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Minor spoilers for the beginning of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey


What a great half-day Tuesday that was yesterday! The kids all behaved and left me alone and Mrs. McP came home and took all of them to this class where they learned how to identify wildflowers and weave baskets out of sea grass and so I got to play for, like 13 hours and wasn’t that naked dress ball awesome and


I’m installing it as soon as they are on the bus.


I started to get suspicious when you said the kids left you alone.

I should have been suspicious as soon as you said they all behaved, but I wanted to believe it! Because you deserve a great half-day Tuesday!

But no matter. Install the game immediately and let the dead past bury its dead. But first, loot those dead, because no point letting good loot go to waste.

I did start the game! Played an hour or so. It’s good fun so far. Beautiful scenery to run around it, bushes to skulk in while you wait to assassinate people, etc. Attractive question marks in all directions that I’m sure will lure me into endless magpie runs all over the map.

I’m into it.


I thought you’d doubt me at “great.”

We deserve a fun, scenic, summery romp of a game! 

Though, as we are a game blog, as I boot this up, I will throw out an observation and a question we shall return to during this game:

RDR2 did you many wrongs, but it did grant you a small mercy: it did not put every icon of every everything on the map. Had it littered the map as so many games do, you’d still be swearing and looking for bones cuz you can’t help yourself. At the very least, you’d be all “I WANTED to do that Dutch quest but bones, cards, you know…..” and you’d be pissed.

Now, here we are, back in the fold of AC, a franchise where, about an hour or two, you can barely see the damn map cuz it’s covered in icons.

I’m gonna be curious here as to whether you are going to be happy for a return to icon aided magpie or if you’re going to say that RDR had it right. It’ll be an interesting comparison, to be sure.


It will be an interesting comparison. Because that is indeed one thing I said for RDR2: it didn’t lure me into collectible-hunting by giving a lot of clues on the map. And I did, indeed, somewhat appreciate that it instead made its collectible-hunting difficult enough that I could ignore it, rather than just easy enough that I felt compelled to do it, while also time-consuming enough to be annoying.

I did appreciate that. On the other hand, we must remember that I partly appreciated it because I didn’t enjoy the game that much and didn’t want any reason to play it longer than I had to. When I’m enjoying a game, I don’t mind treasure-hunting as much because I don’t mind spending extra time in its world. I mocked myself (justifiably) for obsessing over those murals or whatever they were in DAI, and certainly the animus fragments in our previous Assassin’s Creed…but I didn’t actually hate what I was doing while I was doing it.

So it’s certainly possible I’ll miss RDR2’s sparse maps. There was something kind of nice about being able to remain comfortably ignorant of what might be over the next hill. Don’t want to ride over that hill and see? You never have to know! It worked for that game. Especially, maybe, for me in that game.

But it’s not as if I actively hate Fallout’s hundreds of question marks. It’s a different style, and we can definitely discuss it, but I’m not sure it’s a style I like more or less, necessarily.


Well, true. You enjoyed (we both enjoyed) the likes of DAI more. That said, the magpie (and the encouragement to magpie) resulted in more than just mutual mockery. It, at times, actively derailed narrative momentum. There have been many a game, good games, where we were all good blog wise, everything themey, all good, and then for, like, three or four days straight we’re all “I got nothing. Well, I have this flag, these fragments, and Miss April 1967.”

Which, yes, I get is partly my confusion as to why to litter a story heavy game with silly collectibles in the first place, but still. Encouraging people towards silly collectibles can derail narrative flow and, for all of its flaws, for all of the ways it sabotaged its own narrative flow, you can’t say that RDR2 sabotaged its narrative flow by encouraging us to go get silly collectibles.

I shall keep an eye on this.

But now, I’m gonna go install it.


That is very true. It did work very well in terms of narrative. Though, again, this was as much about the fact that neither of us CARED about the collectibles, as that the collectibles didn’t exist. We could easily have spent an extra 300 hours ignoring the narrative while we hunted for dinosaur bones and rock paintings and legendary fish, if we’d been so inclined.

But certainly the difference is that RDR2 kept those collectibles out of sight unless you actively cared enough to go look for them, whereas some other games (including, in the past, the AC franchise) have sprinkled icons for them all over the map, making it difficult to just ignore them. The way it was so very, very easy to ignore dinosaur bones when I had absolutely no clue where to look or what to look for. Man, that WAS pretty great.

And this did make it a lot easier for those of us were more interested in the story to just follow the story. Because magpie is a real affliction, damn it! I see question marks, I have to go check them out. Even when they are 99.9% certain to be nothing I care about. So yeah, props to RDR2 for that design choice. (Although it might have been somewhat frustrating for people who DID want to hunt everything, but didn’t necessarily want to spend the rest of their lives doing so.)

