Over the long weekend I spent a lot of time playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate even though I’d “finished” it a while ago. In particular yesterday I played all day, and I mean that as close to literally as I’ll ever get. I walked the dog twice (because canine biology says that’s not optional) and broke for meals with Angela, but otherwise played AC Syndicate from about 9 am to 11:30 PM. No social media, no surfing the web aside from getting some help on a couple of sticking points in the game. No checking emails or my phone. Just playing.
First I earned the Platinum trophy for the main game. I’d done most of that before yesterday and had just one super-grindy trophy to get (“Without a Grudge” which tasks you with smashing through 5000 objects while driving a cart). I’d been driving on the sidewalks through most of the game because of this trophy and it still took me an hour of driving around the same block (this track) filled with street vendors to get it to pop. That was a dumb trophy that detracted from the game because it forced you to act like a maniac, running down hundreds of innocent people. Exactly the opposite of how an Assassin is supposed to behave (according to the titular Creed).
Once I was done…I wasn’t done. For some reason I wanted more so I started up the Jack The Ripper DLC. Actually glad I played that as it was pretty good. Playing through the Ripper storyline was fairly quick and when I was done I only had a few trophies left to get so figured I’d try for them. And once again, one particular trophy was a serious grind. Ripperologist tasks you with getting 100% sync. In the main game there was a similar trophy but there the 100% only applied to the main story missions. I assumed the same was true here but nope, here it means everything. Full completion on the main story missions, all the side activities and get all the collectibles. Normally I would have bailed at that point but by the time I discovered this it was the last trophy I needed. So I spent another 4-5 hours doing all the side missions I’d skipped (some of which were fun, some I had skipped because they weren’t fun) and then running all over the game getting collectibles I hadn’t bothered with since they didn’t matter in the main game (not fun). And finally I got that last trophy and felt…pretty much nothing.
Actually I felt conflicted. On the one hand, for my whole life I’ve struggled with sticking with things. I get an idea, jump in and immerse myself but then get a new idea and tear off after it. This particular character flaw is why, when I’d dead, I’ll leave nothing behind. When I was young I wanted to be a novelist and fully believe I had the talent for it (a talent which his atrophied considerably since then), but I never stuck with it. I never had the required devotion to the skill. I also probably could have made a lot of money in the dot-com bubble if I’d had more ambition and stick-to-it-ive-ness. I was in the right place at the right time with the right skill set. But nope, didn’t have the drive/ambition/focus to take advantage of it. In both cases I let myself get distracted constantly and never realized my full potential in either field.
This has applied to my gaming as well. Before the last few years it was very rare that I would finish a game. I’m finally getting better about that; if a game is decent I try hard to finish it. Getting 100% of the trophies on the main game and the DLC is kind of one step beyond finishing the game and something I’ve never done before, so from that point of view I’m proud of myself. I stuck with it, didn’t let myself get distracted, and hit my goal even when my mind was throwing suggestions of other, potentially more interesting things I could be doing.
But on the other hand, I spent an entire day doing this and what do I have to show for it? A number somewhere clicked up a notch. So what? I could’ve done a lot of different things with that day. I could have actually been productive and cleaned the house or built a spaceship or something, but even lowering my sights from that, I could have played something else. Experienced some other virtual world. I think that would have been more fulfilling then running around London opening chests to get currency I no longer needed.
So I don’t think I’m cut out to be a trophy hunter. I have a love/hate relationship with Trophies/Achievements anyway. It’s cool to have goals beyond the storyline if you want to wring as much playtime out of a game as you can, and it’s fun to look at your friends’ trophies to get an idea of how far they’ve gotten in a game. On the less cool side, I kind of feel like the gaming industry has re-programmed me. If I’m not earning ‘gamerscore’ now I have this vague feeling that I’m wasting my time. I HATE that, but there ya have it. For example there’s still more content in the AC Syndicate main game. Side activities built around Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and a young Arthur Conan Doyle. But even though I LOVED AC Syndicate, I never did those side quests because they didn’t impact trophies. I could have been playing those (and no doubt having fun) instead of opening stupid chests.
And after ALL of that has been said, when I finally shut down the game after all that grinding, my last thought was “I’m going to miss this world.” So make of that what you will. LOL