Assassin’s Creed Odyssey continues the trend that begin with Assassin’s Creed Origins and further delves into RPG territory. At this point, it’s more RPG than any Assassin’s Creed game prior to this. It’s also the first one where you can choose between a male and female protagonist, being Alexios or Kassandra respectively. If you were keen on getting the old school AC experience with Odyssey, we’re afraid you’re going to be disappointed. However, as an Action RPG, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a pretty good offering. How does it hold up? Let’s find out.
Getting into gameplay, if you’ve played any of the previous Assassin’s Creed titles, Origins more so than others, you’ll feel right at home. There are changes here and there, such as in combat – which we’ll get to in a bit – but overall, at least in terms of general exploration and basic controls, we were right at home playing the game on PC with mouse and keyboard.
Now some of us here at the labs have played Origins, and some of us haven’t. If you have played Origins, then you’ll know that the franchise got a combat overhaul with Assassin’s Creed Origins. The combat in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is pretty much the same, except a few tweaks here and there. If you’re playing Odyssey directly after any Assassin’s Creed title prior to Origins, then you’ll immediately notice the change.
Unlike previous titles where you kind of automatically targeted enemies and were ‘locked’ in combat with them, combat in Origins and Odyssey is hitbox based. This makes it more skill-based as well, with more active involvement on the player’s part. It’s no longer as easy as simply parrying a strike and going on a stabbing spree.
Additionally, combat feels more fluid as well. The variety in the various different weapons is nice as well, as it changes the way you have to approach combat. For example, if you’re running daggers you want to weave in and out of your opponent’s reach with quick strikes, but if you’re wielding a spear, you want to maintain some distance and not let enemies get too close. Similarly, bladed weapons aren’t as effective vs shields, but blunt weapons can break right through them. There’s plenty of choice and nothing stopping you from trying all of them.
An addition to combat in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is activatable abilities. The skill tree was present in Origins as well with many new abilities unlocking as you progressed down the various branches but they were passively present at all times with Bayek being able to access what he unlocked as and when required.
The ability tree in Odyssey is comparatively less complicated, but the majority of the unlocks are activatable abilities. You start off with only being able to have any four of them on your skill bar at any given time, and this applies to both ranged and melee abilities. Eventually, you’re able to have up to 8 for melee abilities, with the option to to be able to swap to a second skill bar, using the ‘`’ (default) key on PC. There are a lot of abilities to choose from. Holding right click brings up your bow, which swaps the melee skill bar with the ranged skill bar that holds the ranged activatable abilities.
The skill tree has three branches, Hunter, Warrior, and Assassin. Each has abilities pertaining to a different playstyle. With Hunter involving abilities for archery, Warrior to boost with combat and Assassin for, well, stealth. However, they’re not hierarchical, meaning you do not have to necessarily unlock prior abilities in order to reach abilities higher up in the tree.
They’re mostly locked behind either the story, or your character’s level. This basically allows you to focus on a single tree, but still not miss out the cool abilities on other trees that you might want to try out or find useful. Only the abilities at the very top of each tree require you to have the ability right under them in order to unlock them. Additionally, each ability has multiple tiers to it, up to three, with each additional upgrade improving the ability. Oh and Sparta Kick. There’s a Sparta Kick ability.
The world of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is huge. And it does feel like we spend a lot of time just travelling from point A to point B on the map, but the world looks gorgeous and we didn’t mind too much. You can fast travel between synchronisation points to save some time, but mentally prepare yourself to do a lot of running around or horse riding anyway. Of course, there’s a lot of sailing to be done as well, with a lot of the game’s content taking place on the various islands.
Your journey from point A to point B won’t be very straightforward though. If like us, you end up taking detours for every “?” you come across it’ll take you a while to finally get to point B. We got some Witcher 3 vibes in that aspect, with a massive world full of question marks just waiting to be explored.
While exploring and questing, you can press V (or whatever key you bind it to) to summon Icaros, your pet eagle. This is what you use to scout ahead when you approach a question mark, because more often than not, there’s going to be hostiles in the area that you will need to clear out before proceeding to the looting.
Icaros can see through walls and shiz, it’s crazy we know! but super handy too, since he’ll mark all the baddies and the loot in the area for you. Makes it much easier for you to sneak around and dispatch foes one at a time without incurring the wrath of bounty hunters.
Speaking of which, there’s a mercenary or bounty system in the game, as your notoriety goes up in the world, someone might put a bounty on your head, which in turn will result in bounty hunters coming for your head. Defeating and killing bounty hunters pays off, as each bounty hunter has a unique drop that’s usually better than other gear you come across. However, be prepared for a tough fight, especially if the bounty hunter is a few levels above your own.
Keeping in mind that you’re a mercenary too, you can actually pick up bounties yourself for a reward. Naturally, you can’t pick up your own bounty, but you can pay it off to get hunters off your back. The price for doing so is directly proportional to your notoriety. Another way to get rid of your bounty is to just kill whoever put the bounty on your head in the first place.
The inventory screen in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is pretty much identical to the one in Assassin’s Creed Origins. You’re taken to a screen where you can switch your armor, weapons, and craft additional arrows among things. Also, it’s nice that every piece of equipment has its own look to it which is visible on your character when you equip it.
Like we saw with Origins, the franchise is heading more and more towards a traditional action RPG game. This continues with Odyssey, which is the most ‘RPG’ this franchise has ever been. Plenty of conversation choices which apparently (we can’t confirm this yet) actually affect latter outcomes, choices in the ways you can approach situations, choices in the factions you support etc. And of course, like with all things RPG, there’s a boatload of side quests in the game.
