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Spoilers for early in AC: Odyssey; vague summaries of earlier AC games that could be spoilery if you’ve never played one and don’t want to know anything about them

Butch:

So yesterday I-

Wait.

Wait wait wait.

Waaaaaaaaait.

I realize something. I used to think that I do the cold open here because I get to the computer a couple hours before you do, as I just wake up and there I am, and by “just wake up” I mean wake up and do all sorts of chaotic kid shit for an hour and there I am, whereas you have to get all the way to work.

But there’s another reason: I’m always behind you. I can say “I did xyz” and you say “Ah yes! That! I vaguely remember when I did that three months ago!”

But I’m….I’m…..

Ahead of you.

So…uh…..

What did you do?

This can’t continue. The opens will be lame. Good thing tomorrow, once again, we go TRAVEL BLOGGING WITH BUTCH! You’ll catch up.

Feminina:

I was going to find the spear!– but I got distracted. Killed a bandit leader in a bandit camp and got some loot. Killed another alpha wolf in a cave and got some loot.

That’s… Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m still level two because I can’t get around to completing anything. It’s the curse of the magpie.

Butch:

Ok, I think I get what the game meant early on there.

Remember when we had the choice of “guided” and “explorer” and explorer was “There will be less on the map, but this is how we want you to play it?”

Last night, I just put my head down and followed quests. I also noticed that the quests were marked differently. The main story, the character and the “world” quests all have different icons, much like, in RDR, there were yellow blobs, white blobs and white dots. Those will still be there on the map in the other mode, and the game wants us to focus on those.

Know how I know? I found your burned village. How? Cuz a quest sent me there. A very, very interesting, well done quest. When you do this quest, Kassandra will say a bunch of stuff that makes it apparent she’s never been there before, even though, in your game, she has. The game wanted and expected us to find that WHEN WE WERE SENT THERE. The game DIDN’T WANT US TO FIND THAT PLACE even though it had a question mark if you play in guided (right? that’s why you went there). It’s like RDR saying “Well, I GUESS you could find Rhodes cuz we’re open world yadda yadda, but we didn’t want you to, so we’ll pretend you didn’t.”

If we had been playing in explorer, you never would have gone there, found it, etc. You would have been sent there when I was, and the whole thing would’ve been as good for your as it was for me (and it was very good).

Right now, I think we’re playing this in a way that, if this were RDR, there would be no fog on the map, all the bones, cards, dreamcatchers, everything would be marked and we’d be all over the place. RDR didn’t want us to do that. Neither does this.

And I don’t think we noticed cuz this is an AC game. Of course there’s fragments and shanties and animals! But really, this ISN’T an AC game. The option we picked was for people who stubbornly refuse to play anything with AC in the title as anything OTHER than old school AC. But this isn’t old school AC, it’s more RDR. Moreso, as choices matter (holy Moses, do they matter. And soon).

I think the middle ground is viewpoints. I think the game wants us to be all “Look, no question marks, but if you climb up there I’ll show you where the caves and dreamcatchers and dinosaur bones are if you really, REALLY give a fuck, but really, stick to quests.

So turn it to the other mode. I think it’s a much better game that way. So do the developers. Cuz a “find the fragments and assassinate dudes” is not what this game is. I’ve already found more themes than in ALL of AC4. And more story. And more bloggage.

Feminina:

That’s good information. I will go back to settings next time I play.

But I’m not going to stop climbing tall things! I don’t care how many question marks I uncover.

Although I didn’t actually follow a question mark to get to the burned town, I was just wandering while trying to get to the statue (which I would have known was a vantage point even without an icon), so that could have happened anyway. Though as you say, it’s much less likely. They can’t STOP us from getting to Rhodes or St. Denis before we’re really supposed to be there, but they can at least avoid actively luring us in that direction.

I could have sworn I bowed to the game’s implicit judginess and selected “the way the game was meant to be played,” but maybe I only intended to. This whole ‘hover over the option and hold down the X” mechanic throws me off slightly. It’s in no way difficult, but it’s different.

Also, Mr. O’ reopened his game, because hey the disc was already loaded and he was done with Edith Finch, and I seriously came THIS CLOSE to accidentally saving over his (one) save last night. It’s not even funny.

