Imagine for a moment. Imagine that you are taking a book you just laid your hands upon. Imagine that book being opened in the middle. Imagine a carpet knife cutting the spine of that book. Take the second half and burn it.*
Imagine yourself sitting inside a movie cinema. Imagine yourself reading the synopsis and duration beforehand. Start a countdown timer on your phone. The duration on the timer is exactly half the movie’s length. The time passes, the timer reaches zero and you walk out of the cinema.
Imagine yourself buying a game. Imagine yourself buying a game that you’ve looked forward to for quite some time. Imagine yourself arriving at home; inserting the disc into the tray and start playing. As time proceeds to move along with or without your consent, you eventually finish the game. Imagine yourself finishing the game without touching the side-quests or collectibles. Call the game “lacking” or “disappointing”.
You see what you did there? You made a judgement based on half an experience.
During the last two weeks there have been a lot of controversial opinions regarding Assassin’s Creed III. Gamers are either enjoying the living dross out of it or simply calling it dross. I’m pleased to tell you that I’m in the former group.
Cavie’s latest column explained beautifully how I feel, and delving into the matter any further now will only result in me stating what he already mentioned.
Side missions are what I really want to talk about. I feel as though we shouldn’t judge a game solely on the “main story” but rather with side missions altogether.
If the side missions offer little to no value to the complete package; ignore what I’m about to say.
Side missions add a lot of value to a game.
As I typed that my mind started to wander in the direction of Borderlands 2, Darksiders II, Assassin’s Creed (Assassin’s Creed III in this case), Dishonored and The Witcher 2.
Borderlands 2’s side-missions had the same great, if not better, humour that the main story had. Darksiders II’s side missions had you exploring extra dungeons while proving that Death can be an even bigger bad-ass by facing and battling boss characters he didn’t necessarily have to. Dishonored’s side missions gave you a completely different approach to any given target. You may choose to ignore them, approach your target; dagger gleaming and Devouring Swarm at the ready and end his miserable life. OR you may use the opportunities made available in “side mission form” and neutralize your target without indeed killing them.
The Witcher 2’s side-quests added extra background and more opportunities for exploration. Assassin’s Creed III’s side missions will have you collecting a ton of collectibles, hunting animals**, navigating underground passages, liberating areas and completing extra challenges. While it may not be integral to the story, it adds a lot of extra value. The Homestead missions will have Connor helping his fellow Homestead blokes a LOT.
I agree, these missions are dragged out and have Connor running all over the place pretending to be an errand-boy, instead of stabbing a lot of the local community. BUT, these missions had a very emotional pay-off. Riddled with goosebumps at the end. This made me realize what lots of gamers may be missing out on. I’m not going to spoil anything, but it had an unexpected emotional pay-off and extra outfit for Connor to wear while prancing about the forest; stabbing animals, tree trunks and floating majestically from tree branch to tree branch. (Majestically; until you misjudge your jumping distance and end up being a pile of jam for the Frontier’s deadly cougars… Animals; not enthusiastic middle-aged ladies.)
I’ve poured about 25 hours into Assassin’s Creed III and I’m not even close to finishing everything on display.
Not all games have great side missions or added collectibles. I’m not oblivious to that fact, but I do know that there are indeed games out there that have a lot of worthwhile content after the credits roll.
It’s like playing Skyrim’s main quest; nothing else, and calling it a short journey. Or stating that a game’s weapons or combat are shallow without doing any effort on your side to unlock new moves or weapons.
Sure, some side-quests and challenges end up being more frustrating than fun, but hey, you’ll never know if you never try.
*I cringed while typing that. For real!
**I do feel genuinely bad when killing beavers. They’re cute. Perhaps it’s just me liking animals more than most humans.