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View Full Version : Starrick vs Maxwell Roth: should have been a bigger presence? [SPOILERS and RAMBLING]



D.I.D.
11-24-2015, 01:07 AM
I think Ubi missed an opportunity with Maxwell Roth. It felt to me that the rise and fall of Jacob's relationship with Roth had too few steps - one disagreement leads to the immediate delivery of a box of Come At Me Bro (or Come At Me Crow?) before Jacob's even got his breath back. Roth was a more engaging figure than Starrick, although perhaps Roth's role was tightly limited for that very reason so that he didn't overshadow the game. However, I think that was a mistake. One of the nice things about Syndicate is that it does hang too much weight upon its "ending", by having another group of missions after that. That was a surprise and a pleasant change, but it could have been a bigger move.

Here's what I would have liked to have seen: a little bait and switch. As in Syndicate, Starrick would have been introduced as the Big Bad and Roth as one of the supporting villains. If Starrick was going to go early anyway, I'd have taken him out a little earlier: far enough in game hours that the player could be fooled that they were playing the ending, and with the same grand exit, at maybe 2/3 to 3/4 of the eventual game length. Evie and Jacob's tensions would not have been resolved with Starrick's death, but maybe improved a little. Roth would have been an uneasy source of assistance in Starrick's downfall, having made Jacob step over a number of moral lines, but the arson case involving the children would have driven a wedge between them. Roth would be angry, but not to the extent that he was in Syndicate. He'd be unseen while the final business with Starrick was underway, presumed gone. Then, instead of the Victoria missions, I'd have reintroduced Roth.

Roth would be alarmingly manic by this point and also exploiting his leverage over Jacob to push him into worse and worse situations, and then threatening to use Jacob's crimes against him and then telling Evie about them anyway: playing the twins against each other. Finally the mask slips, and it turns out Roth ransacked Starrick's organisation after his death. He's in possession of deeds to properties, investments, businesses, and he's using the profits for the rapid expansion of a huge organised crime... errr... syndicate. He's also got all the Templar records about the PoEs. Roth's theatrical flair and psychopathy make London suddenly very dangerous and very dark. What was once happening in the shadows is now right in front of everyone's noses, because Roth has no guiding principle or sworn promise to restrain him. With the Assassin leadership split, they'd be at a disadvantage.

Roth would have gone from being a simple London gangster -- willing to steal, to maim and occasionally to kill -- into a ferociously dangerous figure as a direct result of witnessing first the Templars and then the Assassins. From the Templars, he learned the power of organisation and hierarchy, to respect only the few who seize power and to exhibit the coldest disdain for the mass of humanity. From the Assassins, he learned to see life as very cheap, and to be willing to kill anyone who becomes inconvenient. Jacob showed him he was willing to abduct people and deliver them to a lunatic in the knowledge that they would be killed slowly and viciously, and see it as a bit of a laugh: a means to earning a few favours and some money. Jacob's ability to go into Scotland Yard itself and kidnap a police officer impressed him most of all, causing Roth to realise what a magic trick theft and murder can be.

From both the Templars and the Assassins, he learned patience. Now, having played a long game, the Assassins destroyed Roth's enemies completely and utterly, clearing the path for him to deal more damage than they ever did. That would be the point of this, really - to make the London Templar/Assassin conflict look like the Good Old Days, to make the Assassins almost miss their old foes, to maybe even consider working with them to get rid of Roth. It would be about the ending of the games, which we normally see as a victory, and instead recognising it as a dangerous vacancy. It would show that there's a certain comfort in fighting the Templars because they know who they are, what they want, and how they think, whereas fighting an unaffiliated enemy with their inherited power would be truly terrifying.

VestigialLlama4
11-24-2015, 01:18 PM
...whereas fighting an unaffiliated enemy with their inherited power would be truly terrifying.

I agree. I think the Templars are pretty much done as a concept and they should come up with new kinds of villains who are not the same old same old. Roth was interesting in how self-contained and aloof he was, marginal and yet central to the story.

cawatrooper9
11-24-2015, 03:54 PM
Here's what I would have liked to have seen: a little bait and switch. As in Syndicate, Starrick would have been introduced as the Big Bad and Roth as one of the supporting villains. If Starrick was going to go early anyway, I'd have taken him out a little earlier: far enough in game hours that the player could be fooled that they were playing the ending, and with the same grand exit, at maybe 2/3 to 3/4 of the eventual game length.

