Thoughts: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey


This is something that may not come across in my reviews of their games, but I have a lot of respect for the various Ubisoft development studios. They work to deadlines that would put nearly every other game developer to shame, and if you ignore the writing (which is practically required when dealing with anything under the Tom Clancy name) there’s a refreshing lack of pretension about the games they’re making. They scope out what they’re going to make at a very early stage during development, and once it’s defined they don’t muck about with spending years bogged down in ridiculous scope creep such as accurately-modelled horse testicles; they just knuckle down and make the game they planned in the first place. They’ve mastered the process of developing games better than any other company in the triple-A space — things such as efficient content pipelines, consistent design philosophy and effective project management across all of their games1 — which is how they’ve been able to publish a whopping eleven Assassin’s Creed games in eleven years and have only two of them be crap.

Of course, this efficiency has come at a cost, and the cost is that while few of the AC games are outright bad, there’s very few that I’d recommend as unreservedly good either. Except for the mould-breaking Black Flag, up until last year all mainline Assassin’s Creed titles were effectively the same game because the pace of development was such that the series had little time to truly reinvent itself. All it could achieve were iterations on the same concept, and after nine games in as many years it had thoroughly exhausted that concept by the time Assassin’s Creed Syndicate rolled around in 2015. Syndicate was a competent game, and anyone jumping into the series at that point would probably have been quite impressed with it, but I personally felt nothing but fatigue when playing it. Now, Ubisoft the publisher — the side of the company that sets those yearly deadlines and cracks the whip over the talented internal dev teams — may like the regular infusions of cash the AC series brings them, but while they’re just as amoral as any other publisher they at least saw Syndicate’s comparatively disappointing sales numbers and realised they were in danger of killing off their prize IP. This is why the most prolific franchise in AAA gaming didn’t release a mainline title in 2016; they finally gave their dev teams some time to make some seriously sweeping changes and in the process redefine what an Assassin’s Creed game actually is.


The result was 2017’s Assassin’s Creed Origins, a game that — as is typical of Ubisoft — heavily leveraged technology and design principles from other internally-developed Ubisoft titles, such as Ghost Recon Wildlands and the Far Cry series, but which also took a long hard look at what recent critically-acclaimed open world titles such as The Witcher 3 and Breath Of The Wild were doing and tried to incorporate some of their ideas, and in the process moved Assassin’s Creed towards the full-blown RPG territory that was recently abandoned by Bioware2. I played Origins while this blog was on hiatus so there’s no review, but Origins was an extremely respectable game and a definite step in the right direction. It was a bit bumpy in places, sure, and the developers were clearly still feeling their way through some of the changed mechanics; however, even at its lowest points Origins could always fall back on the player’s exploration of its incredible rendition of Ancient Egypt, full of rich, vibrant scenery and stuffed to bursting with landmarks and monuments to stumble across and/or climb on top of. Despite the flaws, Origins felt newly vital in a way that the Assassin’s Creed series hasn’t for at least five years.

Which, in an extremely roundabout way, explains why I bought Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Ancient Greece is not a time period I have a particular interest in, and if the series hadn’t taken that year out to produce Origins it would have been the end of my interest in the game, too. Even if Odyssey turned out to be just more of the same, though, I enjoyed Origins enough that “more of the same” was something I was still very much interested in playing. And to a certain degree, Odyssey is more of the same; every single thing that Origins does, Odyssey does also. (Except the pyramids, which I miss, and the stargazing, which I don’t.) But my god, even accounting for the typical efficiency with which Ubisoft internal development teams work, Odyssey crams in so much more additional content and so many new ideas (well, I say “new” but most of them fell off the back of a lorry, as we shall shortly see) that I don’t understand how they built this thing with only an additional year of development time over Origins. It’s one of the biggest games I’ve ever played — even discounting the typical Ubisoft filler content, it’s comfortably bigger than The Witcher 3 by some considerable distance — and consequently has an awful lot to unpack, and I’ve really not done myself any favours by spending four paragraphs explaining the context around it. I feel like that context is required, though, as it explains why Assassin’s Creed has gone from being the tired old beast that it was in 2015 to putting out something that’s one of the top three games I’ve played this year3.


