The following is the script from the following youtube video.
Welcome. This is my review of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey developed and published by Ubisoft.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the 11th game in the main Assassin’s Creed franchise, a franchise that should be solidified by now, but instead, Assassin’s Creed has changed up the formula once again and feels like a brand new genre, but perhaps it has become a change too far.
Before we begin, just a reminder, if you enjoy this review, consider subscribing or liking the video, it helps grow the channel, and get these reviews out. Thank you. And as a small note, this is a long video but I think we should fully look at a game to judge it and in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s case there’s a lot here.
Previously I reviewed Assassin’s Creed Origins and it’s clear that Odyssey has continued that idea and legacy of that game. But there was only a year between the release date of Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey which does affect this game in a variety of ways that we will get to.
The graphics of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey are impressive, while many games look good, there’s a level of detail and design to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s conversations that just seems to be missing in most games. The conversation system just consistently looks great and helps create memorable scenes
The world is also quite beautiful and along with sprawling cities, there are huge environments with fields, plains, even forests which creates a more visually interesting location and experience for the players. Just roaming the land to see what you can find is solid, though almost all points of interest are labeled on the map, it’s hardly the only way to see the beautiful Greecian countryside.
Though the world does become a problem. While there’s a massive world here with a lot of variety such as seeing the towns of Athens or Sparta, every town feels the same before long. This is a similar issue that Assassin’s Creed 3 has and truthfully several Assassin’s Creed since then.
There’s a ton of cities here, at least 20 major ones, but so many of them feel like another city that you’ve seen before. Even Athens and Spartas have major locations but also just have multiple districts that feel like they were copied and pasted from others. It feels like a cookie-cutter design to the map, and that becomes tiresome after the third palace, standard home, or leader’s house is used for a location.
A similar problem comes from the enemies, almost every group of enemies seems to be pulled from the same pool. The only difference becomes which outfit they are using. Athenian soldiers look like Spartans but one is garbed in blue and one is covered in red, There are also pirates, merchants, and minor city-states as well, but again the design of the characters barely seems to matter, they seem to be just the same. They also fight similarly which we’ll talk about a bit later as well.
Though I do want to call out one last thing about the enemies. We have some women in combat now. Some soldiers, mercenaries, and citizens are women who will take up arms. Having a female main character is a huge thing, but also seeing women in battles is a positive change, and I do have to praise Ubisoft for actually adding this to the game. This is what they said would be impossible back during Unity, and here it’s a better experience.
Which also leads us to the Story. In Assassin’s Creed Origins there was a linear story focused on Bayek. Players had minor choices but overall the experience was going to be the same. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey developed the story a lot more. This time we have two characters to choose from, Alexios and Kassandra or really the male or the female. I obviously chose Kassandra from the footage, but having a choice is good, and it’s only the first of many choices.
A major emphasis of Odyssey has been to allow players to roleplay, and I do mean roleplay. There is a wealth of choices in the game and you can choose different endings. If there’s a pack of thieves, you can choose to kill them, threaten them, or warn them. Again not only one choice, but what makes this true roleplaying is a lack of a morality system.
This is something I feel most games don’t understand. Having a morality system limits roleplay, especially when rewards are based on these choices. Instead, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey allows players to play the character however they want. If they want to be a murderous titan for one conversation, it doesn’t lock out a benevolent mercenary later, and another might allow you to impersonate a deity. This is well done and worth mentioning.
It also helps that characters will refer to what you have done previously. When giving status reports, players will comment on their actions, and often characters will talk about previous exploits when meeting your character. Though sometimes it’s not always clear what they are referring too, I wouldn’t change this at all because it creates a far stronger story and narrative.
Ubisoft, this is Assassin’s Creed at it’s best, and this is what you need to focus on. Immersive roleplaying without offering rewards for their actions. It’s rarely done and Odyssey does it well.
The story itself in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is great but predictable. I will have to spoil a bit here to talk about the story, but this is the first five hours and there is a lot more, at least 80 percent of the game is past this point, but I need to make some points.
The beginning of our game is typical Assassin’s Creed gameplay, and then the player is eventually sent to kill a general known as the Wolf by a mysterious gentleman. From here, we eventually leave the island our player has called home. As we take off sailing, we learn the name of the Wolf…. It’s our character’s father and you’ll see some parts of this on the screen.
