Assassin's Creed: SYNDICATE trailer/gameplay impressions

  01:54:00 am, by Damon   , 657 words  
Viewed 5727 times since 05/13/15
Categories: Games, Analysis

Ladies and gentlemen, the hype is up! As I mentioned the other day, Assassin's Creed was about to have a new entry to the series, and today (well, yesterday, since it's just past midnight as I write this) the game has been announced as Assassin's Creed: Syndicate.

The game will be set in 1868 in London, and we open up to see Big Ben and other English landmarks as our hero opens up his monologue with "It's a bloody marvelous time to be alive", and indeed it is, as the Industrial Revolution is in full-swing. This trailer reveals to us the first hints of modern technology that we've seen in an Assassin's Creed title. We see steamboats in the water, we see King's Cross station with trains running, as well as another scene of our Assassin hero fighting on the train, amongst other snippets of London.

The monologue tells about technology advancing and the rich man becoming richer, though none of the gold ever makes it back to the broken backs that built up the town, which implies to me that we will see a Robin Hood of sorts in our hero Jacob Frye, a gangster assassin fighting for justice on behalf of London’s enslaved working class.

The second half of the trailer is set to music and is a fighting and action montage to demonstrate some of the Assassin's actions and combat, which while flashy, is the same thing that Unity gave us before actual gameplay was experienced, so I'm holding my breath for a while longer until I see more gameplay than what was accompanying the trailer in this alpha build gameplay. From what I can see, though, assuming that the game gets a better polish than Unity did, it's going to be a great entry to the AC series. For me, at least, because I have a bias for English culture and that particular time period.

For gameplay, the most interesting thing that I see in this, aside from the trains, carriages, and steamboats, is the "rope launcher", as it was called in the gameplay. A  grappling hook and zipline that the Assassin can deply to quickly scale buildings or traverse the cityscape. This looks exciting, and it would certainly make scaling the large structures like Big Ben significantly easier, because in Unity, even with Arno's fairly fast climbing ability, it was a pain to climb 1:1 replicas like Notre Dame, which dominated the skyline as one of, if not the tallest buildings that could be accessed.

New to Syndicate will be the ability to use the environment against the enemy, and during the gameplay reveal, we see Frye use his phantom blade to shoot a pulley system and drop barrels on an unaware guard, something that will open up exciting opportunities for the player as they maneouvre to defeat their enemies, and there will be new weapons like hallucinogenic darts that can be used to turn enemies against their allies, as we see when Frye liberates a borough from the Templars in a fashion similar to the older titles where you perform deeds for the borough and then assault the Templar leader for that borough.

This game will come out on October 23, 2015 for the PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox 1, and while I am hopeful about the game's potential, I am cautious following the failure that was Assassin's Creed: Unity.

As I said before, I think that this game has to deliver on what Ubisoft is giving us, because with their horrible track record and with the failures of Unity, the fans are demanding something to make up for it, and I have made it quite clear over the years that with Ubi's PR and release failures with most major titles and Unity's horrible gameplay, I'm one title away from pulling out from the series and cutting my losses... Still, as it stands, there's a small bit of a fanboy squeal of excitement inside me right now.

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The Emperor and the Nerevarine

  07:31:00 pm, by Damon   , 977 words  
Viewed 28672 times since 05/10/15
Categories: Elder Scrolls, Analysis

For those of you who haven't played Morrowind (heresy!), the premise of the game is that the Emperor personally ordered the release of a prisoner from the Imperial City's prison who appears to fulfill the Nerevarine prophecies, which speak of a reincarnation of the Dunmer war hero Indoril Nerevar, a being who will repel the attacks of Dagoth Ur, an enemy of Morrowind, see the fall of the Tribunal, who are the religious leaders and demi-gods of the Dunmer faith and nation as a whole, and possibly restore the independence of Morrowind outside of Imperial control.

The Emperor, at the start of the game, sees the prisoner, who will be the Player for the events of Morrowind, as fulfilling at least part of the Nerevarine prophecies, and after speaking with his advisors, he commands the prisoner to be shipped to Morrowind and released as a free man with orders to make contact with Caius Cosades, the head of the local Blades in the area. Through directions given to Cosades via a coded package, the player speaks to informants to learn about the Nerevarine Cult and the Sixth House, and then is initiated into the Nerevarine Cult as a prospective Nerevarine.

