Here Is The Only Reason I Enjoy Assassin's Creed Games

Here Is The Only Reason I Enjoy Assassin's Creed Games

Hate it or love it, the franchise is unparalleled in its open world historical environments.
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After years of annual releases wearing down the franchise, Ubisoft decided to take a gap year to develop the latest Assassin's Creed: "Assassin's Creed Origins." Still, the usual issues with the franchise are rampant: bloated and unengaging "quantity over quality" side activities, repetitive gameplay, poor writing, and boring characters.

Although there have been some steps in the right direction – it's clear Assassin's Creed, the titan of a franchise that it is, is afraid of taking the necessary risks to innovate its now tremendously overplayed open world game design. But despite all of that, I continue to play every major entry into the series, and I always enjoy it. Here's why.

It's very easy to look past Assassin's Creed's flaws for the one thing it does well: an incredible and unparalleled recreation of the historical environments they place you in. If there's one thing Ubisoft has figured out, it's how to create ridiculously detailed open worlds that are both visually stunning and a joy to explore. In fact, "Origins" is so graphically impressive, that I spent a good amount of time simply using the Photo Mode to take in-game screenshots.

I haven't seen any other developer, aside from CD Projekt Red in "The Witcher 3," develop environments even close to the technological height of an Assassin's Creed open world. But "The Witcher 3" took years to develop, while Ubisoft churns these games out on an annual basis.

In the latest iteration of the franchise, "AC Origins," you're transported back to the waning years of Ancient Egypt. At this point in history the Egyptian Old Kingdom, the heavily romanticized civilization of pyramid construction and pharaohs, has long been replaced by the Hellenistic Ptolemaic Kingdom. Its culture is split between centuries of Greek influence and the, now waning, customs of traditional Egypt. All the while, the mighty Roman Empire looms overhead.

It's a cataclysmic time in classical antiquity and Ubisoft captures this period in stunning detail. The scale of the open world is incredible; the map includes a fully realized Alexandria, Memphis, and Giza, including vast swaths of the Egyptian desert, towns, and even parts of Roman-occupied Libya – all without loading screens.

There is so much detail packed into all these areas as well – from NPCs engaging in their own daily activities: pottery, trading, shipbuilding etc... to the incredible architecture. These cities feel real and lived in. Gone are the days of obvious copy and paste architectural assets – every building seems unique and handmade.

There is a wonderful contrast between the fully Greek city of Alexandria, with all its pomp and glamor, and an ancient city like Memphis, filled with the now millennia old remnants of the Old Kingdom. All of that is captured with an admirable level of historical appreciation.

In fact, that's when AC is at its best. Not when you're stabbing some one-dimensional archetype of a villain in the back with your hidden blade... but when facts and historical details are brought into the game world and story (saving the game's failing fictional narrative).

Historians are embedded within the development team, and their work in ensuring that the game contains some level of historical merit is apparent. AC games have always contained an in-game "codex" which houses dozens of factual footnotes on every historical monument, event, and character that you come across throughout your adventures. While missing from Origins, Ubisoft is instead promising to release a free add-on called "Discovery Tour". In this new game mode, there is no combat or story, rather you are simply guided by historians on a tour through the Egypt that Ubisoft has created. It promises to be complete with factual narration and annotations from Egyptologists.

To me, this "historical melding" is the greatest thing about Assassin's Creed. It's also why I was able to sit through and enjoy one of the most hated entries into the series: "AC: Unity." While the game was riddled with bugs and design issues, it recreated French Revolutionary Paris with jaw-dropping clarity. That was enough to get me hooked.

Despite all the flack the franchise gets nowadays, I believe Assassin's Creed deserves to be respected solely on the merit of its impressive open world environments, but it's a damn shame that they can't build an impressive game around them too.

Here are some screenshots that I took from "AC Origins":

Cover Image Credit: William DeLisi

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21 BuzzFeed Quizzes To Take When You're Trying To Procrastinate

Why study when you could be on BuzzFeed?
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According to my previous article, 12 Things That Are Only Acceptable In College, spending 2.5 hours taking BuzzFeed quizzes is completely acceptable if you're in college. With it being that time of the semester when the list of things to do is never ending, sometimes it's easier to just ignore your problems and spend your studying time procrastinating. If this sounds like something you need to do, here's the ultimate list of quizzes to waste your time on.

1. Reply To Your Crush's Texts And We'll Reveal Your Future

Wondering what you're going to do with your life since you're probably going to fail that exam that you have tomorrow? After all, you are taking BuzzFeed quizzes right now instead of studying. This quiz will answer that question for you.

2. Which "Gossip Girl" Character Are You Based On These Random Questions?

This one's a classic that you just can't possibly skip.

3. Build A School Uniform And We'll Guess Who You Were In High School

If you're like me, you always secretly wished you had a uniform in high school so that you didn't have to pick out an outfit every morning. Now you can live out that dream and find out what it says about you.