We’ve talked about this before, and maybe what we really want is a way to toggle those collectibles/sidequests/etc. icons on and off on the map. We’ve seen variations on this ability to customize maps in games before, so it’s not really a huge technological challenge. I think I remember TW3 giving me some choices about what I wanted to see on the map?


One should be able to toggle.


This game is taking forever to install…..Probably those lady animations.

You are playing as a woman, yes?


Ha! Undoubtedly it’s all those complicated female animations slowing you down. And yes, I am playing as Kassandra, rather than Alexios, and I’ll give them credit, once you get it installed, the female character IS actually able to move! I’m so impressed with what they’ve managed to achieve.

One day we’ll stop mocking them for that.


Kassandra. With a K. Because of kourse.

We shall never stop mocking, for we are the internet.


(We’ve fallen behind, T SHIRT wise.)

Ok! Played some games!

I’m already confused.

Let’s see….I, what….

Did the battle of 300 or something. Buttons were mashed. Didn’t die. Fought the next guy. He glowed sometimes. Buttons were mashed. Didn’t die. Not sure what I did. Already confused.

Met the two assassin hipsters who gave me game options I can change later. Am I supposed to know who they are?

Then got confused. Map is confusing. Eagle is confusing. HORSE is confusing.

Basically, I just got the horse and now they’ve taken the girl. Am I supposed to rush? Cuz so many question marks…..

The fuck is with the eagle?

And, as for horse, I think I already lost it. I picked one, then it was all “They have the kid!” and I said “SHIT, MAN! I’m comin’!” I got on the horse and…well…it handles a little differently than Roach did and pretty soon I was flying over cliffs into level five bandit camps and I died. I reloaded, and there were the three horses in the stables, couldn’t get one, already had the “find kid” quest, decided to walk. Probably bugged the game already.

I miss Roach.

What does the eagle do besides make things more confusing? Isn’t there just some good ol’ fashioned assassin’s sight or eagle vision or some shit?

So, on the idea of icons, did you play “guided” or “explorer?” Cuz I picked “guided,” and MAN there’s guided shit all over the place. Should I change?

(As an aside, Malaka is a pretty great swear.)


I lost the horse too! Went to find the girl, stopped to talk to a guy sitting by a cave, turned back around, and the horse was gone. I just walked the rest of the way, but it turns out you can whistle for your horse (I think by holding the up directional? but I might be misremembering, it could be a different directional) and it will show up, so try that. And the hint says “if your horse is badly injured he won’t come back for a while, but once he’s had a chance to rest, he’ll come when you whistle,” or something, so don’t worry about killing it.

Which horse did you pick? I picked Phobos, because he’s nimble. And also, apparently, scary.

I am still in the “pushed some buttons, not really sure what I’m doing, but didn’t die” stage myself. Just…hit some buttons. Eventually it will probably become more clear which buttons are actually useful to hit. That’s my plan. Pretty much right now I know R1 is good, that’s the basic attack, and square is dodge. I use those a lot. And the R1-L1 combo to parry, I like that. Everything else, I’ll worry about later.

I feel like the eagle will possibly become more useful later–did you get the bit where they tell you how to see through its eyes, so you can scout the territory ahead? I found that mostly just confusing, but I can imagine that it might actually be helpful if you wanted to see which side of the building had more guards on it, or whatever.

Basically, you’re doing great. I’m still a bit confused myself, but the scenery is pretty and we’ll figure it out.

As for the map, I also chose guided, which I think–in an uncanny reference back to our earlier conversation–is the choice that puts a lot of icons and question marks on your map, instead of just letting you roam around and find things or not. I guess that really wasn’t a spoiler, to mention that the game we’re playing kind of does exactly the thing we were talking about, but you hadn’t loaded it yet! I irrationally didn’t feel I could give away details!

So…I guess the main thing is, I went the lots-of-icons route, but maybe you could go the no-(or limited, perhaps)-icons route and we could compare.


Oh. Well. Ok. I was a little worried, though, as ALL THREE horses were still there in the stable when I reloaded.

I don’t care that much. No horse will replace Roach.

I picked…uh….the one on the right. I picked the one on the right. On the right. A warrior’s horse! Or something.

I miss Roach.

I did the “Hit L1 and X to bull rush!” bit when I was SPARTA!!!! but I guess I could only do that then (or when I get the skill someday). That was handy. Until I couldn’t do it any more. Then, less handy.

Well….I got close to the vineyard, and it was all “Your target is close! Hit up to call [whatever the fuck it’s called].” So I hit up and WHAMMO! BIRD! To which I said “The fuck? I’m a bird?” And it had some controls, and I could fly and look at shit, which led to more icons, and I was confused.

Then I got a little closer and it told me to do it again, and I was all “No way, game, that was some fucked up shit,” but I did it anyway and then it told me about the “golden circle” and all that and I found the guy.

I kinda knew where he was in the first place……but hey. Bird.

