From Prematurely Disliking to Loving Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

E3 had me intrigued for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. You could play as a male or female, Ancient Greece looked great, the story seemed fun, and the gameplay looked like an acceptable mix of old Assassin’s Creed and Origins. Then, I saw videos leading up Odyssey’s release, making the game look like the spitting image of Origins. Weapon swings and dodging looked stiff and I was convinced the game was going to overemphasize being a Spartan warrior and not the assassin gameplay existing fans have come to know and love. Well, after convincing myself to get a copy of my own, AC Odyssey is on its way to becoming my favorite Assassin’s Creed ever. These are the reasons why I am loving Odyssey:

STORY

Assassin's Creed® Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed is known to inject a healthy amount of humor in their games. A couple of the outliers are the original Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed III. Odyssey is no exception. The game kicks off with a humorous and heartwarming scene, setting the tone for the rest of the game. The main character (Kassandra or Alexios) is a feared warrior, but also a citizen that helps others, makes moral decisions, and makes chuckle-worthy remarks in response to NPCs. The tongue and cheek nature is reminiscent of Ezio, Edward, and Jacob from previous installments. It is a detail that can easily be overlooked, but adds so much to the game.

The story is elevated with the inclusion of dialogue options. Many, including me, were skeptical that these options would merely be tacked on for the sake of keeping up with other RPGs. However, I am happy to say the dialogue options are substantial, even during side missions. They add a whole additional level of immersion to the already immersive AC franchise.

The game also benefits from the story being a personal tale. The narrative impact tugs on the emotions players felt nine years ago in AC II. Not only does Ubisoft convey an immersive story, but they have also made the narrative less linear by adding cause and effect. I don’t want to spoil it here, but there is a mission in the prologue where you must complete the mission exactly as instructed, or there will be consequences. The level detail the developers included just so the players can feel like their actions matter is impressive.

THE FEELING OF HIGH STAKES

Assassin's Creed® Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey introduces high stakes in a multitude of ways. First is through the combat. If you go up against enemies in melee combat at your current level or one level above you, you are in for a challenge. I am playing on hard and with an assassin build so results may vary, but if you can’t assassinate an enemy right out, prepare to have your skills put to the test. Take about three hits and you will be at critical health, leaving you to either gamble and try to defeat the enemy, or retreat and come back with regenerated health. This is particularly nerve-wracking while taking down forts as a death will set you back all the way to the beginning no matter how many objectives you have already completed.

Also, beware of wildlife. Wolfs, boars, bears, etc. are lethal. At the very beginning of the game, I was level 1 and on my way to the quest location, I was chased across the map by a level 5 wolf. Two hits from him and I was done for, while 100 hits from me at that level would probably have taken it to half health.

The mercenary system is also high stakes. The more notoriety you incur in the game, the more mercenaries will be sent after you, capping out at five. The level of these mercs will range from a couple levels above to a couple levels below you. They typically have special abilities like poison weapons, quick retaliation, or unpredictable unblockables that make them a few cuts above normal enemies. You must bring your A game to give yourself the best chance of not taking an L.

Speaking of high stakes, the assassin playstyle is the epitome of the phrase. Those who were worried that the game had abandoned the assassin playstyle, fear not. There are many places to take cover. And even if you cannot one shot an enemy from stealth, there is an ability called Hero Strike that allows you to do one fell swoop of massive melee damage. The primary game changer to stealth is ranged chain assassinations. As long as you are unseen, you can activate the ability and pseudo-teleport to the enemy for an assassination and repeat two consecutive times as long as they are in range and have the ability upgraded. The assassination animations are brutal and satisfying.

EXPLORATION

Assassin's Creed® Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey

Odyssey’s world is mind-bogglingly massive. The starting area itself is a big space which took me about six hours to get through, and there are dozens just like it. That easily adds up to hundreds of hours of surface level exploration. Then, you have to factor in sailing, which is geographically half of the game. I was never a big fan of sailing in previous ACs, but the main character’s line delivery and your companions on the ship in tandem with constant land discoveries makes sailing a believable part of Kassandra or Alexio’s journey rather than having ships for the sake of ships. The amount of content here is absolutely massive. You will encounter some patches of rolling wilderness, but for the most part, there are NPCs walking around, side quests to partake in, animals to hunt, forts to conquer, and caves to discover.

I am about 25 hours into Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and am only around a fourth of the way through the story. There is so much to do and discover that you will find yourself constantly sidetracked by the world’s activities. If you’re interested in the game and have not yet purchased it, definitely try to get it during the holiday sales. The development team deserves to be rewarded.

IMAGES CAPTURED ON PS4 & OWNED BY UBISOFT

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