4. We Can Guess Your Age After You Build Your Own Dream Home

If I got 70's, does that mean I have timeless taste or terrible taste?

5. Pretend To Go Shopping And We’ll Figure Out If You’re More Ann Taylor Or Ann Taylor: Loft

Ladies, this is an important one.

6. Plan Your Day And Find Out Which "Grey's Anatomy" Girl You Are

Maybe if whatever you're doing right now isn't working out, you could become a doctor...

7. Create A Makeup Look And We'll Tell You Which Hogwarts House You Truly Belong In

Or you could become a wizard.

8. Pick An Outfit And We Will Tell You What You Do For A Living

And if neither of those work out, this quiz will tell you exactly what you should do.

9. Spend All Your Money At This Drug Store And We'll Tell You What You Should Be Doing With Your Life

And in case you didn't like either of the previous suggestions, you can see if this one is any better.

10. Build A Dream Castle And We'll Tell You What Type Of Unicorn You Are

Since unicorn everything seems to be the rage right now, you'd better keep up.

11. This Reverse Word Association Test Will Uncover Your Personality Type

This one's for those of you who don't have the patience to get through the Myers-Briggs test.

12. Design Your Future Backyard And We'll Reveal How Many Kids You'll Have

If you're going to have more than 2 you better get back to work so you can support them.

13. Pick An Outfit From Patagonia And We'll Tell You How Long You'd Survive In The Wild

Find out if running away to the wild is really a better option than struggling through that 10 page paper that's due at 8 am tomorrow.

14. Which Character From "The Office" Are You At YOUR Job?

Let's hope you don't get Kevin.

15. Which Meryl Streep Character Is Actually Most Like You?

Are you as mean as Miranda Priestly?

16. Take This Picture Test And We'll Tell You Your Best And Worst Qualities

No need to prepare for your next interview, just give them these answers.

17. What Kind of Bathroom Guest Are You

Are you actually a terrible guest?

18. What % Gross Are You Actually?

Or maybe you're just gross in general.

19. Your Food Preferences Will Reveal Which TV Character You Are

Are you more Blair Waldorf or Michelle Tanner?

20. What Grade Are You Getting In Life?

Are you literally failing at life right now?

21. What Type Of Emoji Are You?

Instead of a signature scent, you can have a signature emoji!

And if these didn't take you long enough, you can always check out BuzzFeed for more.

P.S. Good luck studying for that exam. Maybe you can find a quiz that tells you how to ace it.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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Trouble In The Gaming Industry

The way consumers interact with games has changed dramatically over the years.

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Video games have officially become a part of popular culture. Whether one points to the viral sensation of Fortnite, or the success of various consoles and mobile games, it is clear that gaming has become a part of our everyday culture. Video games have been around for quite some time now and always enjoyed some level of popularity among the youth. However, today's levels of gaming have reached unprecedented levels. Approximately 64% of American households hold someone that plays video games once a day. Furthermore, Fortnite boasts a registered playerbase of over 200 million players, and continues to climb everyday.

As the industry grows larger however, it is beginning to shift and change from what it once dealt in. I grew up with classics ranging from Mario Kart to the Jedi Knight Series. Many of the games I used to play were created with an unprecedented level of soul and creativity. The industry grew to treat games like an art for a while. That has begun to change in recent years as major companies like EA have turned into massive money-making machines. First of all, many of the games I grew up with were not lacking in content. I could have played Star Wars Battlefront I and II (the original early 2000s versions) for hours on end, and there was NO DLC. Today, it is rare that you see a AAA game release that does not include a season pass or DLC. Why relase a game and force the customer to pay extra when there is more to be added on? Second of all, loot crates and other forms of in-game gambling plague the market. Of course, EA, Activision, and other major companies have been a part of this disturbing trend. It has caught enough media attention now that some governments are even considering regulating video game loot crates.

However, the most disturbing trend of all is mobile gaming. Mobile gaming has sucked in the young rich children of America. These are cheap, simple, and uninspired games meant to rake in money. Essentially, these games will benefit from in-app purchases through what they call "whales." These "whales" are typically young, rich, gamers who have the money to make large purchases. These customers provide the bulk of the influx of money leaving other gamers with little to no content to enjoy, or the inability to play against pay-to-win gamers. This is causing greater harm to the industry as a whole because it is making companies lazy. Rather than spend millions on a AAA game, companies are making apps that bait the customers into buying in-game currencies or extra lives. The days where games had soul and inspiration are dying out. A clear example of this was the Battlefront I and II reboot by EA which was boring and copied major shooters which had already been made.

Unfortunately, it would appear as though the gaming industry has turned into something dreadful. My hope is that enough people will grow bored with these dull cookie-cutter games that keep on coming out, but the unfortunate truth is that they're made to rake in the big-bucks no matter how boring.

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