The choice of time period for Odyssey does create one rather positive side effect: Origins was, as the name implies, a game about the foundation of the Assassin order, and it was set in Ptolemaic Egypt. Odyssey on the other hand is set in Greece during the Peloponnesian War, four hundred years before Origins takes place. This little logical trap means that nobody in Odyssey’s historical plotline knows what an Assassin is, because they don’t exist yet. Instead you’re playing a Greek mercenary whose family got massively fucked over by a group of Templar stand-ins called the Cult of Kosmos, and after the requisite fifteen years spent stuck on the tutorial island doing odd jobs for random people (and becoming a startlingly efficient killer in the process) the Cult makes the rash decision to start messing with your life again, which prompts your character to acquire a war trireme and set sail for the mainland to hunt down all members of the Cult and end their lives in as gruesome and bloody a fashion as possible.

Or at least that was how I played it. It was so refreshing to be free of the yoke of that tired, tired Assassins vs. Templars plot that Assassin’s Creed has been pushing for a decade now that I revelled in the opportunity to be far more homicidal than the series has allowed me to be in the past — and I very much appreciated that the game gave me the options to do that. Yes, your vendetta against the Cult is basically the same thing that’s been driving every other game in the series, but with the key difference that this one is set ancient Greece in the middle of a ridiculously bloody war, and because there aren’t any Assassin or Templar power structures yet it means that this time there are no rules whatsoever. So I was free to butcher my way across Greece with nary a hint of conscience4, but I could equally have focused on putting my character’s family back together over outright vengeance, and that would also have been a valid choice that Odyssey fully caters for. This is how Odyssey moves even closer towards that Bioware RPG territory than Origins did: by giving you a set of Witcher-style conversation options in every interaction, and by ensuring that the conversation options that you pick measurably influence how the situation plays out instead of looping back around to the same outcome no matter what you choose.


As for your character, Odyssey is the first game in the series to give you a choice of who to play: Alexios and Kassandra are sibling children of a Spartan family, both of whom get chucked off a mountain in the opening ten minutes of the game. Whichever one you pick is the one that survives and escapes with their family heirloom spear, which just so happens to be a ludicrously powerful Precursor artifact that you can upgrade over the course of the game to grant access to increasingly powerful abilities in combat. I picked Kassandra because this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play a woman in an Assassin’s Creed game who wasn’t going to get lumbered with a tedious romantic subplot, and she turned out to be very much my kind of protagonist: somebody with a lot of pent-up rage who was constantly holding back her natural urge to stab first and ask questions later. She wasn’t exactly Ezio-grade, but the voice actress does a fine job and she’s more than likeable enough to carry the game over the fifty-odd hours it takes to chew through all the strands of the main plotline.

Odyssey takes a somewhat unusual approach to story by splitting this plotline into three separate parts, each of which is tracked separately in your quest log. The first is tracking down the various surviving members of your family against the backdrop of the Peloponnesian War, a conflict between Athens and Sparta that has been going on for decades by the time the game takes place with no sign of slowing down; you take some time out from the family hunt to get involved with Spartan and Athenian politics, meet famous historical figures such as Socrates, Hippocrates and Pericles, and fight for one side or another in the game’s big battle scenes. The second plot thread involves Precursor stuff and talking about it would constitute spoilers, but — unusually for an Assassin’s Creed game — the way the Precursor elements are woven into the historical world and story are well handled and even include some of the best bits of the game, although it does also lead to the sadly obligatory cryptic exposition via magic computers for the benefit of the modern day Animus plotline, which is inexplicably still going long after Ubisoft themselves appear to have gotten bored of it. The third plot thread is your hunt for the Cult of Kosmos, which I’m going to spend a whole separate paragraph talking about because it’s the most impressive part of a very impressive game.


