The Iliad and the... - Assassin's Creed Odyssey Review

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Oct 21, 2018 4:11 PM
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Another year, another Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft reverting to type for the second AC this year. The crux of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is that’s every bit as good as AC Origins. In fact, it’s better, outside of a few niggles. There’s just that over-riding feeling that 11 months later, did we really need another 100-hour Assassin’s Creed game?

 

You can have too much of a good thing, and Ubisoft doesn’t seem overly keen to learn that lesson. Your stomach for yet another Assassin’s Creed is obviously going to vary though, and if you’re chomping at the bit for a massive new open-world stealth-em-up, you’re in for a treat.

 

Arguably the defining aspect of the Assassin’s Creed series is its ability to careen through history on a whim. The two questions that are always asked before a new Assassin’s Creed is announced are when and where is it going to be set. No other series has quite this much creative freedom, and Ubisoft has absolutely capitalised on it this time around.

 

 

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is set within an absolutely gigantic recreation of Ancient Greece, circa 431 BC, complete with vast chains of islands, dense forests, volcanic rocks, and teeming, beautiful cities laden with Grecian architecture. It’s frankly insane in terms of the level of scale and detail we’re talking about here. As a recreation of a slice of a history, this is practically unparalleled, at least in the short term. It’s absolutely conceivable it could take hundreds of hours to see and do everything there is to do AC Odyssey, and that’s not to forget the barrage of weekly special events and the slew of add-ons coming our way.

 

While it started with Origins, we’re seeing Ubisoft lean even more heavily into the mythological with AC Odyssey. Historical realism, or at least an attempt at realism, was always a mainstay of the Assassin’s Creeds, but Odyssey isn’t afraid to dig into Greek mythology in a manner that may rankle ardent historians but delivers an entertaining ride for those willing to let these history-bending shenanigans fly.

 

From the outset, one of the biggest changes to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, aesthetically at least, is the ability to play as either Kassandra or Alexios. Ubisoft has said the plan is to keep the choice of male and female protagonists is permanent for the series from here on out, and it’s great to at least have the choice. When you boil right down to the gameplay, it doesn’t really matter though. Both Kassandra and Alexios have the same skills, and experience pretty much the same story, albeit with slightly different dialogue. There’s not enough there to encourage a second playthrough, and Alexios’ dim-witted nature makes Kassandra arguably the stronger choice.

 

It feels an opportunity missed that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey isn’t set directly after the events of AC Origins, taking place as it does before Origins. Considering Origins centred on the original formulation of the brotherhood, but Ubisoft seems happy to be able to play fast and loose with the meta-narrative, perhaps to the detriment of the long-suffering fans.

 

Instead, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is actually a much more low-key tale. The Brotherhood doesn’t really get a look in, this is a story of mercenaries and family drama, all tied into the Peloponnesian war. It’s not overly memorable, but it’s certainly enjoyable enough as far as Assassin’s Creed stories go, and certainly a match for Origins.

 

 

Visually, it can occasionally become a little obvious why Ubisoft chose to set AC Origins so late in Ancient Egypt’s history. The dying throes of the Egyptian empire meant the Romans and Greeks were already in full-force in Egypt, giving us Cleopatra rather than Tutankhamun. This resulted in plenty of Grecian-looking architecture, leading to a feeling of asset reuse when wandering around Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. With a world this massive and varied it seems a little churlish to complain, but there’s an obvious lineage between the two games that doesn’t allow AC Odyssey to feel as fresh is it could.

 

However, Odyssey is a long way removed from the old-style Assassin’s Creeds that came before Origins. Ubisoft has dug even deeper into its Witcher 3 aspirations this time around, offering elements of choice and consequences thanks to conversation options and the major decisions to be made. This allows AC Odyssey’s story to splinter off, although the immense length of the game means I’ve little idea how much it actually affects the over-arching plot.

 

The comparisons also tie-in to the never-ending streams of equipment, loot and upgrades. This is AC knee-deep in RPG antics, offering a constant path for improving your chosen character throughout the epic journey. Further depth is added by the naval combat, owing much to Black Flag, and the good ship Adrestia can also be equipped with a suite of upgrades, as well as a crew that can be assembled Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain-style.

 

Unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey never quite scales the heights of the games it’s attempting to ape. Odyssey is by no means a bad game. It’s just so much game it’s suffocating. And well, it’s so videogame-y in everything it does, drawing exactly between the lines of what we expect, from start to ever-so-slightly tedious finish. There’s a barrage of new systems and mechanics that all interweave; additional depth that’s pelted at the player for the first 20 hours. The resulting mess is a smorgasbord of upgrade trees, assassination targets, procedural quests, a massive 50-hour story, treasure hunting, base destroying, ship upgrading, and full-scale, 300-style battles. It’s bewildering, and anytime I sit down to play AC Odyssey I feel like Bruce Bogtrotter sitting before a towering chocolate cake that Ubisoft Trunchball insists I gobble on down. It’s a game rammed with fantastic ideas that are dulled by repetition.

