Welcome back to my ranking of the Assassin's Creed games. For those who don't know how it works, these blogs are the explanation to why and how a game is in its place on the ranking, while the ranking itself can be found here. I am playing through all AC games released on PC, and primarily focusing on the single player parts of the game. Without further ado, let's get right into Desmond's last journey.
Instead of playing as Ezio, you now play as a Native American nicknamed Connor in colonial America. You are the son of a Native American Woman and a British Templar father, but your father left you and your mother tried to raise you in the opposite direction. After seeing a vision through an apple held by your tribe leader, you are sent off to a man Achilles who reluctantly trains you in the ways of the assassins. From there, you go off into a journey just like any other to stop the Templars from gaining too much power, including your father, by fighting your way up the chain of command. Meanwhile in the present, you and your crew find a secret base built by those in the first civilization that was meant to stop the world from ending the first time. Now, you go around the World in search of keys that can power up this base and stop the World from ending again.
What better place than any to start with story? And man, did it suck. I was fine with the game leaving the Ezio story behind because I think even great things must come and go, but what I found as the replacement was not great. The story of Connor itself took a LONG time to get to. There is a point for me in every open world game where I feel the game has given me all of tools necessary to be in this open world, and for this game I felt that I was ready when I put on the robes as Connor. The problem with that train of thought is that you start the game as your father, and you spend hours playing as him before you get to play as Connor, and then you spend another hour or so playing as a younger version of him learning more tutorials on hunting. So before you can begin your quest to level the food chain, you have to go through hours of gameplay to get there. Now I will say that your father's crew are some of the best characters in the game and the story had a good twist that I didn't see coming when you finished your father's path, I just couldn't help but hate the pacing of the game. But there is more. I believe that since the past story plays pretty similarly to each game (meet new people, invest yourself into the current political landscape, kill everyone in the Templar food chain), I think having good characters is key to a good story. This game doesn't really have any. Again, I am not asking for Ezio and his crew back, but I do still want good characters and this game didn't deliver. Sure, your father's crew isn't all that bad and I enjoyed some characters here-and-there in the homestead, I just didn't find anyone all that interesting or fun to be with.
Since AC3 doubled down on history, I found myself meeting a lot of historical figures such as Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, and even George Washington. But I found those characters to be uninteresting as well. Believe me when I tell you, I would do almost anything to get the five minutes I spend listening to Ben Franklin give me nine reason why dating older women is better back. But I found the increased amount of history bad in other ways. Since we are talking about a time that is pretty well documented, I found myself being a part of many historical events. It was I who rode the horse while Paul Revere was on the back warning others about the British. I was there dumping tea in the harbor. I was the turning tide on many battles, and I was there when the declaration of independence was signed (I think). But I found this increased history to be goofy more than cool. Where before I would meet Da Vinci and a few others and they all had there own plot separate from history, this game plopped you right into the history, and I didn't really find it all that great. The historical aspect makes the game feel like a picture where you glued your own picture into another to act like you were in the photo more than actually putting you in the photo. But if you thought I was done there, then you are wrong.
So the characters are uninteresting and the historical take is awkward. What else is there? Well, I thought the colonial American setting pretty boring (and this will affect gameplay as well), the writing and cutscenes awkward (need I remind listening to nine reasons why I should date older women?), the story was littered with stupid moments like asking where I live despite being within 100 meters of where I live or somehow being wanted for murder in Brazil (in the modern story) despite never being there before, and Connor himself feels dull and dumb. And that is just the past story, let's get into the modern story.
Now I will say that the modern parts overall are better than previous games. I actually didn't hate my time playing through the different locations around the world trying to get the keys. But the story really falls apart at this game too. In the modern time, you are hunted down by a pretty cool villain, only to kill him before you really learn anything about that person, the death of Vidic felt sudden, dumb, and uneventful despite being the main villain throughout all of the modern AC stories, and the ending felt confusing and acted like it was going to give you a choice only to not give you that choice. The battle to choose between Minerva and Juno was hard not because they both brought compelling, but hard because I felt like I knew so little between them and then the ending made me act like I knew them well. Where the past story ending was okay (surprise, you end it will killing the last guy on the chain), the modern ending felt like a bad way to send off the Desmond story. And overall, I felt that the story and all of its elements were weak compared to its predecessors. But how does the gameplay hold?