It takes a while for this objective to show up in your quest list, because Kassandra first has to find out a) that the Cult exists and b) that it was responsible for tearing her family apart, and this takes a few hours because Odyssey is preoccupied with introducing basically the entire rest of the game. Once she figures out what’s going on, though — namely, that there are a whole bunch of legitimate targets for her anger wandering around Greece — you get access to a whole new menu screen showing a huge web of masked faces that together comprise the 42 members of the Cult of Kosmos. Some of these faces are already revealed thanks to clues you pick up as part of the main story quest, but most are concealed, with at best just a single clue hinting at their identity. Each cultist requires two clues to fully unmask, which you acquire by killing off cultists lower down the pecking order; once unmasked their location is revealed on the map, and then you can go off and kill them. Gradually you work your way up through each cell of the Cult until you can unmask that cell’s Sage; killing the Sage gives a clue to the identity of the overall Cult leader, but you’ll need to kill all eight Sages (and by extension the entirety of the rest of the Cult) before you can finally chop the head off the snake.

There are two particularly neat things about this system. First is that it might have taken eleven games to get there, but Odyssey has finally given me what I wanted out of an Assassin’s Creed game all along: a set of freeform assassination targets that I track down and kill on my own initiative. Despite not having any Assassins in the game, Odyssey is the first game in the series that actually lets me be a damn assassin. Second is that while the system isn’t fully freeform — probably a third of the Cult members are key parts of main story quests and cannot be killed until you’ve completed them — most of the Cultists exist in predetermined locations in the world regardless of whether or not you’ve managed to unmask them in the Cult UI, and all the unmasking really does is stick a map pin in that location. You can go and kill them at any time prior to this, if you can figure out who they are and think you can take them in a fight. Occasionally you’ll randomly run into one lurking at the top of a Cultist stronghold that you decided to clear out, or governing one of the smaller Greek islands, or prowling the high seas in their pirate ship, and while you’ll sometimes twig that they’re cultists as soon as you see them it’s more likely that the first you know about it is when you send their ship to the bottom of the ocean and get the “Cultist Defeated” pop-up.


I’m very in favour of being able to pre-empt quest objectives like this, and I’m pleased that it seems to be a prevailing trend in RPGs these days with both Pillars Of Eternity 2 and Original Sin 2 plumping for the same freeform structure. Odyssey enthusiastically adopts this more non-linear structure for both the Cultist kills and its more mundane quests, which makes exploration feel very rewarding because at no point are you retracing your steps back to somewhere you already cleared because a certain thing wouldn’t spawn until you picked up the relevant quest chain. Odyssey does the usual open world thing of having the map be liberally littered with question mark symbols indicating points of interest, which when you get closer can turn out to be anything from a heavily defended fort full of soldiers and treasure chests and things to sabotage, to a shitty cave with three guys and a dog in a cage. There’s hundreds and hundreds of these things scattered all over Greece and you’ll go nuts if you attempt to clear them all, so I don’t recommend methodically working your way through them, but if you happen to fancy a bit of a slaughter and decide to take on a fort garrison and loot all of its treasure you might also pick up a quest item long before you find its matching quest. This means that in most cases it doesn’t matter what order you do things in; a typical RPG has me min-maxing my route through the game by running around hub towns hoovering up every available quest so I only have to go through spoke locations once, but this newer breed lets me do whatever I want without having to worry about later backtracking that feels like a waste of time. It makes the world feel substantially more organic, and encourages exploration for the sheer hell of it rather than because you’re trying to find a specific quest objective.

And Odyssey’s world is one that you’ll want to explore. As you will have noticed from the screenshots in this review it is an incredibly good looking game, with an excellent photo mode for snapping the panoramic vistas that are seemingly just around every corner. A minor complaint is that it doesn’t quite have the superb eye for scenery that Origins did, but that’s largely because of the difference in setting — a columned temple is less impressive to me than a bloody great pyramid, after all — and Odyssey still has a lot of “Holy shit” moments as you crest a mountain and see all of the surrounding region for the first time. An important lesson that the series has picked up from Breath Of The Wild is that being able to climb everywhere is fun, so the free-running system now applies to everything. No more looking for the telltale white ledges or sticking-out bricks that denote a climbable area; now if you want to climb a mountain you just run at the nearest rock face and Kassandra will start clambering up it like Spiderman.  This is taken to the point of absurdity at times as she’s also able to climb giant statues made of bronze which presumably aren’t going to be all that grippable, but I’ll take exploration being made artificially easy over being made artificially hard, because that means I’ll do more of it.


