-A sequel to Why I Hate the Water in Valhalla
by Dr. Do Mk. 2
Let's just get right into this, much like the Assassins are far too eager to get in a stream of literal human sewage. I mean, there are tough people who are forced to tread in this sort of stuff due to the severity of their situation, as shown in Tomb Raider or Resident Evil, and then there are the Assassins.
FUN FACT: Did you know that more than 82% of human feces is alive? It's true!
10. Boston Harbor (III)
Our boy Connor Kenway, or Ratonhnhaké:ton, will be kicking off this list; not because his body of water is overly disgusting, but because of his insane troll logic in approaching a problem that needs to be solved.
During the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, Connor takes it upon himself to go out into Boston Harbor to disable two British ships that are firing on Patriot positions on Breed's Hill. On the way there, he passes through the town of Charlestown, which is literally being pulverized by volleys of grapeshot as he goes to the waterfront. You'd think that because of this, he'd understand the need for urgency, right?
WRONG! Instead of attempting to hijack a rowboat, he dives straight into Boston Harbor and paddles out to the ships, a journey that can take more than a full minute and a half. A minute and a half of weakly flailing through the water, followed by another minute to reach the second ship. In Boston, Massachusetts. In early-to-mid June.
That water would be freezing, and after more than two minutes in it, Connor would be absolutely drenched. That's not enough, though – according to the lore behind optional objectives before Ubisoft did away with them because they were too hard, Connor stayed stealthy on both ships, even killing a Highlander with "keen senses," at least according to Arbaaz Mir, while he was at it. Really, this is a complement of Connor's stealth skills, if not his swimming capabilities. Like I said on the last agendapost, you try sneaking around when you just got out of a nice, cold bath wearing a leather duster and your winter jacket.
AC III Remastered is pretty good, at least in my opinion. You get all the DLCs, all the beautiful scenery of Revolution-era New England (although I think they could have done away with all that annoying fog that's most obvious in Boston Winter when you're on a viewpoint.) Would it really have killed Ubi to put a boat at Charlestown Port, though?
9. Red Lake, Lokris, Greece (Odyssey)
"Ah, Lokris. Land of salt, and more salt." –Kassandra the Eagle Bearer of Sparta, c. 485 BC
Kass is right here, Lokris's entire economy is based around the harvest of salt. Good for them, but that leads to its own complications, especially in that beautiful crimson reservoir that dominates the barren white landscape framed by the gorgeous mountains of Makedonia. There's a reason that lake's so brightly colored, and it sure as Hades ain't the blood of your enemies.
That lake's red because it's not water, at least not in the traditional sense. It's a potent cocktail of bacteria and Dunaliella algae, feeding off of the salt in a lake so toxic and caustic with natron that it's unsafe to swim in. These lakes exist in the real world (of course,) and they can LITERALLY BURN YOU if you soak in it too long from the salinity alone. And then the algae and bacteria enters your tortured flesh to give you any number of terrible diseases. That's not even taking the terrain into consideration.
You know how when you spill salt on your IKEA tabletop, done with a buttery-smooth acacia wood finish, and you can barely eat off of it anymore because the salt digs into your flesh like Anakin Skywalker's worst memories of sand on Tattooine? Yeah. Well, imagine that, but on your tender little footsies, and actual spikes and crystals of salt instead of nice, rounded, finely-ground flakes.
Salt is sharp. It can lacerate peoples' feet, cut them to ribbons if they're not careful about even walking on the shore of a salt lake, much less wading into the "waters" of one. And on top of that on top of that, it's likely that Kassandra enters the Red Lake wearing a full suit of Greek misthios's armor. Do you know what exposure to any kind of salt, water, or salty water does to metal?! Two words: Extreme. Oxidization. Sounds like something Dr. Doofenschmirtz's machines would to to peoples' bodies if he was competent and not constantly foiled by a poisonous marsupial duck-dog wearing a fedora.