I don't know if 2/3 to 3/4 would be too early, but I'd love a bait and switch. It worked really well with Torres and Black Bart (but was then switched again before the end, unfortunately) and less well with Lafrenière and Germain.

If there were just a few story tweaks to tease Roth before Sequence 8, it might be cool to just reverse their deaths- kill off Starrick, suddenly, in 8 and Roth in 9.

After all, Roth is the Blighters. He only makes sense as a final enemy.

Farlander1991
11-24-2015, 04:24 PM
I don't know if 2/3 to 3/4 would be too early, but I'd love a bait and switch. It worked really well with Torres and Black Bart (but was then switched again before the end, unfortunately)

Just because Torres was killed last doesn't mean there was a switch or that he became main antagonist.

cawatrooper9
11-24-2015, 04:33 PM
Just because Torres was killed last doesn't mean there was a switch or that he became main antagonist.

Sure- I wouldn't call him the "main antagonist"... but let's be real- as cool as Roberts' assassination mission was, his death was not really all that necessary (neither was Torres, for that matter)- all Eddie needed was the vial and the skull. Honestly, I would've preferred (again, like how I'd have preferred in Syndicate) killing Torres first. After all, the Spanish (and the English) do join in during the Principe battle. Perhaps they could've had Torres there (for some reason) and have him engage Edward's ship, eventually resulting in his death while Black Bart escape and hoofs it back to the observatory. That way, the finale at the observatory would be once again a confrontation between Roberts and Kenway.

I guess my issue (one of only a few, mind you) with the game is that I don't really feel all that compelled after Roberts is dead. It just seems kind of pointless after that.

Farlander1991
11-24-2015, 04:54 PM
Sure- I wouldn't call him the "main antagonist"... but let's be real- as cool as Roberts' assassination mission was, his death was not really all that necessary (neither was Torres, for that matter)- all Eddie needed was the vial and the skull. Honestly, I would've preferred (again, like how I'd have preferred in Syndicate) killing Torres first. After all, the Spanish (and the English) do join in during the Principe battle. Perhaps they could've had Torres there (for some reason) and have him engage Edward's ship, eventually resulting in his death while Black Bart escape and hoofs it back to the observatory. That way, the finale at the observatory would be once again a confrontation between Roberts and Kenway.

I guess my issue (one of only a few, mind you) with the game is that I don't really feel all that compelled after Roberts is dead. It just seems kind of pointless after that.

Well, broadly speaking, the purpose of Bart's assassination is for Eddie to overcome his Shadow, and Torres' is for Eddie to cement his new convictions.

It's like Batman dealing with Harvey after Joker in the Dark Knight.

cawatrooper9
11-24-2015, 05:10 PM
Well, broadly speaking, the purpose of Bart's assassination is for Eddie to overcome his Shadow, and Torres' is for Eddie to cement his new convictions.

It's like Batman dealing with Harvey after Joker in the Dark Knight.

Except Harvey Dent had significant character development throughout the movie.

Torres did not, not at all.

For the record, though, I did find Starrick to be pretty well developed, at least by Templar standards- so even though I'd have preferred Roth to play a bigger role, I think Crawford worked well for how he was written.

Farlander1991
11-24-2015, 05:32 PM
Except Harvey Dent had significant character development throughout the movie.

Torres did not, not at all.

Yeah, but it's irrelevant in this case. Torres is fleshed out enough to be a representation of Templar ideology, his death serves to cement Edward's allegiance to the Assassin one.

It's important because AC4 is about a group of people (pirates) searching for their place in the world (from Steve's yearning for adventure, to Ben's desire for order, to Roberts eventually saying **** it, a merry life and a short one), with the two established groups who know what they are, while playing a role, not being the focus.

And Torres assassination is about Edward saying 'I found my place'. Which is why it's also important that the confrontation is not very personal, it's not about Edward.vs Torres, it's about Edward, and him doing what is right as opposed to what he wants or what he wishes for or what he needs to do.

cawatrooper9
11-24-2015, 05:53 PM
Yeah, but it's irrelevant in this case. Torres is fleshed out enough to be a representation of Templar ideology, his death serves to cement Edward's allegiance to the Assassin one.

