Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Review (Xbox One X)

Preface*** I’m sorry guys. I feel I let you all down. I feel like I let myself down a bit too. I tried and tried to grind out the full story for this review but I was unable to make it happen. This game is literally the biggest game that Ubisoft has brought out. Most of the Assassin’s Creed games in my experience I can hammer them out in a weekend. In fact, I’ve done every single game in the franchise over the course of a weekend. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen with this one. Not because I didn’t dedicate enough time to the game though. I literally woke up between 2-4am most days since I got it to try and get through as much as I could to bring you the best content I could provide but even still, I was unable to complete the game to a level that I’m happy with(thought some part of me is ecstatic about that – Read on to see why).

Assassin’s Creed has undergone some massive changes in the last couple years. After a few less than stellar installments, the team at Ubisoft clearlyfelt it was time to make some big changes. One of those changes was to get away from the annual releases to a more bi-annual release. They took some time off after 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. 2016 gave us a remaster of the Ezio collection and then we finally got a taste of the new direction with 2017’s  Assassin’s Creed Origins. A big bold move with a deeper RPG like feel and an absolutely epic story. In my opinion Origins was easily the best AC game since the the introduction of Ezio. Enter a rather surprise announcement that 2018 is going to bring us Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Does the latest in the series continue to drive us forward in the right direction? Come along with me.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey puts players in the role of either Kassandra or Alexios who are living life as mercenaries in ancient Greece about 400yrs prior to the events of Origins right around the times of the Peloponnesian war, a long drawn out battle between Athens and Sparta as they fight for control over all of Greece. A perfect backdrop for a Assassin’s Creed game filled with social and political unrest, and wars on both the land and sea. Regardless of which character you choose to play, they are both playing to the same narrative. If there’s a romantic option for Alexios, you’ll still experience the same option for Kassandra. The character models are masterfully crafted and their facial animations just feel so realistic. Their eyes shift in a natural way when talking to someone and their faces are full of character and emotion. A job well done.

They’ve given the player a great number of choices on how to play Alexios and Kassandra’s stories. Interestingly, on your adventure, you will at times be faced with making some more difficult morale decisions. Do you kill the traitor to Sparta or let them go with a warning? One such decision was to either save or kill a family with small children who were the last surviving members of a small town which had been infected with a plague like illness. The needs of the few or the many? Each decision has it’s own consequence and will come back to you in some manner. I chose to kill them and prevent further spread of the illness. It had directly affected the way a certain NPC interacted with me later on in the game. Had I opted to save them perhaps they would have been OK… perhaps not. I do look forward to my second playthrough to see what may come of it.

Odyssey is without a shadow of doubt the biggest and boldest installment they’ve ever released. The sheer size of the map is absolutely staggering. The world is just gorgeous. You’ll find all kinds of beautiful awe inspiring vistas, white marble political buildings, deep dark caves, huge statues and everything in between. Further to all the spaces to see on land, the Aegean sea is full of wonder and beauty as well. While sailing the sea, you’ll encounter pirates, sunken ships and all manner of sea life including whales what jump out of the water and swim next to your ship. The entire world truly feels alive and you’ll find yourself marveling at it all and wanting to take pictures with the built in camera mode. I myself have easily taken about 100 images.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey isn’t just a pretty face though. The team at Ubisoft Quebec has made this game so much deeper than any previous game. Naval combat is back and just as fun as ever. If you’ve played Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, then you’re going to feel right at home with Odyssey. When you decide to attack another ship, you’ll ram them, launch a barrage of arrows or spears in an attempt to disable the vessel. From there you can either decide to sink it or board it to finish off the remaining crew members and take whatever precious cargo they may have stowed away. Upgrading your boat is done from the menu screen. You are no longer required to dock the ship and find a wharf master. Here you’ll see a variety of options for leveling up your archers, the strength of your hull and other options of that nature. One such change is whether or not you want to play in the guided or exploration mode. Exploration mode is really what it sounds like. Instead of you having a clear idea of where you need to go, you’ll instead be given clues as to where your next stop should be and you just go there on your own and find what you need. I chose this method as it was what we had been suggested to us and I’m really glad I did. It just forces you to think a little and spend some time exploring the world. A very welcome addition to the series and I hope to see this as the standard going forward.

Collecting resources is a vital component to Odyssey. The resources are needed for just about everything. From upgrading your boat to finding a blacksmith to upgrade your weapons and armor. So be sure to always be grabbing up those important pieces. The Blacksmith can upgrade your weapons provided you meet the minimum requirements and have the right resources in your inventory. And now you can also engrave your items to give yourself bonus perks. It’s basically the same as any RPG where you can embue your weapons or armor for a bonus like gaining +4% to your assassin damage. While we’re on the topic of equipment, you’ll quickly see that the team at Ubisoft Quebec didn’t skimp out. I have no idea just how many weapons or armor pieces there are but you’ll always find new equipment all with varying degrees of rarity.

Odyssey has a new notoriety system to help keep you in check. Stealing drachma from the townsfolk? Don’t expect to get away with it for long. Soon you’ll have earned enough of a bad reputation that other mercenaries will come after you to collect the bounty that’s been placed on your head. They’ll come after you at the most inopportune time. And they’ll keep coming if your reputation is bad enough. You can choose to kill them as I typically do but you can also pay off the bounty to call off the hounds. I’ve done this more than a few times because I typically end up in a world of trouble with them while completing a mission or taking out a fort. As you level up and take down more mercenaries, you’ll catch the attention of higher level legendary mercenaries in your quest

Another new addition to Odyssey is the ability to wage war….or nation power. The most effective way to lower a nation’s power is to kill their leader but you can’t just waltz into his backyard and kill him. No he’s well defended and you’ll need to weaken his defenses this can be done by killing his soldiers, burning their war supplies and pillaging national treasures. Once you’ve weakened a nation sufficiently enough, the next step is to head into battle with them. These battles are called conquests. And no matter which side you choose whether it’s the Athenians or Spartans both sides will offer you epic gear as reward. If you opt to be on the defensive side of things, the battles are easier than being on the attacking front and will offer fewer rewards. All this to say you can play both sides of the coin should you choose. I chose to fight for Sparta. There are no more quick and dirty assassinations here. You’re a soldier in the trenches fighting along side your fellow soldiers. At the top of the screen is a health meter. You need to whittle down their meter before yours does.

As I stated above I’ve yet to complete the main campaign despite all my best efforts but in the 25 hours I’ve spent in ancient Greece, I think I’ve experienced enough of all the major components of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. It’s easy to see the love and care that the team from Ubisoft Quebec have poured into this game. The world is vibrant and full of life, the missions are plentiful and fun. It never felt remedial to me while trying to get through the campaign. Odyssey is just an epic… Odyssey. There is absolutely nothing about this game that I don’t love and if you’re a fan of the series or perhaps you’re a newcomer, you’re sure to find things to love here too.

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