Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the definitive Assassin’s Creed experience we have all been waiting for. It is the culmination of hard work and determination throughout the years where each iteration of the franchise has aided in perfecting each gameplay mechanic. Players will set sail on a journey that will leave a lasting impression for years to come.
A Greek Epic In The Making
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey takes place in 431 BCE with the onset of the Peloponnesian War where Sparta and Athens both fight for the dominion over Greece. This will be the first installment of the franchise where your character is not an assassin, but rather a mercenary departing on an Odyssey of self-discovery as you travel throughout Greece and encounter friends, enemies, and mythological creatures as you battle with weapons and speech to uncover the whereabouts of your family that was once established in Spartan society through strength, love, and unity. It is on this journey that many secrets will be uncovered and the truth will be exposed, shaking the very foundation of Greek society.
We are first introduced to a perfectly implemented tutorial that begins with playing as the famed Spartan King Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae against the Persian Empire. Here you are immersed by the intensity of the circumstances to even acknowledge that you are simply being introduced to various controls to familiarize yourself with combat, movement, and abilities. This was by far one of the most exciting and engaging tutorials I have ever experienced and it sets the game’s pace and emotional intensity that we can look forward to as we travel across Greece and the Aegean Sea.
Your story begins on the small Greek island of Kephallonia where we are introduced to the mercenary lifestyle your character has adapted to since arriving on its shores as a child. It is only fitting that we travel to Ithaca shortly after to retrieve the shroud of Penelope from the palace of Odysseus as if it were paying homage to a Greek legend before embarking on your own Odyssey. It is here we begin to understand that it is the choices we make that will create a memorable tale that will rival Odysseus’.
The Gods Let You Choose Your Own Destiny
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has evolved into an interactive story where your choices not only determine the outcome of the story, but they define the character that you choose to play. The first choice presented to you is whether to begin your odyssey as Alexios, or Kassandra. After that initial selection, every action you take will have an impact on how you are viewed within society. You can be a blood-thirsty mercenary who resolves all issues with a thrust of a weapon, or you can be an honourable soldier of Greece and only do what is best for your homeland. The freedom to choose is the driving factor behind Assassin’s Creed Odyssey as Ubisoft Quebec wants players to roam free and explore the beautiful world and narrative adventure that they created. Battles are fought on land, sea, and through narrative engagements. The outcome of certain decisions may not fully impact the story until hours later, but the knowledge of being sole responsible for an outcome weighs heavily on the soul. For example, on the island of Kephallonia, you encounter a priest with his guards who are about to murder a family suspect of carrying the plague. You are given the option to let them complete their task, or to rescue the family. I decided to kill the priest and his men and free the captives to only find out hours later in the game that the plague spread across the island because the family was set free. You will have to make difficult decisions, but they will be yours alone to make.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey offers players the ability to cater the experience to their desired preference starting with whether they want to select a guided adventure, which is the familiar Assassin’s Creed experience where a golden marker highlights the location players have to travel to, or the new exploration mode where clues need to be uncovered in order to gather information on where you are required to go to complete the objectives. Exploration mode is highly recommended as it adds a very satisfying element to the experience as the accomplishments from every completed objective is heightened due to the fact that you spent the time required to locate where to go. There are also an abundant amount of abilities available across the three main playstyles: hunter, warrior, and assassin. The hunter utilizes the bow to dispatch enemies from a distance, a warrior engages in close-combat, and an assassin exhibits a preference to overcome enemies without making them aware of your presence. Each playstyle houses numerous abilities that you can equip. Each ability offers its own advantage on the battlefield such as overpowering an enemy and removing their shield, Spartan kicking an opponent, raining down a flurry of arrows, fighting with the rage of Ares, and throwing your spear of Leonidas to assassinate victims from afar. It is recommended to continually switch between the abilities that are unlocked in order to fully explore every advantage you have in combat. Spartan kicking enemies around Greece was without a doubt the most cherished ability in your arsenal.
This Is My Spear. There Are Many Like It, But This One Is Mine
The roleplaying game elements continue to shine from Assassin’s Creed Origins as the inventory system has many pieces of armour to equip alongside your weaponry. There are minor changes as there is only one type of bow and the predator attack has become an ability instead and players will no longer wield a shield for defensive purposes, which I have mixed feelings about. Even though our protagonist is a mercenary, ancient Greeks relied heavily on a shield for its defensive capabilities, both in and out of a phalanx. While combat is exciting and rich, it would have been nice to give players the choice to decide whether or not to utilize a shield. Your arsenal is deep and welcomes various methods of attack through the use of a sword, daggers, axes, and spears. Each has their own significant advantage in battle such as the heavy weapons inflict more damage, but are slower, while spears offer a reach advantage against your opponent. It is best to experiment and utilize the arsenal to its full potential. You are also able to engrave weapons to give them an added boost in combat, but these might be best suited for end-game content. You will acquire a lot of weapons on your Odyssey and it is best to dismantle them as Adrestia upgrades will empty your wares.
