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Some plot spoilers for things pretty early in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Utter madness. I did play a teeny tiny bit.

I sailed in the direction of the hairy guy (which is the next thing you do after the final push) but got distracted by a mysterious thingy and magpied.

You?

Feminina:

I did many things!

Seduced and recruited Odessa, did the final push in Megaris, helped defeat the Athenians, met with but declined to actually murder my (turned out to be step-)father but apparently he still abandoned the Spartan army so he’s as good as dead? Sailed to Phokis to tell Elpenor what happened with the Wolf (“so, I didn’t actually kill him, but…uh…he wandered off into the wilderness and I’m sure he’ll never be a problem again, OK? Pay me anyway!”), landed in Phokis and instantly magpied in about 15 different directions, so I’ve now whittled the nation power down to the point that whenever I WANT to topple its leader I totally can, recruited a couple more people (sadly without seduction), and still haven’t gotten around to talking to Elpenor or the Oracle Barnabas wants me to see.

I’m a busy woman. I’ll get to it, all right?

Butch:

Missed flirting, didn’t you?

Dude, I didn’t get back to hairy guy. Watch the spoilers.

So….did you find a mysterious site? It was on the way. Island. Cave. Small island. Interesting it was where it was. (It was on the island with the pirate carpenter you can recruit).

And now you’re way ahead of me and the universe is restored.

Anyway, I got some thoughts re the final push.

I still maintain that, up until now, this game is chock full of the annoying bits of Mafia 3 without the themes and good stuff. Add to “good stuff,” end of area battles. Sure, Mafia 3 had the annoying car chases (Pagani, Grecco, which I still think the game let me complete out of pity), but it also had a riverboat, the amusement park, the quarry….interesting stuff that made you feel like something was HAPPENING, and that broke up the gameplay.

This?

Running around going “Where’s the captain? Hey! Get away from me!” and then dodging until the Spartans won.

The fuck WAS that? That wasn’t a level at all. That was a hundred Kevins in an open space. That’s it. No tactics, no strategy, no themes, no shaking up the gameplay, NOTHING. That was pointless action and then a cutscene. Dude, give me a riverboat. Give me an amusement park. Give me SOMETHING more interesting than a hundred Kevins in an open space.

Though the “he’s not dad” was an interesting twist, and the talking about the oracle combined with the mysterious thingy I found at that particular time as I’m on the way to the oracle, hints at themes. Finally. Hints. I’ll take hints at this point.

I’ll be a tad busy today, as, instead of a nice quiet lonely Monday, Mrs. McP has taken the day off so we can all drive to Providence to go to the zoo and eat Italian food.

(This space intentionally left blank so you can project whatever emotion you think I am feeling or should be feeling here.)

Feminina:

Hm…I’ll go with “pain and sorrow, but since school is out and the kids would be around anyway, pain and sorrow slightly mitigated by the potential for good food and perhaps booze.”

I didn’t post any spoilers!–Elpenor is the hairy dude, and I haven’t talked to him yet. I was just making up things I might have said to him. If I had talked to him. Which I have not.

I agree that the “final push” was meh in terms of new and exciting gameplay. I mean, it was a bit different, being as much about outlasting the enemy as killing specific people, and there was the exciting possibility of accidentally attacking your own side. I found it moderately challenging, and didn’t hate it.

But you’re right, in terms of adding anything by way of theme or narrative, it had absolutely nothing on a riverboat or an abandoned racist amusement park. I mean…big fight with a bunch of nameless dudes. There’s really not a story there.

Have you formed an opinion about the ‘mercenaries’ aspect? How we can kill off other mercenaries to advance in the rankings, etc? I don’t really have a strong opinion about it yet. I feel kind of bad just attacking other mercenaries when they’re out minding their own business (we’re all in the same business, after all!), but of course I’m happy to murder the hell out of them if they’re coming after me to collect a bounty. And it’s kind of interesting that you can encounter people you have no conceivable chance of beating yet, so you know who’ll you’ll be running into down the line.

On the other hand, the little biographies don’t seem to have any real narrative significance, so it’s not as if they really add anything major.

But as I said, I haven’t gotten familiar enough with it yet to have strong feelings about it.

Oh, and lest I forget, when I talked to Barnabas about the Oracle he also said “terrible news! A plague has overrun Kephallonia! We can go back anytime you want.”

D’oh. Should have respected that priest’s quarantine.

Also, to myself I thought “why exactly do I want to go back to a plague-riddled island?” but probably I should stop in, just to see if there are any “these are the terrible consequences of your decision!” quests. Maybe I can look for quinine or something.

Butch:

DUDE I KNEW IT! Nicely done, game. Play on our game instincts.

You should go back! Just to see the terrible outcome of your soft hearted decisions.

I got no such plague. Practical, me.

You never told me….did you find….something mysterious?

Yeah, I didn’t hate that battle, per se. It wasn’t a controller throwing reaper moment. It wasn’t unfair. But it also wasn’t anything NEW. Or interesting. It was “Just whack dudes until the bar empties.” Button mashing.

I haven’t really formed an opinion about the mercenaries either. I’m not sure exactly what it’s for, really. Stats? Loot? I’m guessing one or the other, because it seems everything in this game is one or the other.

Feminina:

I did not find anything mysterious. I’ll have to go back. After I murder some dudes around here.

Lots of dudes around Phokis that need a-murderin’.

