Collectibles Killed My Assassin’s Creed IV Experience


Jack talks about why collectibles need to be done right, or not at all.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was a great gaming experience, plain and simple. I thoroughly enjoyed playing it and I’ve put nearly forty hours into it at this point, not even including the hours and hours I’ve put into multiplayer.

While the story feels a little fractured and the jumps in time (despite the fact that the story was told in chronological order) make it difficult to keep track of how old Edward is at different points, it is still entertaining and I kept coming back for more.

I lost all drive to upgrade my ship, collect new armors, craft new ammo pouches, along with a myriad of other 100%-ing activities.

The combat is very Assassin’s Creed which says just about all you need to know (counter, counter, break defense, mash square/X) and the character movements are still as frustrating as ever at times (“DID I JUST TRY AND CLIMB THAT PERSON!?”). All things considered it’s still tons of fun, which is how Ubisoft can afford to make one of these every year.

You can understand, then, how confused and frustrated I was when I realized I had absolutely no motivation to touch the single player in any capacity beyond advancing the story after a certain point.

I lost all drive to upgrade my ship, collect new armors, craft new ammo pouches, along with a myriad of other 100%-ing activities.

I had the skills and the tools to tackle every challenge that arose. There was never any compelling reason beyond the desire to do everything (which was waning by the second) to collect, craft, and character build because everything could be accomplished with “mid-level” equipment.

These circumstances led me to a disappointing conclusion: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is chock-full of useless collectibles. Achievements and trophies should entertain and challenge players.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is chock-full of useless collectibles. Achievements and trophies should entertain and challenge players.

I’ve come to realize something about myself after my experiences with ACIV. I am not the type of person who will spend hours doing mind-numbing busy-work to platinum or 1000-point a game, no matter how much I love it.

Achievements and trophies should entertain and challenge players, not drive them to grow so tired of the title they are attached to.

There is no worse offender, in my opinion, than useless collectibles. There are Animus Fragments in Assassin’s Creed IV that do literally nothing  as far as I can tell. The Sea Shanties are almost as bad.

As much as I love old sailor’s songs, there is almost nothing more nonsensical in all of ACIV than having to chase semi-sentient sea shanties across a mile of rooftops and trees. For comparison’s sake, let me remind you that the Assassin’s Creed titles take place in a universe full of simply insane plot devices and yet this still seems ridiculous.

All of this, just so that my experienced and worldly crew can somehow instantaneously learn songs that they should have been learning their entire careers as sailors and/or pirates.

…but even the other collectibles which “do something” seem to offer nothing more than character skins or very minor abilities.

Maybe I’m being too picky about these examples in particular but even the other collectibles which “do something” seem to offer nothing more than character skins or very minor abilities.

Even the treasure chests which populate the game and provide a noticeable bump to your income become less important when you can begin sending ships out on trading missions for mounds of cash. Allow me to reiterate: in a game about pirates I lost interest in treasure.

In a game about pirates I lost interest in treasure.In fact, with the exception of journal entries in bottles that give background on one character in particular, the only collectibles I cared to find were the ones that didn’t even exist the the game-proper.

The story of the character living the life of Edward Kenway for Abstergo, while not particularly interesting in its own right, did provide a window into the lives of characters I actually did care about, the protagonists of previous Assassin’s Creed titles.

The life of Desmond has always been more of a mystery than that of the characters he inhabits through the Animus so, through collectibles unlocked by side-tasks, I was excited to catch mentions of him or even full audio logs of his. This brings me to the final point about collectibles that I’d like to make: they absolutely can be done right.

Assassins-Creed-Desmond-Miles

To me, it felt like 70% of the collectibles in AC4 were utterly useless or simply unnecessary after a certain point in the game but that shortcoming certainly made the items that actually advanced the player’s understanding of the characters or universe that much sweeter to find.

The same failure that caused me to ultimately loose interest in the single player did manage to highlight the success of that same feature being used properly. By the end of my time with it though, I just didn’t care anymore.

I don’t care about 100%-ing or 1,000 point-ing or platinum-ing a game that just exasperates me. After a certain point, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag made itself boring to me. The same thing happened in the original Infamous after the blast shards stopped upgrading my abilities. They simply became a statistic with nothing but a tiny, digital badge to recognize my efforts at the end of hours of work.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is my favorite game, so far, on the next-gen consoles and it does so many things so well. By the end of my time with it though, I just didn’t care anymore. That sucks.

About Jack Rooney

I am a truly avid video game player with a critical eye and an internet connection. Loud opinions will be shared. Check my stuff out by visiting Gamemoir.com and by listening to Gamemoir's Couch Co-Op Podcast. Follow me on twitter: @JackofCouchCoOp

There are 8 comments

    1. Jack Rooney

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Yeah it’s been a problem with AC since the beginning of the franchise I think. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who feels this way.

      Like

    1. Jack Rooney

      OH MY GOD SO MANY TIMES. Why would I ever need to STAND on a CHEST in a game that encourages subtlety.

      “Hey man, do you know what the guy the boss wants us searching for looks like?”
      “Nah bro, how about we start with the moron trying to ride that treasure chest though.”

      Like

  1. Desmond

    This is ridiculous. I didn’t like the collectibles either but there is a simple alternative. Don’t collect them. Just play the story and do a couple of side quests. That’s what I did and I loved the game

    Like

  2. Shonsu

    I wouldn’t mind so much if you got trophies, but unless I’m mistaken their is no trophy for getting all the chests or the shanties or the animus fragments. I was disappointed when I found that out……….and still kept collecting them *chuckles*

    Like

  3. Mats Söderlund

    Couldn’t agree more. If you put stuff in a game, it better actually do something other than fill in a useless completion stat. As someone with OCD (Obsessive Completion Disorder), yes I just made that up, stuff like this irks me to no end.

    Like

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