After logging well over a 100 hours into Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, I finally feel like I’m well equipped to write a fairly accurate review of the game. And while there are many things that I will critique it on, I just want to mention up front that regardless of its faults, this might just be my favorite entry in the entire franchise.
The game places you into the role of a Spartan mercenary, who depending on your choice will either be a male or female character. These are the siblings Kassandra and Alexios, and their story plays out more or less the same regardless of which one you choose as your character. I played as Alexios during my playthrough, but I also started a new game as Kassandra to get a grasp of how the narrative plays out for both characters.
And as mentioned above it’s more or less the same, which a bit disappointing. Kassandra overall is the one with the more consistent voice acting and performance, but I would like to point that that doesn’t mean the Alexios’s performance is any worse either. It’s just that characters in this game tend to have sort of an exaggerated, almost comedic, undertone to their Greek accents, and it’s much more pronounced in our male protagonist.
The story itself is fairly solid. It’s not as grim as what we saw in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and it still deals with a lot of the tropes that we have come to expect from the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and that’s okay. I actually quite enjoyed it to be honest, and I loved that there were some meaningful and thought provoking decisions that actually made me put down my controller and mull over the choices at hand.
I also loved that the game gave me choice in how I wanted my character to act. I could be needlessly aggressive, friendly or diplomatic, and being able to demand payment for my services from nearly every NPC who asked me to do them a favor is something that I really appreciate. That being said, the conclusion of the game is, in my opinion at least, an absolute train wreck. But you know the whole ” It’s the journey that counts, not the destination” argument can definitely be made for it.
What truly makes this an amazing entry however is the sprawling ancient Greek map we get to explore, and the thoroughly entertaining gameplay. When talking about the setting, It goes without saying that this is one of the most beautiful and detailed game worlds I have ever seen. From snow capped mountains, to dense forests, to the carvings on the buildings, this game nails everything. The sheer scope of the landmass that you can explore is gigantic on its own, but when you take into account just how much there is to see and do in them, and how there are absolutely no loading screens at all, you can’t help but be impressed.
And if that wasn’t all, this world also feels alive and lived in, which is an issue I have with most open world games. It’s not anything groundbreaking, and the developers have clearly taken their fair share of artistic liberties in their portrayal of the ancient Greek world. But it’s the careful nature with which they have done so that makes this special The giant statues of Greek gods, the varied districts of the larger cities (especially of Athens), the wildlife, the clothing, the weaponry and the numerous other tiny little things in this game all come together to create what is without a doubt Ubisoft’s finest open game world.
And none of that would matter at all, if it wasn’t for the fantastic gameplay. Most of the mechanics in this game build upon the foundations laid out by Assassin’s Creed: Origins in 2017. The revamped combat system for example, has been further refined in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and allows players to customize their gameplay styles to their own preferences even further.
Each of three combat trees in the game, which focus on Archery, Stealth and Melee Combat, and are named Hunter, Warrior and Assassin respectively, have a wide range of both passive and active abilities that the players can make use of. I personally opted for a more stealthy approach to combat and invested heavily in the Assassin tree earlier on, allowing me to eliminate most enemies in an encounter without even being spotted. During later levels then, I decided to invest in the Warrior tree as well, allowing me to stand a better chance during a head-on fight.
The game does a good job of not restricting you to one tree either, and is very generous in its distribution of Ability Points. You get one every time you level up, but you can also find them scattered around on the map in Tombs. So while you may feel strapped for them during the earlier hours of the game, you’ll have a neat little amount around halfway though. Respecing is also never too expensive, so you can switch between abilities as much and as often as you like.
You can also collect a wide variety of weapons from spears, swords to even war hammers to deck out you arsenal, and can then even further customize them with Engravings at blacksmiths to provide buffs for whatever particular playstyle you like. Armour can also be engraved in the same way, and you can always upgrade your gear to better suit your level.
Sailing also makes a return this time around, but it doesn’t play a very large role. You use your ship to do most of the travelling between islands, and there are some story elements where naval combat comes into play. But for the most part, you don’t have to engage in any naval combat if you don’t want to. It is pretty fun launching flaming javelins and arrows at other vessels though, even if variety is not really there.
I also really enjoyed the new Mercenary system, which provides players with a constant stream of Elite NPCs to fight. The way it works is that if you do something bad such as killing civilians, a bounty gets put on your head. Then mercenaries seeking to claim that bounty for themselves attempt to hunt you down any chance they get, regardless of whether you’re in the middle of a mission or just exploring the map. Alternatively, you can also just hunt them down of your own accord, and doing so not only rewards you with some sweet new gear, but also provides you with other unique bonuses depending on how high up the ranks you are.
The Conquest mechanic on the other hand, is not as enjoyable. Each of the different States in the world are either under the control of Sparta or Athens, and you can fight to flip the balance of power in them by assassinating key figures, destroying supplies and looting funds. This results in a massive battle between the two powers, and you can choose which side you want to fight for.
The problem is, these conquest battles have no lasting impact on the game. You can fight to bring Sparta to power in one state by defeating Athens, and then almost immediately start working to bring Athens back to power with zero lasting consequences, and none of the sides view you any differently.
Being forced into a Melee battle after the game makes it a point to allow you to play the way you want, is also incredibly disappointing. The rewards are also not worth all the effort eventually, and it’s much more efficient to just scrap them for resources to upgrade your Legendary armour instead. Chances are though, that you won’t really invest much time into this feature either, apart from the brief moments when you are forced to for the sake of the story.
All in all, my complaints about the game don’t hold a candle to the things I enjoy about it. It is beautiful and immersive, and the combat is best the franchise has seen to date. A lot of people have complained that this is not Assassins Creed that they know and love, and the game has moved away from its roots, and I completely understand where they’re coming from.
But to me, Assassin’s Creed: Origins started to take the series in a bold new direction, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the next step in that journey. Acknowledging all valid criticisms directed at this game, I believe that this is the best Assassin’s Creed to date, and I can’t wait for the next one.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is out now on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC. It was developed and published by Ubisoft. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey Review
With its beautiful open world and fantastic gameplay, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is without a doubt the best entry in the franchise to date.