 

 

In terms of the criticism of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s progression and the XP booster though, I’ve found little issue. This is a massive game whether you’re using an XP booster or not, and while it may make fights a little easier and help earn skills a little faster, it’s not actually going to make the game any faster. There weren’t really any difficulty walls to run into; there’s always plenty to do at whatever level Kassandra or Alexios are at any given moment.

 

Usually, I let my past experiences inform the present, but with Assassin's Creed Odyssey I'm attempting desperately delink my own fatigue with the quality of the end product. At the end of the day, not everyone will feel overwhelming by another AC less than a year after Origins. Or indeed there may be plenty picking up Odyssey that have never played Origins at all. For those players, Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a feature-packed, incredibly lengthy belter, but a colossal time sink in the same breath.

Pros

  • Hundreds of hours of gameplay
  • Fantastic open-world

Cons

  • Overly dense
  • Feels like an Origins rehash
Score

7.5

Good

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23:25 Nov-30-2018

Ubisoft paid for review, can not do Modern RPG's, Origins done by excel dev. team handed to novices. Yearly cycle buy one every 4 yrs
Unity, Syndicate better

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23:11 Nov-30-2018

AC Odyssey is nowhere near as good as Origins as it is nothing but cut & paste, no character building or even a decent Story. Side missions rubbish

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17:02 Oct-24-2018

I had to live for 39 years to see "Overly dense" as a CON for a game. WTF is wrong with people??? I'm not even a AC fan. It's not our fault that you have lots of games to review. Be honest.

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17:31 Oct-24-2018

not sure what overly dense meant in your time grandpa, but if i've learnt english correctly it translates to 'unnecessarily complicated'. also what i've learnt in english is that that's not a good thing.

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22:12 Oct-25-2018

Lmao about the "grandpa". And my time is now lol
English is not my native language, so...
"Dense: demanding concentration to follow or comprehend".
And "unnecessarily complicated" means what?? How "dense" is, for example, Dark Souls??

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23:13 Oct-25-2018

I think it really all comes down to personal preference. I for one found Assassin's Creed: Unity to be "overly dense". You couldn't even see the map for all the stupid icons on it. Most of it was busy work just give you something to do and wasn't particularly interesting or fun, for me. At the end of the day don't take what reviewers say as law, it's their opinion.

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08:24 Oct-26-2018

Thanks for taking my comment so well. Now that I read it, it sounds a bit rude but I meant it playfully and you took it as such. Apologies for that. Respect to you.
To be clear, I should have said 'I think what the writer means here is that the game at times becomes unnecessarily complicated, not that overly dense actually translates to that'. In some ways they do seem near enough to mean the same thing but I guess I haven't thought of the angle where they don't.
My understanding of 'overly dense' wrt this game means that the gameplay systems can get way too complicated to keep track of what's going on - too much to do - which isn't a bad thing in the case of games like The Witcher 3, where everything has a meaningful purposeful existence. But here it feels bloated.

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10:46 Oct-26-2018

No problem at all, man. As a writer I love my words, but it can be hard to convey the subtle nuance and tone that voice can. You're take on "overly dense" seems pretty spot on with mine. You seem like a decent guy and you've had my +1 for a while, never lost it. Odyssey feeling so bloated is one reason I'm staying away, for now.

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12:14 Oct-26-2018

Also forgot to add @Vegg269 :P

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11:41 Oct-23-2018

Who thinks Alexios's voice is WEIRD and thats why picked Kassandra instead ??!!

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09:47 Oct-23-2018

overly dense as a con?

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11:37 Oct-23-2018

Well yes. Unnecessarily complicated can't be a positive :P

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17:07 Oct-24-2018

Exactly!!! After 39 years i was shocked to see "Overly dense" as a CON. He must have hated Witcher 3 lol.

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17:34 Oct-24-2018

The Witcher 3 wasn't 'overly dense' ffs. It was proper in depth, meaningful content. Done with sincerity. Not just pointlessly complicated stuff thrown in to lengthen the game to fit in the microtransactions that the businessmen forced into it.

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22:16 Oct-25-2018

Microtransactions are optional.

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23:16 Oct-25-2018

Microtransaction aren't optional. They're included in the game whether you like it or not. Sure, you don't have to buy them, but you're going to have a "lesser" experience for it. Lots of reviewers straight out said Odyssey was funner with the XP boost added. That's not optional.

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17:36 Oct-24-2018

Both of you, please watch this and tell me where you disagree with him - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOrKtZsoy30

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08:25 Oct-26-2018

It's lengthy I know, but just skip ahead to around the 7 min mark where it actually starts.

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12:55 Oct-22-2018

I am looking forward to play this at some point (I retired from AC games years ago because of all this repeated formula) but I think my CPU will get destroyed and I wont be able to enjoy it due to bad performance. This is another game that targets 30 fps first and trying to get it to run above that takes an exponential amount of resources it seems to me. This old i5 doesnt stand a change. Even the GPU is going to struggle to manage high settings on this.

