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View Full Version : AC4's Mission Structure Is Terrible



Sigma 1313
07-08-2016, 05:49 PM
AC4 is a great game, without a doubt. Naval combat, fun sword combat, parkour, and the story are all great. There are some things which could've been better, like weapon upgrades, Hideout upgrades, etc. But honestly, the thing that's always bothered me about AC4 was the terrible mission structure. In Sequence 7, 3/4 of the missions have tailing/chase/follow sections. The game does it constantly, making you tail, chase, and follow people around, probably listening in on their conversation which is just throwing exposition at you for the entire game. It's incredibly boring, tedious, and not really an interactive way of telling the story. I know AC4 isn't the only offender of this, I'm just replaying it right now, and it's killing me a bit. What do you think about the tailing missions? And do you think Ubi will keep them to a minimum for Empire?

cawatrooper9
07-08-2016, 08:29 PM
Well, I know during Unity's development they addressed this, and discussed how they wanted to make adaptive missions. For instance, if you get detected during a tail, target will run instead of desynching, if you kill a tail, you can loot them for info, etc. While we saw some of this (also, mainly in side missions), I think that the adaptive mission gameplay was very few and far between.

There have seemed to be less tailing in the past few games, though, so there's that. I'd say they learned their lesson and listened to fans regarding this.

Ureh
07-08-2016, 09:01 PM
I like them enough because sometimes these linear missions can test how well you can navigate the areas and keep up with the target. When you're replaying these kind of missions, sometimes you'll notice another route, or you'll think of another strategy, even if it all ultimately starts and ends the same way. But I can take a guess at some of their potential flaws:

1) there's a countdown timer when target is out of l.o.s. or (when applicable) when they stay out of the eavesdrop circle for too long, which can happen if someone is having difficulty with the optional objectives and/or trouble with the freerunning
2) if the player has difficulty tailing the objective then they'll probably desync, a lot. Trial and error until you know exactly where they're turning, when they stop to look back, where the guards are, places to freerun to without detection, etc. On one hand, it seems to show that the ancestor was very good at improvising but not something that all players can do. Players have to keep up with a pace that is determined by the game which doesn't provide as much freedom.
3) some tailing missions are instant desync if you get detected by the target, so if players that are unlucky, too (im)patient can be in for a nightmare
4) in the case of black flag, some players will feel compelled to do the optional objectives, but some of them don't really make sense from a gameplay pov... like throwing a smoke bomb before you kill a number of guards even though it could attract attention or skinning a few crocodiles while following someone. It does say some stuff about Edward but gameplay-wise, it's weird.
5. tailing ships - especially with the hud turned off - can be strange because sometimes a ship that isn't part of the mission will randomly spawn but by then you might not have enough time to adjust course to avoid desyncing.

As for storytelling in those kind of missions: the tailing/chase missions tell us about Edward's demeanour. When he's chasing someone, he'll curse and threaten, barging through the streets and rooftops without care. When he's following someone, he'll think he's being stealthy and smart, but as it usually turns out, his target(s) know he is trailing them (ex: first plantation, Prins, Hornigold, etc). Just as he can spot a ship even through heavy fog with his spyglass, so can others, but he probably underestimates his foes... or he doesn't care. I would call it interactive storytelling but only because instead of a cutscene where we can only watch, we're being fed bits of info while we're still moving and doing stuff in the game.

Not saying that they should copy this, but in Dishonored, Corvo has a built-in spyglass in his mask where he can clearly eavesdrop on a conversation even when he's out of earshot. Some of their conversations aren't just for immersion, as they'll give you queues as to where they might go, what they might do (maybe they're coming through that door right now so we better hide?!). You might also be able to hear some information like... where they're keeping the prisoner/item, any pathways that might be vulnerable, or any defenses that are lying in wait. And if it's just banter, it gives you time to assess the environment and consider your next step before the guards resume patrol. I guess they did give Eagle Vision a similar function: in AC1, when you sit on a bench, you can eavesdrop with the EV/head button in a similar fashion that Corvo uses his spyglass. The only difference is that Altair has to sit still for ~30 seconds and doesn't have to worry about anything else during that time. It does make sense because it isn't eavesdropping if you aren't incognito, but it does take control away since you always had to sit on a bench. In ACU, they usually restricted this feature to non-interactive cutscenes where Arno would focus really hard on a distant conversation and be able to hear it.