Well, not much better. The game felt like a push in a different direction, which I am find with because I like change. But the push they made was in the wrong direction and I ultimately wish it went back. It felt like some of the missions you can do in the world were gutted and replaced with far more boring quests like mail delivery, beating up a single guy, and picking up certain items. Level design for the missions felt like something I had to deal with more than something I enjoyed, as for they were boring at best and cumbersome at worst. For a game about being discrete, stealth was terrible. The parkour had poor collision, so whenever I try to chase someone or run away I find myself climbing on top of boxes or climbing up walls despite not wanting to. To speed things up: Combat felt clunky, the combo kill move is back, beggars are back, recruit contracts aren't as fun, menus are unwieldy, lockpicking is horrible, the American frontier setting made the maps feel barren, a collectible type runs away and makes life harder, the HUD feels terrible, notoriety is all screwed up, controls feel limited, I can't kill two guards at the same time with hidden blades despite having two blades, fast travel both within each city and between cities is cumbersome to unlock, the music wasn't as great as the previous games, I can't equip items from the menu, I keep getting spotted despite being incognito, and the game is riddled with bugs far worse than any other AC game I have played so far with stuff like texture flickering, crashes, a convoy I can never get back, dead bodies distorting, and more. The gameplay had a LOT of rough edges, but not everything was bad.
While the gameplay was not great, there were a few shining parts to it here and there. I would say the biggest addition I enjoyed was ship combat. The game is full of missions where you can sail the high seas and engage in ship combat. While this is a lot of fun, I wish it was something I could just do instead of doing a mission. Some new equipment like ropedarts are pretty fun to use (though I also feel that some equipment like the hookblade are missing). While contracts are bad and city building is gone, a new trading system has taken its place where you buy wares and send them off on convoys for profit.Some new mission types like forts (similar to Far Cry outposts) and city liberation mission are fun and have some cool effects on trade. The graphics have noticeably improved again, horses are back, you can uncover the map by going places as well as sync points, the combo kill system has been somewhat fixed with some enemy types stopping your combo, you can now whistle to attract enemies to your position, you can now hunt (even though I never felt the need to), recruits now have new abilities like being a bodyguard or starting a riot, some cool counter cutscenes can be activated if two enemies attack at the same time (though it is rare), some new gambling mini games don't hurt, and a new collectible is introduced after the game that was pretty cool to try and hunt down. Despite all of that, I found my overall experience to be hollow, and at the end I was just doing homestead missions because it was cool to see the area grow with new people (though I couldn't really choose what missions I wanted to do for who). I find this game hard to go back to and keep playing for whatever reason because of how hollow and bad the gameplay was.
Before I conclude, as always, I talk about multiplayer real fast. And for this game, it is fast because I didn't play it. The game tried to put me through a lot of tutorials, which I skipped, and in the end no one was playing. Still, multiplayer doesn't have a big impact on this ranking, but I still talk about it anyways.
I found this blog hard to start because I never felt fully finished with the game. Even though I have tried everything this game had to offer days ago, I kept going back because I feel there is something missing. There is just something off about the game, and throughout my time I could never find that missing piece of the puzzle. I didn't want to write this until I figured out what it was, but I just couldn't. But that is what the whole game feels like: the game in the whole franchise that is 'off.' Everything that is great about the previous games is now poor in this game. The experience as a whole feels hollow, and I just can't help but not like it. I know people like to say that it's a bad AC game but still a good game, but I don't even feel that is true for me. AC3 is a bad game, and because of that it ranks dead last now and I guess it will stay towards the bottom by the end of this. I expected better from an AC game.
How do you feel about this game? How is your ranking of AC? Put them in the comments below. And as always, thank you for reading.