Tip: apparently if you get the nation power down really low, and then DON’T go after the final battle, the nation will re-fortify and you’ll have to whittle it down again. No biggie, I’m just wandering around murdering and I can wear them down again, but it’s an interesting point that you may want to be aware of.

Butch:

Ooo! Good to know!

Yeah….there’s an island with a quest on the way to Phokis from Megara. The quest is a dude on a boat, been ambushed, pirates, find my brother, I’ll join you, blah. Kinda handy (Did you do that? Cuz I have something to say about that. Dude’s a carpenter). But ON the island there is a cave…..

Go in the cave.

Feminina:

Oh, dude, I did that on the way to Megaris. I recruited that guy after failing to save his brother. He’s handy. Good skills for a boat.

And I went in the cave and looted the treasure, although I didn’t find anything I’d call mysterious other than that crack in the wall with a pounding noise on the other side. I couldn’t get through it, though. Could you break the wall? Is there an alien artifact or a big statue of naked Zeus?

Butch:

Ooooooofffffff course you found it before. I forgot the power of magpie.

No, I did not get through the crack, but the ambient dialog was interesting. Your fan must’ve been loud. She was all “This is not of this world!” (so much for show, don’t tell), the shit was glowing underwater, and she said (again, so much for show, don’t tell) “I’ll have to come back later.”

So there’s your weird alien shit!

And, as per our prior blog post, I feel like I found that when the game wanted me to find it, after we find the Wolf isn’t dad, and as we’re on the way to the oracle. After all, that’s when the quest that was right there popped, all “HEY! OVER HERE!” If that’s so, that’s an interesting narrative choice.

Because I feel like they’re setting up themes, or at least plot, with the oracle. The dialog between Kassandra and Barabas about faith in oracles, or the destructive nature of faith in oracles, and the nature of oracles, is as close as I’ve gotten to theme.

Gotta say, I’m 0-2 in terms of when I thought we were gonna get whooshed back to modern times. I was totally expecting a modern cutscene after we saw the Wolf, and again expected it when I found the cave. So far, nope. I feel like AC4 had more of those bits. Well, at least I feel it had those bits much sooner….

Feminina:

Hm. Yes, my fan must have been loud. I don’t remember that mysterious voiceover. Though the pounding noise was certainly suggestive of something. I guess we’ll have to go back later!

I do feel like maybe we could have been pulled back to the present by now to see what’s going on with our modern-day storyline…but maybe they’re just downplaying that whole aspect of the series these days.

Butch:

Yeah, when the PC says “I guess I’ll have to come back later,” you’re coming back later.

So odd, though, that they led with it. Well, I guess they led with SPARTA!!!!! but the whole character creation thing was in the present. If you’re going to play that card in the first twenty minutes, you’d think it would matter.

They must have to go back at some point. We talked about this with RDR: You can’t assume that people have played the other games (even when there’s SO MANY OF THEM). Well, you CAN assume that, but you shouldn’t. They can’t just chuck stuff that isn’t of this world, and have hipsters do character creation and just leave it there. Or, they could, but they shouldn’t.

I do wonder how, though, long series like this have their reviews affected by the fact they’re long series. Sure, I’ve only played one AC game, I didn’t play the first RDR, but how many people who review these things can say that? How many of the nines this got were from people coming at it with a deep knowledge (even fandom) of the games that came before? Shit, if you dare to scroll though comments in reviews on many sites, there’s often a lot of “Why did they get so and so to review this when so and so obviously doesn’t know anything about the series?” I have a feeling that, if you were playing this game in a vacuum, you might be rather pissed that this shit hasn’t been explained twelve hours in, or, at the very least, hinted at some. But if you’ve played the last thousand AC games, you don’t need it hinted at, and you’ll forgive it.

Hmm.

Feminina:

Hm. Yes…once again we ponder, how much prior knowledge is OK to expect? And how much is it OK to risk annoying people who DO have prior knowledge, by re-explaining the whole device every single time?

If I recall, way back in the original Assassin’s Creed, it was rather confusing for a while as they kind of bounced you around and you figured out what the hell was going on, so in that sense…maybe they’re just going with tradition. Figuring out what the hell is going on is time-honored custom.

And if some of us have a better sense of the background than others from having played previous games, well, maybe that’s as much a reason to give ourselves spoiler warnings, as it is to feel complacent and assume we know what’s up. Maybe we’re not really supposed to know, whether we’ve played previous AC games or not, because the story is going to develop in some unexpected way as we move forward!

Or maybe I’m just being super optimistic and giving them a ton of credit for thinking up complex multi-layered narrative that will never actually develop.

Butch:

Well, in general, if you’re going to have a multi layered narrative, you have start with a layer.

I’m sure hoping that when we meet the oracle and start getting answers/theme, it shows up. But damn, I’m 12 hours in. That’s four Edith Finches. And I’m nervous cuz I thought “Ok, when we meet the Wolf, that’s when it’ll kick into high gear” and, well, besides “I’m not your dad,” there wasn’t much.

Any time here, game. Any time.

Feminina:

One of these sessions! Bound to happen! Big modern-day story, kicking in! Aliens! Ancient artifacts! Resonating in the modern world!

Possibly. We’ll see. I’ve got about 14 hours in, though at least 12.5 of them were magpieing. Any minute now.

Butch:

Any….minute…now….

C’mon, game. We got a blog to write.

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