As of writing this, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is soon to release. Before I can enter the Viking age, however, I must first talk about the ancient Greeks with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The rank itself is at the bottom of this blog. Without further ado, let's get into it.
Taking place during the Peloponnesian War, you play as either a male or female mercenary living on a small island. One day, you take a job from a wealthy man to assassinate someone, only to realize the person you are to kill is your stepfather. From there, you go on an adventure around Greece in the hopes of uniting your family, but you soon find out your family is far from ordinary.
When I think of the word “Odyssey,” I think of a story on a grand scale. In that sense, this game nails it. Instead of one campaign, this game has three, and each are an adventure in-and-of-themselves. The first and main campaign involves you sailing around Greece in hopes of connecting your family, despite one of them being brainwashed into working with the cult hunting down your family. The second campaign mainly consists of hunting down each and every cult member. The final campaign is about helping your true father protect the gates of Atlantis by taking on mythological monsters. While none of these campaign stand on their own, they all prop themselves up in a way that feels like I am experiencing an ancient Greek epic.
One new inclusion to this game in relation to the story are story and dialogue options. All of this is in hopes of fleshing out its new RPG identity. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this aspect of the game as strong. There are dialogue options, and some of the conversations lead to different outcomes and even romance options, but the dialogue options do not make as much of a difference as I would hope for. If there is dialogue choices involved with major story beats, then there is a consequence, but it isn’t as impactful outside of those situations. Same goes with the outcomes. There is a great choice early on in the game on whether or not you want to save a sick family from execution, and the result determines whether or not the island they’re on becomes plague-ridden, but you don’t really see a consequence like that again. It almost seems like they had an idea to show off at a press conference, scrapped that idea afterwards, but still left the content in. There are options to kill or spare characters, but they don’t really affect you or the world in any meaningful way.
Some of the dialogue options are questions that can help with the mission.
Another thing that doesn’t really have any impact on this story is the Assassin/Templar storyline. I get that a small part of this story is the formation of the Templars, but even then its presence is minimal. While I enjoy the Assassin/Templar storyline, the main issue here is that it speaks to a larger issue of an identity crisis. Whether it be the story or the gameplay, Odyssey feels less like an Assassin’s Creed game and more like a basic RPG. And this game trying to be a basic RPG is what hurts this game the most throughout the entire experience.
This game feels like it was under some obligation to reach a high hour count when it was developed, and it shows in the story. While I did enjoy the story, I also felt a fair bit of it wasted my time. There is one mission, for example, where you go to a house party and ask guests for clues as to where you find your mother. This branches off into three different quests where you go to different people to ask them. What should’ve been a simple group of quests ended up being hours upon hours of slog. One guy had me doing hours of quests for other people, one required me to pay her a lot of money (which required more grinding), and the last involved liberating a town from thugs. Moments like these are scattered throughout, and I found them to be detrimental to the story.
While this grind affects story, it is nowhere near as bad as its effect on combat. You can change some of the options in the settings to alleviate some of these issues (or get some help from “convenient” microtransactions), but I had my difficulty on normal and my level scaling on default for the ideal leveling the game wants. In this game, it doesn’t take long for enemies to pass you in level. Origins had this issue as well, but I don’t remember it being as bad as this game. Most of the story levels require a higher level than the last, which requires a lot of grind. Even enemies of the same level became damage sponges at some point, taking hit after hit to take down. Over time, the combat just became numbers to me, which I hate because good combat shouldn’t feel like I’m hitting a training dummy. It should feel impactful yet challenging, which is something I don’t really get out of this game.
While its grind is the combat’s downfall, not all of it is bad. The best part of this game’s combat are the vast god-like abilities you can unlock. Abilities are broken down to bow abilities, combat abilities, and stealth abilities, and a lot of them are fun to try out. These abilities include throwing a spear at an enemy and stealth-killing them, turning bodies invisible, firing an arrow that can be controlled, lighting your weapon on fire, and more. And yes, you can Spartan kick. There are some other combat improvements as well, like a gracious parry and a perfect dodge that puts you into slow-mo. There are some neat additions to this game, but overall the combat feels let down by its grindiness.
Spartan kicks are most effective when taking out enemies on boarded ships.
For the past few years, open-world games have been in some sort of contest to see who can create the largest world. I don’t know which one is the largest, but Odyssey’s world is certainly up there. This map of Greece is huge, lush, and vibrant, but bigger doesn’t always mean better. This massive world is filled with elements across all AC games: large cities, forts, villages, hunting spots, sailing, islands, and so on, with a few new additions as well. The best new addition to this world are conquest battles. The map is divided into regions, and each region is either controlled by Athens or Sparta. You can do a variety of tasks to weaken the control over a region, and it eventually leads to a conquest battle. These are large scale battles where you choose to fight for either side, and you have to kill more enemies before they kill too many allies to win. It’s a fun mode I enjoyed throughout my time with this game, but it also doesn’t really have any impact on the world. Blue armor changes to red or vice versa, and you can do these as many times as you want in whatever region you want. It has no real impact on the story or the world, and maybe it’s all a message for the uselessness of war, but I wish there would at least be some sort of result or consequence for doing these battles (which I think an RPG should have).
