Did Euripides fans off, Ubisoft?
Figured I get this out of the way: before I started contributing to good ol’ Kakuchopurei, I played a LOT of Assassin’s Creed Origins and its two expansions. I dug the RPG aspects of it, its charismatic protagonists Bayek and Aya, the ancient Egyptian setting during Ptolemy’s rule, and the second expansion’s foray into the afterlife -giant scorpions and all.
But I feared that with AC Origins’ success and mostly positive reception, Ubisoft might go back to their old ways and annualize an AC game. Hence the announcement of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and its release date of this October. This makes you think that the whole “taking a break from AC-churning” methodology is one big joke.
Even with this worry in mind, I still felt that this new AC game might have some redeeming features to make us yearn for the wait. Here’s what we all gathered based on the previews & hands-on sessions.
This Game Is Old AF
I meant that in a century timeline kind of way. AC Odyssey takes place 4 centuries before AC Origins; it’s set during the Peloponnesian War of 431 BC.
During that era, Greece itself is a huge, beautiful, and prosperous continent that is filled with so many different terrain and areas ranging from snow-capped mountains to lovely, lovely beaches.
Have you seen a beach in Greece now? Imagine how it looked back then before modern civilization touched it.
The RPG Aspects Are Bigger
I honestly didn’t think that Ubisoft is going the Bioware route with the series, yet here we are. AC Odyssey lets you pick between a male and female mercenary: Alexios and Kassandra.
You also have dialogue choices this time around, which also means You get to lie and flirt too. The demo that journos played a few weeks all said that you can initiate romance with either the male or female captain army duo. There’s a personal touch to AC Odyssey that is lacking in other AC games.
While we’re on story, this is a prequel to Origins. So basically this is Assassins vs. Templars: The Earlier Beginning before Odyssey. Don’t think too hard on it.
The Modern Day & First Civilization Story Is In Full Force
We get to continue the modern story of Layla Hassan, the Animus user from AC Odyssey. This time, Ubisoft promises that the game will connect her story, and the story of her Animus subject(s), to the First Civilization. According to the developers, Layla’s quest to find First Civ artifacts and First Civilization information led her to discover the lost book of Herodotus, the first historian.
The book referred to a Spartan mercenary that would have been in contact with First Civilization artifacts. We’ll talk about that specific object in the next paragraph.
Combat & Conflict Gets A Major Overhaul
First things first: you now wield the Spear of Leonidas instead of hidden blades. That’s one of the First Civilization artifacts that tie into the story, and it shows since it gives your protagonist otherworldly powers.
You also have access to special attacks. No, not that Super Attack where Bayek charges at people. Just regular special attacks with that take up a stock of adrenaline. When you hold the L1, you can then press any of the face buttons to either do a flurry of attacks or grab an enemy’s shield to toss it aside.
While we’re at it, you can boost your special skills, critical hits, hit points, and other stats with outfits and gear; AC Odyssey’s level of customization is heavily-detailed; you get 5 categories of wearable gear instead of 1. Specialization takes centre stage here as your mercenary can level up to specialize in either the Hunter, Warrior, or Assassin skill tree. These trees offer different skills the others don’t have to help complement your playstyle and conflict-resolution methods.
You get to use these newfound combat skills and gear in the game’s epic battles where Athen and Spartan troops fight each other en masse. We’re talking 150-versus-150 Greeks fighting each other simultaneously. It’s a sight to behold if the E3 trailers are of any indication.
Best of all, you get to use a bird named Ikaros to help you in combat and even see things far and away from your puny human line of sight. I mean if you still have your old assets from your previous game, might as well repackage them to meet that yearly quota, eh?
You Get To Debate With Socrates
Yes, the philosopher from Ancient Greece. Remember how AC 2 had Leonardo da Vinci and AC Syndicate had Alexander Graham Bell? We now get to engage in moral discussions with the ancient philosopher whose name is spelt with a “k” here. If you finish a quest in the most violent way possible, he’ll start debating with you on whether your actions are just or not.
This adds a bit more layer and context in what you do; I do like my daily moral challenges being delivered by one of history’s greatest philosophers in digital video game form.
There’s quite a lot to like about the new AC Odyssey despite my reservations. The worldwide power system, the boats you use to sail around and fight/explore in, the improved stealth mechanics that grant you more experience points for kills, and that minotaur at the end of the trailer that hints at mythical challenges ala AC Origins’ weekly content. All of these sound like Ubisoft is just doing what they did with AC Brotherhood: take the skeleton and framework of the previously successful AC game, then just build on it and make up new mechanics to freshen up the experience.
We’ll find out if this method pays off this October 5.