Speaking of drawing ideas from other game series, Odyssey also (finally) nabs the Nemesis system from Shadow Of Mordor, although the way it’s implemented isn’t quite the way I thought they’d do it. You have the standard GTA-style Wanted level in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, and committing crimes that are witnessed by others raises this level as concerned citizens place a bounty on your head. As it turns out there are only two crimes in ancient Greece – stealing, and killing anyone who isn’t a bloodthirsty bandit — but since you have to slaughter your way through a lot of Spartan and Athenian soldiers in your pursuit of your main and side objectives your bounty level inexorably ticks up, eventually resulting in Mercenaries turning up to claim the bounty. A Mercenary is a procedurally-generated elite adversary with a name, a backstory, and a couple of special properties like being followed around by a pet bear, or having flaming weapons that can set you on fire. They won’t constantly follow you around, but if you have a couple of pips on your bounty meter and you start a fight that goes on for longer than thirty seconds you can be sure that it’s going to be gatecrashed by a very tough, very damaging Mercenary — or possibly multiple Mercenaries piling in one after another if you’ve let your bounty level creep too high.

Fighting Mercenaries can be a lot of fun. Odyssey’s combat system isn’t the most complicated thing in the world, with the main elements being counters, dodges and finding a way to get around shield-toting enemies, but staying mobile and avoiding multiple opponents while dueling these big tough Mercenaries demonstrates that it does its job well. The incentive for killing Mercenaries is that a) they can drop some pretty good loot, b) if you knock them out instead of killing them you can recruit them to crew your ship, and c) you yourself are a Mercenary, there’s a Mercenary food chain, and killing Mercenaries who are above you in the Mercenary pecking order moves you up a rank. Getting to higher Mercenary ranks gives you shop discounts, which would be nice except for the fact that it is trivially easy to amass huge amounts of currency in Odyssey; there are money sinks in the form of equipment upgrades and ship upgrades, but both of these are also gated by resource requirements which are comparatively much more difficult to amass, and so the amount of money you have is never going to be the limiting factor on what you can do. I also didn’t ever target mercenaries for their recruitable-ness, as at the start of the game the bonuses they give to your ship are paltry, and at the end of it the ship is so powerful you don’t need them.


So mostly I just killed the Mercenaries naturally when they showed up without ever really going out of my way to do so, and this was enough to eventually get me to the very top tier of the Mercenary hierarchy; however, this isn’t always possible because if you’ve got a bounty level of three or more it’s very probable that Mercenaries will show up who are three or more levels higher than you, and level advantage is a huge deal in Odyssey. You can just about take on enemies that are two levels above you, if you’re smart and abuse abilities such as poison, but a three-level advantage is the point at which they can potentially one-shot you if they hit you, and so you really don’t want to take those fights. If you’re about to do something that’s probably going to end in a protracted battle (like infiltrating a fort) and you have a high bounty level, it’s best to spend some cash to pay off the bounty yourself prior to starting so that your party isn’t going to be gatecrashed by these impossible-to-kill bounty hunters. Aside from that I thought that the Mercenary system added some spice to the mid-game, when I had the tools to make dueling them fun but hadn’t yet grown so powerful that they were total pushovers, but it’s also probably the second item on my list of things that I’d quite happily cut from Odyssey without missing them much, or at all.

There’s something distinctly MMO-esque about Odyssey’s reliance on player and enemy levels to gate what you can and can’t do. That’s not exactly a slur on the game — given that it’s fully open world once you get your ship with no scripting or terrain blockers on where you can go, level-locking areas is all Odyssey has left to stop a player from running too far ahead of the plotline. The Witcher 3 did exactly the same thing, although Odyssey is much more overt about it; the world map is clearly divided into a collection of discrete regions and tells you what level you should be before visiting each one, and since you’ll have extreme difficulty with even regular enemies that significantly outlevel you it’s a good idea to stick to that guideline. This is less of a restriction than it sounds, however, as past the first six or seven hours of the game you will always have a choice of at least two or three regions that you can visit next, and you’ll get enough levels from clearing one that that will open up another two or three regions. This enables multiple paths through the game; after the cult was revealed I elected to go island-hopping for a few hours, but I could just as easily have gone north out of Phokis or followed the coast south into Athens. All the level gating really does is to limit your choices at the start of the game so that they’re not overwhelming.


