If Assassin’s Creed Origins was a half-step away from the stealthy foundations of the series, Odyssey is the completion of the attempts of Origins. Gone are the slow stalking, meticulous gathering of vital information to find your target and in its place is a sprawling and stunning open world Role Playing Game. While they may disappoint long-staying fans of the franchise, Odyssey is an incredible journey across ancient Greece that puts itself up there with some of the greatest RPGs ever released. It’s massive, sometimes bloated, but always fascinating.
As soon as you start the game, you are prompted with playing the game in two ways: [exploration] or [word]. Right away, it gives the sense that this is a very different game to previous iterations as the modes emphasizes the sense of exploration rather than a more intimate city structure. The fact that the game recommends exploration mode means they are moving away from the hand-holding, map markers, and stealth gameplay.
For the first time in the series, Assassin’s Creed lets you choose between a male or a female character: Alexios and Kassandra. This does not change the storyline in any major way but it allows for much better opportunity for expression of the character you want to be in the game, which is further enhanced by the new dialogue options that are available to the series for the first time.
As you explore ancient Greece, you can interact with hundreds of characters. Some of them will have conversations with you and you have the choice as to how to approach the conversation. If it is quest-based, you can open up multiple approaches like trying to learn more information about the quest, the destination, or the person you are looking for. In some scenarios though, you can try to talk your way out of battle or just cut the chase and take them out. This approach also allows the character you choose to have more personality, especially given the fact that you get to decide how they approach any given situation.
As already mentioned, exploration is key in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and they offer enough tools to enjoy getting around. Right from the beginning, you are given a horse to explore land the and the ingenious automatic travelling to a given checkpoint allows for you to multi-task or just enjoy and the absolutely stunning visuals. Not too long into the game, you are also given your own ship and exploring the seas to reach dozens of islands is just an absolute blast to play.
While Origins started to take the series in a new direction while keeping the location and setting authentic in the main game, Odyssey removes itself from being as authentic as possible and honestly it’s better for it. Spending dozens of hours playing through a game, taking on dozens of quests, it would getting pretty dull quickly if they were held back by trying to be authentic. While it worked in Origins because of the length of the game and the source material, the supernatural elements were held off in the main game and were instead introduced in the paid DLC. In Odyssey, the supernatural elements and mythos is introduced throughout the game and it was a much more enjoyable journey have that extra element to the characters, locations, and enemies.
Throughout your time exploring Ancient Greece and its island, you will come across plenty of opportunity to explore caves, take out camps, swim into deep waters for find the wreckages of ships, and so much more, you will win gear and valuable loot that you can sell, wear, and upgrade. Each item has a level as well as a number of stats that cumulate into an overall stats for warrior, hunter, and defense. This can utilised to make your character stronger in one regard or another in order to suit your playstyle. If you want to play more stealthily, put more into your hunter stats.
As you level up, you will unlock skill points which are used to add variety to your style of play. This skill tree is similar to Origins’s but feels much more refined. However, some of the skills add much more fantastical abilities to your character like essentially teleporting to perform an assassination and dropping from a ridiculous height. However, adding variety at the cost of realism is a welcomed sacrifice.
The main struggle in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the war between Sparta and Greece and as a mercenary, you are free to choose a side. Each area of the game, which is broken up and gated by levels that you may need to be in order to survive against any enemy and held by one of the nations. You can leave them there as is or you can start taking out captains, clear bases, and complete tasks in order to reduce the nations power and allow for an attack from the opposition in order to give them total control in the region. In all honestly, it never felt like it added much to it as you could freely attack either side and as a mercenary, you have no allegiance.
The whole package, as you can probably image from the above paragraphs, means that AC Odyssey is a massive beast of a game that sometimes feels bloated with features and content but when the stride hits just right, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better open world Role Playing Game since 2015’s The Witcher 3.
You can spend hours exploring an island, helping out the locals, completing tasks on the board, or simply explore the land to find every little secret. Or you can simply set sail to the open water, taking down enemies, building your skills, improving your ship through a thoroughly impressive upgrade system, and become king or queen of the seas. You can also simply power through the campaign and be told an expansive, well written and acted story pulling from some of the greatest historical minds and stories in a thrilling narrative that never felt like it was not going to be anything other than enjoyable. Or you can simply just become a mercenary, taking down those that oppose you in a nemesis-like system that keeps enemies in the open world feeling fresh.
Regardless of what you decide to do, there’s tons of content to suit every player of every style and while Ubisoft have possibly walked away from the series’ roots, it’s set it’s flag down on the open-world Role Playing Game in an extraordinary fashion. This is one massive, expansive, and beautiful world to explore and is possibly the best the series has even been, even if it doesn’t look or play the same!