When Assassin’s Creed: Origins hit the market last year it took the long-running stealth action series in some bold new directions and switched up many features of the core game mechanics for the better. Now, with the release of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey just around the corner, Ubisoft is ready to give fans a hefty glimpse of what’s been further improved upon and what made the cut from Origins. I got a chance to get some extended hands-on time with a PS4 build of the game and get a brief glimpse at what awaits players at launch.
In Odyssey, players take on the role of either a male or female Spartan that washed ashore on the Greek island of Kephallonia as a child and grew up to be sort of a muscle for hire well known around the island for getting tough jobs done. However, fate seems to have more in store for the game’s protagonist and they soon set out on a journey to discover the mysteries of their past while forging a path of their own.
Choice plays a much larger role this time around and decisions made can have lasting consequences. Almost every conversation has branching dialog trees and choices can give you an opportunity to persuade, lie, or maybe even seduce your subject. Doing things like letting debt collectors go instead of running them through means maybe they’ll come back to try and kill you again later. Or, perhaps flirting with an NPC you help leads to a romantic encounter later on.
There seems to be no boundaries as far as who can be seduced by either character gender, meaning players can sample all of life’s pleasures without having to keep things heteronormative. Some side missions can also be permanently failed leaving opportunities for bonus gear or items squandered if they’re not executed properly. The new system adds a BioWare vibe to the story and there were a few moments during my demo where the decisions I had to make were more complex than expected.
Not much seems to have changed to the combat mechanics that were introduced in AC: Origins. However, there are a few new features to how abilities and accessories function. For example, the skill tree has been reworked so that long range, combat, and stealth skills each have their own self-contained upgrades with tiers that unlock as players level up. Weapons and armor can also be engraved to add bonuses like critical hit modifiers or increases to stealth or combat strength.
Another big feature is the return of sailing, which makes sense considering how many islands there are off the coast of Greece. Fans of Assassin’s Creed 3 and Black Flag will find the mechanics essentially the same as before, only now instead of cannons crews are equipped with bows and javelins. One new feature for nautical exploits though is the ability to recruit new shipmates that can add bonus traits to a ship. New mates can be recruited either through social/dialog coercion or through more physical means, like knocking them out and bringing them on board.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey looks like it’s taking much of what made Origins such a breath of fresh air and improving upon some of the smaller flaws that still existed in its mechanics. It’s also the first time that players can choose their gender right out the gate, which has been a long-requested feature. I’m also personally very excited to get back out on the open seas and plunder some ships. AC: Odyssey is looking like a solid installment for the series and will be launching for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 5.
Blake Morse posted a new article, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey Hands-on Preview: It's all Greek to me
I think this is the very AC game I'm not going to buy on release day. Sort of bummed about that, but it just seems way too similar to Origins and I'm still not done with that game. I'll probably get a complete edition sometime down the road.