With Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on the cusp of release, you’d be forgiven for wondering if Ubisoft’s latest effort is worth your time and money. Here are seven reasons it might very well rank among the better games of this year.
Not Just Another Assassin’s Creed Game
A criticism often leveled at Ubisoft is the year-in year-out relentless release of Assassin’s Creed titles. Though we’d be at odds to disagree, last year’s Origins turned the tides with probably the best narrative the series has ever seen, a genuinely immersive open world, and a fun-factor not seen since the heady days of Assassin’s Creed II when the franchise was in its infancy. To boot, Odyssey was developed in tandem with Origins by a completely different team at Ubisoft’s studio in Quebec and has been in the works for at least three years. Odyssey isn’t simply a yearly copy and paste job of Origins, but a bona fide project that takes what worked in Origins and builds upon it.
Bang For Your Buck
Odyssey is huge, that much we’ve gathered. With well over 100 hours of main story, side quests, smaller interspersed events and much more, Odyssey tiptoes into The Witcher 3 territory with how much there is to do. Alongside this, early indications suggest much of this content is of a reasonably high standard without any tedious filler as was often the case in pre-Origins Assassin’s Creed. You’ll of course encounter that classic AC brand of tracking and assassination missions, it comes with the territory. We’d be lying if we didn’t say that Odyssey seemingly merits its triple A price tag.
Sailing The Seven Seas
Well, to be exact sailing a vast recreation of the Aegean Sea peppered with a smorgasbord of islands of varying sizes. The land masses aren’t however in focus here, it is instead how you travel from one to the next. Borrowing heavily from what made Black Flag one of the more enjoyable Assassin’s games, Odyssey puts you in change of the sturdy Adestria ship. Recruiting a crew by picking up enemies you’ve just unceremoniously bludgeoned to near death, engaging in tactically intense naval battles, and personalizing your ship with upgrades and cosmetics puts sailing the seas in a whole new light and forms one of the more enjoyable features of the game.
Choices and Consequences
Odyssey is a breathing, living world where actions have consequences from being a little too murderous with the NPC populace and triggering a bounty on your head, to helping out the locals with various tasks to garner admiration and respect. There’s a real sense the choices made have an impact linking them to events across the world. Marry this to Ubisoft taking a degree of liberties when it comes to historical accuracy, but not enough to make the context feel outlandish or misplaced. There’s a genuine feeling the developers preferred to craft compelling quests with vibrant characters rather than mold the game to the prerequisites of Ancient Greek history.
Though Odyssey does corral players to certain areas in keeping with their current character level, jumping from mission to mission doesn’t feel like a linear, orchestrated experience. Rather the main story flows into side quests more or less organically, diminishing the strenuous boredom that tends to emerge from open world games as you simply travel from one point to the next to complete A and B. Stumbling across something to do feels natural and in keeping with where the game’s narrative is at that point in time. Mix in a host of characters that have clearly benefited from creative and fun-orientated writing rather than being a means to an end, you can’t help develop a certain attachment to the villages and larger conglomerations as you revisit them later. They are remembered for the people rather than as the place where you had to acquire item X, for example.
Everything’s So Beautiful
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a looker, not doubt about that. Although capped at 30 FPS on console (which all being said is fairly common), Odyssey is stunning from the way the setting sun reflects on chalky outcrops, to Ubisoft’s persistent wizardry when it comes to water, and the convincing facial expressions during cut scenes. There are issues, stutters, clipping, NPCs doing weird stuff. We are talking about a Ubisoft game after all, but the overall look and feel is at times wondrous. The way a steed’s mane flows from side to side in keeping with the direction of travel and the predominant winds is a thing of splendor as are countless other detailed animations peppered throughout Odyssey.
Red Dead Redemption 2
For those for whom the battle royale craze is starting to wear thin, this month is about two games: Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. And though they are inherently different games with vastly opposed settings and mechanics, there’s a sense they fall more or less in the same ballpark when it comes to which gamers they will attract. As such, for those of us who are torn between these two titles, the choice becomes a hard one. To which game are we willing to dedicate our precious gaming time, especially as both are huge games? Until recently, my mind was firmly set on Red Dead Redemption 2. However, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has made significant inroads in recent days for all the reasons listed above.