I mean, it’s kind of funny, but only because I didn’t actually do it.

I need to check into that uploading situation. And he needs more saves, but I can’t control that. And if I try, like if I intend to go and load his game just to make an extra save for him?–I’ll undoubtedly delete it instead, because that is obviously the terrible curse that has befallen our marriage.

No, I need to make sure uploading is in place, and I need to never ever go near his save for any reason. I was just loading his game for him once I was done, you know, in a friendly fashion, but because I was in the save screen from saving my own game, I ALMOST hit ‘save’ again on his and overwrote my own on it.

Holy naked Zeus, can you even imagine the horror? I can’t. I won’t. I’m not loading his game ever.

We’d honestly be safer if he went back to RDR2, but living dangerously is what it’s about sometimes.

Butch:

Yeah, I think, after yesterday, I’m going to switch. Should’ve trusted them when they say “this is how it’s meant to be played.” They did make the game and all.

But climbing, well, hell no! Gotta climb shit!

Right. The question marks do kinda say “Come here! Right away! It’s awesome!” Especially in an AC game! True, I only played one of them, but that game….lacked story. And REALLY lacked story that made any rational sense. The game was “Sail around, do cool stuff, find stuff, etc.” You play RDR for the story. You kinda play AC for the legendary fish and dinosaur bones. That is, until this one.

You’ve been too trained in the pointless ways of AC.

I know, right? Not difficult, but different interface… It has a mouse…a quick save…it’s….so nostalgic of the other times….

I think, too, what threw us was that the option we chose, that is, NOT the option they wanted us to choose, was the option that was highlighted FIRST. There was the cursor over the one we picked. Kinda urging us the wrong way, game.

Dudes. DUDES.

Look, Mr. O’s stubbornness is one of the reasons why we love him, but this one save shit’s gotta change. It just has to. I don’t expect either one of you to go to my extremes (I have five. Plus the auto. And the quick. But I overwrote one yesterday! Didn’t go to six! Yet.), but dudes. One? One is not acceptable. Your three makes me nervy.

You gotta have a chat, there.

DO NOT GO NEAR HIS DAMN SAVE!!!! DON’T!!!!! Just keep making new ones. Each time. Like I do.

Don’t live dangerously. Just make sure it’s uploading. Always, always uploading.

One damn save. Mr. O….dude.

I just can’t get over it. Back in the Commodore days, I would back up my damn 5 1/4 inch floppies. For real. Took forever. But that’s what you DO, man! THAT IS WHAT YOU DO!

Just make sure you always have more than one. Cuz Mr. O is both stubborn and vindictive.

Feminina:

Hey, man, don’t universally knock AC’s story. I agree that was a problem with Black Flag (largely because I didn’t care about Edward as a character, so what story there was, centered around him, was also of minimal interest), but earlier episodes had PLENTY of story.

Plenty of sprawling, weird, complicated story full of god-alien interference in history. You can say many things about AC, but assuming the entire series was nothing but a bunch of lightweight fetch-quest romps does it a great disservice.

Honestly, I kind of miss the sprawling, bizarre god-alien angle. I understand why they moved away from it, you just can’t sustain that level of weirdness forever, certainly not if you’re aiming for large markets, but…it was wacky good fun, man. The puzzles! The climbing! The climbing puzzles! AC2 and AC Brotherhood are still among my fondest game memories.

And you know I have many fond game memories. You know what I play, and what I like. So you can take it seriously when I tell you, those games were a blast to play. I mean, I don’t know if I’d still love them as much today, perhaps not, but I loved those games, and you know I don’t love everything. [Nostalgic sigh.]

I suppose I should also defend Mr. O’, now that I’m done defending AC, and note that he is stubborn, but not particularly vindictive. I can testify that he hasn’t sabotaged any of my game experiences or spent any time sighing dolefully in an ill-used way, or hinted at how to make it up to him I should probably let him play nonstop for the entire weekend while I amuse the children, or anything.

He might do all of those things if I did it again, though. Best not to risk it.

Butch:

Fair enough. Perhaps I just got a story dud.

