Ubisoft's Weird Cat Boat Tradition Explained
Video games, like any impactful story, can take us to some pretty dark places. Most AAA games involve a lot of killing and usually you have to watch a couple NPC’s you’ve come to care about bite it along the way. It’s not surprising that developers who’ve had to spend hours programming the best way to snipe someone to death or coding in a pile of dead bodies to loot need a little light-hearted break. Enter the cat boat, an Ubisoft tradition of putting an Easter egg in their games that involves, you guessed it, cats and a boat.
Players of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla who took the time to do a chase sidequest got rewarded with a loveable white cat who would nestle in the crook of their longship as they united the realms of ancient Britain. And fans of the excellently fun shooter/freedom fighter adventure game Far Cry 6 may have noticed the enigmatic shipwreck washed up on a tropical shore. It’s full of cute, oddly upright cat dolls, with "miau" spelled out in stones like an S.O.S. nearby.
In Watch Dogs: Legion there’s a rowboat with a pretty adorable maneki-neko cat nestled under a fishing net. It’s a well hidden Easter egg, meant only for the real explorers…and for people who read Easter egg articles. Watch Dogs 2, which predated Legion by four years, has another boat full of the ‘lucky cats’, the now ubiquitous charmed figurines waving their tiny paws, beckoning luck into the owner's dwelling.
But the cat boats weren’t always so whimsical. According to Ubisoft’s website and this article written by the wise and powerful Brittany Spurlin, the tradition began in 2014 with Assassin’s Creed Unity. Players were confused and a little horrified to find a boat, floating in the riverways of Paris, full of a filthy, inconsolable man and a clowder of cats mewling pitifully. Why was this man adrift here? Why won’t he speak? What in the name of the Isu are all these dang cats doing here? Theoretically, all the cat boat Easter eggs that came after could be the immortalized spirits of the cats of Saint-Marcel meowing over a broken man, forever adrift in the Seine.
Ubisoft sure does some wild stuff, like predicting secret rooms in the pyramids and letting you break into the gaming industry.