Ever since the second game in the franchise, Assassin's Creed has always provided a plethora of extracurriculars for the globe-trotting assassin. Feathers, treasures, recruits (after Brotherhood), real estate, synchronization events, the list gets more and more bloated with each new iteration. Outside of the recruits you can draft into your cause, the results of this collect-a-thon are largely superfluous. So why, then, did I spend an entire evening (roughly four hours) doing nothing but rampaging through the Frontier, slaughtering and startling various fauna, and tearing up old-timey New York, leaping from rooftop-to-rooftop, synching up nearly the entire city in one go?
While I wouldn't quite call these jaunts fun, they do provide a sufficient dopamine drip to keep me from turning in for the night. After all, how could I go to bed when there is a church I haven't climbed yet just half a mile away? Smarter people and better writers have researched the addictive properties of certain types of games (the best I can immediately recall was from the now defunct, relaunched GamePro, so link can be provided), but it doesn't matter as much to me why it's so engrossing to my peabrain, but rather how much of the story is lost in this useless minutia?
There is plenty of evidence to state that a directed video game experience can be just as entertaining as an open-world, make-of-it-what-you-will adventure. Typically, I've forgotten why I was tracking down Benjamin Franklin, probably from the five haystacks I leapt into from 10+ stories up; I imagine cerebral hemorrhaging like that isn't easy to overcome in such a short period of time. With each new game, it feels like this is a story that shouldn't be told in this format. Heck, maybe any story worth telling shouldn't be conveyed in an open-world game (look to the strong narrative in the open-yet-focused Tomb Raider reboot, for example).
I remember bits and pieces of Saint's Row: The Third because the story beats were a) manic and b) bat-shit insane. If you can't be either of those things, maybe your open-world game needs to tighten things up? Ditch the 20-team development onslaught and bring it back to the core of the series' compulsions? Sure, I went everywhere and did everything in Just Cause 2, but it sure as hell wasn't for the story.