Assassins Creed: Odyssey ReviewOctober 4, 2018
Assassins Creed: Odyssey is coming out tomorrow after one of the shortest windows we have seen between title launches in the series. AC: Origins just came out last October and was met with very positive reviews due to the change in gameplay and the solid storytelling. Origins also set the bar for any game following in the series, and that bar was set pretty high. I can confidently say that Odyssey has not only hit that bar, but added and improved on everything that made Origins a fantastic game.
Odyssey is a game about choice, and not just the choice to kill or not to kill, but the choice to follow a web of interesting paths that will lead you down a path of glory, or destruction. This has all been done by the introduction of the new storytelling and choice mechanic that was developed by Ubisoft just for this title. In Origins we saw the ability to have conversation to gather information about what was going on and to progress the story, while in Odyssey it not only progresses the story, but changes the outcome of your character. The choices you make when talking to a farmer, or a carpenter can and will affect how people in the area view you, or how certain events will play out. You can sometimes think you are doing the right thing by saving a family, but ultimately have it be the wrong thing to do because by saving those people you doomed the surrounding area. This choice mechanic makes the game feel much less like the previous titles which were more of an action game, and feel much more like an RPG. This choice was made clear by Scott Philips the games director during the launch party of Odyssey in Toronto, stating that RPG’s are they games that they loved, and that Odyssey would be the perfect fit to be an RPG instead of just a third person action/stealth game. This change has also for the first time ever you had the choice to choose if you were male or female in this game (yes Liberation had a female character, but it wasn’t a main game in the franchise), and play that character for the entirety of the game. Since I had played every AC that has come out, I made the obvious choice of Kassandra over Alexios to see how playing a Spartan woman during a time of war would play out. Historically Spartan women were not seen as lesser people, but almost as equals to the men in Spartan society. They were known to be sharp of wit and just as tough as the men since they trained alongside them as children, with the belief that not just strong men, but strong women bred strong soldiers of Sparta. Kassandra has definitely lived up to the history of Spartan women, she is witty, funny, and pretty badass. The voice acting and writing behind this game has really set up a strong protagonist that is enjoyable to play, and doesn’t bore you with repeated lines or predictable responses to quest givers.
The combat in Odyssey borrows a lot from Origins as it follows the same mechanics of blocking, dodging and countering your enemies. The largest addition to this combat is now the addition of special abilities for melee and ranged, replacing the on equip abilities that were in Origins. Previously you would need a specific bow to do a multishot, or a sniper shot, now with the new talent tree you can spec into that talent and use it with any bow. The melee weapons now allow you to use fire or poison on any weapon, and the ability to do charges, kicks and weapon charges with any weapon you please. This opens up the field to allow you to fight the way you want, without waiting to find the perfect spear or dagger just to get a specific ability. I was really happen for this change because now if you find a weapon you love, you can upgrade it as much as you want and also light people on fire as often as you want, which is a big plus in my books.
One of my favorite new features to this game is the Mercenary system, and how it changes how you travel the world and the decisions you make. If you decide to steal, kill, or just overall be a not very nice person to the Athenians, you get a bounty put on your head by someone. This bounty will send mercenaries after you, and they all have their own abilities, weapons and sometimes groupies that will tag along. These mercenaries are similar to the phylaktis mini bosses that were scattered around the map in Origins, but this time they will hunt you down. There are a few ways to get rid of these blood hungry mercs, one is to just kill them… which is usually quite hard depending on their level and if more than one find you at once. Another way is to find the person who took out the bounty on you, and kill them, or you can take the easiest route and pay them off. The most profitable way I found is the kill the mercs yourself for sweet loot, gold and other goodies.
I am about 20 hours in, and have barely touched the surface of this game. The map is huge, the locations are gorgeous and I actually want to see what happens to Kassandra in my play through, and then do it all again with Alexios. There is another component of the game that does have ship battles which we saw in sections of Origins, but I have not played them enough to get a real feel on how they will overall impact the game, outside of it being a great way to travel around the map while listening to Greek sea shanties.
With the hard switch to RPG format, great writing, voice acting and fun responsive gameplay, this will be one of the games that will really stand out in the decade long franchise.
Please check back soon for our interview with Ubisoft Narrative Director Melissa MacCoubrey!