Last updated on October 11th, 2018
Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey launched for all platforms this past Friday, October 5th. With its release, users have taken to the internet to find out whether the game “is worth it”, if it’s “better than Assassin’s Creed Origins”, or if it’s “simply Origins 2.0”. In this Review I’ll answer these questions as best as I can, and try to give you a fresh perspective. At the time of this Review I have played Odyssey for over 40 hours, on the hardest difficulty setting, and on the PS4 Pro platform.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Review: A Voyage in Time
Developed by: Ubisoft
Published by: Ubisoft
Release date: October 5th, 2018
Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
To give some background information, before we get into the guts of the Review, I have only played the first Assassin’s Creed title, and Assassin’s Creed Origins before this one. The reason for that, is I simply found the first game to be to repetitive and “grindy”, and so I kept a safe distance from the franchise. On top of that, Ubisoft has cranked out sequel after sequel, which made me even more weary. I’m generally not a fan of companies that have yearly releases of the same games, because this tends to promote quantity over quality.
However, when I heard about Origins I decided to make the plunge back in when I found the game half off on the PSN store. I was pleasantly surprised that it still had the same stealthy mechanics that I really enjoyed in the first iteration, but had added much much more to the things you could do. The addition of modest RPG elements, on top of a loot system that felt straight out of Destiny, had me somewhat intrigued. Fast forward 8 months later and we have Odyssey, a further installment that was promoted to be even more of an RPG than Origins, with the same type of systems.
The depth of Assassin’s Creed has always been the sore spot for me, but with Origins and Odyssey Ubisoft is heading in the right direction
Story & Setting
The game is set in Ancient Greece, circa 431 B.C. during the Peloponnesian War. This war was fought between the Athenians and Spartans, and you as the protagonist are placed squarely into the middle of this widespread conflict, which had a devastating impact on Greece itself. You can choose to assist either the Athenians or Spartans in “large” battles, aid either side by completing quests, or fight for both and ally with whomever is most convenient at the moment. These decisions are left up to the player.
For your character, you can select either of two siblings: Alexios or Kassandra, giving an option to play as male or female, which is something new to the series. Having been left for dead as a child, the game fast forwards to your adult life where you have become a “Misthios” or mercenary for hire. Tasked with the objective to kill someone from your past, you will uncover a cult plotting to bend all of Greece to its will. Twists and turns make up the better part of the game’s story, and I generally enjoyed seeking out clues to unravel the mysteries Ubisoft deftly wove. The story is relatively the same no matter which sibling you choose, however, as these two characters switch roles in the story depending on whom you choose.
Assassin’s Creed has always had an intriguing premise, and solid writing. However, when combined with the truly breath-taking setting of a wonderfully realized Greece, it takes the series to another level. The only other game that I can think of that pulls off a world of this size and scope with decent story telling is The Witcher 3. And while Odyssey isn’t quite that good, it’s certainly in good company being mentioned in the same breath.
In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey the player can take on optional quests available around the map, many of which involve clearing out outposts or camps of enemies. The game is designed in a manner to facilitate stealth take downs, much like previous titles, and the upcoming Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This allows the player to “thin out” enemies before engaging the remaining few in hand-to-hand combat. Combat is balanced in such a way that fighting many opponents at once can be very difficult, especially on harder difficulties like Nightmare, so it is expected that the player favors a stealthy approach to most scenarios.
Players gain Ability Points as they level up, to spend in one of 3 Ability Trees: Hunter, Warrior and Assassin. Hunters focus on Bow damage and gain special attacks with Bows. Warriors specialize in out-of-stealth combat, increasing the damage they deal, and gaining special attacks when doing so. Assassins prefer to kill enemies at arms length, and acquire abilities that facilitate this style of play. Players can spend points in any of these Trees at any time, and can respec their character for a small sum of gold. Each style of play is unique and interesting, and players will be able to dip a bit into each, making them well rounded if they wish.
In addition to the typical combat scenarios, players will also take part in “large” battles and will fight from their Ship on the Aegean Sea. Conquests are located through out the map that players can take part in for XP, gold and gear, fighting for either the Spartans or Athenians. More and more of these will unlock as you progress, and they can be repeated infinitely. In these Conquests you will not be able to use stealth mechanics, which will put some players at a serious disadvantage, and may have been an oversight by Ubisoft.
