Assassin's Creed Odyssey (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 13.10.2018 2

Review for Assassin

The previous game may have been entitled Origins, but this instalment travels far further into history. Origins was set around 40 B.C., but this goes all the way back to the Peloponnesian War, circa 400 B.C. The tale in Assassin's Creed Odyssey follows one of two possible protagonists, Kassandra or Alexios, siblings from the bloodline of Leonidas himself. After a familial disagreement straight out of a Greek tragedy, the chosen sibling is cast out of the Spartan life and finds their way into the life of a Misthios, a mercenary of sorts. Their latest job returns them to that family and beyond that to a secret cabal hellbent on ruling the world, some magical artefacts, some famous figures from history, and a whole lot of assassinating, even if it's without being called an assassin.

Right off the bat, it's important to know that whichever sibling is chosen, the story sadly doesn't change. Whoever is chosen becomes the older sibling and the backstory plays out identically; in fact, as the story progresses the cut-scenes have the voice actors of Kassandra or Alexios saying the exact same lines word for word... It's a shame, as a little distinction and uniqueness would give a reason for a second playthrough as the other character - something that would have worked well as a New Game+ mode. Regardless, it's always nice to see a female protagonist offered up, and here she happens to have the better voice actor, too.

Regardless of which sibling, the story opens on a little island where the protagonist is surviving - just about - by doing simple tasks and getting paid for it. They have built up a makeshift family of dodgy characters and have some trouble with the local Cyclops, but life doesn't seem too complicated… until a shady sleaze-ball turns up with a huge purse of coins for a simple task. After taking his coin, his next task seems a little trickier: tracking down a Spartan general known as the Wolf, also known as "Dad," and taking his head. This is about three hours into the game and here the title screen splashes up, and from here, the story begins.

Screenshot for Assassin's Creed Odyssey on PlayStation 4

That story is an absolute epic. It's a word that gets overused, but it's fitting here considering the setting and the scale. To dig too much would be to ruin the surprises and developments that make this tale special. There may be no Assassins or Templars here, but that doesn't mean there isn't a grand evil organisation to chip away at. This time it's in the form of the Cult of Kosmos. Odyssey takes a leaf out of Origins' playbook and delivers a secret cult of masked enemies to track down. This list of enemies is displayed in a similar menu screen, but now each of the major heads of the cult has subordinates who have to be unmasked to finally reveal who they are working for, and revealing each of the major heads then reveals their final leader. It's a nice mechanic and works even better by only revealing the minor characters once certain conditions are met, usually completing quests in their home turf.

Also on the topic of significant enemies, Odyssey takes inspiration from the Shadow of War games' Nemesis system. Once again, like Origins' Phylakes: committing crimes, killing, stealing, trespassing, injuring civilians, all builds up a meter of five little helmets in the bottom corner of the screen and also builds up a bounty on the head of the character. Once it fills up to a helmet, a fellow Misthios will appear, planning on claiming that cash, and the more helmets, the more numerous the Misthios… and the more powerful. These enemies tend to appear at the worst possible time, usually while taking on a whole host of enemies after accidentally breaking cover, and between their special attacks and regular animal companions, they offer up a real challenge. These mercenaries sit in tiers of strength and defeating those ranked above the character progresses the mercenary rank along with giving some of the best loot in the game and special rewards for advancing through the ranks.

Screenshot for Assassin's Creed Odyssey on PlayStation 4

When it comes to the setting, while Ubisoft keeps refusing to give the players the best possible backdrop to an AC game - everyone knows it's feudal Japan - it has still managed to deliver something special here. Greece is gargantuan and varied and, best of all, each area is not only covered in mountain ranges, giving a whole other level of scope. Sometimes, when stepping back and just appreciating the vastness of this huge intimidating world, it's almost unbelievable what has been accomplished. Even better, these magnificent lands are separated by the sea. This means sailing is back and in a big way. Black Flag fans rejoice as there is plenty of ocean exploration here, plenty of little islands, diverse biotopes, and great sea battles - even if they are a little simplified.

