-> SPOILER WARNING <-
“Look at that game, is it an Assassin’s Creed Game… No, it’s a RPG Game… No, it’s …”
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the latest main entry in the Assassin’s Creed Universe. Developed by Ubisoft Quebec, and published by Ubisoft. This is a game that takes player into the Ancient Greece, set in the year 431 BCE, amidst the ongoing war between Athens and Sparta. Taking Peloponnesian War as a backdrop for the game, to facilitate the player into deciding the course of war, while discovering the mystery behind why your character was thrown out of a mountain, (*while also discovering how Layla Hassan is stalking your said character through a animus-VR set).
Your character, which by the way you can choose from between Alexios and Kassandra, (* don’t worry, if you think you’re missing anything by choosing one character, you’re not, aside from NPC referring you by your gender, and the voice change) is a Greek mercenary (mistios), who is the descendant of Mighty Leonidas, the guy who is known for the famous SPARTA KICK from the Movie 300.
This game is something the whole fan-base is divided upon, this game is spiritual descendant of Assassin’s Creed Origins, which introduced the RPG Element in the Assassin’s Creed games, which was widely acclaimed by the AC fans and the casual RPG fans, but this game changes it up by giving the player choice, and also updating the combat system that was introduced in Origins. While some people loves the new RPG mechanics, some people hate that this series that was built upon historical accuracies and how Assassin fought the secret war against Templars discreetly throughout centuries, this game fundamentally contradicts the lore of Assassin’s Creed.
At the 11th major installment, the franchise now shows marks of identity crisis, but to be honest this money maker franchise by Ubisoft, needed some top to bottom re-evaluation, to prevent this franchise from going stale, was Odyssey successful, let’s discuss.
In the gameplay front, this game takes a lot from its predecessor, and improves upon it.
Ubisoft is known for making beautiful open world, and like many others this is not any different. In many ways this game looks more beautiful than any others, if you played origins you would know, how similar the assets look, but a difference in lighting, and having a game world so diverse, benefits the look of this game. To move along a mountain edge, and to see the sun set, and to look at the best water simulation in any game, to stand on a vantage point and to take the vast open world in front of you, that seems to go on from miles, is somewhat of its own experience. To add to the topping you have camera mode, from which you can take incredible photos, and you have the most amazing open world by Ubisoft.
Ancient Greece is huge, if the origins was boasted to be the largest last year, this one takes the cake this year, and to explore all the locations in map is an achievement on its own.
In this open world, you can climb almost everywhere and drop from any height (after upgrading leap of faith ability), that makes traversing easier, or you could just gallop in your trusty steed, Phobos, that can apparently become a Pegasus, so that you can just glide down high mountains, and if are bored of the island, just jump on your ship, Adrestia. Yes after a brief stint in Origins, ship traversal is back in Odyssey, and travelling in Adrestia through the Aegean Sea is amazing, and with dolphins following you, it would be a crime not to Photoshop a moment in the ship. From the start of the game the whole world of Ancient Greece is just waiting to be uncovered.
AC Odyssey have divided the quest structure into two main parts Main and Side, these two structures, also have sub-structures.
Main Quest line is divided into three parts:
- Family Quest line
- Cultist Quest line
- First Civilization Quest line
At first glance, these quests look like too much sugar in the coffee, but Odyssey manages to ties it off pretty nicely, every one of these quest were introduces at some part of the game, and sometimes these quest would intersect, every quest line has its own ending. More about this will be discussed in the STORY part.
Side Quests get a major upgrade, the inclusion of choices makes the side quest interesting, and worthwhile, side quest are also divided into
- Mercenary System
- 150 vs. 150 battle of domination
- Forts/ Outpost Capturing
- NPC’s having problems
- Oikos of the Olympian
Mercenary system acts depending upon your notoriety or just if you are actively hunting them down, there are 9 tiers of mercenary, which you can climb up by killing mercenaries to get better gears and less money spent on gears in merchant shops.
150 vs. 150 battle of domination while a good idea, is not properly executed, there’s a little explanation to some of these domination match, you can join any side, and while it can give you better loots and lots of XP, this mechanic could have been improved.
Contacts and NPC’s Troubles are just basic side quest some having lasting consequence, some are just fun.
Oikos are special currency which is taken by only one merchant who can give you legendary loots, these quests are marked with green crystal in the quest title.
If you have played Origins then you know what you are getting, this combat system is departure from the franchise’s known button mashing combat, and the much loved stealth mechanics, no longer your character hide in the shadows, or be the blade among the crowd, now your character can barely kill a chicken in one strike, this combat system requires positioning and actually knowing where to hit. Every weapon has a weight and have a different playstyle, encouraging you to know what weapons you are best with. Weapons include:
- Spear/ Trident
- Hammer/ Staff
- Bow and Arrow
The removal of hidden blade, iconic to the franchise, is bummer, but in place of that you get a broken spear of Leonidas, a piece of Eden, that is basically the explanation why your character can light his weapons on fire, dip it in poison mid battle, turn invisible, teleport, see through walls and not die falling from a long mountain.