Greece’s beauty is perfectly captured across the entirety of the map as every detail gives us a look at a civilization that is responsible for key elements of modern society such as democracy, medicine, and philosophy, to name only a few. The visual presentation and reconstruction of every aspect of Greek society embody the very essence and beauty that the period was known for. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the largest and most colourful title in the franchise to date. Travelling across its many beautiful locations will continually make you stop and enter the photo mode to capture the moment.
Molon Labe – Come And Take Them!
It seems interesting that a franchise that started as a stealth assassin experience where players would single-out victims to remove them as a threat has come to the opposite end of the spectrum and deliver full-fledged battles that contain hundreds of soldiers against one another. That being said, the execution of conquest battles is a welcoming change of pace that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has to offer. Every region is either under Spartan or Athenian leadership and players must first reduce the nation’s power through burning supplies, killing soldiers of the region, pillaging the main nation’s war chest, or killing the leader. Once that nation’s power is reduced, players are able to choose which nation to back by arriving at the appropriate camp and interacting with the commander. Witnessing a conquest battle is a spectacular sight and you can easily get distracted by killing normal soldiers, but this will result in an extended engagement. Your primary focus is to dispatch specific captains, leaders, and even other mercenaries to reduce their numbers and morale. These engagements are extremely enjoyable and each region’s conquest battle can be repeated. My only concern is there lacks a variety of conquest battle types as they all possess the exact game mechanics. The inclusion of a phalanx battle or a cavalry based battle would have created a much more immersive experience.
There have been many advancements in mission variety since the original Assassin’s Creed title where you primarily dealt with eavesdropping, tailing high valued targets, pickpocketing, and interrogation. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will have you travelling across all of Greece while completing the main storyline missions, but there are also numerous side missions, contracts, and bounties that players can enjoy without the idea of repetitiveness ever circulating within their mindset. It is also recommended to casually partake in the side missions as it will be the main source of acquiring drachma, resources, items, and experience to level up your character in order to continue the main story missions. Also, when you set sail across the Aegean Sea, you will encounter many islands that are self-sufficient and maintain their own individual stories and struggles that are separate from the main story. This level of immersion has yet to be experienced within an Assassin’s Creed title as it makes every Greek island and city feel alive and their daily lives continue with or without your intervention.
Sailing The Wine-Dark Sea
Assassin’s Creed Origins added a significant amount of new gameplay elements to the franchise, but a complaint across the community revolved around the lack of naval gameplay as there were only a handful of missions where you would play as Aya attacking Roman vessels. Ubisoft Quebec made note of this feedback and overhauled the entirety of the naval experience which rivals the adventures of Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The Adrestia, your trireme, comes equipped with a crew to hurl javelins and fire arrows at enemy vessels, but the real advantageous weapon is the ramming of enemy ships to cause heavy damage. Weakening an enemy ship to a critical state creates a vulnerable target where a final ram will tear the enemy vessel in two, or you can decide to board the ship and fight off the remaining forces to gain their loot and restore your ship’s health. The strength and importance behind ramming enemy vehicles are heavily dependent upon maneuverability in the open waters, especially when outnumbered. Utilizing the rowing of your crew to counter an enemy approach and then flank their position is a tactic that needs to be enforced in order to attain victory. Upgrading the Adrestia will also allow the recruitment of lieutenants that will not only add various bonuses to the Adrestia, but they will join you when boarding enemy ships. Several challenging ships roam the open waters waiting to be conquered and their difficultly is rewarded by offering epic rewards. Setting sail from one destination to another is by far one of the most enjoyable moments that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey offers as your crew utter Greek shanties as the Adrestia crashes through waves in the Aegean Sea, battling the anger of Poseidon himself.
A Good Deed A Day, Keeps The Bounty Hunters Away
The ancient world was filled with mercenaries who would offer up their services to be rewarded with a plentiful amount of coin, or drachma. In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the implementation of a wanted system punishes you for crimes committed visible to the populace that results in individuals sponsoring fellow mercenaries to begin the hunt for one of their own. This wanted system is tiered as more difficult bounty hunters will appear as you go up the ladder. These elite warriors possess their own specific tactics that need to be overcome in battle on land, or sea. You can also choose to pay off the bounty on your head or hunt down the sponsor who placed the bounty on you. Many memorable moments occur dealing with bounty hunters as they tend to arrive at the worst possible moment. There were several instances where I was killing several enemies for a quest and then two high-levelled bounty hunters appeared, resulting in a much more chaotic encounter. However, subduing these mercenaries and recruiting them to the Adrestia will add skilled warriors to join you on your quest.
Create Your Own Classical Adventure
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is its own classical work of art that will be talked about for many years. Ubisoft Quebec has created a world that is fully alive as each city and island have their own story to tell outside of the main storyline. Every choice made also impacts the outcome of your story and defines your character on the adventure. All gameplay elements are intertwined and complement one another in order to create an immersive gameplay experience that will vary for every player who embarks on their Odyssey. I have invested over thirty hours into my own personal Odyssey and yet it still feels as if I have only scratched the surface. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey comes with my highest recommendation and should be experienced by everyone.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]