Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Xbox One Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Action RPG
 
Rating: MA15+
 
Release Date: October 5, 2018
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
4.5/5


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

Positives


- Immersive world with lots of content to discover
- Dialog trees open up some on-going consequences for your actions
- Strong story that features engaging characters
- Quality facial animations and HDR enhancements
- Naval combat makes a triumphant return

Negatives


- Various gameplay bugs
- Unbalanced experience rewards mean players are forced to complete a lot of side content
- Amount of side quests can make the game feel bloated at times


Posted November 3, 2018 by

 
Full Article
 
 

Following on from Ubisoft’s year-long break between the releases of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Assassin’s Creed Origins, it came as a surprise when Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was slated for release this year. Ubisoft had gone on the record to say the franchise was no longer going to see annual releases and some gamers even assumed the next entry would be on both current generation and next generation consoles ala Black Flag. And yet here we are, with what is arguably one the best entries in the Assassin’s Creed franchise yet.

So far we’ve been to Egypt, London, the Caribbean, Paris, Italy, North America and the Holy Land. In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey players will journey through Ancient Greece in approximately 431 BCE during the Peloponnesian War. Players assume the role of a mercenary and have the option of choosing if they play as a male or female lead;  Alexio and Kassandra respectively. The choice in gender is mostly cosmetic, with the two characters merely switching roles in the story and everything else remaining largely the same. Without spoiling too much, the mercenary is a former member of Sparta but is betrayed at an early age and thought long dead after falling from a cliff. Now an adult and having come into contact with a mysterious cult, the mercenary must discover what happened to and reunite with their family. Overall the story feels stronger than Origins, thanks in no small part to the mercenary character being a charming individual and the colourful cast of side characters that you bond without throughout your journey. You will mourn character deaths, you will laugh at witty dialog exchanges and you will become intrigued by this mysterious dark cult that threatens Greece.

For Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Ubisoft have reused a lot elements that established Origins. For example, Ancient Greece is a large open world for players to explore, players have a companion eagle again which doubles acts as a drone that highlights points of interest, and there are several RPG-like features including player levels and skill trees. But one area that Odyssey has focused on in particular is the introduction of dialog trees. When talking to characters you can choose how you can react to them; perhaps you will do a good deed without reward or demand payment. Perhaps you will be a complete bastard and be mean to everyone – it’s completely up to you. Most dialog options won’t affect the flow of the story, however there will be some options that will lead to permanent decisions in the game world. One early scenario is that you encounter a family that is accused of being infected with the plague and have the option of killing them or letting them go free. Afterwards your actions will be mentioned by other characters and you may be responsible for a sudden disease outbreak on an island. It’s an interesting dynamic and it does feel like your choices matter and will have an impact in the game. We would like Ubisoft to take this even further in the future.

Ubisoft’s ability to create stunning game worlds is back in full force with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. There are plenty of different islands, townships, forts and mountain ranges to explore throughout the game. In populated towns there are merchants filling the streets, fountains, places of worship and anatomically correct statues depicting Greek gods and soldiers. The mountain ranges offer stunning sunsets on the horizon and feature several animal species roaming the wilderness including elk, wild boar, wolves, bears and even lions and tigers. Also, there’s a Mercenary ranking system that lets you find and defeat rival mercenaries; perfect for gaining some additional experience points and rewards! The world feels alive and there is plenty of content to uncover, so much so that gamers will be spending dozens of hours discovering everything. If one was to fault the game world in any way, it would be that at times it does feel bloated purely because there are literally dozens of side quests to undertake at every turn. While some players will lap it up, there will be others that will get overwhelmed and lose interest.

Odyssey introduces Guided and Exploration modes which alter the way you receive and locate objectives. Guided mode is your classic open world flare, with markers guiding you to the next objective. Exploration mode, however, removes the markers entirely and encourages players to get lost in the environment and use their navigational skills. It isn’t too taxing on the player; most NPCs will indicate the general area of an objective by saying “head west of the island”, “it’s at this building” or similar. If you don’t pay attention to the NPC then the objective’s location is displayed on the game HUD. Your faithful eagle companion, Ikaros, will also alert you as you near your objective and then highlight the target of interest. It’s a relatively simple change but it gives you the option to further immerse yourself into the world and take a different approach.