To deal with the problem of the player being able to take a whole bunch of different routes through the game — and thus potentially outlevelling vast swathes of its content — Odyssey deploys something that I thought I’d hate, but which is handled in a very clever way: enemy level scaling. Once you outlevel a region by more than two levels the game will simply scale that region up so that its enemies are always two levels below you, which ensures that you feel appropriately powerful when fighting them but that they’re never quite pushovers. Even more importantly, though, Odyssey also scales up loot drops and XP rewards for completing quests — this fixes a big problem Origins had, where there wasn’t much incentive to go back and visit a region that you missed and had now outlevelled because the rewards you’d get for doing so would be pathetic. Again, this really helps Odyssey’s goal of always making exploration feel like a worthwhile thing to be doing, as you don’t really have to worry about doing things in the right order any more.

Quest-wise, Odyssey feels mostly solid. Yes, most of the quests, when you boil off the flavour dialogue from their bones, are ultimately just fetch quests where you go and get a thing from a location. However, I replayed Witcher 3 earlier this year and there were rather more fetch quests in that than I remembered; the set dressing around them counts for a lot, and Odyssey makes a decent fist of at least trying to include something a little memorable about each one. There’s nothing on the level of putting on the play in Witcher 3, but it would really be asking a lot of an Assassin’s Creed game to equal the better quests of the best RPG released in recent years. Given that Odyssey is the first real step they’ve made into full RPG territory I think it’s fine for the most of the quests to simply be okay — it does find time for a few standouts, but never really tries to excel. One thing that did impress me about Odyssey’s quests, however, is how reactive they were. The conversation options you’re given to influence events are very RPG-lite and I assumed they weren’t doing a whole lot — that is, until I read about some very different experiences other people had had with the same quests and realised that most quests have multiple different outcomes that depend on your actions, and that those outcomes can have knock-on effects for other quests that you might not tackle for another ten or twenty hours. It’s not exactly the sprawling honeycomb structure of Alpha Protocol, but it’s about as close as I’d expect any other game to get in 2018 and definitely a better offering than anything I’ve seen from Bioware in the last seven or eight years.


This is turning into a bit of a monster review, so I’ll speed things up. Ship combat is back, and it’s hugely improved over the lacklustre offering from Origins, being roughly on par with what was in Black Flag and Rogue. The equipment system is oddly tuned as its power scales with item level and upgrades are very expensive, meaning that to start with it’s usually better to cycle through new items as you pick them up rather than come up with an equipment set that supports your preferred style of play; however, towards the end of the game when you have enough resources to keep your equipment current there’s a surprising amount of depth to it as you can attach powerful properties to weapons and armour via the engraving system. The skills and combat abilities are very pleasing: you start strong, get much stronger as you level up, and once you clear the requirement for upgrading your Precursor spear to level 5 (which takes some work) you’re granted full-on superpowers, shattering shields with a single punch and blasting enemies backwards with force explosions. This focus on abilities that are fun to use instead of boring realism ensures engaging with the combat system is always immensely satisfying, which is pretty much a hard requirement because you’re going to find yourself slaughtering thousands of goons over the fifty hours it’ll take you to finish the game.

As is hopefully now apparent, Odyssey is a very big game with a lot of moving parts, most of which are making their very first appearance in the series. Given that, I think Ubisoft Quebec have done an incredible job of tying everything together without having the game collapse into an incoherent mess. However, Odyssey can’t help but have some rough edges. There was a point about six hours in where I was actually pretty down on the game; this was just after the Mercenary and Battle systems had been introduced, and I was still fairly low level, had invested my starting skill points into the stealthy Assassin skill tree and so wasn’t prepared for these systems that required head-on confrontation. In particular your health doesn’t regenerate in combat, so buying the Second Wind healing ability is 100% compulsory; however, it’s part of the Warrior tree and is terribly described — I misread it as a one-off thing that fired when I hit zero health rather than something that could be used at any time. Fortunately the game also allows you to respec skill points at any time so it wasn’t a fatal mistake that I hadn’t bought it, but I think that needing to buy specific skills to adequately deal with game systems is flabby design; Second Wind should have been an innate healing ability in the vein of Hollow Knight. Regardless, Odyssey can get a more than a little bit frustrating during this early period. When you’re having to deal with Mercenaries showing up to fights but haven’t yet figured out how to effectively fight or manipulate them it’s easy to dismiss them as pointless killjoys, and I think they should have been introduced a little later on when players have more skill points to play with and can produce a more well-rounded build that combats some of the more bullshit Mercenary abilities.


