From the moment Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey was revealed to the world, it was clear that Ubisoft was taking the once stealth-action game into medieval RPG territory. Last year’s Origins, which many (including us) regarded as one of the series’ best, laid certain foundations which made this game possible. While that game was exceptionally huge, it did feel lackluster when it came to the then-newly introduced light role-playing elements. Little did we know that Ubisoft was planting the seeds of a much greater game.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the series’ first entry which fully recognizes itself as an RPG, and boy does it shine as one. It’s got (potentially) hundreds of hours of content, branching narratives, fully realized characters and tons of dialogue options. Naturally, it reminded us of CD Projekt Red’s masterpiece in the genre, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Both games have a lot of similarities, and that’s not a bad thing. The developers at Ubisoft have admitted numerous times how The Witcher games have inspired them to take Assassin’s Creed into the RPG territory.
Characters and Choices
First up, the choice of characters and their decisions. Odyssey starts off with giving you the option of choosing either Alexios or Kassandra. Once you’ve chosen, you’re locked into playing as that character for the entirety of the game. The series has done something similar before, with Jacob & Evie Fry being interchangeable characters. That’s one thing that is certainly different from Geralt’s adventure. In The Witcher series, you can only play as Geralt, with certain sections where you can play as Ciri in the third installment.
Both Alexios and Kassandra are interesting characters, in that you get to choose how they behave. In our run of the game, we chose to play as Kassandra as we believe her voice acting and performance was much more believable than Alexios’. Your choice may vary, and we’re not judging you. The fun begins when you’re confronted with the various dialogue options. As either of the protagonists, you’ll be faced with innumerable choices, most of which lie in the grey area of morality. Again, similar to The Witcher, the game will put you into difficult scenarios, and that’s one of the game’s strong points.
Movement and Combat
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey takes its previous entry’s systems and refines them to near perfection. While many believe the parkour system, which at one point was the series’ USP, to have been downgraded (which it is), we were perfectly fine with it. We’re playing the game on PC with an X-Box controller and movement is as fluid as it has ever been. The PC controls could do with some work on them, and as such we highly recommend playing the game with a controller.
The combat system which carries on from Origins has been refined too. It’s more deep, with the game giving you the option to map certain abilities to the custom combinations on the controller (or keyboard) itself. This gives combat a much-needed depth that was lacking in Origins. The enemy difficulty has been increased also. If you’re even 1 level below an enemy, you’re gonna have a hard time.
In The Witcher 3, the combat was a mix of melee sword fights and sign usage. In Odyssey, the same ideas are present, but the execution is much more flawless. Another aspect of the game is the movement, something The Witcher franchise has had some problems with. It certainly takes time to get used to Geralt’s somewhat blocky movement (pro tip: Just change the movement response setting to “Alternative” when playing The Wild Hunt). However, with Ubisoft being a much bigger company, with much more complicated systems in place for every minute game mechanic, it’s no surprise to see traversal done right in Odyssey.
Some mechanics, like dodging and rolling have been unified to one single button in Odyssey. Parrying has also been integrated well into the controls to give a fluid movement when fighting. The ability usage is also well integrated enough to make the combat feel smoother, and while casting Igni all day is fun, Sparta kicking enemies off cliffs is just next level.
The World & Writing
Now, if there’s one category where no game (or very few, if even) has come close to The Witcher 3, and that’s the writing. The continent that CDPR created in that game was, and still is, a thing of beauty. And what makes it extra special is the writing behind the quests and characters. Each and every quest in that game was hand-crafted by the Polish developers. And the way in which all of those were interwoven with the main story was just spectacular. There’s only so many games where you can remember certain instances from a meager side-quest, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of them.
So it’s no surprise to see Ubisoft trying to emulate the same thing in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and to their benefit, they do a pretty fine job of it. Quests have been crafted with a more careful approach here, with each of the interactions getting their own dedicated cutscene interactability. Much of it reminds us of BioWare’s gems of the past. You can now finally pursue romantic interests, while much of that results in very awkward situations. Suffice it to say that you won’t be fully satisfied after doing the deeds. This is something The Witcher games were pretty good at. And it actually made sense, in one way or the other, to have those options exist in those games without derailing the main story.
So, in conclusion, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey seems to have taken the most out of other RPGs, especially The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt & that’s not a bad thing.
Stay tuned for our full review of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.