The Assassin’s Creed series returns with an epic adventure set in ancient Greece. Find out what we thought in our Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Review!
|Release Date||October 5, 2018|
* A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Ubisoft for review purposes*
I’ve come to expect a lot from the Assassin’s Creed series and in recent years, I’ve been let down a little bit with games like Unity and Syndicate not really pushing the series forward in meaningful ways. That changed last year with a return to form in Origins and it carries forward to this year’s Odyssey which is an incredibly ambitious RPG set in a vast, beautiful open-world. Fortunately, it’s a world full of life and new things to discover. This may well be one of the most impressive games in the series.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey begins at the start of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta that occurred more than 2400 years ago. It’s a really interesting time period to explore, in my opinion, and one that I felt more invested in than other stories in the Assassin’s Creed universe. This is due to the history of the area and the many directions that you can take your character within it. It’s a great setting for an RPG and it still allows for the fight to be waged on land and at sea much like many of the other games in the series.
Odyssey’s map is huge, it’s easily the biggest of the series and definitely one of the most beautiful to look at. It says a lot about a game when you just stop on the mountain-top to look at the view below or on the beach watching the waves crash in. Admittedly, there are a lot of beaches with the Aegean Sea playing a big role in the setting of the game, but Ubisoft did a great job making it look true-to-life. With that said, there is more than just water, a lot more in fact. There are forests with sunlight seeping through the trees, desert islands, white-stone islands, beaches, city areas, shipyards, and caves just to name a few. The world feels so alive with people walking between city areas and lurking in caves as well as animals in forests ready to pounce on you if you get to close. Greece is as dangerous as it is beautiful.
One of the interesting aspects of this year’s game is that you get to play as one of two siblings: Alexios or Kassandra. I played most of the game with Kassandra even though I did try out Alexios to see if there were any differences. There really wasn’t much difference, it’s more of a matter of preference than anything. The coolest thing about this game is that you get to choose the type of personality that your protagonist is going to have. Do you want them to be a cold-blooded killer? How about a romantic type? Diplomatic? The choice is yours in the many interactions that your character has with the other NPCs in the world.
These interactions are not unlike what you’d see in a Bioware game but don’t shape the game quite as much. Most of your decisions basically come down to whether you’re a jerk or a good person. I had the choice to take some money for saving a family from certain death or telling them not to worry about it. I didn’t take the money and the family was grateful to me. I don’t know what they would have thought had I taken it. There are a lot of monetary instances like that that. Some of the choices do affect the greater world and open up new side missions according to what you choose to do. There are some characters that may not even be alive at the end of the game due to your choices. It’s just nice to know that you have some control over how you want your game to go and it’s a bit of a new direction for this series that I hope becomes the norm.
There’s a new notoriety system in Odyssey that puts you in some hot water if you commit crimes, much like real-life. Basically, the more crimes you commit, the more likely it is that someone will put a bounty on your head and that some mercenaries will come after you. These mercenaries are procedurally-generated and become more and more threatening as you level-up. It can get bad enough that you keep getting these different groups of mercenaries after you even when you’re in the middle of a mission. Some of them can even have pets and special weapons to take you down faster. It can become a bit of a nuisance to fight these people off, but that’s the price you pay if you commit enough crimes. At least you can get some loot if you kill them. It was actually pretty cool to see these kinds of events unfold even during normal missions. It gives a lively feel to the game where anything can and will happen.
There’s a new nation struggle system implemented in the game that allows you to aid in the efforts of either Sparta or Athens in the war. You can help by killing leaders, destroying supplies, and looting chests. Performing these actions will trigger a conquest battle which is basically a huge melee or naval battle that nets you some pretty good loot. Unfortunately, these battles mean little to the story. I think it would have been great to pull them into the story arc somehow, but it seems to be more about gaining loot than anything else. It’s cool to see them happen with the number of people fighting at once, but it just doesn’t mean a whole lot.
There are an impressive amount of different weapons available in Odyssey with weapons such as swords, maces, spears, axes, and daggers all available to use any way you want. Attacks are easy and flow between light and heavy attacks seamlessly and you can switch back and forth between your bow and your melee weapons as you’d come to expect from this series. There are a ton of different weapons to find and you’ll probably be switching between them often because of it. You can even engrave and upgrade your weapons with different useful perks including upgrading old pieces of gear to your level. Of course, making these upgrades come at a rather sizeable cost of resources and currency that may leave you better off to find some new gear, and there’s plenty of it.
As in most RPGs these days, Odyssey has a leveling system that rewards you with a skill point with each level that you go up. These skill points can be poured into three distinct categories: Hunter, Warrior, and Assassin. Each of these categories lends itself to a particular type of play. If you like to run in there and kill everything, you probably want to put your points into the Warrior type. If you like using your arrows or doing stealth kills, you want to put your points into the Hunter and Assassin categories respectively. I personally liked pouring most of my skill points into making my character as skilled with the bow as possible including a one that allowed me to fire multiple arrows at a time which became incredibly helpful as the number of enemies grew. There’s even the Sparta Kick which allows you to boot someone in the back off a cliff or ledge or whatever else you can think of which is as hilarious as it is useful. The nice thing is that none of the skills feel pointless, everything ends up helping you at one point or another.
Of course, land combat isn’t the only type of combat you’ll be engaged in. The familiar naval combat returns and features the same offensive measures of ramming and shooting arrows/javelins at the other ship all the while having to make sure you’re getting out of the way of any retaliatory strikes. This time around, you’re able to upgrade your ship with options to increase ramming damage and decrease arrow damage among other things. It’s a lot more satisfying to upgrade your ship and plow through opposing ships in short order because you have the right upgrades. I enjoyed these sea battles a lot and never felt like they were a chore like I did in some of the past games.
The story in Odyssey, while very good, ends up containing a lot of missions that have your character running tons errands before you actually get to the main part of the mission. I felt like this could have been toned down a bit. The good thing is that that 3 pillars of the story weave in and out of each other and you’re able to do quests from each one most of the playthrough. There’s so much content from the main story to all the side quests that you’ll be playing this game long after you complete the main arc.
|Massive, beautiful setting||Some filler errands in the main story|
|Tons of quests/content|
|Fun naval battles|