The rate at which you gain levels is also somewhat misjudged. You may have read some whining in the gaming press about how Odyssey is a very grindy game and how reviewers had to buy the XP boosting microtransaction to keep up with it. This is unfortunately yet another case of games journalists turning out to be bloody awful at playing the things they’re supposed to be writing about for a living5, because it’s the polar opposite of the truth: Odyssey is constantly flinging experience rewards at you. You get it for practically everything you do, and while many of the XP rewards are comparatively small it flows in at such a steady rate you can’t help but level up. Yes, following the “main” set of family story missions on their own won’t give you enough experience to follow them through to their conclusion if that’s all you’re focusing on, but this is a sodding open world game; if you engage with the rest of the content even a little bit you’ll be able to keep up, and if you immediately go off exploring and do side quests in just a few regions you’ll very quickly level to the point where the scaling has to kick in to keep things on an even keel. Which is the system working as intended, but the problem I had with Odyssey was this: if you are doing all three strands of the story and side quests and occasionally doing other bits and pieces like the battles and the arena combats and clearing forts — playing the damn game, in other words — you will hit the level cap about ten to fifteen hours before you finish it. This represents a full stop for all of Odyssey’s progression systems, and while there’s still value in playing through the rest of the game for the hell of it, it was definitely less satisfying to do so as a consequence of being at the level cap.

However, these are comparatively minor niggles. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey does have some bloody awful bits, and if you have ever played an Assassin’s Creed game you can probably guess what they are: the modern day segments, and the pieces of Kassandra’s story that are related to it. The series has at least walked things back from the offensively stupid premise of having its modern day segments pretend that you were playing literally yourself — i.e. somebody sitting in front of a television playing a videogame about ancient times. Instead it continues with the story of Layla Hassan (introduced in Origins) and her insufferable support crew of Assassins as she delves into memories of the past to try and figure out where the latest Precursor macguffin is buried. I have played every mainline Assassin’s Creed game and I have completely lost track of why they’re searching for these things, and I’m not sure the Assassins know either because it’s never stated what they’re going to do with the macguffin once they get it, or why it’s so important.  None of the modern day characters speak an intelligible language, instead choosing to communicate solely in “lol, so random!” quirky quips that have been ripped straight out of a subpar Marvel movie, and I hated every single one of them. It doesn’t help that while I’m sure that these idiots have voluminous and obsessively detailed backstories that are related in books, comics and other forms of spin-off media, Odyssey actually expects me to have read them and so doesn’t bother explaining who they are in-game. I suppose I should be thankful that I only had to deal with them for a couple of mercifully short scripted sequences, but these are brief enough that it raises the question of why Odyssey bothers with it at all.


Still, if you can ignore that, then Odyssey is a smashing success as a reinvention of the Assassin’s Creed franchise as a full-blown RPG Experience. Yes, I can point to nearly every single new idea that it has and then point to another recent game that that idea has been nicked from, but Odyssey introduces so many of them at the same time that it could have easily swollen into a bloated mess. As it happens there is a hint of bloat about the game, but what bloat there is comes more from the standard Ubisoft open world elements than it does the genuinely new stuff, and while the approach is a little scattershot and some pieces fly wide of the mark there’s enough that strikes home to make Odyssey feel like a substantially more joined-up experience than it really should do. That’s a real testament to the skill of Ubisoft Quebec in tying this assortment of new things together so well; Odyssey is not The Witcher 3, but then it’s not really trying to be, and even so the gap between the two, while still considerable, is much smaller than I was expecting. The worst thing I can really say about it is that Odyssey occasionally feels like it has to remind you that it’s still an Assassin’s Creed game, which is hugely counterproductive when it makes such a gargantuan effort to distance itself from what’s come before. That effort has paid off; my previous recommendations of Assassin’s Creed games have been extremely qualified, as I don’t think any of them (save perhaps Black Flag) were going to change the minds of anyone who didn’t already think Assassin’s Creed was going to be their thing. Odyssey’s recommendation, on the other hand, is going to be far broader: if you’re allergic to open world games then you should probably still steer clear, but if you like action RPGs, branching quest outcomes, non-linear routes through games and repeatedly punting people off of cliffs with your mighty boot, then you should, at some point, try Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

