Take in the sights, enjoy the fights...
That tagline pretty much sums up the game. Because if you don't like the sights, or the fights in the game, then you might as well stay away. Why? Because the graphics and visual design is one of the best aspects of the game, and if you can't appreciate that, well then what's the point?
This is a truly beautiful game to behold, so much attention to detail in the locations. And it looks just amazing. What you don't believe me? I have proof. Here, these I screenshots I took in game, these are not doctored in any way, this is how the game actually looks like.
And these aren't even taken in Athens or some other prominent locations, those are amazing too, but there were only a few moments when I actually took the time to stop and take screenshots. And unfortunately photo mode doesn't work during conversations or cutscenes I really wanted to take some screens during some.
So we established that the game has what I can only describe as 10 out of 10 graphics. I mentioned fights. Well you have to enjoy those because you're in for a lot of fights in the game. Again If you don't get the hang of it by level 5-6, better turn back, because the game is just more of the same all the way.
Some so called pro reviewers criticized the game's story and narrative, all I can say to that is that they're ignorant fools. And this is not an ad-hominem I throw around. They demonstrated that they're ignorant and didn't understand basic concepts of the game. At least in the one review I endured to watch.
I also saw others say that they just ran trough it as quickly as they could to rush out the reviews. It seems that's what game journalism has come to on the youtube side at least. The first one out gets the views, who cares about accuracy and quality, right? What is it you're saying, that I'm salty?
Damn right I'm salty, but not because of these youtubers success, but because of what game journalism has become. One half is in a rat race for the limelight. While the other half, the PC bunch (and I don't mean personal computer) is more concerned about politics of the game. Where are the real reviews? In the past it seems to me.
Well if I mentioned politics, I have to discuss the actual politics of the game. Not ancient greek politics, but the undertones the writing staff gave the game. It is about 100% true to what I'd expect from people aligned with the infamous "atheism plus" camp. Yes where atheism meets social justice.
There are basically no strong prominent male characters in the game. They are typically either the reasonable, but can't get anything done weakling. Or the strong but stupid kind. And the writers put so many jests and pokes at believing in gods in the game that it seems out of context.
It was the norm to believe in Zeus in ancient Greece. Why try to rewrite history? Yes we know better know, but they didn't then, so having an atheist remark for everyone that expresses belief seemed out of place to me. And I'm saying that despite considering myself not just an atheist, but an anti theist.
This is the same problem that BFV has, the rewriting of history. About half of the mercenaries in the game are female, and a lot of the regular soldiers and guards too. It is not detrimental to the experience just yet. But it's not settle either. What also bothered me, is that I played as Kassandra, and she was
ready to get into bed with anyone at any time. Ugly, stupid, weak, male, female, didn't matter. And there was even a forced romance where you had no choice but to have a same sex fling whether you wanted it or not. But at the same time, there is no proper love interest in the game, it's almost as if they're the sending a message that strong women don't need men.
But the most ridiculous thing in the game to me is that, you're literally killing people by the thousands, there is all kinds of gore, beheading, impaling, mutlitaion going on, but sex? NO, we can't even show a hint of that, it's only implied with a fade to black.
So social justice undertones aside, the story and the narrative is pretty good. There is no one main story, but multiple story arcs that sometimes cross each others paths during the game. I think it is very unique and a refreshing experience. It feels more realistic than having one big story and lots of small irrelevant sidquests with filler characters.
Here many of the characters that you meet on some side adventure appear later during the main story. And vice versa. One sidequest may lead to another, then another, that turns out to be a part of a whole main story arc. Some of the dialogue is very good as well. Too bad dialogue choices don't mean shit most of the time.
I've tried many times loading a previous save to try different choice options and eventually all roads lead to rome. You have a dialogue choice, but two sentences later the conversation is in the exact same path whichever you chose. The only exception are the choices that are marked with icons.
Where you can choose to kill or at least fight a character directly this is the red icon with swords, and the heart icon which obviously is the "let's fuck" option. And I'm not being inappropriate. Literally that is how much romance is there with these. Oh and there is a recruit option as well for some NPCs.
The people you recruit are put into the pool of people that you can choose as lieutenants on your ship. These add various bonuses depending on the person. But you don't know what will one person bring to the table. Once I recruited a scrawny looking bum in diapers, who turned out to be one of the best lieutenants I had for a very long time.
So yes, you have a ship in the game, which is basically your mobile base of operations. And since the map is about two thirds water, you need a ship to get around. One thing I wish I knew when I started playing the game, is that you can disembark your ship anywhere, you don't have to go into a harbor. I didn't realize this until about lvl 40.
Before then I traveled everywhere by going to the nearest port then took a small row boat, or walked to my actual destination. At first glance the naval battles seemed very generic and not very engaging, but I changed my mind about them later, they're actually not that bad. I liked how the size of the waves actually matter when you're sailing.
And the cat and mouse games you have to play to ram other ships was pretty good too. You have two options dealing with enemy ships either you sink them outright or you board them after disabling them. The first gets you lots of wood and drachme. The latter option gets you items and refills part of your ships health which is a good thing if you have other ships to deal with still.
