Assassin's Creed Odyssey Review PS4
key review info
- Game: Assassin's Creed Odyssey
- Platform: Playstation 4
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
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Assassin's Creed Odyssey is Ubisoft’s most courageous foray into the franchise and by far the most rewarding for players.
When Ubisoft decided to reboot the franchise and release Assassin's Creed Origins, they took are a pretty big leap. Somehow, they managed to convince the fans that it’s for the good of the franchise and that this is the way to the future. And it turns out that they were right to move from an action-adventure towards an RPG experience.
And make no mistake about it. While Assassin's Creed Origins managed to keep an anchor into the past, the new Odyssey is much more of an RPG than anything else. It’s not clear whether this is what they wanted from the start, or if they figured it out during the development of Origins, but this is the reality now.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that the next iteration in the series is going to be so far removed from the original series that we’re going to start to forget all about it. Assassin's Creed Odyssey still carries the background story and everything it entails. It just might be that Ubisoft is looking for ways to dump the present storyline.
Let’s not forget that the Assassin’s Creed franchise was once linked to the 2012 end of the world Maya predictions nonsense. That means that someone thought of it and someone else approved it. Now it seems stupid and Ubisoft was lucky that the games were good and people voluntarily forgot about all of that.
Since we’re talking about the story, let’s see what we can reveal about Assassin's Creed Odyssey so that we’re not spoiling the experience. The present-day stuff is still there, but it’s a lot less intrusive than in previous games. Let’s face it; everyone wants to experience the ancient world; we get enough of the present.
If you haven’t played any Assassin's Creed games until now, this is a quick rundown. A constant battle has been raging around the world, behind the curtains, between the Templar Order (The Order of the Ancients) and the Brotherhood of Assassins. One wants to control the world through order and obedience, and the other ones want to give people complete freedom, even if it means failure for humanity.
People find a way to explore the ancient world by examining DNA, experiencing the life of the ancestors. It’s based on the idea that the DNA also holds memories. It’s also revealed that an ancient and advanced civilization existed prior to ours and left behind some artifacts of tremendous power. Both the Order and the Assassins are trying to get hold of these artifacts to gain the upper hand.
Since they don’t know where these pieces of technology are, they are relieving the lives of some ancestors that would reveal where they were hidden. It’s basically an episode of “Ancient Aliens” on steroids. Our job is to make sure that we don’t look close enough to the background story. This is the reason why I’m saying that Ubisoft might be looking for a way out.
We’re still following Layla Hassan, the former Abstergo (Templars) employee that’s now switched sides. She’s found a little bit of DNA, from two persons, and she’s trying to relieve their lives. The players will be transported back to Greece, in 431 BC, during the Peloponnesian War.
Revealing much more than this will spoil the beginning of the game, which I have to say took me by surprise. It’s one of the best starts for a story, in this franchise at least, and I’m sure that most players will appreciate it.
Gameplay and graphics
Assassin's Creed Origins changed the formula and turned the game from a third person action adventure more into an RPG, with power levels, items, and quests. There was little resistance in the community, especially after the debacle that was Assassin's Creed Unity.
Now, Ubisoft is taking things even further down the path of the RPG and introduces dialogues and choices, for the first time. It’s an essential step because they chose something similar to what the Witcher games are doing. Decisions have an impact on later events in the game and are considered turning points. In theory, players should have different experiences when they decide in other ways.
Odyssey also reintroduces ship battles, something that we were sorely missing. Pretty much everyone loved Assassin's Creed Black Flag and the adventures of the pirate captain Kenway. Being able to board other ships, is definitely a plus. Interestingly enough, it’s a more superfluous take, with Black Flag providing deeper gameplay in this respect.
It doesn’t matter, because playing with the main characters, either Alexios or Kassandra, is more than satisfying. Their animations and skillsets have been expanded tremendously, and they feel much more organic when moving or fighting. It’s obvious that developers have been working hard on this aspect, and it shows.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m also under the impression that the climbing element has been upgraded as well, and the main character has a much easier time climbing stuff like rock walls or any other irregular shapes.
But let’s get back to the actual gameplay. Now, it’s possible to initiate romantic relationships with other NPCs, but it’s more something that’s done for the public, and it’s less integrated into the main storyline.
The biggest change is probably the reworked combat system. While the regular light and heavy blows are still present, a more useful counter system has been introduced. Also, a number of modifiers, that are unlocked through the Skills are now available.
Players will have some nice extra moves, like a powerful charge, poisoned blades, and the famous “this is Sparta” kick that works on pretty much on everyone. And, to be fair, they are necessary because you won’t be able to resist otherwise.
As for the maritime combat, it’s important to mention that the ship also needs upgrades, just like the character. Recruit various lieutenants that can help you boost the stats is imperative as well.
Also, a nice addition is the introduction of mercenaries. Similar to Black Flag, whenever you do something like sinking a ship, for example, a bounty is placed on your head. Most likely, mercenaries will pick up that mission and start tracking you down. The higher the bounty, the more difficult the fight.
Getting rid of the bounty can be done in several ways, either by killing the mercenaries, but paying it or by killing the people who placed it in the first place. At first, killing the mercenaries is the only viable option, as the other options are not possible. You either don’t have enough money, or there are too many guards.
In any case, it’s an exciting mechanic that genuinely spices up the gameplay, and provides players with some great gear. They tend to use gear, like armor or weapons, for their level, so if you manage to kill one that’s more powerful than you, some of that gear will get to you. Of course, you can also set out on your own and hunt mercenaries.
Another gameplay layer, that woven into the storyline, is the player's involvement into the Peloponnesian War. Depending on your preferences and where the story takes you, it’s possible to influence the outcome by taking sides. Killing high-value targets in an area, destroying supplies, or merely dispatching soldiers will cause ripples.
All in all, Assassin's Creed Odyssey feels more complex than Origins, but with more purpose. We’re no longer looking to get right of treasures just so that we can clear the map. They make more sense and it’s almost never a chore to find them. The same can be said about all other objectives.
As you can imagine, Assassin's Creed Odyssey is not perfect, but at this size, it would be almost impossible. There are some problems with facial animations, in some of the scenes, which is weird because they were made with motion capture. Also, even I was playing on PS4, which should provide a constant gameplay experience, I experienced FPS drops from time to time.
It’s very likely that some of these problems will be fixed with a day-one patch, which is sure to come. I played before launch, so I have to take that into account.
- An expansive map that gives players a true purpose
- Improved combat system
- Maritime battles
- Hunting mercenaries
- A few facial animations problems
- Some FPS drops
Odyssey builds upon the foundations of a beloved franchise and I like the way it’s going forward. If Ubisoft doesn’t get too greedy and takes its time to build a proper game, the next one is going to be even better, although I have to say that it’s going to be difficult since this one is almost perfect.