One additional thing we noticed in the game was that some of the side quests we picked up were time gated, as in, you had 24 hours to complete them once you picked them up. Also, there were some online elements in the game in terms of the questing, such as weekly quests that offered Orichalcum as the reward, which is special type of currency in the game that is used to buy legendary items. The costs of these items are quite high, but for the most part, they’re mostly cosmetic items that are sometimes available in the store as well. There is a randomized purchase as well, which for 20 Orichalcum guarantees you an item of epic or higher tier. You can also get store exclusive items from this purchase. There is no way to acquire Orichalcum ore using real money, but you can however purchase a map which shows you the location of all 600 nodes on the map. Other than that, the only possible ways to get Orichalcum are by daily and weekly quests.
Regions and leaders
The game’s world is divided and controlled by two warring factions, the Athenians and the Spartans. The regions have distinguishable borders and are each controlled by a leader. Defeating a region’s leader leaves that region ripe for the picking by the opposing nation. Defeating a leader can be a difficult ordeal, but it can be made easier by weakening the region’s nation power. This can be done by defeating the leader faction’s troops, burning supplies, and looting the treasury. Once you’ve done this enough times within the region, the leader’s defenses and troops reduce, making killing the leader incredibly easy.
When you’ve weakened a region and defeated its leader, it unlocks a conquest battle in the area. In these battles, you’re free to pick either side. However, it should be noted that picking the defending side is much easier than picking the attacking side. It should also be noted that picking the attacking side rewards you with more loot. No pain, no gain right? In our short time in the game we hadn’t gotten to a point where we felt the effects of picking sides yet, but eventually it will probably start making a difference who you side with in these conquest battles.
Naval exploration and combat is back in a big way in Odyssey. There’s a lot of water to traverse in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and plenty of pirates about to fight in the open seas.
We really enjoyed naval combat in the game. The satisfaction of ramming into a ship and cleaving it in half is indescribable. There’s no cannons in ancient Greece, so instead you have archers and javelineers, plus you can eventually upgrade them to be able to fire/throw flaming projectiles to deal more damage.
You can upgrade the various aspects of your ship, such as improving archers and javelineers, increasing the stamina of rowers and improving the speed of ship, making the ship stronger in general and even increasing ramming damage among other things. There’s a lot of material gathering required in that aspect, but we didn’t really have a hard time coming across the required raw materials in the open world.
You can assign up to four lieutenants to your ship, after you’ve upgraded it enough times. You begin with only one slot. Lieutenants offer bonuses to your ship, providing boosts to your ship, be it decreased damage taken, or improved damage dealt among other things. Additionally, you can recruit most foes you come across in the world, this can be done by knocking them out instead of dealing the killing blow. For us, we found the best way to do that was to use the Sparta Kick right before they died. Keep an eye out for stronger enemies who might be worth recruiting. -hint- The Mercenaries or bounty hunters hunting you down are often of Epic of higher tier and make strong lieutenants.
Graphics and Audio
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey looks gorgeous. There’s no two ways about it. The entire setting of the game just looks beautiful. Greece (Ancient Greece rather) looks great. We played the game on a GTX 1060 and a 980Ti. It defaulted to high on the 1060 and we got around 30 fps consistently most of the time. There were no issues with frames on the 980Ti though. However, there was some visible stuttering during cutscenes and such. Also, on the 1060 we noticed a lot of texture popping, wherein the ground underneath us would look dull and bland and suddenly the textures would load the details. It does affect overall immersion, but they should eventually patch and optimise the game with future updates.
In the sound department, we had no complaints either. The voice acting was pretty good, the writing was witty and nothing seemed out of place, which is honestly the best we can ask for. Also, the menu music the classic Assassin’s Creed theme which we could listen to forever.
In terms of the characters themselves, for the most part it’s all good, except during some conversations where the expressions look weird or out of place, but fear not, it’s nowhere near as bad as Andromeda levels.
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Price: Rs. 3,999
A note about microtransactions
While it’s scummy that a single player game such as this one has microtransactions at all, Odyssey’s microtransactions for the most part are purely cosmetic. The fact that you need to pay for an XP boost if you want to just play the main story and not bother with all the side stuff is BS. None of the items you can purchase on the store are as good as or better than what you will get from playing the game.
As for needing an xp boost to rush the main story, if they simply added a ‘Story mode’ to the game, where maybe there were no levels or the xp boost was automatically applied, it might have been a better idea than making it a purchasable microtransaction.
While we’re aware that not everyone has the time, Odyssey is made more like a large scale RPG such as the Witcher, than the usual Assassin’s Creed games we’re accustomed to which take no longer than 20 hours to finish. Once you come to terms with the fact that this is no longer an Assassin’s Creed game, but a full-blown RPG, you’ll find yourself enjoying it much more and will have zero need of the microtransactions.
Verdict – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is actually a really good Action RPG game. Like Black Flag, it no longer feels like an Assassin’s Creed game (You’re literally a misthios, or mercenary in the game), but it does retain certain elements. We’re not saying this is a bad thing though. It’s also a huge game, with plenty of content to keep you playing for 60 hours, probably even more if you’re a completionist. Additionally, while we’ve not revealed any details about the story, what we can say about it is that it’s quite compelling, with plenty of plot twists to keep things interesting and unexpected.
If you were hoping for an Assassin’s Creed game that is true to the older formula, you might end up disappointed, but if you enjoy ARPGs, such as the Witcher, you will enjoy Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
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Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.