The following is my personal review of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed below belong solely to me, and do not reflect the ideas, ideologies, or points of view of any organization I am potentially affiliated with. I have also produced a video review as follows, if you are keen to look at the gameplay footage.
Freedom in the Open World and Character Choice
I was initially puzzled why Ubisoft named the latest Assassin’s Creed an Odyssey. I quickly found out for myself within the first few hours of gameplay. Odyssey’s depiction of the historical Greek world is huge. The virtual playing field spans the entire Peloponnese region and its surrounding islands, set in a time of war between Sparta and Athens.
It is clear that a lot of thought and effort have gone into reproducing the Classical Greek World. Odyssey plays host to the biggest map we’ve seen in the history of the franchise. I have personally spent close to 50 hours completing the main storyline, and yet there are still numerous islands and areas I have yet to explore.
The attention to detail is impeccable. You will sometimes see wales swimming alongside as you sail from one island to another. Even the vast oceans conceal many sunken treasures, caves and ruins waiting to be discovered by you. Volcanoes, majestic Greek buildings in bustling cities, lush forests with rampaging bears — the world will definitely captivate both seasoned and new players of the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
The freedom to define your own odyssey is not just a concept confined to the open world. It is also present in your choice of characters. This is the first Assassin’s Creed game that has allowed you to choose between playing either as either Alexios or Kassandra — both with their own unique voice dialogues, although the content of the dialogues do not differ. I leaned towards playing as Kassandra as I found her voiceovers to be more engaging, on top of that fact you get to play as a female assassin for the first time in the franchise’s history.
Furthermore, you also experience freedom in terms of tweaking the game’s difficulty to your liking. The game’s ‘exploration mode’ removes the typical guided ‘waypoints’ and ‘objective markers’ on the map. Players have to then deduce where to head next, based on the descriptions of various destinations or clues provided by their quest givers. Alternatively, if this sounds too bothersome to you, you can also fall back on the guided quest system.
Freedom of choice can be found in almost every aspect of the game. You can choose at any point in time to pursue your main story quests, or work your way through some really engaging side quests — which brings me to my second point.
Well Presented Side Quests
In Assassin’s Creed Origins, the prequel to Odyssey, I personally felt that the side quests appeared too vanilla at times — most of them are along the lines of “kill X person”, “go here and loot this”, “find this”. Odyssey’s side quests are a great improvement over its predecessors, giving you the feeling that the lines between main quests and side quests are blurred. Many of the side quests that I have completed seemed to possess the same level of detail when it comes to voice acting, as well as interesting quests objectives.
In fact, I will even argue that there exists a significant amount of side quests that are the game’s most engaging content. For instance, as part of a side quest to learn more about the First Civilization, players will have to confront mythical Greek creatures such as the Sphinx and Medusa, in order to retrieve the required artifacts. All of these challenging encounters brings you closer to Assassin’s Creed vast lore and backstory. Without giving away spoilers, I would say this plotline seemed so critical to understanding the overarching story of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, that I was surprised it was left as a mere series of side quests in the game.
Engaging Combat System
Similar to the improved side quests, Odyssey took Origins first foray into a RPG-like way of character progression to the next level. For one, it has streamlined your combat options into three main skill trees — Hunter (ranged combat), Warrior (close quarters combat) and Assassin (stealth). You are allowed to reset your skill trees at any point in the game with some amounts of in-game currency, to tailor your build to your liking.
The skill trees of each specialization grants you special moves that you can deploy using a bow or any melee weapon. As you land successful blows on your unsuspecting foes, you start filling up an ‘adrenaline’ meter. You can then use up part of your meter to execute certain skills that you have specialized into. This can range from a powerful kick that can send your foes falling to their death from a cliff, an arrow that phases through walls and objects, to a shroud of concealment that allows you to sneak up behind enemies.
The customization of skill trees ensures that combat remains far from pedestrian, even when I am close to the end game. There is always room to deploy a new experimental strategy, especially when the game does not allow you to spam left click (attack) to victory. Certain foes require you to deploy a little more tact in defeating them.
For example, certain mercenaries who will hunt you down for bounty, are adept at long range combat and will try to keep a distance from your melee strikes. Gap closing abilities are valuable in scenarios like these. Other foes might carry a shield that can parry your normal melee strikes, resorting to you deploying shield-breaking abilities that you can spend skill points on.
Odyssey’s embrace of a more RPG way of presenting its combat system extends even to the gear and weapon you equip. Certain armour pieces grant you additional damage for certain abilities, as well as resistance towards a certain type of damage. Legendary armour set pieces also grant you additional bonus stats if you equip all the five pieces of a set — though be warned that collecting them involves a fair bit of work in hunting down certain key targets in the vast Greek world.
Pacing of the Main Quest Line
When I made a choice to only complete the main quests, I sometimes found myself a good number of levels below the recommended level for the subsequent main quests. I found myself spending considerable time outside of the main quests completing side quests in a bid to level up.
The vibrant world and polished delivery of the side quest experience helped in keeping the feeling of a boring slog for levels at bay for me. However, I can imagine some other gamers might find it an unengaging grind for levels, exacerbated by the fact that it takes considerable time to transverse between quest locations.
However, I personally think it is justified to pace the main quest line in such a manner. After all, as I highlighted earlier, the side quests in the game are where the game’s most engaging content lies.
On the whole, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey boasts a jaw-dropping journey through Greek history, made better with well-executed and witty voice dialogues. It will take you hundreds of hours to uncover everything the game has to offer, and there is rarely a dull moment in between your series of adventures. For fans of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, you are in for a treat.
Originally published at https://quazii.com on March 14, 2019.