And since I mentioned resources there is no reason to keep the cat in the bag any longer. Fuck the resource management in the game! And fuck the leveling system too! Yeah they are there to ruin your experience hand in hand. Any one of them on it's own I could've dealt with, but together they're disruptive as hell.
Why? Because this is the most restrictive leveling system I ever saw in any game. Everything is scaled up exponentially between levels, every stat, damage, armor, modifiers, everything. This means that if you encounter an enemy a few levels above you, they'll one hit kill you even on easy. And you almost can't hurt them at all.
But this is not the worst part, and somewhat understandable, this is how the game keeps you from completing quests meant for the endgame early. But the real issue is that you have to upgrade your gear as well after each levelup, to have proper stats. If you don't upgrade your weapons or armor, again you become cannon fodder even for basic enemies.
But the upgrades are prohibitively expensive. And they get more expensive with each level. I could never keep all my gear on par with my level. Usually I only had the resources to upgrade one major or 2-3 smaller items at a time. And if you miss upgrading something for a few levels then you can forget about that item, since it will be so expensive to upgrade that it is out of this world.
As you get closer to lvl 50 which is apparently the highest level in the game, upgrading one item will cost insane amounts. I know some people are fine with farming for resources, I'm not one of those. If I'm doing something in the game I need a narrative purpose for it.
I'm not going to start clearing random forts just for the sake of it. Unless they're the daughters of artemis and attack me without provocation, then I'm going to murder every last one. But that was just one time. I swear every other time I had a mission, where I needed to lower nation power.
That's another interesting mechanic in the game. Each region has a stat called nation power, which represents how strong the current leadership is. You can lower that by killing soldiers in forts, stealing their money, and burning supplies, destroying weapons, and even killing their leader.
If the nation power becomes low enough that triggers a conquest battle, that you can join on the defender or the attacker side. And if you win as the attacker the leadership is replaced. Well actually this is just another mechanic for farming xp and resources in the game. I didn't do these either without good reason.
Then I guess it's time to talk about the elephant in the game. The blatant pushing of micro-transactions. The game keeps nagging you to buy this and that at every corner. And as long as it is only cosmetic stuff, it's not a big issue. But here you'd have to pay to get what I'd consider normal XP and resource gains.
The game is just short changing you by default, but don't worry, ubisoft is here to offer you a pack that gives you 50% more XP for a price of course. As much as the game begs for that, I implore everyone don't give in. I don't want this to be common practice. Where the devs deliberately make a game just a little more grindy than necessary to then offer a remedy to that problem for an extra price.
I paid for the ultimate edition, I demand to have the best possible game already. The game is far from being unplayable as is, but you just feel that the progress is slower than what you expect.
There is one more thing I want to say: If you're the type of player who just wants to run trough main story quests, then this game is not for you. Because that is made impossible by the level system. You have to do the side quests and a lot of them to reach the level necessary for the end game, you can't just do the quests directly connected to the main story lines. It took me 70 hours to finish the main story. I still have many unexplored areas, islands I haven't even visited, and about a dozen untouched sidequests give or take. In order to tie up all main quests you need to be close to lvl50 because you have to defeat level50 enemies to get there.
And good that I mentioned defeating enemies. Because that is one thing I disliked about the game. The mechanics are there for being stealthy, but it's just not worth it. You don't get any XP for achieving things undetected or without killing. But you get all the loot and XP from killing enemies. I have the option to sneak in to camps and just get the objective, but I'm shooting myself in the foot in the process because I could never get enough XP that way to keep leveling up.
One more thing I have to confess. This is the first AC game I played since the very first one, and I never finished that one either, so if there was anything that is nothing new in this game I mentioned, I'm sorry, everything was new to me at least.
I hope I didn't forget anything and mentioned everything I wanted. So here goes the pros and cons, and a third category for things that I consider both a blessing and a curse.
- Huge world
- Good fight mechanics
- Kassandra's voice (the acting too)
- Unique approach to storytelling
- Some good character moments
- Unexpected depth to the story
- Pushing of microtransactions
- Atheism+ undertones
- Leveling system
- No rewards for stealth / pacifist approach
- The need to upgrade gear
- Sometimes unbalanced difficulty. Some enemies are really hard to take down, while some others even ones above your level are too easy to defeat
- The game gets easier, as you level up, not harder, the most difficult part for me was around level 8-9, games are supposed to be harder at the end, right? .
- I'm a bit confused / underwhelmed about the ending(s)
- Some glitches here and there
- I nominate phobos for the stupidest horse in the greek world award. I mean I want to get on it so I start moving towards him then it starts running away from me?! Or when he gets stuck on a tiny curb? Or wedged between two headstones?
- The choice of horse at the beginning of the game is a real good representation of how important your dialogue choices are: Superficial.
- Overpower and chain assassination attacks, makes you a virtually unstoppable killing machine, you can kill multiple enemies without effort in an instant.
- Endless stream of loot to dismantle, it really takes a lot of time to manage your gear and ship upgrades
- The bow and arrow gets extremely overpowered by mid game.
overall impression: 9/10
Well it's up to everyone to decide for themselves, for me this is game of the year, no doubt about it. What RDR2? From what I saw, that comes nowhere near this. I won't touch it until it becomes available for PC anyway.