You will have to earn the right to talk to your father through several meaningless quests., but there’s an interesting choice here. You don’t have to kill your father, I did because… well, reasons… and I thought it was unavoidable, but again choice comes in here. However, from this point, the surprises stop.
Our mysterious stranger is a member of a cult, and who this group is in the series becomes quite obvious. Even the leader of this group is equally obvious after meeting them and it’s a shame because while there’s good storytelling, there’s a paper-thin attempt to hide any information in the game.
Yet I still felt invested in the main story because it’s well-told, beautifully animated and wonderfully executed. At least, the main story is. Side quests on the other hand range from hilarious, such as a lusty old woman to run of the mill. There’s a vast number of them but they eventually all seem to blur together and only a handful stand out, and some such as this one is laughably bad.
The one big issue I have with the story is that the famous characters you meet in the game are uninteresting. It feels like name-dropping. You might meet Hippocrates who is a doctor and has a single mission about him. There are so many famous characters that appear in the game and then just play out what feels like a small cameo as if to say “You may have heard of my name.”
The only character who seems to shine is Socrates, but he only has a pair of scenes where he tosses out a little philosophy and then moves on. These are great and famous characters but are treated as name dropping by the game.
Still the story itself shines and is easily where Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is at its strongest, but it’s the gameplay that leads us to some problems.
The biggest thing is that this is no longer an Assassin’s Creed game that is pretending it has a strong tie to the original series, instead the game starts by asking the player about his familiarity with RPGs. This is a reference to more modern RPGs, such as “Witcher” then classic RPGs like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but still, there’s a massive shift in genre.
This isn’t limited to a focus on the story but the entire game feels more like an MMORPG. Though not exactly a multiplayer experience, it feels like the size, scope, and level of the game has become very similar to the huge amusement park-style games of the past.
The biggest thing is that there’s a wealth of content across a huge number of locations and areas, but at the same time it’s some of the most shallow content yet. The majority of these quests are going to some location, do some minor action and then return to the quest giver. Those actions are often just killing, find an item, or talk to someone. Not to mention many quests are just open-ended tasks to kill X amount of a certain type of enemy.
And while it is in the name, we still get the classic idea of assassination here but similar to Origins, we’re forced to deal with “level-based gameplay” and it removes much of the enjoyment of the classic ideas of stealth and assassinations by making it based on the idea of what level you are versus an opponent.
While this existed in Origins, it has only become a bigger issue in that normal enemies at the same level as your character may no longer be able to kill enemies with a single assassination attack. It’s not even bosses or epic enemies, but the average rank and file soldiers may still have more health than you can remove.
Some abilities can assist or increase the damage with critical attacks on the assassination, but these become necessities for stealth gameplay, rather than the ability for higher-level enemies.
And yet with level-based gameplay, we continue to have level-based gear. Each level increases the damage you can do, however, the gear becomes a constant grind. If you move from level 30 to 31, it’s time to swap out gear when you get new gear at this level. While there are a few legendary items that may last more than one level, it seemed at most these items last two levels and players will be able to replace them with even common gear.
With level-based gameplay, it also means enemies will level up. If you scout an area at level 33 and see level 34 enemies, you might return when you’re level 35, but suddenly every enemy is level 35, come back later and they continue to match the player’s level.
There is a minimum and maximum level for many enemies, but the game avoids players using this as a way to progress as lower level quests and enemies give less experience, so the game expects the player to avoid out leveling enemies, but there’s a question as to why?
Not just why enemies level up but why even have any of this system. Why does your player need a level, why then add gear based on it, and then why constantly have enemies level up with you? The fact is there is not a strong reason for this type of level-based gameplay except to gate the player, and we’ll have to wait a moment to dive in there as to why it exists, but it doesn’t enhance the game and instead creates more of a treadmill for players to run that they have to continue to chase if they want to progress.
Much of the gameplay of Odyssey was in the Assassin’s Creed Origins, but that doesn’t mean there are no improvements in Odyssey. The horse AI didn’t work well in Assassin’s Creed Origins. Having an ability for the horse to follow the road that seemed to break within seconds of using it was disappointing, but the good news is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s horse’s AI never broke for me, and I used it quite a bit.