Ship battles occur on the Aegean Sea, where the player will fight other ships using Arrows, Fire Arrows and Javelins. You can sink these ships for more materials, which you will need to further upgrade yours, or you can choose to board them and fight their crew. Fighting the crew of these ships allows you to loot chests, and possibly even recruit some of the crew into your own. This isn’t a huge portion of the game, but you will spend a decent amount of time at sea, and you will need to become proficient in Ship operations in order to advance the game.
As players kill enemies, loot chests and complete quests they will acquire new Weapons and Armor. There are a variety of different weapon types, ranging from Spears to Daggers, and players can equip any they wish to test out with the only requirement being that you are at least the level of the weapon. Weapons have different attack speeds, reach and combos, and some Weapons are better suited for certain scenarios. For example, Swords can break through Shields with Heavy Attacks, making the effective against enemies using them.
There are multiple Armor slots for the player to equip, and each piece of Armor (and Weapons) come with special bonuses that improve your overall damage and affect what sort of “archetype” you will be playing. For example, if you only equip pieces of Armor with “+% Hunter Damage” then you will do exceptional damage with your Bow, but will have weaker melee and Assassin attacks. Taking this a step further, you can Engrave your Armor (and Weapons) with further bonuses, some of which even increase the damage of some Abilities specifically. This means finding equipment with bonuses to the type of play style that you prefer is key.
Weapons and Armor can be upgraded at Blacksmiths found on the map for materials and gold, allowing you to raise the level of equipment. While this isn’t something that is extremely useful early on, you will need to do this later when you start finding Legendary gear that you want to keep using as you level up and progress the game’s story. Because these upgrades take tons of materials, this will most likely be the biggest grind you will face in the game (besides leveling up).
Quests and Locations
There are many locations on the map to discover, and new quests pop up when you complete others in such a staggering number that it’s extremely overwhelming. Having played 40+ hours I have explored about 1/3 of the map, completing almost every quest that has appeared, but not all. These quests are not mind blowingly complicated, but they are much better than I expected, and do enough to keep you interested. Part of this is because some of them pair you with famous Greeks you may have read about in school, and it adds a little something special to the experience.
Graphics and Sound
On the graphical front, much like Origins, the game looks fantastic. I was playing on PS4 Pro on a 4k tv and the visuals are so good, that it’s hard to compare them to another game. The only recent game that I can think of that looks better is God of War, but it’s not far off and the scale of the rendered map, npcs and overall world play in AC’s favor.
Performance-wise, the PS4 Pro version is running at 30 FPS with very rare frame drops, and we encountered a few scenarios where a complete slowdown made us have to restart the app. This happened about three times in 40+ hours so it might just be a result of very lengthy play sessions in a massive open world.
The game’s music is forgettable but unobtrusive, providing a matching background for your adventures. Further, you can enjoy sailor songs in greek from both your male and female ship crews as you traverse the Northern Mediterranean Sea.
Lastly, one point of contention was the voice acting, which I found to be sub-optimal. Our chatroom’s commentary featured “cringy” as a description for the accents quite often, which is a shame as it may detract from the overall impression of the game.
“Is this game worth 60 usd?” and “Is it better than Origins?” are recurrent questions in our chatroom. The replies for me are simple: Yes, and Yes. Whilst the 60 dollar price may be steep for some users, those who like the Assassin’s Creed formula and want to spend a lot of time doing a lot of activities such as exploring, tracking down enemies and completing daily quests in endgame will find hundreds of hours of gameplay in a beautifully presented package. The game does improve on Origin’s initial approach to RPG elements by providing character selection and more customization options, a more interesting skill tree, and fun acquisition of lieutenants and such for naval battles.
Beautiful, interesting and expansive, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is an adventure worthy of its inspiration.
If you enjoyed reading this review be sure to check out some more our game reviews in Beast Of Winter Pillars Of Eternity 2 Deadfire Review – Dimensional Contingency and Vampyr Review – Taking A Bite Out Of The RPG Genre. You can also read some our previews for upcoming releases in The Surge 2 Preview: Stronger, Faster, Character Creation! and Knights Of Light Pre-Alpha Preview – A Middle East Medieval RPG.