Got 100% of the trophies in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. But was it worth it?

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

Playing lately…

Even though I now live in the south where summer starts in March and ends sometime after Christmas, I grew up using Labor Day as my end of summer marker (helps that I lived in a resort town and all the summer residents went back to wherever they came from on Labor Day). So some part of me has decided that fall is here.

I touched on how it’s going to be a weird ‘holiday season’ in my last post, but I’m just in the mood for blogging and don’t have any one thing to focus on so I figured I’d just spew out a “What I’m playing” post. I mean, Destiny 2 comes out next week and that MIGHT consume me (and I might meet it with a giant “meh”, I really don’t know) but there’s a long weekend between now and then.

So here’s what’s going on in my gaming world.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate — I’m still playing this even though I finished it a while back. I’m slowly working towards the “Get 100% sync on all story missions” trophy. If I can get that I can probably try for a Platinum. If you haven’t played AC, story missions generally have a main goal and two optional side-tasks/challenges. You can move the story forward by completing the main goal. That will give you 80% sync for that mission. Doing the optional tasks each add 10% to your sync. So to get 100% sync for all the story missions you just have to do all the optional tasks.

So far they’re not too hard during a 2nd play-through since my characters are so mighty compared to the enemies they face. Unless stealth is a requirement I can just stride in and kill everyone and then do whatever needs doing, usually. The ‘remain undetected’ tasks are harder. So we’ll see. I try to get up to 100% on one mission each day. If I try to grind them out I just get bored/impatient and start screwing up.

Next up is Everybody’s Golf, which I picked up due to lots of enthusiasm on /r/ps4 and the fact that I had a $50 PSN gift card burning a hole in my pocket. This is the latest in the Hot Shots Golf series, only now they’re calling it what it has always been called in Japan: Everybody’s Golf. So far, it’s a hoot. It uses the traditional 3-click golf swing system and, aside from the initial loading of the course, plays really quickly. As you play you unlock all sorts of character customization options. So far I’ve only played single player because I’m trying to unlock courses. Looking forward to the online mode which sounds wonderfully chaotic. You don’t teleport from hole to hole, you have to run. Along the way you can find items or even go fishing. Why? Who knows? It’s just a feel-good, fun kind of game.

But at the end of the day it IS a golf game and so it isn’t something I play for hours at a time. I jump in, do a tournament or two, and move on. I can feel my attention start to drift the longer I play and my shots get worse and worse. So not a “main game” but still fun and it was only $40 so I’m good with it. Also I spend way too much time messing around in the character creator:

I’ve always liked the idea of Monster Hunter games but have never really gotten into any of them. With Monster Hunter World coming out in 2018 I wanted to get some familiarity with the style of game. Last summer (summer 2016) for some reason I bought God Eater 2 Rage Burst for the PS4 and it came with a free copy of God Eater Resurrection. So I’m trying to come to grips with GER. There’re so many odd systems to learn and the controls are I guess deliberately bad? Is that how it works in Monster Hunter-style games? Y’know what’s hard? Moving the camera with the right stick (in order to aim) and then using the face buttons to fire. So you can aim or fire, but not both at the same time. Who thought this was a good idea?

I do like GER because there’s a story to it, and I love a story in my games. I’m not very far into it though. Doing Difficulty 2 Missions. Trying to figure out how to play beyond the ‘button mashing’ phase. Keeping the theme alive, I can only do 2 or 3 hunts before my attention starts to drift.

So after juggling 3 games that I’m playing a little of each night, I wanted something more narratively meaty to sink my teeth into. At the same time I was reading about this weird Assassin’s Creed/Final Fantasy XV cross-over and that it was time limited. I bought FF XV at launch and put about 15 hours into it before I stopped. My recollection was that I stopped after learning of all the patches/content that were coming to it, but I can’t be sure. I decided to give it another go. Last night I just had time to do the tutorials again, and start a new game. Now I need to decide if I should go back and pick up my 15-hours-in save, or just keep going with the new game. I think I’ll probably do that latter just because I have no recollection of the story. Mostly I remember Cindy’s boobs.