Ultimately, the player acquires Nerevar's Moon-and-Star, a ring cursed to kill anyone who wore it aside from Nerevar himself, thus proving that he truly is the Incarnate, then he gathers the support of the ashlanders and Great Houses by being recognised as the reborn Nerevar and Hortator (a war leader who leads the unified Great Houses in times of war), and gets the attention of Vivec himself, who recognises that the player is destined to end the Tribunal's divinity by defeating Dagoth Ur and saving Morrowind from the blight.

Now, I bring all this up, because the question I've always had is "Why?" -- Why did the Emperor research into and then start pulling the strings to fulfill an ancient prophecy related to the Dunmer? The Nerevarine Cult believes that, in addition to defeating Dagoth Ur, who is a dangerous threat to the stability of the province,  and proving the Tribunal to be false gods and dismantling the Tribunal Temple's religion, he or she will also drive the Empire out of Morrowind.

Did the Emperor just happen to be studying ancient customs and prophecies and recognise Dagoth Ur's threat to Morrowind and eventually to Tamriel as a whole and then decide that keeping Tamriel as a whole protected was worth it at the loss of control over Morrowind (looking more into the short-term)? Most of Morrowind is wrapped up in their own customs, with only the Hlaalu truly being integrated into the Empire and enthused about the relations between the Empire and the proud Dunmer people, so it could have been argued that letting go of Morrowind wouldn't be badly taken by the Dunmer people, and he'd reckon that despite initial turmoil from the Temple being destabilised, the people as a whole would thrive under a reborn Nerevar once free of the threat of Dagoth Ur's tyranny. 

Or, did he see the Nerevarine, should the prophecy be true, as a true leader of the Dunmer who could protect and lead the Dunmer people in the near to distant future and be a leader in a way that none of the Tribunes or the mortal monarch of the province could manage (more of a long-term look)? That's equally possible, because at the start of Oblivion, the Emperor tells the player that he's seen visions of his death and the coming of dark times for all of Tamriel. And, the Emperor's health had been failing around the events of Morrowind, which had resulting in the recalling of Legions to Cyrodiil and orders to recall key members of the Blades to the capital to aid in the succession, meaning that while attention was focused on the capital, the day to day affairs of the other provinces were being less scrutinised.

Without conclusive proof that visions of the Oblivion Crisis only started to happen relatively soon to the event (which happens six years after the events of Morrowind and the rise of the Nerevarine), it's entirely possible that the Emperor was acting to stabilise the province by removing internal threats and then pulling strings to unify the Great Houses and the ashlanders under one competent leader, in the event that the Emperor was incapacitated, that the succession issues lead to war, or in the event that visions of the Empire's destabilisation were true and were coming to him years before the actual event.

This long-term look at the stability of the province against many threats, rather than just the threat of Dagoth Ur alone, as I posited in my first theory, is the one I believe to be most legitimate of my two theories, based on dialogue from Caius Cosades, who says to the Nerevarine, "You're no fool. The days of the Empire are almost over. When the Emperor dies, nine hells're going to break loose. Forget about the Imperial City. Think locally. Worry about the Sixth House and Dagoth Ur. And squabbles between the Great Houses and the colonists. The rest of the political nonsense doesn't amount to a plate of scuttle." This clearly foreshadows the fall of the Empire in Oblivion and sets up that thngs will become really bad in the imminent future, and that a true leader will be needed entering the final years of the Third Era and the Fourth Era, a role that the popular Tribunal wouldn't be able to fill as their powers diminished and as Dagoth Ur grew powerful or was defeated, breaking the Tribunes and Dagoth Ur's unnatural divinity.

We might never know Uriel VII's motives for believing what many thought was an ancient superstition and sending a prisoner to change the political and religious landscape of Morrowind, but it's certainly fun to think about.

Assassin's Creed: Victory... or defeat?

  02:49:00 pm, by Damon   , 507 words  
Viewed 6654 times since 05/07/15
Categories: Games, News, Analysis

It's nearly that time of year again. Next month the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) will kick off once again for the developers and publishers from the gaming community to come forward and announced their latest products.

