For my money, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and last year’s soft-relaunch Assassin’s Creed: Origins are the two best games in the now over a decade-long history of the AC franchise. Yes, there are plenty of other worthy contenders but these two, in particular, have always struck my fancy more than any of the others.
So imagine my delight when I sat down to try out this year’s coming release of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at E3 and found it to practically be a combination of those two games above that I adore. Odyssey continues to build off of the RPG-heavy mechanics and systems that Origins introduced last year, while also once again emphasizing sailing and naval combat, my favorite feature from Black Flag. These two elements in addition to the litany of others that Odyssey is adding for the first time in franchise history have me more than excited.
My demo of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey began with the character select screen, a new feature for the series. I had the option to choose between Alexios or Kassandra, the two protagonists that Odyssey will offer. Players will be able to pick which of these two characters that they’d like to play as at the beginning of Odyssey and then will be locked into that character for the duration of the game. No swapping back and forth like with the Frye siblings in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. I ended up selecting Kassandra for my demo.
Within minutes of running around the gorgeous looking locale of Greece, I found that most of the core elements of the game were identical to that of Origins. If you played through Bayek’s journey, you should feel right at home jumping into Odyssey.
Where things started to differ were more with the new role-playing elements. Off the bat, I was given the opportunity to select different responses from a dialogue tree when speaking with other characters. If you’ve played games with dialogue trees before then, yep, this is just another one of those. Where things became a bit more intriguing though was when I was given a chance to choose between drastically different options to progress in the story.
One of the mainline quests I played in my time with Odyssey presented me with the option of siding with one of two parties that wanted to approach a scenario in vastly different ways. Upon selecting who I wanted to side with, I subsequently spurned the other person who was disgruntled with me as a result of my choice. Ubisoft has promised that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will give players tons of options, all of which will potentially have positive and negative benefits just like this. While I didn’t see much of this reflected in my demo — likely due to time constraints — I’m curious to learn more about these different paths and understanding how significantly they will affect the overall narrative.
The other most significant addition that Odyssey includes deals with combat. Now, you can utilize a variety of special moves that you can map to each of the face buttons. Upon building up your meter enough by fighting enemies, you’re able to then utilize these moves that allow you to do things such as disarm enemies or use the famed Spartan kick that has been showcased quite a bit in the game’s trailers. I only had a handful of these abilities to use in my demo, but I’m looking forward to seeing how many there are in the full game as the loadout you go with will likely dictate your combat style.
My favorite new addition which I mentioned earlier though is the return of sailing in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. I was enamored with Black Flag when it released back in 2013, so to see it finally return in a major way now makes me happier than it should.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a chance to play around with the sailing in my build of the game at E3. The area in which I was able to sail about was very limited, so I couldn’t do much. From what one of the developers told me about the sailing mechanics as well, they won’t be as broad as what was seen in Black Flag. Don’t expect to hunt sharks or anything of that nature in Odyssey. Still, that cool moment of pulling your ship up onto the beach and diving off of the front of your ship into the water to swim ashore is still present, and I absolutely love that.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey might not be a drastic leap forward for the series like Origins was last year, but it’s positively building off of all of the new things that it introduced. With an even deeper reliance on RPG systems and the return of ship activities, Odyssey feels like the Assassin’s Creed game that I was asking for years ago. I still have some reservations with the story and characters judging off of what I’ve seen so far, but that hasn’t shaken Assassin’s Creed Odyssey from being one of my most anticipated releases of this Fall.
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