In this large open world, there are a lot of quests to do. And when I say a lot, I mean an infinite amount, as for there are a few infinitely generated quest types. The sheer amount of quests and quest types can be overwhelming, but it’s better than having nothing. Main quests, side quests, companion quests, bounties, user generated quests, naval quests, timed quests, and more litter this open world and give you plenty to do. It’s really cool to see this large open world and a menu full of quests at first, but they lead to another issue I had with the game: quantity over quality. Like I said earlier, this game is having a bit of an identity crisis and is trying to be more of an RPG than anything else, and part of that is trying to have a high hour count. Outside of the grind, I think this game tries to also get a high hour count by filling the game with filler. Sure, both the world and the quests have content worth diving into. The cities are fun to explore, the side quests have some interesting small stories to tell, and so on. But the more time I spent in this game, the more I realized how dull the world can be and how a lot of the quests are just “go here, do this, come back” but in different wrapping paper. Maybe this was an issue with Origins as well, but you can only see so many similar looking forts and empty land before you start wishing for the compact worlds of Syndicate and Unity.
In the last game, you could sail, but there wasn’t naval combat like Black Flag. This game, on the other hand, brings back naval combat, and setting sail on a warship again made me realize just how much I missed it. Sailing and combat is mostly the same as Black Flag (with time-appropriate weaponry, of course), but there are a few differences. In this game, you can recruit Lieutenants, which give some stat bonuses for naval combat. The Lieutenants are weird, as for they are either enemies you knock out instead of kill or romance partners you leave on the boat, but it’s still a neat mechanic. Where their usefulness really comes in, however, is if you decide to board a ship. Just like in Black Flag, if you get a ship weak enough, you can board it, and having Lieutenants fight by your side on a boarded ship helps. There isn’t a whole lot to say about the sailing because it is mostly the same as Black Flag, but it’s still a lot of fun in ancient Greece.
Boarding ships never got old for me.
Another mechanic seen in a previous AC game (this time Origins) are the mercenaries. In Origins, they were select characters who roamed Egypt in search of you, but this version is more along the lines of the Nemesis system from Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Mercenaries are generated, and as you kill them, you go up the mercenary food chain to the top. Each mercenary has their own little biographies, weaknesses, weapons, fighting styles, and so on. At first, I thought it was a more shallow but still neat Nemesis system and a good addition to the game, but as time went on, I began to realize this is one of the worst mechanics in the game. How it works is there is a wanted level in this game, and mercenaries will hunt you down if you are wanted. It makes sense, but where the issue comes in is how annoying the mercs are. They are like flies to a turd, and they never go away. It makes the world feel like half of the population are mercenaries out to get you, and they constantly got in the way of everything. I even had slow main missions like walking with my mother trying to catch up on life or a romance mission where I went hunting with another where mercenaries show up and ruin any moment of peace and tranquility these missions have. They are always there, ready to bother you, and I think the mercenary system is one of the worst features in any AC game to-date.
In terms of the technical, one complaint I had with the last game that is fixed here is the framerate. The last game chugged for me, but this game ran a bit better. Just like the last game, this one is filled with quality-of-life improvements as well as enough settings and options to fill a warehouse. One issue that has arisen with this game, however, are the awkward pauses and silence in dialogue and cutscenes. There are a ton of moments throughout the game, whether it be in the middle of a conversation or a cutscene, where there is a long, awkward silence between sentences or the camera stays on one character for too long. It becomes rather distracting the more you realize it, and I had over 70 hours of realizing it. Still, I have to applaud this game for its better technical performance and high amount of customization.
Once you finish the main game, you can of course jump back into Greece and keep completing missions or whatever you want to do in the world. You can start a new game plus, which I couldn’t imagine ever doing with how long this game is, or you can jump into some of the bonus DLC content. With all of my other rankings, DLC does not count towards the rank, so I’ll keep it brief.
This game has two major DLC content packs. The first is a rather basic storyline of fighting another secret society. The second content pack is much more substantial, as for it takes you to different Greek mythological locations like Atlantis and Elysium, and has mythological characters like Poseidon and Hades. Discovery Tour, one of my favorite side modes in video games, makes a return to show off the history of ancient Greece. Finally, there are the user generated quests, which you search for and play whenever. I think having these quests are neat, but they feel rather limited in what can be made, and I didn’t find them entertaining enough to keep me playing.
Discovery Tour is still super cool.
In conclusion, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a game losing its focus. It has a lot of fun mechanics and enough content to last a life time, but it’s not really an Assassin’s Creed game. It’s a game trying too hard to be an RPG, and I think this game suffers as a result. There are a lot of great things to talk about, but I found its negative aspects to be a bit too distracting. Are these issues a part of Origins? Maybe, but they didn’t feel as noticeable as they do here. With all of that said, I have decided to rank this game in the number seven spot, in between Rogue and Unity.
P.S. You can find a gallery of Odyssey screenshots here.
16. Assassin's Creed 3
15. Assassin's Creed Freedom Cry
14. Assassin's Creed Liberation
13. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia
12. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China
11. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India
10. Assassin's Creed Revelations
9. Assassin's Creed
8. Assassin's Creed Unity
7. Assassin's Creed Odyssey
6. Assassin's Creed Rogue
5. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
4. Assassin's Creed Syndicate
3. Assassin's Creed Black Flag
2. Assassin's Creed Origins
1. Assassin's Creed 2