  1. As with all things there are exceptions to the rule; Ubisoft’s exception goes by the name of Beyond Good & Evil 2.
  2. Which is a very good decision. After the disaster that was Mass Effect Andromeda Bioware will likely never make another Bioware-style RPG, so there’s a significant audience out there for a series that picks up the baton.
  3. The other two are BattleTech and Into The Breach, so Odyssey’s achievement is all the more remarkable for not having any giant robots in it.
  4. This choice of playstyle may have been somewhat influenced by my recent experience with Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, which wouldn’t even acknowledge that that was what I was doing.
  5. An alternative, slightly kinder reading is that it was sour grapes over the very nature of Odyssey being Kryptonite to reviewing the thing on a deadline.
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4 thoughts on “Thoughts: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

  1. ilitarist says:

    I too played Origins and bought Odyssey mostly because of the setting. I was very surprised how good it is. I have an urge to clear out all the ? on the map and I never do that in an open world game. I like character progression and I’m even sad that I’m overleveled for all those quests that come my way because I explore all I can find. At the same time I know that the game is padded, you can’t just play main quest line unless you buy bullshit “time savers”. I was angry about it in Origins because the game felt boring outside of main quest and few grand sidequests.

    Playing on Hard/Nightmare difficulty feels right here, I can’t survive in a direct fight and there are people I can’t instakill even with upgraded stealth skills so I always have to combine approach to clear up those locations. And this XP boost for doing all objectives in a location is some sort of psychological warfare.

    It’s game is surprisingly good. Thank god we had Into the Breach and Pillars of Eternity 2 this year, but I’d better check out that Kingdom Come Deliverance and Battletech games to make sure that my game of the year is not a freaking Ubisoft open world game.

    • ilitarist says:

      …I remembered another game with an open world that made me look at map markers with anticipation. Just Cause 2. And it had a very similar thing with clearing up settlements/bases, and main quest was more or less gated, it forced you to earn rage or whatever it was called. JC3 moved away from that model. Hmmm.

    • Hentzau says:

      Kingdom Come is… interesting. It has some unsavoury politics –the main enemy faction is group of Turks who you cannot communicate with and cannot take prisoner, unlike all of the rather more conspicuously *whiter* enemies in the game — and the developers are apparently not very nice people, but ultimately I found the content to be no more objectionable than your average Tom Clancy game. (Which is to say, pretty objectionable, but I don’t understand why Tom Clancy games being full of neocon bullshit mostly gets a pass from people these days.)

      Now, as long as you’re aware of that, and you install the mod that gives you unlimited saves, and are in the mood for its brand of intentionally long-winded gameplay, Kingdom Come is a game that can be a lot of fun. The “authentic” combat system was probably the least interesting thing about it; it had some surprisingly good writing and neat spins on established genre concepts that I kinda wish had been in another game that I’d feel better about recommending people try. Kingdom Come itself is definitely in “buy when on sale” territory, but as long as you go into it with both eyes open it’s unlikely to disappoint.

      • ilitarist says:

        I certainly think of it as less polished Assassin Creed deal, will mostly launch it for historic down to earth feel as opposed to eye-in-the-sky historical experience of wargames and grand strategy games.

        Dev not being a nice guy is not that important because, just as you’ve rightly mentioned, most owners of big franchises would probably regard me – an Eastern European relatively poor guy sheepishly living under a dictatorship – as scum of the Earth anyway. And not that consuming some cultural product implying different views is somehow sinful and damaging, I’ve read Iliad and still not big on war, slavery and polytheism.

        So I hope for some good time with a peasant to knight story told in less fairy tale manner than usual.

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