Fair. But you have become far pickier in your old age. We have too much practice tearing stuff to shreds. I’m the same way. I see plot holes everywhere. It’s why I have to distract myself with nudity and dress balls.

As for Mr. O’, I believe precisely one third of that.

Do not risk it. That last third, anyway.

Feminina:

I can’t risk it. There’s only so much strain one marriage can take. Even the “can this marriage be saved” column would give up.

“No. No it cannot,” they’d write. “We advise both these miserable wretches to marry someone else who doesn’t play games, or at the very least plays on a different platform.”

Butch:

You’d try to save your marriage, then accidentally overwrite it.

Make back ups! Upload! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!!

Feminina:

Ha! Nice.

“Can this marriage be saved? We tried, but accidentally saved another marriage on top of it, and this marriage didn’t have any backup saves, so…”

SOUND RELATIONSHIP ADVICE, everyone. Back up your marriage!

Butch:

Hey, ya never know. Maybe the one that overwrites the one you got has more loot and better gear.

Feminina:

That is true! Hm…

But then, we might wind up with extra kids and an even bigger and more unwieldy house. Possibly in your town, with half-day Tuesday.

I can’t risk it.

Butch:

Wise. Very, very wise.

Go make all the back ups you can.

And for the love of God, play, on explorer, and do quests.

But not too many, as I’m travel blogging tomorrow.

It shouldn’t take you that long to catch up, quest wise. I’m…two (?) main quests ahead of you (you freed the kid, right?), but, while in RDR that would be, like, three days, it’s very quick. My save thingy says I’ve been playing two and a half hours, total, so, you know. Not that far ahead of you.

Feminina:

I’ll do my best. We’re all sleeping badly lately–allergies, or something–so it’s been tough to find time and energy. Well, maybe it’s just me and Grigio sleeping badly.

But the good thing about this game being such quick little bites is that it is very easy to say “oh, I’ll just run around for 20 minutes and assassinate a few bandits, and at least I’ll have played.”

And also easy to then look up an hour later and realize it’s way past bedtime…but at least you’ve played!

Butch:

The main quests aren’t any more involved. Nor are the “character” quests, which are worth doing. I’m still in the RDR mode of “Do I want to start that? Do I have time?” And then I say “Well…I guess I’ll try to get it done….” and then, five minutes later, “That’s it?”

It’s ALL very quick. If you have 20 minutes, you have two main quests. Seriously. Do not think all you can do is bandits.

Feminina:

And there’s the difference from RDR2! Where it wasn’t even worth it to sign in for short periods because you’d probably spend 20 minutes riding to a location where something was going to happen, and then have to sign out rather than risk getting stuck in a quest where you couldn’t save.

All right, playing for 10 minutes a night is going on the to-do list. Ha.

Butch:

Yeah, dude. I think you’re signing in all “Well, I only have a little bit, better not touch the main quests or anything interesting,” but don’t worry. It’s all damn fast. The burned village thing was less than five minutes. For real.

And still blog worthy!

Feminina:

This will take a bit of getting used to, but I’m into it. I’m ready to embrace something fast-paced and snappy.

Even without a sprawling overstory about how god-aliens interfered in human history.

Butch:

You know, on that…….

Remind me: How does the present day thingy work? Can anyone go back in time and be someone if they have, like, the old someone’s DNA or social security number or favorite cheese or whatever? Or does it have to be a descendant?

And what exactly the fuck is everyone looking for in the past? I forget. Actually, I never really knew. Or understood.

Feminina:

If I understand correctly–and I didn’t play the last couple of games, so I could be missing some recent development–it USED to be that you had to be a descendant, and could only access your own ancestor’s memories, but Abstergo has figured out a way to make it so anyone can access the memories of specific people, and they’re going to sell (or are selling) that experience like a video game for popular entertainment, as well as mining the past for useful information they can employ for their own business ends.

I believe that’s what the people in the modern-day story were doing with Edward in Black Flag…making the memories transferable (or recording them somehow) so that you don’t have to be descended from Edward to experience his adventures on the high seas and enjoy those sea chanteys (which, credit where it’s due, were truly awesome).

