Yes, I feel deeply ashamed that my first What I’m Playing post isn’t about some art game or complicated card-game. It’s about something stupid. Assassin’s Creed is undoubtedly one of the stupidest game series going…
So I’ve played every numbered sequel since the first one came out. There’s something about it that’s comforting, especially when you’re very busy and just want to settle into a mindless game. It’s like putting on a particularly comfortable pair of slippers. Ultraviolent slippers with a stupid plot and too many collectibles.
However just because it’s mindless doesn’t mean I can’t overthink it! I play AC games as a tourist, getting to explore cities from every angle and immerse myself in the impressive living worlds that Ubisoft creates. Have you see the River Thames in this game? It’s incredible, all alive and moving and busy! And I never tire of this ‘man falling off a boat’ animation even though I’ve probably triggered it about a hundred times:
I’m pretty familiar with Paris and Rome (from 5 and 2.5 respectively), but these were set far-enough back in the past that there were noticeable changes from our own time. Syndicate differs because I’m very familiar with central London, and the layout hasn’t changed a huge amount since the mid-1800s. I’m trying to navigate without the map, using only my local knowledge. But they moved St Pancras station about mile to the south-west and suddenly I’m all disorientated. I’ve started to read the map with a critical eye, and understand why the designers might have cut out Tottenham Court Road in order to turn their London into a greatest hits package.
(This isn’t to disparage Tottenham Court Road, obviously. But they wouldn’t have had the massive branch of Habitat to explore in 1868).
I recently played around with some VR tours of a building I was getting to know, and the connection between exploring the building in the headset and in real life really helped me to learn the layout of the place far quicker than I might have done in real life alone. The game of making the connection between the two gave me the motivation to explore, and climb multiple staircases! I’d be fascinated to see how a Syndicate player might navigate the real London having never been there before, and whether virtual simulations might help with this kind of learning activity.
Manchester next please, Ubisoft. I still haven’t really got my bearings after 10 years.