I’ve have Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey on my Steam wishlist for a while, and it recently went on a big sale with all the DLC. I did play Origins, and found that world massive, busy, and bland. I mean, there’s only so much you can do in a desert in terms of visuals, right? In terms of potential though…jeebers that game was chocked full.
Odyssey, so far (level 20) is what happens when a company is in the refinement phase of a product. The world is absolutely massive, and the NPC coding here is astounding. Athens alone takes nearly 10 minutes to cross and every NPC is doing something. Greece is an island nation, so the ship play is more in line with AC:4, and there are plenty of ships abound.
What really takes the cake here is the amount of choice presented. Sure, you have the traditional minimap icon-fest in all Ubisoft games, but the actual locations are much more thought out and purposeful. Forts aren’t just there for plundering, but work into a larger political game to challenge local leaders, and then a battle for supremacy. Crafting loot has been dramatically simplified, meaning that Alpha animal kills are as much for their material as they are for the large loot chests in their caves. Speaking of caves, they now have much more vertical space to play in. There are fewer tombs (yay!), which makes each new one an interesting adventure rather than the same old device.
And it’s good looking. Good golly, there are some spots where you just completely stop what you’re doing to just stand still. And you realize that every single bit of it was placed/built by someone. The world building team here is simply amazing.
That said, there’s still an experience level factor here. Anyone 2 levels from you is going to be very challenging. 5 levels and you will die in 1 hit. The main quest line is not sufficient to keep you at the right level, so you’ll need to do other things. At least the other things are fun and varied.
There’s the same lead choice as in ME, either male or female. I took Kassandra, who looks like a cross-fit champ. I’ve taken a look at the male alternatives in videos… I made the right choice for me. Hats off to the devs to have the character’s names spoken aloud – no Commander Sheppard here.
There’s a weird balance between meaningful and busywork. here that I did not find in Origins. You can still take a 2 hour detour of things to do while on a main quest. I’ve done it enough. But the things you are doing in the middle of nowhere have an impact on the rest of the world (sidequests, engravings, mercs, cultists, nation power). Maybe it’s the bird.
Let’s talk about that for a bit. The Batman games have a fundamental problem – most people only play with the Detective Mode on. That allows you to see bits of scenery and enemies based on purpose. Grates you can enter, enemies with guns or stuns, and so on. Seeing this with your regular eyes is all but impossible… just as it’d be damn hard to do in real life. It’s cool and all, but it’s a crutch of game design.
AC games have had a similar, though temporary mode. Still there now, but it’s practically useless in open spaces. Origins gave you a scouting bird to sort of enhance that feature. It was a neat gimmick, but not much past that since it was still open fields. Here though, it’s vital for any large enemy base, since it’s mostly closed walls. Identify all the enemies and targets, methodically make your way through. Controls are a lot tighter now too. It’s detective vision since everything is tagged, but you still see the real world.
Quests. There are simply too many to track, and the menu to do so is straight out of the late 90s. They are generally better than previous games, but if you do any exploration before picking them up, odds are the locations are empty by the time you go back.
Combat is much improved on Origins. Same inventory system of gear, but now you have stats on each piece that tends towards ranged/melee/assassination damage. With 8 pieces, you’re looking at ~100% more damage of a given type if you slot accordingly. You need to do this if you want to 1-shot any enemy with a bow. You should do this if you want to 1 shot enemies with assassination. Melee is honestly an afterthought since the wide majority of damage will comes from a single assassination skill (Hero Strike). I will say that kicking someone off a mountain, that doesn’t get old. I find it more varied than previous entries, and depending on the enemy type, even 1v1 battles can end poorly. Rather impressed, truth be told.
Overall, the game takes the foundation/re-build that Origins put out and improves on nearly every single aspect. Looking objectively at what Ubisoft crammed into this game really makes you wonder how big their dev team is. There’s a case to be said that there’s too much here, and the amount of time required to consume it all is probably on-par with MMOs. As a distinct game, it’s insanely impressive. As a gauge of game development, if the next game has the same delta improvements as between Origins/Odyssey, I truly struggle to imagine what that would include.