When I watched the reveal of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at Ubisoft’s E3 Showcase I was struck by disappointment. To me, that reveal made the game seem like Assassin’s Creed Origins set in Greece. The UI looked the same, the animations looked the same, and the protagonist’s narrative even seemed almost identical. To put it bluntly, I was not impressed. I saw this as Ubisoft returning to their old ways of churning out the same game every year, just changing the setting and time period. However, since the reveal, a lot more footage from the game has been released. That footage has shown a lot of features and systems that have surprised me, and are setting it apart from Origins. One aspect of Odyssey that has got me extremely excited is the game’s focus on player choice.
Scott Phillips, the game director of Odyssey, stated in a preview video on Ubisoft’s Youtube Channel “Choice was absolutely one of the first things we started thinking about and that we wanted in the game.” This gives the impression that choice was something the team was focused on and would implement to a great degree. Looking deeper into the gameplay I saw that to be true and I saw that choice manifesting in a few ways.
The first of which can be seen almost immediately, with players being given the choice of playing as a male, Alexios, or a female, Kassandra. This choice appears to not have any effect on the gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, as they share the same story and gameplay abilities. Personally, that didn’t get me intrigued. However, the next two systems certainly did.
Players now have the option in Odyssey to choose dialogue and affect character relationships. Dialogue choices are something I am extremely excited for, as I am always interested in getting as much information as possible from characters when I play games. Dialogue options allow me to do that. That same preview video displays some of the choices I can make, such as starting a battle with certain characters or romancing specific characters. The cause-and-effect relationship that my interactions will have in Odyssey is extremely enticing. Every interaction will have to be thought about to ensure that I get the resolution I want, rather than a resolution being crafted for me.
Those fact that those choices can directly affect the game’s story and side quests is even more exciting. In a Reddit AMA, Jonathon Dumont, the creative director of Odyssey, revealed that in the game “your actions and choices will leave to different endings” and that this would be “true for other quests too!” The fact that choice will have an effect on later quests is something I am interested to see the full extent of.
The second and, in my opinion, the most interesting system that is being infused with player choice is the moment-to-moment combat. This is mainly being done through the abilities Odyssey offers and the way in which you equip them. In previous Assassin’s Creed games, once an ability had been purchased it was automatically added to the repertoire of moves you could perform. Odyssey changes this. Now an ability has to be manually mapped to a certain face button (Cross, Circle, Square, Triangle on PlayStation 4, A, B, X, Y on Xbox One). This means that at any one time players can only equip 4 abilities at a time. This results in me having to choose abilities that I want, rather than slowly building up my power to be an unstoppable hero.
The most interesting thing that this will bring to the Assassin’s Creed formula is risk-vs-reward scenarios. In order to power up the Broken Spear of Leonidus (A relic weapon that is usable throughout the entire game), I may have to sacrifice the ability to perform a Spartan Kick or break an enemy’s shield. This places importance on what abilities I choose to invest my points into. I am no longer able to equip and perform everything possible in the game during a gameplay sequence. I have to now choose how I want to play Assassin’s Creed, crafting a playstyle and skill set based around my choice of playstyle. There are 30 different abilities to mix and match in Odyssey adding a strong sense of variety to the gameplay, on top of the different weapon types.
Seeing just how much Odyssey differs itself from Origins when it comes to the gameplay and systems is growing my interest in this game. It appears that the team at Ubisoft Québec are building upon the outstanding work that Ubisoft Montreal did with Origins, rather than emulating it.
However, despite my interest in Odyssey, it is going to have a hard time standing up to the competition this fall. Red Dead Redemption 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Marvel’s Spider-man all release right next to it. And so far, I haven’t seen anything that has made me want Odyssey over these other three games. Alongside that, I have a number of concerns about the game still. I am worried that the world will be too dense and big making me feel overwhelmed as I look at a sea of icons on my screen. The personal story of Alexios/Kassandra seems dreadfully trite, especially after Origins less than a year ago.
Nevertheless, I am cautiously optimistic about Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. I hope that Ubisoft has something up their sleeve that can convince me Odyssey is worth buying over everything else this fall.
I am a lover of story-driven experiences, such as Life is Strange. As a keen PlayStation fan, I spend too much of my time collecting Trophies for no discernable reason. The moments where I am not wasting time on a trophy hunt are spent sharing my enthusiasm for games through writing.