The horse also seemed to have taken lessons from Skyrim or The Witcher and is a blast to use off-road even tackling tall mountains and with ease. This is again a great achievement in that I found myself calling for my horse immediately rather than even trying to run short distances.
There are also two modes for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s gameplay. There’s a Guided and Exploratory system. The Guided system will just tell players where to go or what to do. However, the newer system is the Exploratory mode which will often give players a location and hints where a target is. From there the player can get close and will be told to use their Eagle to target the goal of a mission. From there the player will get a similar experience, but the Exploratory mode added an interesting twist that gives the player a chance to experience the game rather than feel like the game is holding their hand at all times.
The series staple of allowing the player to climb any object is still here and it works well. Players can scale any building by just holding the up direction and the A button. It’s still quite satisfying to scale huge statues, or temples and look down on targets, usually to dive down and try to assassinate someone from the air.
There are different levels of quests as well, with main story quests, side quests, bounties, and timed missions, though like I mentioned, the quality of the quests varied. While the main story missions are the strongest, the side quests variant which are the gold color quests which aren’t part of the main quests are a bit weaker, and everything else becomes a mess.
Some quests are what I like to call 200 meters “Fetch” quests. While many of these are bounty or timed quests, some will appear in the side quest style. They amount to running about 200 meters, completing some action, again interact, kill, or talk to someone, and then return to the quest giver. But 200 meters is barely far enough to call it a real quest, and the amount of experience given for these tasks is far higher than players might expect.
But outside of the side quests, most of the quests in the game amount to what the radiant quest system was in Bethesda games, a line of quests that players can do endlessly. This isn’t necessarily a problem as players will always want to play more so if they run out of the scripted experience they can continue to experience the world as they want.
There also is a new bounty system, and while this system was started in Assassin’s Creed Origins with high-level roaming mercenaries who would attack the player on sight, the experience has been changed in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Now there is a bounty system that acts as a notoriety system from Grand Theft Auto. The more chaos that the player causes, the more attention mercenaries will give to the player. This is set up to be similar to the Nemesis system of Shadows of Middle-Earth and it does a good job in generating new mercenaries to continue to harass the players, though there are a few problems with the systems. Many mercs feel the same. Where Nemesis called out the different traits of the mercs, the big differences are that the mercs are using special techniques whether it be a flame sword, or poisons, or such. They become just harassment for the player, but this is one of the few areas where players can over level their opponents.
When the player kills one of the mercs, another merc notification seems to appear on the screen most of the time, giving players a feeling of making no progress, just changing out a single merc with another with similar abilities, which is what happens.
However, I like what was attempted with the mercenary system and just want it to be pushed further. It’s a sign that someone has attempted the Nemesis system besides Shadow of Middle Earth and while it’s not perfect yet, it’s a step in the right direction and should be expanded on.
Of course, there needs to be a reason to earn the notoriety and a big part of this is the ability to kill anyone in the game. You no longer are forced to choose a side, but instead can assist any group, or kill anyone. If the player wants to go on a full rampage, they can and there’s the freedom to commit many crimes. Stealing from enemies, slaughtering civilians and general issues will cause the player’s bounty to rise, and while they can pay off people to avoid this, the mercenary brings a spice to the game that isn’t found otherwise.
Yet the ability to kill anyone becomes a bit of a pain as well. You can enter into a fight trying to assist one side, and accidentally anger the other so that you will be forced to kill both sides of combat that you come upon.
Though the fact that the player doesn’t decide between the two sides leaves them feeling a bit empty. Do you want to support Athens or Sparta? You can keep switching between these groups but without being forced to side with one group, players are just able to kill who they want when they want and it leads to a lacking experience as the player’s identity isn’t as strong as in previous games.
There’s also an idea that players can have a conquest mission for certain areas. Each nation in the game is ruled by some group, and the player can weaken the Nation’s hold on the area and cause a massive conquest battle to happen. At least one of these is part of the story mission but they become large melees, and while they work, there is not a strong reason to keep fighting in these. It comes down to a national identity, and the fact the player doesn’t have a connection, either to the nation or the groups ruling them. There’s no reputation board that the player has to build up. If you assist Athens in one battle, and Sparta in another, no one seems to pay attention to this fact at all.
Though that is a major problem for the conquest missions, the combat in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey doesn’t fare much better. I’ve talked earlier about how all the enemies look the same, but they also fight the same. While the type of weapon they choose will matter to their attack style, every enemy is the same and feels the same.
