It was an accident, I swear! One guard died, then another, and within twenty minutes I was wading through a sea of corpses on the Boston harbour.
The simple summary is this: I was roaming Boston in Assassin’s Creed III last night when I encountered a problem. Presented below, in crappy video recording (I am terribly sorry about that – you can skip it and just look at the images! The images are also pretty bad.) is me rambling a bit about this problem.
Here’s what happened: the guards were on me, and rather than hide, I decided it’d be quicker to kill them all. That brought my notoriety up to full, and suddenly guards were spawning from all directions. I figured I could kill them and lower my notoriety at a nearby town crier, but they just kept coming. And suddenly the street was littered with corpses.
To go a little more in depth, in my review of the game a few weeks ago I mentioned a particular problem I had with the guard’s detection ability. This is tied to the new notoriety system – at maximum notoriety, guards will attack on sight. This makes it both ridiculously difficult to hide, and to lower your notoriety again. In some situations, you can’t turn a street corner without being charged by four guards.
There was another problem I mentioned – it’s difficult to evade guards now, as they’re far more persistent. But I also discovered last night that they simply spawn out of nowhere. Not even around corners. I could be watching a spot and a guard would suddenly materialise and move to attack straight away.
It was annoying, but incredibly entertaining. And then this happened.
The game was sluggish already, and now my screen was freaking out big time.
At any point, I could run away – hiding would be a challenge, but it could be done. Yet this was like a bizarre train wreck, and as the corpses piled up I couldn’t look away. What this is is simply a combination of some of the game’s poor mechanics. Guards spawning from thin air, detecting you almost instantly. Most importantly, a flawed notoriety system.
Lowering your notoriety is achieved in similar ways to past games, by removing posters, bribing town criers, and now bribing printers. But the detection system is so much rougher. To get to a town crier and bribe them, you have to be lucky to avoid any passing guards. Assassin’s Creed has always relied on social stealth, but it’s different now, and a stealthy approach, even to a town crier, is a challenge.
I did flee the scene eventually. I tried hiding several times, with no success. I tried to bribe town criers, but there was always a guard watching me, and there was nothing I could do about it. Eventually, I was shot. Turns out the only way out was death.
It’s depressing – enemy crowds were always manageable in prior games. Now they’re like this, an infuriatingly endless chase, where trying the reckless approach results in a hundred corpses, with no end in sight.
Still, it was fun, in a bit of a masochistic way.