At last, too much of a good thing? Thoughts on Assassins Creed Odyssey
ubi action-adventure grating naval combat more sidequests than you can shake a stick at expansive DLC
Assassins Creed Odyssey (or Assassin's Creed: Odyssey?) is the latest in Ubisoft's long line of Assassins Creed titles. The 2018 title followed hard upon the release of 2017's Assassins Creed Origins, which did, at least, actually provide a kind of origin story for the order of Assassins. Odyssey uses the same engine and reuses many of the earlier titles art assets to tell a story set in the Greek world of antiquity and myth.
For this reason, if you hated Origins, you'll probably hate this one too. If you loved Origins, you might enjoy this title, but enough tweaks have been made to the core mechanics that you might not love it. The ability trees have been exploded, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, except that a lot of the special attacks you unlock are mapped (for those using controllers) to the four face buttons--and there are only four face buttons. You can unlock a "second ability wheel" later, but, while using the first wheel is relatively-intuitive and smooth in the flow of combat, using a button to "switch wheels" is just awkward. It could be the whole old-man thing coming back to bite me in the ass, but I found that, in practical terms, it was far better to just stick to only using at most four melee and four ranged combat abilities. This means that you'll end up not using many of the abilities that you unlock--which makes them sort-of pointless. Other parts of the game are similarly over-engineered. Liked having different weapons with different abilities that could be upgraded to your level in Origins? How about weapons and armor pieces that can be upgraded, that have slots to add new unique abilities, and can be engraved to add still more bonuses. Also, you have a magic spear that upgrades and enhances all of your abilities and damage if you collect enough doodads from bad guys.
The basic story here is that you are the male or female progeny of a Spartan warrior and his wife, who happens to be the granddaughter of King Leonidas of Sparta--except that you're actually the spawn of said Spartan woman and a <famous historical figure> because Assassins Creed. You are on a quest to reunite with the male or female sibling who was adopted and corrupted by a--you guessed it--cult planning to take over the world! (You have to read that last bit in your best The Brain voice.) Along the way, you'll possibly kill your foster father and find your mother, who's been doing some piracy and running a small island nation, because, hey, it's a nice gig if you can get it.
Speaking of piracy, I hope you liked the naval combat in Origins. What? You didn't? Well, too bad, because you're in for a crap-ton of it here. But, hey, you get your own ship. And, guess what? It's super-upgradeable. Want fire arrows? How about fire-spears? How about stronger dudes or ladies rowing your boat gently down the stream? You can get all of this and more if you have the appropriate amounts of the six (who am I kidding? I lost count of the actual number of resources long ago) different resources (apart from moolah) in the game world.
The base game content will EASILY allow you to level your avatar to 50+. Moreover, if you have the season pass DLC, you're also getting oodles (I counted) of side missions and that's not counting the "story DLCs." The first of these finds you being hunted by a brand-new cult hailing from the land of Persia. This story was interesting at least, but it makes a peculiar choice, given how quick Ubisoft is to slap a disclaimer on the front of all of these game saying how inclusive it is--the game forces you into a heterosexual relationship with an NPC--and you end up marrying that person. Now, being the sad deviant that I am, I was playing my Kassandra as a love-'em-and-leave-'em lesbian, and she suddenly went straight. That was odd.
I put well over a hundred hours in the game plus the Legacy of the First Blade content. Then I started the Fate of Atlantis pack, which has you going to the Underworld and had a hauntingly-familiar vibe (many hours spent in the "afterlife" portion of Origins). There are new travel mechanics that are . . . actually even more tedious than the usual methods of getting around, and I discovered at this point that I was just tired of playing Odyssey. It had outlived its welcome.
It's not a bad game. It's not a bad AC game. But it was a bit much.