I said in last week’s post, Connor, or Ratonhnhaké:ton by birth, is my favorite of all of the characters in the series. His good heart and deep respect for others made him an immensely likable character for me. His quest was not simply to avenge his mother, but to save his people and their land. I will admit that I have always had a bias in favor of Native Americans simply because of their great respect for nature, something that I feel too many people take for granted. Of course, my own genealogy supposedly includes some Native American ancestry farther back than I have been able to find. Whether this is true or not, I will probably never know, but, based on my research, if it is true, it was likely one of the tribes absorbed into the Iroquois Nation…into Connor’s tribe. Either way, Connor was the perfect example of why I have always loved learning about Native American culture, and his story was a perfect example of the great injustice brought about by our white ancestors.
When Black Flag was release, I had just finished working my first season at the local renaissance faire, which seemed to be very fitting. The game quickly became my favorite of the series, and while I certainly love Edward Kenway, Connor will always remain my favorite. Kenway was arrogant and greedy—in essence, a pirate. It’s no secret that I love pirates and pirate history, so naturally I loved the game. Even knowing what would happen to some of the historical figures in the game, it still made for some very sad events, especially Mary Read and, my personal favorite, Edward Teach. I spent hours just sailing the seas and taking ships for no reason. During my first play through, I didn’t fast travel once, wanting to just sail everywhere. I later bought the PS4 version of the game for the added enhancements and so I could complete my shift from Xbox to PlayStation. Yes, I even bought the season pass again just so I could have those special ship decorations. That’s how much I loved that game.
I never really got into Rogue, losing interest mostly because of my dislike the main character, Shay, along with the shift in the console generation. I never played much of Unity since I didn’t have a next-gen console when it was released, and also because I just didn’t have much interest in the French Revolution. I did manage to snatch it on a great sale for a mere $10 a few years after. I eventually did buy Syndicate, which I thoroughly enjoyed and will still play here and there when I’m in the mood for roaming around Victorian London (for the record, I prefer Jacob over Evie). When Origins was released, I skipped it over the lack of interest and lack of free time. With so many games from which to choose, that just wasn’t high on my list. The series in general was falling out of favor with me after Black Flag. It just wasn’t as interesting anymore, and the release of a new game every year started to make the games feel less special. It wasn’t like Red Dead Redemption where I waited eight years in between games, the excitement building up between the game’s announcement and the game’s release. It was an oversaturation that began to fizzle out quickly with me until a new AC game was no longer an exciting event.
I had pre-ordered Odyssey, super excited about my favorite ancient history. My husband had warned me about the gameplay changes made to the series for Origins. I figured I would still like it—it’s Assassin’s Creed, how different could it be? Needless to say, I was very disappointed. I told myself to just play it differently, as if it were some new Xena action game. Even that didn’t work. I just could not get into it. I liked Cassandra very much, but the game just could not hold my interest for much longer than a few hours. It didn’t help that, at the time, I was super hyped for Red Dead Redemption II and, to me, nothing could ever compete with that. Nothing.
I know there are a lot of gamers who like the changes made to the Assassin’s Creed series. My husband is one of them and just doesn’t understand my frustration with the direction Ubisoft has taken my beloved games. In fact, one of the reasons I felt inspired to write this is because he is playing Valhalla as I type. I will admit, Valhalla does bring back some of the aspects of previous AC games that I enjoyed, mainly settlement building, and I might someday play it. Someday I also intend to play through more of Odyssey, if not just to explore Ancient Greece. I completely understand why Ubisoft made changes to the gameplay mechanics, and I have accepted that my days of new Assassin’s Creed games are likely over. It happens to all games at some point.
And thus, the evolution of gaming continues.