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10:21 Oct-31-2018

My biggest issue with the game is the engine. It needs upgrading, the fps is far too low compared to the hardware. It is a great game if you can get past that.

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09:45 Oct-22-2018

I couldn't get into a Origins because of the main character.Bayek was too boring and the new AC has improved it. Also amazing thing in the new one is the cult and how I had to uncover them.. hope they will keep thing like that for new games

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08:08 Oct-22-2018

The game is big, like really really big. I'm 96 hours in and only managed to progress half the story i think. I still have 5 regions left unexplored. TBH i'm at the point where i'm fecking bored at the game, and everytime i start playing, it feels like a chore :S


Well Marvel Spiderman DLC is right around the corner and i think i'll be playing that while i take a break from Odyssey.


On the otherside, the side quests in Odyssey are very, very well written. I have a few good ones with unexpected twist. Props to Ubi on that part.

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12:52 Oct-22-2018

Quick question. Have you played Origins?

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14:14 Oct-22-2018

Yes i have. Beat the game with all its DLCs.

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09:00 Oct-23-2018

Maybe that's why Odyssey feels like a chore then :/

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09:13 Oct-23-2018

I think it's because big games like Origins and Odyssey really aren't meant to consumed on a yearly basis. Ubisoft said they were moving away from a yearly release cycle with Origins and then... BOOM... The release a giant AC RPG-lite title the very next year. Fans are digging it up, but honestly, if they tried to release these types of games on a yearly basis people would get sick af of them.

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10:47 Oct-23-2018

TBH i was caught offguard over how big the world is. It feels like a chore to me because the "?" are way, waaay too repetitive. It doesn't offer anything other than XP and some loots. Unlike The Witcher 3 where it actually have some impact on finishing it (abandoned village and trapped NPCs), in Odyssey it doesn't even have any impact on the world if you finished it. If you're already at max level with good equipment, there's no real incentive to finish the rest of the "?". My OCD started to kick in whenever i see the "?" but now i just don't care. Now i'm just going to finish the "!" side quests, synchronization points, and main story while completely ignoring the rest.

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10:55 Oct-23-2018

I haven't bought an AC game day one since Black Flag. Origins I didn't buy until it had been out almost a year and I got it on steep discount. With not getting RDR 2 I have thought about getting Odyssey, but I think I'm going to wait for a good while now. Thanks for all the info, Vedajanitra. +1 from me.

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11:54 Oct-23-2018

Glad i could help. It's safe to say that the open world and exploration is not the best thing in Odyssey, if anything, it's 100% the same with Origins. Like i mentioned above, story and quests is where Odyssey shines. The amount of choices in some quests really add to the replayability values, and one side quest even have a branching consequences, which is mindblowing to me.

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04:54 Oct-22-2018

"it’s so videogame-y in everything it does"


This is the same problem I had with Polygon's review. Calling a video game out for being a video-game seems strange,especially given all the games that come out that are trying desperately to be a movie and failing hard.

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16:49 Oct-21-2018

You start off by saying it's better then origins, yet you score it lower then your origins review.

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19:59 Oct-21-2018

It is too similar to Origins, i guess thats why. If you havent played Origins, its better, otherwise youre gonna get bored sooner. (I'm just assuming all this tho, havent played Odyssey :D )

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20:46 Oct-21-2018

He says "Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is every bit as good as AC Origins. In fact, it’s better" but the score doesn't reflect what he's saying.


AC Origins 9/10 AC Odyssey 7.5/10 But Odyssey is better, makes no sense, And it's the same author.

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23:04 Oct-21-2018

It's a better game than ACO but it doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from it, which the review says and the scoring seems to reflect.
After all, scores are relative.

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03:04 Oct-22-2018

The ezio trilogy was almost the same game yet no one complained, the story is good better than unity or syndicate thats for sure, they're releasing another game two years later so we should see new improvements like we did with origins (and i loved origins)

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04:55 Oct-22-2018

Well yesterday's Deadfire review did the same thing.


Talked about how much better in every way 2 was then 1 (which it is by far), and then gave a lower score.

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16:40 Oct-21-2018

What did you think of the SkillUp review ? Any points you disagree with ?

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16:34 Oct-21-2018

Nice review..have not seen a review on shadow of the tomb raider yet

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16:15 Oct-21-2018

1/10 for me. Not going to buy any AC games anymore,they just ruined the saga with AC Origins and this is basically more of the same. It has nothing to do with the original game, just a random rpg with random gameplay.

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16:26 Oct-21-2018

This and AC origins are better than Unity and Syndicate ...though its quite far from its roots its a good game..

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19:22 Oct-21-2018

Origins might have been a better game than Syndicate, but Syndicate was a better AC game than Origins. Unity was hot garbage.

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04:56 Oct-22-2018

You were probably one of the ones who were saying around Unity/Rogue that the series was stale and needed an overhaul otherwise you were abandoning the series.


Some people are never happy.

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06:27 Oct-22-2018

Ikr?

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