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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 16 - 2018

Going Greek.

The first Assassin’s Creed game was an absolute game changer. It gave you this heroic character that could run up walls with ease and take down an opponent with skill and grace, before returning to the shadows. The second Assassin’s Creed game followed suit and expanded. These were the real Assassin’s Creed games. Then, with each subsequent entry in the series, things started to change and everything became that little bit less “assassiny”. Before long, players were playing as pirates or running gangs, and the open worlds were becoming much larger and giving less opportunity to live in the shadows. That is not to say that these games were not good, Black Flag is still one of my favourites, but they evolved away from what made the first couple of games a breath of fresh air.

So now we come to the latest Assassin’s Creed title, Odyssey, which is perhaps the least Assassin’s Creed game yet. But, by Zeus, it is awesome.

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The throwaway outside story still remains, with the sci-fi setting and the use of DNA to access the lives of ancient heroes through the Animus. As always, it is easy to ignore for the most part, and as players can go many hours without a visit to the future, it doesn’t really have much bearing on the game. That being said, there is some intrigue much further into the game that is worth paying attention to. But at the beginning, it serves as a vessel for choosing between two characters – Alexios or Kassandra.

Heading back to ancient Greece at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, players will take on the role of one of these two characters, working as a mercenary in Kephalonia. This relatively small introductory island will give players a chance to get the first few levels under their belts as they come to grips with how to play the game. Alexios and Kassandra have a really complicated history and family life, and it is this journey of discovery that becomes the driving force for the chosen character to leave the island and start exploring the world. The game is absolutely packed with narrative, both following the main characters family and the ongoing events of the Greek world, and there are more than a few twists and turns to keep the player invested. I have to say that while things can get confusing at times, due to so much to keep track of, the writing really is spot on in Odyssey and more enjoyable than pretty much all of the previous games.

But without a huge, open world in which to set all of this narrative, the game would be a novel. The Greek world is absolutely massive, and packed full of things to see and do. As with any open world game, Odyssey’s map slowly reveals itself, along with a multitude of little icons showing activities. Leaving Kephalonia, players will get themselves a boat and crew, and head out onto the wide open seas. From there, the world opens up and the player is free to explore. Some areas will require the player to have reached a certain level or face almost certain death, but that is the players’ choice.

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At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention just how beautiful the world is. Bustling towns, forests filled with wild animals, hidden temples and ruins, and gorgeous blue seas. The world simply comes alive, and more than once I have found myself just marvelling at how good it all looks.

Anyway, the story missions will have the player wandering all across this impressive world, visiting famous places and meeting famous people. But there is so much more to do besides. Players can pick up missions almost anywhere, and are even given the chance to turn them down if they choose. There are notice boards spread throughout the map that will offer all sorts of distraction missions. Then there is the wildlife to be hunted, including some particularly troublesome beasts that are linked to a major mission. There is treasure to be taken, caves to explore, and materials to be found, which can be used to upgrade the player’s ship or equipment. It is easy to get distracted.

Then there are the ongoing things, such as the mercenary system. Early on, the player will discover that someone has put a bounty on their head, which will lead to a mercenary relentlessly tracking them down. This mercenary is simply the first of many, and any time the player manages to annoy enough people, by doing things like killing soldiers or stealing treasure, more mercenaries will come. Each mercenary has their own back story and level, and the player will either have to fight them and win, kill the person who took out the bounty in the first place, or pay off the bounty themselves to get rid of them. Otherwise, it is just a matter of running away and hiding a lot. While one mercenary of a similar level is not too much trouble, having to deal with three in the middle of an enemy fort will be a cause for concern. Still, taking them out rewards the player with handy xp and some very nice loot.

Then there is the conquest battle system, which I have to admit confused me. In any given country, the player can attempt to sway the balance of power by taking out the country’s leader. To make them weaker and more easy to kill, players can attack forts and kill soldiers, destroy supplies or even steal the payroll. Once the leader is down, it is then time to join up with the full army and get into combat, taking down enemy soldiers until one side wins, and then get rewarded with xp, cash and equipment. It’s great fun and gives the player a solid reason to spend time in each country, but it doesn’t really make sense for the player to keep switching sides in the conflict, without either side getting fed up and just killing them. I get that the character is a mercenary and is doing it just for the reward, but after switching sides a couple of times, why would any side trust them? Still, there you go.

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After playing for a little while, players can choose to start hunting down cult members, which is a really interesting side mission involving following clues and putting the pieces together to actually locate, as they are spread all over the game world, and kill these powerful people. It is another part of the game that the player will have to keep track of and that will span many hours of gameplay.

In fact, I think that there may be the main issue I have with Odyssey. By the time the player has put in some ten or fifteen hours, they will have a whole bunch of missions that simply cannot be completed until much further down the line. A mission arc may start simply, but then come to a grinding halt as the player will not be able to continue with that until they have gained a few more levels. Or there may be level forty missions turning up when the player is only level ten. It results in a lot of threads that the player has to follow, some of which will go hours and hours before being picked up again. It can be confusing and overwhelming.

Still, whatever the player happens to be doing, you can guarantee that combat is not far behind. The combat is smooth and easy to pick up. One button for a quick hit, another for a slower hit designed to push a shield aside. Parry or dodge at the right moment to create an opening to wail on the opponent. Then there are the abilities. The player is given a glimpse of how powerful they can become at the very beginning of the game as they play out their very own 300 fantasy. However, once that is over, the player will have to rely on gaining experience, which is given out for pretty much everything, and levelling up to spend points in the three skill trees – Hunter, Warrior and Assassin. Here is where abilities can be picked up and assigned, and before long the player will be Spartan kicking enemies off cliffs or firing arrows at four enemies at once.

While I said that the game is probably the furthest from the original Assassin’s Creed, at least it puts an emphasis on being like an assassin. Players are able to hide in bushes or drop from roofs to perform assassinations. Characters can do three different types of damage, based on the same as the skill trees, and the Assassin damage is always multiple times any other type, making assassination the quickest and easiest way to dispatch foes.

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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the largest and most feature packed game so far in the series, and one of the most enjoyable open world games that I have come across. While it may have moved away from its roots, Odyssey’s open world adventure is simply the best game in the series so far, and bodes well for the future. Pick up Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and start your own journey in ancient Greece.




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Cozy Grove Due This Spring

Posted by GG Goblin
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