I used the same attack pattern throughout the game. You attack three or four times, check to see if anyone is attacking you, dodge out of the way of trying to time it for the last moment to get a chance to deliver more damage. There’s a super move that can help damage your enemy, an ability that restores your health, a spartan kick to knock a shield-bearer down, and a Bull charge just for fun. But these are the core of my attack pattern and it continued to work for over 30 hours.
There’s a huge amount of combat choices. There’s even a parry command that’s quickly taught to the player but I forgot. The problem is focusing on what works in combat is good enough for Odyssey. You can just repeat the attacks. Once I found the super move that delivered multiple attacks, even the spartan kick, and the bull charge went unused.
There is a return to ship combat similar to Black Flag, and while I heavily enjoyed Black Flag’s experience, the level system again appears and it still isn’t fun. Enemies level up with you but there’s limited need to fight ship to ship unless someone spots you and challenges you. Fleeing enemies who are higher levels is easy, and killing enemies at or below your levels is similarly repetitive.
There is an idea where you can recruit people to your ship, but this amounts to just another piece of equipment that doesn’t change much outside of the ship combat, which isn’t interesting enough to dive into at a deep level. It’s the level system that makes it less interesting with all the same problems. Especially, everything rises to your level.
And so far, while that’s a problem, nothing is that bad in this review. Odyssey is an enjoyable game. So is there a big problem?
Well yes. I’ve saved this for last. I know I’ve gone on quite a bit but I want people to understand the entire game before I get into the deeper issues here. As you play the game there are times when there are huge level gaps between levels. There were at least two points where I remember a 4 level gap, and a 6 level gap between levels. Which means that players are supposed to go do something else.
Besides, some missions are impossible, such as the main story mission where the player is told to take down an island country. I did everything possible on that island and was left with a third of their nation’s power.
There’s also another point where the character is just told to get 15000 gold. Yet as this mission went on you literally save this person’s brother, get a valuable trinket for her and more, and yet you still need to give the 15000 gold for information. Saving a person’s brother, their flesh and blood wasn’t a big enough achievement for this? This wasn’t some major information, but rather information only valuable to the player.
What Assassin’s Creed has become is just a series of treadmills and points where the game just wants you to experience everything that it has to offer. This is everything that the player already has been experiencing, but here you’re locked off from the interesting storylines, the fun missions, and the progress you want to make to get some arbitrary value of experience. It’s a similar thing that Origins has done.
This is done to extend the length of the game, and given a methodical approach of trying to do everything, there’s at least 50 to maybe even 100 hours to accomplish everything that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey can offer. But by locking off good content for average content, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey doesn’t value the player’s time and just wants them to do more.
This is the difference between Fallout 4 with their pointless radiant quests and the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has radiant quests that you can ignore, but you will do so at your own risk. You can skip these short quests but you will ultimately have to go and farm experience from somewhere.
There are even more repetitive tasks, there are ideas that you can kill all the cultists of this cult I mentioned, but it also becomes more busywork. There are not even direct paths but instead calls to go explore certain areas and hope you run into information about the cultist, just a way to spend more time.
Here’s the real problem for me. This isn’t Ubisoft making a mistake. I can say this because… well yes, it’s that time of my reviews. We have to talk about microtransactions. Now I feel like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s microtransactions are egregious. There are many horse, ship and crew microtransactions that are unrealistic and even using one of them on my horse doesn’t look great. But ok.
The problem is there are microtransactions to unlock maps of where certain items are. There’s also double experience microtransactions. It’s as if they KNEW they had microtransactions so they made worse experience systems so people would want to buy them… or they knew the game had a problem with progression but rather than fix the issue, they charged 10 bucks for the microtransactions.
This isn’t me trying to find a conspiracy, this is a problem with the game design. The game becomes a grindy mess for the experience, and this is a problem that Origins also had, but rather than improve the system with the sequel, Odyssey seems to have turned into it so that they can profit more off the microtransactions.
Here’s the thing Odyssey is a good game for the first five to ten hours. If this was a twenty to thirty-hour game without forcing the side content, players would probably love this game. But then it would be simply a sixty dollar enjoyable game. Instead, if it’s made into a slog, then maybe players will pay 10 extra dollars, who knows maybe they can get seventy or eighty dollars per game with all these purchases. Not to mention DLC and season passes. Oh boy.