8. The Boknafjorden and related waters, Rygjafylke, Norway (Valhalla)
This one is for much of the same reasons as Boston Harbor, except on a bigger scale and further North. I love Norway, but even I wouldn't be interested in a brisk 150-some mile swim through the Boknafjorden, in a Norwegian winter, wearing several layers of winter gear adorned with rich fur and tanned leathers like our friend Havi/Eivor seems intent on doing. Not to mention, when you get out of the water, Havi/Eivor shivers profusely, literally freezing to death, pats their clothes dry for a hot second, and is completely fine soon after.
7. Port and Canals of Naples (Brotherhood)
This only shows up in a mission for Leonardo da Vinci in his War Machines series, but it sure does leave an impact. Nothing really drives in the point that you're leaving everyone's favorite Assassin, Ezio Auditore, with lasting mental scars so deep they write themselves into his DNA like slowly paddling around in the clammy, mold-covered underground Napolese sewer/canal system, trying to tail a fella in a gondola filled with – you guessed it – feces, which the gondola pilot very audibly complains about in both English and Italian the whole time. He also remarks on the smell of the water that you force Ezio to swim through, you monster.
Now, to my understanding, there is a way you can proceed through the canals without submerging Ezio's rich robes and snappy half-cape in filthy water, but the vast majority of players just swim through the entire thing. Please, let me know if I'm wrong, but for the time being, I'm nauseated. Speaking of nauseated . . .
6. Paris Sewers/Catacombs of Saint-Denis (Unity)
Really, any sewer is terrible in Assassin's Creed – no, check that, any sewer is terrible everywhere. But in Saint-Denis and its more famous sister city, the hordes and hordes of hundreds of massive black rats that flee from Arno as he gets his custom-baby-seal-leather-clad toes wet for one reason or another (Vagrant King, anyone?) make the French sewers/catacombs even worse. Not to mention the bat guano, the ancient human body runoff, and the fresh and pungent human waste that makes up the majority of the fluid. I mean, forget the water – just the fumes from the guano and black mold must be toxic in there. Hope Arno knows a really, really good dry cleaner. Failing that, just burn his clothes every time he exits a catacomb.
And that's leaving out La Biévre, which has an entire Database entry describing just how foul and chock-full of crap it was, with no other mention of anything else relating to it except that it's got tannery runoff floating in the mulch too. An "honorable 42 cubic meters per second?" Now that's economic importance. And then they name the stream of evil poison after the Latin word meaning "to drink."
5. The River Seine (Unity)
The Thames may be slightly worse due to the massive quantities of industrial waste being dumped into it in 1880s London, but one word comes to my mind when I think back on the Seine in Unity: Milky. For some reason, the waters of Paris's largest (but not necessarily dirtiest) river look like some cursed dairy product wending its way through the City of Lights. Water shouldn't look like that.
Also, where do you think that cannibal on the North shore of Le Louvre gets rid of all of the parts he doesn't want to eat? Yep. Right into the milky waters of the Seine, where people both drink from and gardez their l'eaux when the time – and sewage smell – is ripe.
4. Middletun Fens, Grantebridgescire (Valhalla)
In the very first minutes of the Great Summer Army's arc in what is now modern-day Cambridge, Havi/Eivor is sent to the Middletun Fens to rescue clan jarlskona Soma and her lieutenants from the forces of Palatinus Wigmund. The Fens are situated on the banks of one of Valhalla's relatively clean English rivers, but you wouldn't know that from this particular location. The water that runs through the Fens is so chock-full of green algae, they're literally glowing neon yellow even through the fog. It's an atrocious place, with the nearby graveyard of Viking ships doing very little to improve its aesthetic beauty. Imagine the smell of the stagnant waters! The chilly, moist atmosphere that gives way to the dense, cloying fog! The mosquitoes that see the algae waters as a gorgeous Caribbean island, perfect for mating and feasting on the blood of bound and gagged Viking warriors! Urgh . . . just thinking about those chartreuse waters sloshing about when Havi/Eivor rolls through them, wearing a full fur cloak and layers of leather armor makes me sick.