Parry and dodging is the main moves to evade enemy attack and if timed correctly can trigger slo-mo which can help you kill the enemy while he slowly recovers.
The biggest problem coming from Origins, is that the enemies feel like butter or sponge, you can attack them all you want and see their health chip away slowly, bit by bit, and if the enemies are one level above you, their one big attack kills you instantly, and if in the middle of fight mercenary comes, just count your losses and runaway, the combat hence doesn’t feel balanced.
Stealth is the matter of nightmare, if you are stealthy player you are going to hate this game.
The biggest change in combat is using your abilities you unlock through the skill tree that uses adrenalin, and can be used to perform AOE, or elemental attack, or special bow attacks or just Sparta kick everyone from height.
For all the amazing thing in the open world, there are those moment when, you just think why after all these years, Ubisoft still loves to put marker everywhere in the map, granted it’s not in the extent of some game, say Unity, but to see the question marks all around the map, just steals the moment of organic discovery and prompts the player to check out and complete the mini objectives, that every one of this places have.
Ubisoft also continues to hold your hand till halfway through the game… Oh, never mind they introduced Exploration mode, which is pretty cool, until the game tells you to go east, when you need to go west.
Ubisoft have come a long way since Unity, they are really careful, I know, but still there are bugs down the road, that does not hamper the gameplay, but still… nit-picking.
My biggest problem with the game is with the polish of the game and the biggest contributor of this problem is because of the two different character you can choose from, somewhere down the playthrough, you can feel that this scene is not meant for this character, or the conversation feels cold because the voice actors playing the role needs to emulate each other, so they can’t bring their charm to the role, so not to play too differently than the other actor, the biggest reason Bayek, or for that reason Ezio and Edward Kenway, feels unique, is because their voice actors had the freedom to add unique traits to the character. But Ubisoft is going down the road of giving player the control of the character, and with doing so it removes the personality of individual character and you look like an after-thought addition to the beautifully developed world.
I know that this game took 3 years and was working alongside Origins to give the full RPG experience, but the character movement, style, facial animations feels a bit like Origins with a little sprinklers on the top, so I know that people are going to nit-pick this, but in all fairness there is a time when comparisons will cease between the game.
Next nit-pick was not a great issue in my playthrough, but some people would find the grinding a little bit frustrating, quests are level-capped so if you don’t do any side quests, at a point you will get stuck doing a load of them in once. Side quests are overall a great improvement, but doing a load of them in once would not be favorable.
Assassin’s Creed explores a very ambitious story, through three different story lines, which very engaging, but straight out bizarre sometimes, the story follows a good pacing and keeps player attention through plot twists and quiet moments, the biggest change though is the choice and consequence, which gives player control over cutscenes and allow player to have some hilariously stupid conversation. The Greek world is known for stories and through this game you discover some of its finest.
CHOICE AND CONSEQUENCE
This feature is the advertisement of the whole game, so does it holds itself? Well, while I loved having choices in this game, the voice acting would generally sometimes takes me out of the moment, or just like I said the character would be emulating the dialogue, which sometimes feels out of place, and most of the choices are just cosmetic.
Consequences are only for some for the choices you make, while the results are amazing, generally if want to make the right choice, don’t pick the one marked red. While some choices have heavy weight, some choices have subtle changes, so overall Odyssey delivers on this mechanics.
Romance is introduced in the game, but if you are hoping something out of Witcher 3 or Mass Effect Trilogy, you would be disappointed, the romance feels creepy and lifeless, with no weight of relationship. But if you love old women, wife of a Spartan leader, or someone who’s obsessed with Odysseus, this is right up your alley.
Our hero goes on the journey to find his/her mother, after he/she learns that the father who raised her is not her father, to find out where it all began and leave that part of the life behind him/her.
While in Kefalonia, our hero finds a mysterious man who offers him/her a chance to leave the life and tasks him/her with killing the wolf of Sparta, who our hero learns is his/her father. After confronting his father, our hero kills Elpenor, and finds a mysterious object. While searching for his/her mother we find that there’s a group of cultist called the cult of cosmos, who wanted to kill his/her mother, and is responsible for all the mishaps for our hero’s life. So our hero takes it upon himself to kill every last one of the cultist.
FIRST CIVILIZATION QUEST
After our hero finds his/her mother, his/her mother tells us about our hero’s real father, who’s apparently been living under a rock (uh… Volcano, I mean), hero’s father is revealed to be Pythagoras, who was immortal, because of a piece of Eden, the Staff of Hermes, and tells him that he’s been trying to find a way to seal the portal to Atlantis, as Humankind was not ready, to do this our hero needs to find four pieces of Eden that can complete the job.
And apparently our modern day protagonist Layla is looking something like the staff of Hermes that can bend laws of physics, so she sets out to the same location where our Hero went, and meets our Hero, who’s been alive for around 2500 years, and he/she passes down the staff to Layla, who he/she said, will need it.
Overall the I think the AC Train, Odyssey was riding is perhaps the only thing dragging it down, it’s a really good game, that could have used a little bit polish, but I would really recommend this game, if you’re a fan of RPG Game, or simply a good single player title with a good story.