It's important because AC4 is about a group of people (pirates) searching for their place in the world (from Steve's yearning for adventure, to Ben's desire for order, to Roberts eventually saying **** it, a merry life and a short one), with the two established groups who know what they are, while playing a role, not being the focus.

And Torres assassination is about Edward saying 'I found my place'. Which is why it's also important that the confrontation is not very personal, it's not about Edward.vs Torres, it's about Edward, and him doing what is right as opposed to what he wants or what he wishes for or what he needs to do.

I suppose that's a good way of looking at it. It's just, from a motivational standpoint, I'd rather see Edward resolve to be an Assassin (symbolically through Torres's death), then go on his first big Assassin (and final in this game) adventure against Bart.

VestigialLlama4
11-24-2015, 06:20 PM
I suppose that's a good way of looking at it. It's just, from a motivational standpoint, I'd rather see Edward resolve to be an Assassin (symbolically through Torres's death), then go on his first big Assassin (and final in this game) adventure against Bart.

Well, a game can have two main bad guys. Like AC1 has Robert de Sable and Al Mualim...AC2 has Savonarola and Borgia, AC3 has Haytham and Charles Lee. It's not always a case that the final boss be the main bad guy or principal antagonist. It's about the challenges faced by the Hero.

In AC1, Altair's main conflict is to become a good Assassin and fight the Templars for the right reasons. The second conflict is the philosophical part of "piercing the veil" and transcending to a higher understanding. So Robert de Sable is the villain for the first conflict and Al Mualim serves as one for the second.

AC2, Savonarola who kind of arrives late in the game represents a dark mirror to Ezio. Like Ezio he's angry at injustice and corruption but instead of being restrained or enlightened, he ends up becoming a worse tyrant than the regime he opposed. So the idea, in theory, is that Ezio found a higher kind of understanding than simply following on a new religion or church. So there it's the philosophical part first and then the personal story. Which inverts the order of AC1. Ideally, Rodrigo Borgia should have been dealt with and Savonarola should be the main bad guy. Since that isn't historically accurate, what I mean is that ideally Savonarola should have been the main bad guy...he would have been an amazing and perfect villain I think.

In AC3, Connor wants to avenge Charles Lee and then kind of unite with Haytham. This part doesn't come off well, because the final part of AC3 is dramatically weak and contradictory. Basically, Connor can't get at Lee without getting at Haytham. In a strange way, King Washington in the Tyranny DLC serves as Connor's true dark mirror. The philosophical challenge, the non-Templar. The idea is the Apple can turn a great man into a monster, and it can do the same to Connor as well.

Black Flag brings this wonderfully. Black Bart is Edward's true opposite and by killing Bart, Edward has finished his pirate career, and since Black Bart's death marks the end of the Pirate Era, it's kind of bringing the whole period to a close.

cawatrooper9
11-24-2015, 06:45 PM
Well, a game can have two main bad guys. Like AC1 has Robert de Sable and Al Mualim...AC2 has Savonarola and Borgia, AC3 has Haytham and Charles Lee. It's not always a case that the final boss be the main bad guy or principal antagonist. It's about the challenges faced by the Hero.

In AC1, Altair's main conflict is to become a good Assassin and fight the Templars for the right reasons. The second conflict is the philosophical part of "piercing the veil" and transcending to a higher understanding. So Robert de Sable is the villain for the first conflict and Al Mualim serves as one for the second.

AC2, Savonarola who kind of arrives late in the game represents a dark mirror to Ezio. Like Ezio he's angry at injustice and corruption but instead of being restrained or enlightened, he ends up becoming a worse tyrant than the regime he opposed. So the idea, in theory, is that Ezio found a higher kind of understanding than simply following on a new religion or church. So there it's the philosophical part first and then the personal story. Which inverts the order of AC1. Ideally, Rodrigo Borgia should have been dealt with and Savonarola should be the main bad guy. Since that isn't historically accurate, what I mean is that ideally Savonarola should have been the main bad guy...he would have been an amazing and perfect villain I think.

