Ubisoft’s uber-popular game franchise Assassin’s Creed faced a huge issue, it was growing stale with fans. Acknowledging that glaring problem, the studio decided to take some time off and rethink things with the game and came back strong with 2017’s Assassin’s Creed Origins taking players to Ancient Egypt and switching up the game’s style a bit. Soon after leaks sprang that the follow-up would take place in Ancient Greece much to fans delight, but we had no idea we were getting a game on such a large scale that would make Homer himself proud with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
The game places you in the middle of the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta. If you are a fan of the Gerard Butler-led film 300 based on the story of a group of brave Spartan soldiers led by the great warrior/King Leonidas you are immediately in for a treat as the game takes cues from that story. From there we are quickly introduced to what makes this game so much different from its predecessors, and that is it’s more RPG like feel and focus on choice.
Choose Your Character
For the first time ever in an Assassin’s Creed game, players can choose whom they want to tackle this epic with. You can either play as the male character Alexios or the female protagonist Kassandra who are both descendants of the legendary Spartan, King Leonidas. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn your sibling is chosen to be sacrificed, but you try to stop it resulting in both the death of your sibling and another man. You are immediately sentenced to death and suffer the same fate as your sibling but you manage to survive the fall, and we meet you later on as an adult setting up your adventure as you seek the truth as to what happened to you and your family.
A Massive New World To Explore
Immediately you will be blown away at just how massive the world of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is. Ancient Greece is teeming with life whether it be NPC’s who have fantastic personalities thanks to stellar voice acting, wildlife, vegetation, and beautiful locations. Your character can either navigate the world by foot, horse or boat which is really the primary mode of transportation to take you to each island spread across the large map. The game features a new exploration mode which Ubisoft recommends you play the game using that pushes players to explore the world rather than guided travel from previous games.
Once you hit the high seas, you will be impressed to see the detail put into this section of the world. As you set sail you will notice dolphins swimming alongside your vessel, whales breaching and sharks lurking. Like in Origins there are day/night cycles which can be used to your advantage and changed by meditating. While sailing the weather can switch up on you as well with Zeus and Poseidon’s wrath coming down on you in the form violent storms that will have the seas raging as you navigate them to your next destination.
No One Way To Play
As mentioned before Assassin’s Creed Odyssey utilizes role-playing elements. Your character will level up by gaining experience points from completed quests. While leveling up, you will gain ability points you can use to teach Alexios or Kassandra specific abilities like for example the Spartan kick which is sure to be a favorite among players. The best part of this new system is that there is no one way to play as you can you choose on the fly depending on the situation how you want your player to progress in the game whether it be a hunter, assassin or fighter.
Odyssey also features a new gear and weapons system that allows you to upgrade your equipment so you won’t have to get rid of that particular sword you have grown fond off. You can also add perks to the weapons by earning “engravings” that add bonuses to your armor and weapons.
Your Decisions Will Impact The Game
The choices you make in the game will have direct consequences on your journey. Ubisoft stresses there is no right or wrong decision in the game, but it will affect your story in a particular way. For example, one quest will need you to either elect to save a family who is about to be killed to stop a plague from spreading or to mind your business and keep it moving. If you chose to protect them, your conscience might feel good, but in doing so, the disease does spread to other parts of the world. That’s just one of the many, many choices you will have to make in the game as the story progresses.
Other New Features
While playing you will also have the choice to choose which warring faction you want to help whether it be the Spartans or the Athenians. You will be tasked with missions to help lower either factions grip on a specific location. Once all the conditions are met, you will be able to partake in a conquest battle which is an all-out brawl between the two the factions with hundreds of characters on the screen at one time. Depending on your location you can either be on the defending faction or the attacking faction.
The action also doesn’t only take place on land, you will engage in fun battles with pirates, Spartans, and Athenians while traveling by boat. The naval battles are fun, and once you cause enough damage to the enemy vessel, you will be given the option to board to engage in combat. Each triumphant victory during a naval battle earns you experience so you can level up your boat by strengthing its defenses, your crew which you can add lieutenants during your journey as well as cosmetic updates.
Your actions though won’t go unnoticed if you make enough noise across the land with your deeds a bounty will be put on your head. A mercenary will be hired to hunt you down either by land or sea and will zero in on your location if you steal or kill soldiers or civilians. You can elect to take on the mercenary that is hounding in battle or just pay off the bounty, and they will go away. It’s worth taking them on because its very challenging and you are rewarded with epic gear for dispatching your pursuers. It’s very reminiscent of Middle-Earth: Shadow of War’s nemesis system.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey continues the streak of great games to hit systems in 2018. Ubisoft stepped up to the plate and brought new life to their prized video game franchise. If you have never played an Assassin’s Creed game, you could start with Odyssey and wouldn’t miss a thing because it feels like an entirely new game. The focus on choice, role-playing elements, a great story full of twists and turns, tons of different quests and side missions and urging players to actually go out and explore the world ensures players engagement with the game will last for a long time. It almost feels as if you are getting more bang for your buck with this game and $60 was a steal. We haven’t even played post-launch content yet. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the best game in the franchise since Assassin’s Creed II and if you will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t add this game to your collection.
Photo: Bernard Smalls PS4 Share/ Assassin’s Creed Odyssey