3. The Thames (Syndicate)
"In the 19th century the quality of water in Thames deteriorated further. The discharge of raw sewage into the Thames was formerly only common in the City of London, making its tideway a harbour for many harmful bacteria. Gasworks were built alongside the river, and their by-products leaked into the water, including spent lime, ammonia, cyanide, and carbolic acid. The river had an unnaturally warm temperature caused by chemical reactions in the water, which also removed the water's oxygen."
I don't usually use Wikipedia as a source – it's more a primer course on information you want to know than anything else – but I think this particular passage speaks for itself. Literally worse than the Seine.
2. Banks of the Nile River (Origins)
The Nile is gorgeous in Origins, and the environment that accompanies it even more so, but it's still a major river in ancient times, with many of the problems that come along with it. Perhaps the Nile is even worse than the Seine or Valhalla's Thames (Syndicate's Thames is in a whole other weight class), due to the violent wildlife that hunts, kills, and defecates in the waters. Crocodiles, hippopotami, and all sorts of big cats, oh my!
The banks of the Nile are home to dangerous animals of all descriptions, as I'm sure you yourself have experienced as Bayek travels across Egypt. But in certain locations, river detrius builds up into deposits of . . . brown, toxic crud is really the only way I can describe it. These chunks of cursed material float on the Nile, bobbing merrily up and down even as Bayek splashes around near them, and I can only imagine . . . what kinds of bacterial pathogens are those things made out of?
I mean, Bayek was probably already afflicted by something terrible from the moment his blood came into contact with Eudoros the Hippo's in Alexandria, but what intestinal issues did he give himself by absorbing that river grease through his skin?
1. The Caribbean Sea (Black Flag)
This is my final pick, the worst one in my opinion, and a rather controversial choice. Suffice it to say, it's not the picturesque lagoons and quaint beaches that bother me about Captain Edward Kenway's home surf, it's the conditions that come along with them. That, and I just personally dislike the exposure that the real-life Caribbean gets. There are so many other places to go in the world, and the one locale everyone seems to want to go to is the part of the world where every beach is pristine white, all the water is bathtub temperature, and life moves at a slow, heavily commoditized pace for people who aren't interested in the culture of a region as long as it's comfortable and pretty enough for them.
But enough about that. On to my criticism of the in-game Caribbean:
In Black Flag, Edward is a pirate captain operating in the Caribbean, which is a place known for its sun, its sea, and its salt. And its storms. He gets drenched by a hurricane every other mission, or has to slog through shoulder-deep bogs on some deserted island . . . and then the sun comes out. The Caribbean sun. I've experienced that sun before wearing only a pair of swim trunks, and when you're out of the water and the sun starts beating down on you, it bakes your clothes and your skin to a salty, uncomfortable crust that chafes like a pair of jeans made out of microplane cheese graters.
Edward's covered head-to-toe in clothing, and I can only imagine how gross his Assassin outfit must feel (especially when he takes it off of Duncan Walpole, who he killed when they were both damp from the first shipwreck, and immediately dressed himself in a dead man's clothes) and how manky it must smell.
Wet leathers, stale body odor, sweat stains, other people's blood and various bodily fluids, probably some rancid rum spills, coarse white sand filling every crevice, and seawater dried to a coating of gritty salt and traces of fish crap, that's all been baking in the Caribbean sun for hours on end. Absolutely repulsive.
I'm done, I can't do this anymore. Please, let me know if I missed anything, and as long as we're on the subject, what famous historical waters would you like to see recreated in future games?
Thank you for reading. Hope it wasn't too long!
- OFF MY CHEST: Why I hate the water in Valhalla (and earlier games)
- Better Water Places: Landscapes/Environment/Hideouts/SecretPassage/Dungeons
- Is Connor a prototype?
More about Assassin's CreedPost: "The Top 10 Worst Bodies of Water in Assassin’s Creed" specifically for the game Assassin's Creed. Other useful information about this game:
- What I wish for the future of Present Storyline
- Theory: The Sword of Eden from Unity will appear in the Siege of Paris. Slight spoilers for Valhalla’s main story and Wrath of the Druids.
- My take on what AC Infinity is going to be
- Rate my idea for an old-style AC game? ‘Assassin’s Creed : Baphomet’
- Why Valhalla is my favorite game out of the last three ACs
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