The oldest game from the series I have played used to be Black Flag. I'd seen them all on gameplays and screens, which don't really convey the actual experience of the older installments. And although I had other games on my mind, I opted for AC, with a little persuasion from Adam. And I've got to say: No regrets! It seems the series has just gained another fan.
First of all, I am finally able to understand the lot of fans complaining about the new games not being "Assassin" enough. And as strange as it may sound, to me, in never was. Playing Black Flag, I couldn't care less about the contemporary timeline, and the stealthy gameplay was sort of a novelty to me (it really felt like Hitman) – what I did care about were two things: the pirate setting, and the sandbox. What's more, that's exactly what I'm looking forward to in Valhalla. I don't want an Assassin; I just want a decent quasi-RPG with Vikings.
And while the first Assassin's Creed is far from perfect, I found the gameplay formula compelling enough to make me want to at least catch up with the entire Ezio trilogy.
WHAT'S THIS EVEN ABOUT?
In part because I'm young, and in part because I mostly play online games, I wanted to bring a different perspective, one of a person that isn't a member of the series' old guard. I shall trigger some nostalgia, and I'll try to answer to the new generation of players the same question I pondered over until recently – is the classic still playable?
Not what I expected
As I wrote at the beginning, Assassin's Creed series for me has always been a quasi-RPG open-world action game with stealth and free running. Nothing beyond. Meanwhile, the first installment was... not who I'd expected. I was rather taken aback when the game turned out more of a medieval Hitman, an approach-kill-escape kind of game, with practically no RPG elements at all. You obtained new gear simply after completing particular missions in the game, and HP could be boosted by fulfilling side-quests.
Unfortunately, that's something the first game really seems to be missing – I sort of got used to developing my hero, and the game could use mechanics like buying new weapons, gaining levels and skills, or even the most basic statistics. Since the game offers none of that, it seems like there's not much to do. We do have a semi-open world, but there's not enough incentive for completing side quests and exploring.
At some point, I found myself simply rushing ahead, almost speed running it. I didn't bother collecting flags or killing Templars simply because unlocking view points and completing the main plot was enough to make my character more than able to take the challenges. I just kept moving on as the plot progressed and I kept wondering if there was anything wrong with it at all. It's funny, because in theory, there isn't, but I was a bit annoyed with side activities that didn't reward you at all.