Anyway... I kinda forgot where I was going with this but hopefully some of it make sense and is relevant to your topic.

Sigma 1313
07-08-2016, 09:01 PM
@cawa I really hope so. Hopefully they move to a larger scale adaptive mission structure, and remove optional objectives.

@Ureh I like the idea of corvo's spyglass, I'm not sure how that'd fit into Egypt though. I personally liked AC1's eavesdropping the best too. Maybe improve upon that where you can look around and eavesdrop on a number of people, making it so that you have to find the right one for your mission (or maybe eavesdropping will actually give you a side mission). It's pissing me off in black flag though because of how much there is. At least 50% of the main missions have tailing/eavesdropping/chase/follow sections, which became (for me) extremely boring.

cawatrooper9
07-08-2016, 09:10 PM
tailing ships - especially with the hud turned off - can be strange because sometimes a ship that isn't part of the mission will randomly spawn but by then you might not have enough time to adjust course to avoid desyncing.


Ugh, I forgot about ship tailing...

I always thought it was hysterical how ships only had a line of sight directly in front of them. I can accept that guards on land have almost no peripheral vision- it is a stealth game, after all. But a ship full of sailors apparently all facing the exact same direction at all times just cracks me up for some reason.

Sickboy7979
07-09-2016, 05:20 AM
It's so cool to see how everyone has different opinions of each game. I'm relatively new to the series. BF was my first AC game and I LOVED it. It's the game that I judge all others by. I loved everything about it.

Locopells
07-09-2016, 09:42 AM
Ugh, I forgot about ship tailing...

I always thought it was hysterical how ships only had a line of sight directly in front of them. I can accept that guards on land have almost no peripheral vision- it is a stealth game, after all. But a ship full of sailors apparently all facing the exact same direction at all times just cracks me up for some reason.

Ships did actually have a detection area all round, it was just longer in the front. I always took that as the direction that the lookout in the crow's nest was looking (still a bit daft I know, but it works).

Sushiglutton
07-09-2016, 10:43 AM
I don't think AC4's missions were terrible in general. On the contrary they were a massive improvement over AC3's, with many more open stealth sandboxes (the best working AC mission type imo). As for tailing/chasing/eavesdropping missions I completely agree they are not fun, never have been. One issue is that the controls don't really offer the precision these mission types require to not be aggravating. Another is that in order to make them into a game, the developers have added a bunch of really gamey mechanics and visual cues which just detracts from the experience.

At the same time they do need a bit of mission vairety and tailing/chasing/eavesdropping are stuff an assassin should do I suppose. I never played Unity so I don't know how well the adaptive design in it worked. I guess for me the best solution would be to just drop the ambition of turning tailing/eavesdropping into a game and let it be a much more relaxed, almost challenge free, part of exposition.That way they would make a lot less harm imo. Chase sequences kind of have to have soem sort of chanllenge and I guess there's no quick-fix other than keep polishing those controls.

As for mission variety I prefer to add more exploration (just calmly platforming around ancient structures), perhaps puzzles, set-piecy action sequences also.

Megas_Doux
07-09-2016, 04:17 PM
Not the best, but better than AC II and AC III for instance.

Sesheenku
07-09-2016, 05:41 PM
Bleh I hated 4.

I felt like it didn't really improve on 3. It took out a good deal of variety out of the combat and the missions were only slightly better than 3... except for those tailing missions those were still awful.

I place it with Syndicate now as the two AC's that I find the most disappointing and least enjoyable to play.

AC4 disgusts me in a way much like Syndicate, I feel that it just slapped the pirate game on top and expected people not to notice the flaws (and I think that sadly worked).
It's a very poor AC at its worst and passable at best. It deserves no spot near the top that's for sure.