When I bought FFXV I sprung for the season pass and at some point they gave season pass holders a ring that gives the team protection from friendly-magic-fire. I feel that is going to be a game-changer. I never used magic when I was playing because my pals would always rush in after the mobs and I couldn’t hit the baddies without also hitting my allies. So I just never bothered. With this ring I should be able to toss spells around a lot more casually which I think will make the game a lot more fun. So we’ll see.

So yeah, juggling 4 games. I guess that’ll fill up my weekend. We’ll see how many of them gets pushed aside by Destiny 2 next Wednesday.

Finished, I think, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

This afternoon I finished up the storyline of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. I was a little confused and baffled by the fact there were no ending credits, but after a while of looking for the next ‘story’ mission, I checked google and this seems to be the way it goes.

As is typical of AC games, my “Total Synchronization” is nowhere near 100% (it’s 59%) and there’s a lot of stuff I can do if I feel like I want to keep playing. Chase Trophies or whatnot. I might do a little more, it’s a pretty good game.

This time out we’re in Victorian England playing as Evie and Jacob Frye, twin assassins. If you played Black Flag, you know how it was kind of a pirate game and an assassin game stuck together? Same kind of thing here only Evie is the assassin and Jacob is the fighter. I mean both characters can fill both roles but each of them has a few unique skills that make them better at one thing or the other.

During open world stuff you can play as either one, but the story missions force you to play one character or the other (understandable). Evie is looking for a Piece of Eden while Jacob just wants to take over the gangs on London to weaken the Templar hold on the city. Each sibling kind of thinks the other is doing it wrong.

It’s one of my favorite AC games. I think I still like Black Flag the most, and AC2 was I think objectively a ‘better’ game but I liked this one more than AC2. Part of it is the setting, part of it the characters (Evie in particular I really liked and I played her whenever possible) and part of it (yes I’m shallow) the graphics.

The weird issues where you stick to things (due to the sometimes wonky climbing system) are still here but not as bad as they are in some AC games, and early on you get a grappling hook so you can ascend buildings really quickly and grapple between rooftops. In general I felt like I spent less time climbing around than I have in other AC games, and that was fine with me.

My biggest complaint is they’ve taken away non-lethal combat methods. If you sneak up behind someone you can knock them out, but once in combat you have to either kill your opponent, or flee. Considering there are times when you’re sneaking around places filled with ‘good guy’ guards, it’s kind of frustrating. In the end I just gave up and killed innocent guards just to get through the missions. If I could’ve at least attempted some bare fisted combat against them I think it would’ve made the game better, but there’s no way to unequip your weapon and fight non-lethally.

On the other hand, the GTA-esque sequences where you’re driving a horse and carriage were a complete hoot. Really fun, and a new thing for AC games. Side missions come from characters like Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and a very young Arthur Conan Doyle. There’s a good variety of side missions should you choose to do them but I didn’t feel pressured to do many of them.

Once again you never leave the Animus/Helix though there are some cut scenes showing what Rebecca, Shawn and Bishop are up to. (And of course they end in a cliff-hanger.)

there’s a good deal of RPG-ness to this one, too. You level up, gain and spend skill points, spend money and resources to craft gear and to get better control of the city and you have a selection of gear slots to fill with a pretty good stream of new goodies. I always enjoy that stuff.

Anyway, so that’s that. I’ve now played all the major AC games to completion except for the original Assassin’s Creed (which, long ago, I opted to experience via watching all the cut scenes on YouTube). And in fact played them all this year! In order I played Black Flag, AC 2, AC Brotherhood, AC Revelations, AC 3, AC Rogue, AC Unity and AC Syndicate. I guess I’m a fan.

Still curious about Origins. I wonder if they’re going to cut out the animus stuff completely? I guess Origins is about the Egyptian Magi forming the first brotherhood of assassins. I’m looking forward to it but still a little worried about how much of reboot it’ll be.

[UPDATE] After posting this I fired up the game to putter around some more. There’s a “rift” that opens somewhere around chapter 6; I ignored it until I was finished the game. It leads to a World War 1 level where you get play as Lydia Frye, the grand-daughter (I guess? The main game takes place in 1868 so you do the math) who is working with a young Winston Churchill. It’s a fun section of the game but it also is the only time in this game you learn more about the Isu (or precursors, if you prefer). So if you’re into the mythos of AC, e sure to play this section!