The fact that our spunky protagonist and her hipster tech associate mention finding DNA on the spear suggests that this is still what they’re doing.

In the earlier installments, the descendant provided the DNA himself, inherited from the relevant ancestor, and he alone could access the memories (although Abstergo agents were able to kind of see them over his shoulder as he relived them). It sounds as if what’s happening now is that if they can locate DNA, whoever has that (and the Abstergo technology) can just call the memories directly out of it.

As for what they were looking for in the past in previous games…long story short, a powerful McGuffin that in the wrong hands could destroy the world. Same old same old. But man, it was an entertainingly convoluted path getting there.

And last I knew, they had wrapped up the powerful McGuffin storyline of the first few games, and I think in Black Flag they were mostly looking for entertaining stories they could sell to the masses?

What they’re looking for in this game, we do not yet know. Something, for sure, since our plucky protagonist was all “we’re going to get it before those rotten Templars!” or whatever. But I think it’s probably not related to the McGuffin of earlier times, although again I haven’t played one of these in a while so who knows?

Butch:

Oh. Well. Good thing they don’t have a complicated story in this one. Ha.

So wait….there’s this thingy that can destroy the world in the wrong hands and no one has found it in the 434598453978 games of the series?

Maybe they’re looking in the wrong place….

Feminina:

Oh no, they found it. And staved off the end of the world, through various complex endeavors. And then the Descendant died. Pretty much shut down that storyline. Alas, poor Desmond!

And then the series moved on to Edward, and the entertainment-focused model of the Animus, which as far as I know is where we are today.

Butch:

She’s looking for something, that’s for sure.

Don’t look at me. I’m just looking for nudity.

T SHIRT!!!!!

But if it’s just entertainment, that doesn’t make sense.

Abstergo: We, the French Canadian templars, will make entertaining technology!
Assassin’s: Not if we stop you!!!!
Abstergo: Why would you want to do that?
Assassins: Uh….because….
Abstergo: You know this is a video game.
Assassins: Yeah….
Abstergo: A game that’s named after you, not us.
Assassins: Several games, actually. A franchise.
Abstergo: Yes, yes, you’re making our point.
Assassins: How so?
Abstergo: Video games are “entertaining technology.”
Assassins: Uh….
Abstergo: And that’s good, right?
Assassins: Well, when you put it that way…..
Abstergo: So why are you trying to stop us?
Assassins: Uh……cuz….uh…. WE HATE POUTINE! It shall be our creed that you use ketchup on your fucking fries or DIE!!!!!
Abstergo: Not much of a video game, that.
Assassins: Fuck you, Frenchie! Ketchup for life!

Dude, what about that temple? That alien? That dude who showed up in Montreal all pissed and tried to kill everyone?

Seriously. If all Abstergo is is, like, Ubisoft, what’s all this about?

Feminina:

Well, Abstergo is a giant corporation (automatically sinister) and it’s run by the Templars, whose motivating principle over hundreds of years has been that the most important thing for humanity is obedience. They want to control the world, and everyone in it, because they believe that this is what will fulfill human destiny or whatever.

The Assassins’ motivating principle is freedom and doubt (their motto: “nothing is true. everything is permitted”), and they have opposed the Templars for hundreds of years, and so they assume that the Templars want to use this technology to advance their sinister obedience agenda. I think they’re kind of just suspicious of it on principle, although also, inserting experiences directly into peoples’ heads IS a pretty good way to influence their perceptions, so I guess they’re not totally just grasping at threads here.

But basically, here’s your breakdown of the conflict:
Templars want people obedient
Assassins want to stop Templars

Anything the Templars want to do is assumed to be about making people more obedient, and the Assassins are therefore opposed to it. Rinse and repeat!

As for the aliens, they turned out to be rather irrelevant once that storyline wrapped up. They influenced early Templars and Assassins, I think, but don’t really matter now.

Unless they turn up again in this game!

Bring on naked Zeus, man.

Butch:

Whatever. Played some. All I know is story has become irrelevant cuz I have new armor.

Midriff baring armor.

I can travel content.

Feminina:

And all’s right with the world!

Butch:

 

Damn skippy.

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