I haven't really played an Assassin's Creed game since Unity; I understand they've continued to make them. Syndicate predicated a pause in the franchise altogether, and when it returned, it was an RPG. More of one, anyway. It might be better to say that it returned as the kind of RPG where you want purple things more than you want blue things.
Because we can never be into the same things at the same time apparently, he picked the series up when I put it down. The main change for him in the new one, and maybe other players iterating the Hero's Journey in their own distinct universes, has been what the game calls Exploration Mode. Instead of the constant tension of most open world games, where a proliferation of icons shrieks for your attention advertising a profundity of "content," this is more like being a person in a place. An interesting, powerful person, to be sure. But the immersion of natural discovery makes for something that feels more organic - possibly even morganic.
If somebody asks you to do something, it's not just the prelude to a pulsing, red canker erupting somewhere on the map. You'd better listen to them, because if they say this shit is east or some temple along the coast that's where it is and you need to find it yourself. You have a completely different relationship to physical space in this version. I mean, the other way works too: that seemed to model your characters incredible knowledge and capability. But this framework enables you to feel knowledgeable and capable. It's a feeling he enjoys.
The levels aren't a joke though - they're not suggestions. They're trying to help you out here and you should listen to them.
This afternoon on the stream, join Ryan Hartman, Josh Price, the incomparable Kris Straub and myself for what may be the last episode of Dadfuckerz, Inc. - the episode where we select our own Dream Daddy, and then see where the chips fall. I think we'll also be choosing our next game on the stream as well - starts up at 2pm PDT.