I remember my feelings when playing each of the AC's and how they affected my opinion of the previous.

3 was my most hated AC before 4 but after 4... at least 3 was an AC and it had some good combat too.

4 ever so slightly improved mission structure but failed to do much more then that.

Basically...

AC1 got me interested and I played countless hours of it since it was a very new experience at the time.

AC2 was an unprecedented improvement in game play. At that point I didn't think they'd ever top it.

ACB was an enjoyable refined experience built on AC2, a bit stagnant but built on a solid base

ACR was okay, a nice conclusion to everything, a few more refinements but it felt very stagnant at this point.

AC3 was interesting... to say the least. It did everything different but not always better. Story and characters were at a high point but not game play as a whole.

AC4 sadly had the job of building upon AC3's game play. Rather than doing that though it made some slight changed and pasted the pirate game right over. Had they refined BOTH games it would have been the best AC yet but no.

ACU Was sadly tainted for many by early release bugs and such. For me however I bought it on sale on Steam some time after its release. This is the AC that changed everything while making nearly everything better. Almost everything is so dynamic, certainly I'd say it's the AC with the most life in it.

ACS Is another AC4 case imo. Except this time it had an amazingly solid base to build on and STILL failed to deliver. Side content lost all dynamism. It was back to being repetitive tasks with barely any variation. The combat variety is at its low point. Just everything is poorer. If it wasn't as nice to look at as my heavily modded Skyrim I probably wouldn't have been able to finish it by distracting myself with the visuals.

Assassins Creed has become the Final Fantasy of the action open world genre.

Syndicate is the equivalent of 13 and I hope the next one won't be 13-2.

4, is at least just X-2 a little unorthodox but still with solid game play if a bit dull. (In reference to most fans hate of x-2 I personally enjoyed its game play)

SixKeys
07-09-2016, 10:40 PM
I wouldn't say the mission structure in general is bad, but I agree on the tailing missions. It's incredibly annoying whenever they try to combine plot exposition with gameplay that requires a lot of concentration. "Don't be detected", "kill 3 agiles with a rope dart", "stay inside the moving circle", "finish the mission in under 2 minutes." Oh, and try to remember WTF these four characters talked about during the mission, too.

The tailing missions in AC2 were a lot more tolerable - and even fun, IMO - because they focused solely on atmosphere. No talking during the tailing, apart from a simple comment here and there like "I feel like someone's watching us" or Ezio talking to himself.

Sesheenku
07-09-2016, 10:48 PM
I wouldn't say the mission structure in general is bad, but I agree on the tailing missions. It's incredibly annoying whenever they try to combine plot exposition with gameplay that requires a lot of concentration. "Don't be detected", "kill 3 agiles with a rope dart", "stay inside the moving circle", "finish the mission in under 2 minutes." Oh, and try to remember WTF these four characters talked about during the mission, too.

The tailing missions in AC2 were a lot more tolerable - and even fun, IMO - because they focused solely on atmosphere. No talking during the tailing, apart from a simple comment here and there like "I feel like someone's watching us" or Ezio talking to himself.

Yeah what WAS with that BS?

Esp with eavesdrops... Stay undetected in the tiny as hell circle, one step back and it's interrupted one step forward is detection -.-

Those were complete garbage.

I never heard most of what they said in those games. Maybe I'd hate them less if I didn't miss out on 30% of the dialogue.

Locopells
07-10-2016, 12:09 AM
Put the subtitles on during the tailing missions, it helps a LOT.

SixKeys
07-10-2016, 12:14 AM
Put the subtitles on during the tailing missions, it helps a LOT.

I shouldn't have to, though. I know some people like playing with subtitles on, but to me not having subtitles is just another way to create an immersive experience, which is so central to AC. It's the devs' job to ensure the plot remains easy to follow.