As mentioned, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey features similar RPG elements that were present in Origins. This includes players having to obtain experience points to increase their level and enhance their abilities, as well as equip armour and weapons that match your player level. Locations throughout Greece (and individual missions) will have a recommend player level attached to them. If you’re even a few levels below the recommendation then enemies will be able to cut you down with a few quick swipes and your equipment will be of little use. This is where one of the game’s biggest issues comes to mind, as it feels like there isn’t a good balance between story progression and the amount of experience points you collect. Players are encouraged to complete side quests to boost their level, and yet the experience awarded is so little that at times it feels like you are locked into completing all these side quests just to progress the story. It’s very grindy and detracts from an otherwise great game. This isn’t helped by the fact Ubisoft have implemented a paid option to permanently boost the amount experience you receive by 50%. Players are paying top dollar for this shiny new game, and yet it seems like they’re being punished if they want to fast track the story and ignore side content.

The combat system from Origins returns in Odyssey. Once again players can use a variety of weapons including standard swords, dual swords, sceptres, spears and bows. Each weapon controls differently – some will be fast and steady, others will be slow to swing but do more damage. You also have armour which boosts your defense and offers various buffs for your character. You can choose to keep your current equipment and upgrade its level at a blacksmith using in-game currency and resources, or you can purchase new equipment outright or utilise what you’ve been awarded for completing quests. New to Odyssey is the ability to add engravings to weapons which offer enhancements such as increased damage and health boosts.

Naval combat makes a triumphant return after not being featured too heavily in the more recent instalments of the franchise. Ubisoft have taken the mechanics used in Black Flag and Rogue and refined them – you can shoot harpoons and arrows at rival ships, ram them for huge damage and also board the ships and fight their crews. You can upgrade your ship’s hull and general attack and defensive abilities, as well as hire lieutenants to assist when boarding other ships. It’s cute seeing dolphins ride the waves created by your ship as well, not to mention the sharks that dominate the high seas. Unlike Black Flag where the sea was vast and open, the Greek islands in Odyssey are in closer proximity so you don’t have long drawn out segments of ship sailing. Also, love it or hate it, you no longer have to take into account the direction of the wind, likely due to ships of the era (and in the game) using oars to be propelled through the water.

Unfortunately, as with most major releases these days, there are an assortment of bugs. I’ve managed to fall through the floor of the world and tumble to my doom while assassinating someone who was on a horse. My character has gotten stuck while climbing and collectable items have been located in unreachable places (but thankfully they weren’t critical to the objective).  There are also instances of weird death animations for animals – several times I have shot arrows at animals only for them to appear standing motionless rather than laying dead on the ground… Just don’t tell PETA! By all means these issues aren’t game breaking, but they’re present and detract from the experience.

The visuals of the game are absolutely gorgeous. Character animations in particular are excellent, with facial expressions being carefully animated to convey the moods of characters without a single word being muttered. I played the game on an Xbox One X system on a 4K HDR display, so I was able to benefit from enhanced lighting and particle effects. The dazzling sunlight in game casts great shadows and saturation effects; it looks realistic and is mesmerising.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is one of the best entries in the franchise. The world of Ancient Greece is a playground of adventure with plenty of sights to behold and lots of content to discover. The new dialog tree offers the ability to make some impactful decisions on the game world and naval combat makes a triumphant return. There are some issues which detract from the overall experience, but ultimately this is one of Ubisoft’s finest masterpieces.

 

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on an Xbox One X console. It is also available on PS4 and PC.


Joseph Rositano

 
While Joseph's main hobby has always centered around video games, he's also taken an interest in movies, musicals and traveling around the world. No one quite knows what Joseph's true motivations are, but rest assured he is always planning his next grand adventure!