Scouting territory? Yeah…that’s gonna be something. I’m not that spatial, so trying to say “Ok, so….if that’s what the bird saw….then the guard must over there…” will likely be “I think that’s what the bird saw so…no..wait…so then the guards would be over oh, no, here they are, I’m dead.” At best. It’s likely going to be “Ok…so..if that’s what the bird saw…wait, I don’t think it’s…where am I? Why….shit, I’m going the wrong way…I…hang on…welcome to Lemoyne? That’s not even in the GAME!”

Hmm. I’ll stick with this a while. I think I’m just in shock cuz we went from RDR2 to full Ubisoft. Full Ubisoft is a shock.

Though it was telling that it said that “explorer” was “how it should be experienced.” Maybe I’ll switch.


Oh, wait…actually I think I picked ‘Explorer’ because I remember being swayed by the implicit judgment in “the way the game should be experienced.”

“I don’t want this game to look down on me!” I thought. “Especially since I already went with ‘normal’ difficulty instead of ‘hard’!”

Do you have question marks in your ‘radar’ when you look around? Or are they already icons? Maybe that’s what it’s about. Maybe I have question marks I’m supposed to ‘explore,’ and you have icons to indicate that you already know what’s there (assuming you could remember what the icons indicate, which I know I certainly can’t).

So much for my theory that maybe this game was giving us the option of a more RDR2 experience…maybe it’s only giving us the option of a more FO4 experience.

Unless I actually did choose guided despite the game’s judgy commentary, but that really rings a bell that makes me think “oh yeah, I did what it wanted me too” not “I rebelliously went my own way!”


Dude, thus far, I look like a question mark factory exploded in ancient Greece. There’s health icons, there’s quest info, there’s SO MUCH SHIT. But yes, they are on the radar.

I’ll fiddle with it. I did notice (as I go through EVERY OPTION before starting a game cuz of my ex) that you can pick and choose what parts of the UI are up there, and they all start “on,” so I guess you can shut up some of that on screen noise regardless of which mode you pick.

I don’t know. Whole thing is confusing.



But pretty! And we’re going to have fun sneaking around and assassinating people! And there were some roleplayish bits with conversation options that “may change the story”!

I let those two thugs who came to beat her up at the beginning go. Because I’m nice like that.


As did I. Once again, we won’t have many notes to compare.

Except on the romance. You’ll likely end up with someone different than I will. And hey! Look at all the armored dudes! A goodly portion have to be broody! You’re in paradise!


Yeah, the story variations are going to be all about who gets romanced.

Oh–I would be remiss if I did not salute this game for its nod towards male nudity, however.

Game: I salute you.



Malaka, for real?


Well…depends on what you mean by “for real.”

I take it you haven’t seen this nudity. It’s quite visible. You’ll get there.


Oh dear.

I was going to let the kids watch a little of it later on. Should I….not?


No, you’re fine. So far the game is very family friendly. In a murdery way. The nudity is just a statue. That’s why I was being all coy about whether or not it was “for real.”

I mean, it’s really in the game!–but it’s not actually a “real” character who’s naked.

It’s a very naked statue, though. You’ll see.

You probably already have, in fact…didn’t we get a swing-by of the statue’s butt during the opening eagle-flight sequence?


We did. That we did.

I rather liked that sequence. Cool opening.

And timely! We have a nesting pair of golden eagles nearby. They were both over the house eyeing the children the other day. Probably telling someone where the guards are. Good thing they’re so confusing.


“OK, the bird said the door was on the left, so…if that’s the bird’s left from the air, that means…wait, which direction were they going?”

“Let’s just go rob some other house. This one probably doesn’t even have any hidden tombs in the basement.”


Bird: Ok, the house we want is the one with the frazzled father and the crazy assed kids.
Assassin: Ok, put it on the mini map.
(935874298574543 question marks later)
Assassin: Shit.


And that’s why you live in your town! It all becomes clear. You tolerate half-day Tuesday because it throws off assassins!

Worth it.


No. No it is not. By about 245 I’d welcome the assassins.

Notably, I have not seen the eagles on half day Tuesday. Even strong, magnificent birds of prey are all “Oh HELL no” when it comes to that.


OK, so it’s not worth it, but I can see how you might have imagined it would be, before you got there.

You’re eyeing the house, checking out the neighborhood, thinking “yeah, this’ll confuse assassins, sounds good, what’s a little half-day Tuesday compared to protecting my family from an ancient order of trained killers?”

It was only later, at around 2:45 on that first Tuesday, that the horrible truth dawned on you.


More like 235……..

Christ, Tuesday.

And I’m out of smoked tequila.

Come for me eagles!


You have a week. You still have time to go out for some more tequila! Or to stand next to the biggest landmark you can find so even the eagles can’t confuse things.

“That thing. He’s right next to that thing.”

Of course, the assassins will probably get stuck in traffic on the way.