But the thing is, this is bad for the consumer and something we shouldn’t be supporting. Instead of a tight thirty hours, we get fifty hours of content but it’s the same content. The great story that could be told in thirty hours is stretched out more because players have to do other stuff that isn’t as good, and as such they get to play more and get tempted to buy more content.
I have to be honest. I didn’t finish this game. I played for about 30 hours of the game, but what was fun and novel in the first five hours, became routine by the twenty-hour mark, and I found myself starting to dislike the game. There’s a numb feeling that creeps into the game where you just mindlessly play the content so you can hopefully get to the next major part of the game that might have a piece of the story you crave. It’s a numb feeling I remember from playing MMORPGs with their mindless content to keep you addicted to the game, but are we now seeing this style of gameplay from single-player games?
Part of this could be that I was playing it from beginning to end, and having played Origins previously this year changed my opinion. It’s possible without having played through Origins and experience another fifty hours of this new style of Assassin’s Creed content, I may have enjoyed this game more, but ultimately I think something has gone wrong in this series.
I think part of the issue is having these ultra-large game worlds dropping every year, and when you consider the other Ubisoft projects like Farcry, Watch Dogs, and Ghost Recon, I think there’s a problem with the pace these studios are going at. The fact is it’s bringing everything down to a weaker baseline.
Having to create fifty to a hundred hours of content with a whole new world, new quests, characters and more have to be taking a toll. Odyssey has a ton of cookie-cutter world-building, repetitive quests, a weak progression, with uninspired combat. This is all pieces of systems we’ve seen before, and while it’s still high quality it doesn’t make for a stronger game especially when many corners have to be cut to hit these deadlines.
It seems like Ubisoft is experimenting with what they can get away with to turn over games quicker. Farcry Primal reused a map, Odyssey is mostly a coat of paint on Origins with mass-produced average quests, and Ghost Recon…. Well yeah, that didn’t work well on its own.
And yet, there’s nothing bad about Odyssey. It’s not a broken game, it’s not an awful experience. There’s nothing painful or frustrating about it. It just lulls the player into a repetitive action to progress the story.
But there are good moments. The graphics are top-notch, and the story is very solid, and it’s a good experience. But this is the problem that MMORPGs has had to tackle. This is a very long game designed to be longer just to take up more time. The reason for this is debatable. While it might sound like this is due to the belief that people want to experience longer games even if they aren’t stronger experiences.
I don’t think that’s it. Instead, I believe it’s the same idea as an MMORPG, where the goal is to get people to stick around to keep giving money. For Assassin’s Creed, this is more an attempt to squeeze more time out of players to keep them in the ecosystem in hopes to get a few microtransactions. And it’s not a strong experience because of this.
Ultimately I am giving Assassin’s Creed Odyssey a
That’s not a recommendation, but… well, it’s not a non-recommendation. This is pure fence-sitting. It’s a fun game in bursts, there is a huge amount of content and gameplay if you value that. But it’s also not a great experience and not one that will be consistently strong.
Of course part of this score assumes you played Assassin’s Creed Origins. I’ve heard that those who started with Odyssey and never played Origins will still find this game enjoyable. Though I don’t think there’s a reason to necessarily skip Origins to play this game. They’re both about equal in that aspect.
Though Ubisoft has said they’re taking a break from the Assassin’s Creed game for a year, which is why 2019 hasn’t had a new Assassin’s Creed game. Though, I hope they are doing it for the right reason. Both to fix many of the flaws and try to produce a game worthy of being played, rather than find new ways to get players to spend even more money on average gameplay.
I know I’ve gone a little bit deeper on this but I wanted to examine and explain what’s going on with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and why it’s becoming problematic as a style of game.
If you have enjoyed this, consider subscribing, and if you are hearing this, you clearly must have an opinion on this video, feel free to give me a thumbs up or thumbs down depending on what you think of the video.
Next up we have our first Sonic series. The OG, that’s the original game, Sonic the Hedgehog, so stay tuned for that. I’ll also pop up two videos. We have Assassin’s Creed Origins, and I’ll also show my awards for the best game I reviewed last year, which the top honor was given a rather amazing open-world game.
Until then, I’m Kinglink and thanks for watching.