As I continued my new year's tradition of playing the rest of the previous year's Assassin's Creed, I finally played the PS3/PS4/PC-only missions of ACIV. Good timing, if I dare say so.
The missions star Aveline, the assassin who also stars in AC: Liberation, the HD version of which I just played right before trying these missions. They're not game-changing. Wii U and Xbox owners can live without the DLC, but they will miss a subtle facet to them that I enjoyed.
Bear in mind that the DLC is short. It supposedly offers an hour's worth of gameplay according to the marketing copy, but I zipped through it in about 40 minutes. There's some platforming, some sneaking, some combat. Nothing new, nothing broken. Pretty by-the-numbers stuff in a good-looking environment with a cool assassin. My 40 minutes included the time I spent reading the few database entries that the DLC adds, a neat extra for those of you who, like me, enjoy reading the modern-day in-game take on the people in the back-in-time parts of the series.
The entire three-mission sequence has been captured on YouTube. It took the person who uploaded this just over 28 minutes to clear it.
You play the DLC as Aveline some time after Liberation and long after the events of ACIV, which occur a generation before. Remember, ACIV is about the grandfather of the main character of ACIII, which runs contemporaneously with Liberation. There isn't much to say about these three missions other than Aveline is a cool-looking character and it's nice to put her through her assassin paces on a PS4 after only playing as her on a Vita and PS3. Plus, I think we're in Rhode Island. New location!
There's this one thing that I liked a lot about the Aveline DLC, a thing that those of you who played it may not have noticed or cared about. It's that the game passes the Bechdel Test (two female characters in a work of fiction talk to each other about something other than a man) and passes it pretty well. Start watching around the 19-minute mark of the video above and you'll see.
Passing the Bechdel Test alone doesn't make something good. There are plenty of horrible movies and TV shows and games that pass and are still terrible for other reasons. Plenty of great works fail the test, too. It can be surprising to see how many great movies, shows and games can't manage to meet the test's simple requirements. Try to think of games that pass. It's not that easy!
What's cool in the Aveline DLC is that it just feels natural for Aveline and the DLC's second female character, Patience Gibbs, to banter as they make their way through this mini-adventure. We're getting a fun (and briefly flirty, surprisingly) buddy adventure featuring two likable female characters. I'm already on-record saying that I'd like to play more as Aveline, but Patience, a hotshot seemingly-natural assassin-in-the-making, would be cool to shape a game around too. The two of them make for a good pair.
The combo of Aveline and Patience stood out to me because you just don't see and hear much of this kind of thing in big-budget voice-acted games. You get plenty of female characters bantering with male characters (Uncharted 2, Gears of War 3, etc), but rarely is the in-game banter during gameplay just between women. You get that in Mass Effect, depending on how you play, and you get it in Final Fantasy X-2, but otherwise it seems rare. It felt fresh to my ears, and I liked it.
So if you'd like to experience a brief buddy adventure featuring two female characters, give the Aveline DLC a shot. Just remember that it's really, really short, not crucial to the plot and doesn't end in one of the biggest battles in the game — that's what last year's PlayStation/PC-only Benedict Arnold missions did. Those were a nice little bonus too.