Before E3, in a few days in fact, Ubisoft will unveil the latest entry to their Assassin's Creed money bag, which has been believed to be called Victory and set in Victorian England.  I am a big fan of the Assassin's Creed, franchise, and I have played nearly every title as addictively as I have any Elder Scrolls game, and I'm cautious with this release.

When Unity was announced and rushed to release, it completely bombed. It was a buggy, horrible mess, and the game as a whole, even down to writing, ultimately disappointed me. In a way, it was expected that the game would be unpolished on the next-gen console, because there are always going to be hiccups on new, untested hardware, but it was absolutely apalling that the game was released in so unplayable of a state -- in fact, I never completed Assassin's Creed: Unity.

I am hoping that Victory will be a bit more polished out in terms of gameplay, because in theory I loved a lot of features in Unity. And, Ubisoft needs to do their best to polish out the game, because while I found something to enjoy in each AC game I've played, I am of the opinion that despite the advancements in gameplay, the story has been suffering as they tried to milk out the series with all these yearly releases, and I know other fans are feeling roughly the same.

The series is Ubisoft's big money maker, and they know it, so they work so hard (or not hard at all, depending on how you want to look at it) to bang out titles year in and year out, and it's amazing any of them remain interesting. The fans will be expecting an amazing game to make up for the wreck that became Assassin's Creed: Unity, so the question on my lips is "Can Ubisoft deliver a good title, or will this one flop?" For their sake, it has to be the latter, because this game will be under intense scrutiny from the fans. So much "innovation" at a loss to quality will only further damage the series's reputation, and I know for a fact that if I buy Victory and it bombs, I'm going to pull out of the Assassin's Creed series altogether. 

I wish Ubisoft would do quality over quantity. I'd rather wait 2-3 years between Assassin's Creed titles and have really damn good games, instead of have a new one announced just as I got bored with the older one and end up disappointed.

Also, in other news, as it was announced some time ago, Bethesda Softworks, the owner of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout IPs, is having their own conference at E3, and it's rumoured, although NOT CONFIRMED that Fallout 4 will be announced at the conference, and I can't wait!

Revision History: Pandora's Page

  12:31:00 pm, by   , 76 words  
Viewed 1781 times since 05/06/15
Categories: UESP, Analysis

Shuryard has launched the Real-World References page. Enjoy it while it's short, because it's inevitably going to become the largest page on the UESP.

There's plenty of uncontroversial stuff to add, so let the free for all begin. I just caution you to follow this general rule: if there's any doubt in your mind that what you want to add is appropriate, there is no doubt that you should take it to the talk page first.

Revision History: Silence, My Brother

  06:14:00 pm, by   , 309 words  
Viewed 4466 times since 05/01/15
Categories: UESP, Analysis

Our top news of the day: a big welcome back to The Silencer! He may be in the top ten for all-time edits on the site, but what really matters to me is having another cranky old gamer around to keep all you whippersnappers in your place.

I don't mean to diminish the incredible Ranks and Hierarchy of the Daedra, the new addition to the Loremaster's Archive released earlier today. This is so awesome, in so many ways ... there really are no words.

I lost my card and had to get it replaced. Without any warning, my ESO Imperial Edition preorder was canceled, and I was not allowed to reinstate it. No call or email, no reasonable time for me to update the order, just poof, gone. "No Imperial Edition for you; would you like a $10 gift card to go with that kick to the balls?" I didn't know I could be this angry over a video game without a corrupt save file being involved. But in keeping with the theme of this blog, I'm going to remain silent on which incompetent retail chain is responsible. Not that I have to; think "incompetent retail chain", and they're probably what come to mind nowadays.

There are so many things to say about the last ten days, it's mind-boggling, and I do have to highlight a couple. I mean, Skyrim was free for a weekend, there was an ESO console beta, an ESO Live, GStaff posted the best ESO screenshot yet, and a new Crown Store Showcase was just released. And on the UESP, editors are just ripping through the site like tsunamis. Edit - and Shuryard became a full-fledged Patroller!!!

But let's see, anything else, any other gigantic events in the TES community since last time which deserve notice ... hmm, nope. Pretty status quo. Just glad to have the Silencer back. :)