Players will need to make time for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. A lot of time. The eleventh major instalment in Ubisoft’s historical open-world series is a gargantuan beast.
The map is easily on the biggest the developer has ever created – possible the biggest in any game it has published – and as is the case with most games in this series, it’s teaming with things to do and discover. You could lose weeks, even months to this game.
As impressive as Odyssey’s size is, it’s also backed up by some of the most eye-wateringly beautiful visuals in the medium. Set in ancient Greece circa 431BCE, the game’s world doubles as an adventure and a walk through the ancient world. Each town and area boasts its own personality; vineyards stretch off over hills, temples stand impressively in town squares and the Mediterranean glistens next to golden beaches.
The story centres on one of two siblings, Alexios and Kassandra, the descendants of the legendary Spartan king Leonidas. Players can pick one or the other, but their choice doesn’t really impact a whole lot on the game’s mechanics or plot. The player then heads into the sprawling map and soon finds themselves embroiled in the Peloponnesian War and a shadowy conspiracy hatched by the series antagonists, The Templars, who at this stage of the franchise’s lore are still in the process of forming.
Odyssey is built on its predecessor’s template – last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins – but developers have tinkered somewhat with the formula and added in some rather neat features. One of these is the new dialogue trees, which allow players a certain amount of choice in how they interact with many of the characters they come across. Far from being a gimmick, the dialogue feature in the game has widespread ramifications; depending on the choices they make, players can end up having an impact (negative or positive) on characters, towns and even cities. It ups the stakes considerably, especially when the decisions affect a character the player may have a romantic interest in.
The combat has also been given something of a scrub. Once again the base mechanics owe a debt to Origins, but players can now equip a rather nasty array of attacks by levelling up. On top of that, there’s a dodge, a parry, a heavy and light strike and an adrenaline meter that allows players to launch a special attack or slow down time. It’s hardly groundbreaking stuff, but it makes Odyssey more engaging, since players can no longer button-mash their way to victory.
Assassin’s Creed has always put a premium on stealth kills, but Odyssey ups this ante with its bounty system. If players are caught doing something nefarious, their bounty goes up and will only be removed once they pay it off or kill the character who put a contract out on them. Until then they’ll be hunted.
Odyssey is a game crammed with content. Really in the space provided, there’s no way one can delve in all it has to offer. Suffice to say that this is one of 2018’s best games and one of the better games in the franchise. Just remember to book that week off work before you start playing it.