These are the new aspects of the gameplay, but outside of these, any who have played Assassin's Creed Origins will know what to expect here. Origins made some big changes to the long-running franchise, mostly for the better and it's clearly the new template Ubisoft will be employing. For the core gameplay elements, the protagonist here has a bow and a series of melee weapons to equip, from speedy daggers to crushing hammers. There's a mammoth amount of weapons and armour across the course of the game, too; rarely will any be used for any long period of time, so it feels like the first few hours in a new expansion of WoW. Just like WoW, the items come in a range of rarities up to legendary, and blacksmiths across the land can enhance weapons to update them to the player's current level, meaning it's always worth holding onto any legendary piece of kit found.

There are three skill trees, with some fantastic abilities to unlock - one for Hunters utilising ranged combat and bows, giving abilities like the controllable arrow, firing of volleys, and best of all the "Ghost Arrow" that can shoot through shields, armour, and even walls. Then there's the Warrior skill tree with a focus on close quarters combat, with abilities like the iconic Spartan big boot kick, which is immensely satisfying, giving the ability to boot enemies off any rooftops and clifftops, or into flames or the ocean. There's also the ability to spark weapons in flame, igniting everything in the vicinity as they whirl through the air… or to smash enemy shields to pieces. Finally, a tree dedicated to assassinations, with abilities like being able to summon a lieutenant to distract the enemy, a ranged assassination where the spear of Leonidas is thrown like Talion from Shadow of War, and the ability to completely vanish.

Screenshot for Assassin's Creed Odyssey on PlayStation 4

While these elements are all superb, there's a dark shadow that hangs over the entire production. Ubisoft is known for some shady business practices, especially when it comes to micro-transactions. It's an element that has bled through into each and every one of its regular releases, and Odyssey is sadly no exception. In fact, it may be the worst offender yet. Even for the completionist style players who will want to head off and find every little secret hidden away in the world, the lack of experience earned throughout the normal playthrough is impossible to ignore. Like most Ubisoft games, there is a colossal amount of content to experience to get those needed levels to progress in the story, but it just trickles through so slowly... and once all of the interesting side-quests are done, the remaining ones feel like a slog.

At the very bottom of the barrel are the daily quests picked up from statues placed in every town. These consist of the usual suspects; assassination missions as bounties, heading off to kill specific bandits, mercenaries, or diplomats... or there are missions to influence the war, performing actions to weaken one side or the other, such as killing Spartan leaders or sinking Athenian ships.

There's a fix to this whole issue, though; a quick fix at that… but one that is going to leave a bitter taste. It's cold, hard cash. It's something Ubisoft is starting to become known for, and that's a pretty sad state of affairs. In the Helix credits store, there are XP boosters, some temporary, and some permanent. Apply this booster and suddenly everything feels balanced; it's disgusting. It honestly feels like it has been purposefully hamstrung to sell this micro-transaction. It's something that needs to be rallied against to try and alter these practices.

Screenshot for Assassin's Creed Odyssey on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Easily the best Assassin's Creed title to date, Assassin's Creed Odyssey takes everything Origins overhauled and improving on it, adding in fan favourite gameplay elements, introducing an amazing, huge world, and, most importantly it's a heck of a good time… but… the shadow that hangs over it cannot be ignored. Ubisoft has purposefully handicapped the gameplay, tuning it to be slow and, at points, making the grind horrendous, all to try and sell a micro-transaction, and that is absolutely revolting.

Developer

Ubisoft

Publisher

Ubisoft

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

the XP boosters and main story stuck behind a level requirement is enough for me to drop this game entirely. 

Great read.
 
I loved the original series but was put off by the state of Unity and the repetitiveness of Syndicate. It's pleasing to hear that Assassin's Creed has returned to form with Origins and now Odyssey, but it's a real shame about the microtransactions. It's one thing to have a boat-load of purchasable extras, meaning the average player who doesn't want to put his hand in his pocket will miss out on a lot of perks and additional items. But to purposefully increase the grind just to tempt players into spending more definitely is a bit much.
 
I'm in no rush to play something that's overly time-consuming in that fashion. I'd rather wait a year or so and pick both up when they're cheaper, if that's how things are going to work.  
 

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Renan

There are 1 members online at the moment.