In AC3, Connor wants to avenge Charles Lee and then kind of unite with Haytham. This part doesn't come off well, because the final part of AC3 is dramatically weak and contradictory. Basically, Connor can't get at Lee without getting at Haytham. In a strange way, King Washington in the Tyranny DLC serves as Connor's true dark mirror. The philosophical challenge, the non-Templar. The idea is the Apple can turn a great man into a monster, and it can do the same to Connor as well.

Black Flag brings this wonderfully. Black Bart is Edward's true opposite and by killing Bart, Edward has finished his pirate career, and since Black Bart's death marks the end of the Pirate Era, it's kind of bringing the whole period to a close.

Ah, AC1 had totally slipped my mind- the original bait n' switch! But yes, once again, the mentor was developed extensively over the course of the game. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he had more lines of dialogue than even Altair.

As for AC2... I like Savonarola and loved the Bonfire sequence, but I think you may be inflating his importance a bit much... I mean, the guy didn't even appear at all in retail versions of the game. Rather, I think a more comparable example would be (yet another bait n' switch... seems they're more common than I originally anticipated) viewing ACIII and ACB as a single entity as was once intended- with Rodrigo as the main antagonist in the beginning, and Cesare eventually taking the helm.

AC3- yeah, I'd agree that the last few acts of the game were structurally a little weak- but I understand why Haytham wasn't Connor's final goal. Connor had sympathetic feelings for his father in the game, and though a face off between them was inevitable, it wasn't the end-all be-all. Charles and Connor had major beef, even before Haytham's death. If their conclusion had been handled properly, it could've been fantastic.

I guess I just feel that ACIV's ending, after Bart's death, is anti-climactic. I appreciate the light that you guys have shed on why it was handled the way that it was, and it makes sense- but I guess I just think that it could've been handled a little better (again, I love ACBF, this is not a slight on the game whatsoever).

CrossedEagle
11-24-2015, 06:53 PM
If Roth had appearer more throughout the game I think sequence 8 would have been better. Starrick is meant to be the main antagonist for both twins, but Roth and Thorne are meant to serve as darker versions of Jacob and Evie that they both have to deal with. Maybe since there was a bit more of Jacob in the game people thought Roth should have been the main villain?

Maybe off topic: IMO, the Rooks/Blighters weren't handles as well as they could have been in the narrative and gameplay.

Shtalle
11-25-2015, 12:40 PM
This idea is amazing and in general I agree with almost everything.
Besides the fact that you just can't place London in a stage that didn't really happen in real life history.
You can say that Jacob and Evie experience the darkest of London en untill the end of the game every enemy who have spotted them would attack, but the entire population of London can't experience this for otherwise it would be in our history books. And there isn't a Maxwell Roth in any history book whatsoever. So surely not at such a high place.
For the rest it's an amazing idea and I would have loved to see it. Or love to see it, (little -free- DLC hint to ubisoft)

D.I.D.
11-25-2015, 01:16 PM
This idea is amazing and in general I agree with almost everything.
Besides the fact that you just can't place London in a stage that didn't really happen in real life history.
You can say that Jacob and Evie experience the darkest of London en untill the end of the game every enemy who have spotted them would attack, but the entire population of London can't experience this for otherwise it would be in our history books. And there isn't a Maxwell Roth in any history book whatsoever. So surely not at such a high place.
For the rest it's an amazing idea and I would have loved to see it. Or love to see it, (little -free- DLC hint to ubisoft)

I did think of that, but there's always the old "you were told the history we wanted you to hear" gambit from AC1 :) A lot of things that happen in Syndicate would have been huge events that history should have recorded (there was no fire destroying the Alhambra Theatre, although they might have been thinking of a fire twenty years later; those anti-aircraft guns didn't exist, but the game turns them into a secret project of Churchill's; nobody ever had a Gatling gun fight in London, let alone on a train, and so on). On the other hand, London's crime problem accelerated dramatically in the years after Syndicate, becoming quite chaotic in London with open shootouts in the streets (gun possession being unregulated in England until the early 1900s), and then there were the years of the Fenian bombing campaign (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenian_dynamite_campaign). Various things could be drawn together as the actions of Roth, and it would be quite easy to play it as government and/or Templar propaganda to attribute Roth's crimes to a convenient political enemy.