Black_Widow9
07-10-2016, 02:50 AM
I wouldn't say they were garbage because I personally find that term horrible. :(

I loved AC4. I didn't find the overall mission structure terrible at all but those tailing missions. Like you've said, there was a lot to keep track of and they were really frustrating even with the subtitles on. It is difficult to focus on the conversation with the other factors.

Ureh
07-10-2016, 04:27 AM
I wouldn't say the mission structure in general is bad, but I agree on the tailing missions. It's incredibly annoying whenever they try to combine plot exposition with gameplay that requires a lot of concentration. "Don't be detected", "kill 3 agiles with a rope dart", "stay inside the moving circle", "finish the mission in under 2 minutes." Oh, and try to remember WTF these four characters talked about during the mission, too.

The tailing missions in AC2 were a lot more tolerable - and even fun, IMO - because they focused solely on atmosphere. No talking during the tailing, apart from a simple comment here and there like "I feel like someone's watching us" or Ezio talking to himself.

Some of the tailing missions in the other games - using AC2 as an example - are pretty wordy as well. Here's all the dialogue for just one tailing mission in Venice: http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/wiki/Birds_of_a_Feather

I do feel that most conversations that occur during most tailing missions aren't very important to understanding their plot, so if they're missed it's not really a big deal. However there were a few missions where you would miss out on some character development if you don't have the subtitles on or don't speak the language - AC4 comes to mind. Like the one where Edward walks into the Governor's manor in Havana, some of the guards are alarmed by his Piratey appearance; and when Edward infiltrates Tulum, the Assassins reveal that they know Edward is hiding in the brush and were expecting him all along.

SixKeys
07-10-2016, 11:53 PM
Some of the tailing missions in the other games - using AC2 as an example - are pretty wordy as well. Here's all the dialogue for just one tailing mission in Venice: http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/wiki/Birds_of_a_Feather

Fair enough, I do remember that particular mission being one of the more annoying ones in AC2. I was more thinking of the one in Tuscany where you follow the Templars to the ruins.

I missed a TON of plot stuff in the AC4 tailing missions. To this day I don't know who half the targets I killed in the game even were or what they did wrong. It almost killed the fun of Roger Craig Smith's cameo as the Italian dude as well.

Sesheenku
07-11-2016, 12:29 AM
I thought birds of a feather was pretty easy. They walked slow and the path was super easy.

The only thing to stop you were a few rooftop guards and two knives takes care of them and likely makes them fall off the roof and distract the targets giving you even more time.

SixKeys
07-11-2016, 01:33 AM
I thought birds of a feather was pretty easy. They walked slow and the path was super easy.

The only thing to stop you were a few rooftop guards and two knives takes care of them and likely makes them fall off the roof and distract the targets giving you even more time.

To be fair, it doesn't reflect well on a stealth game to have dead guards literally dropping in front of the people you're tailing and having them shrug their shoulders and move on. :p At the very least they should break into a run.

Sesheenku
07-11-2016, 02:09 AM
To be fair, it doesn't reflect well on a stealth game to have dead guards literally dropping in front of the people you're tailing and having them shrug their shoulders and move on. :p At the very least they should break into a run.

They should look up and be like OI THERE HE IS!

Buuuut they don't sooooooooo ~Let the bodies hit the floor! Let the bodies hit the floor!~

cawatrooper9
07-11-2016, 04:54 PM
Ships did actually have a detection area all round, it was just longer in the front. I always took that as the direction that the lookout in the crow's nest was looking (still a bit daft I know, but it works).

Fair enough, the did have a detection area- but that wedge in the front was, in my opinion, disproportionally big in comparison to the other detection areas. But I get it, it's for gameplay purposes.

I think my biggest beef with AC4 tailing missions apart from that is it feels the most restrictive of all gameplay in the title. Most missions start out encouraging stealth, but allow for combat (albeit, rather easy combat) if the poop hits the fan. In short, players are able to craft their own experiences rather well. Tailing, on the other hand, requires staying incredibly close to an individual while not getting detected. It offers almost no creativity on the player's part, other than how to move and hide (but even then, the movement area is pretty restricted).