After over 75 hours spent galivanting through the lands of ancient Greece, it is striking just how many ways the world of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey draws you in, and never loosen its grips.
Be it on the high seas, through gorgeous cityscapes, or the lush countryside, the gorgeous and gigantic open world beckons with adventures that are almost always worth your time, and on such an ambitious scale. The combination of great story, graphics, immersion and action makes it easy to proclaim that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the greatest game in the franchise’s history.
Set in the onset of the Peloponnesian war between the nations of Sparta and Athens, Odyssey lends itself well to the shadowy political games being played behind the scenes, in bloody and brutal battles on both land and sea, and of course, the mysticism that birthed many of the legends of old.
It all takes place on the biggest playground ever in the entire series, vibrantly brought to life with breathtaking beauty and technical know-how. No matter where you find yourself, it is always stunning to take in and bask in the beauty of Ubisoft’s masterpiece.
Luscious forests, rolling fields of wheat and grass, towering mountains, volcanic islands, ancient architecture of grandeur and scale, and a dreamy sea of crashing waves and rising tides. Every area in Odyssey is a visual feast.
Unleashing players upon the world in the role of either Alexios or Kassandra, the siblings are key to the events that will unfold throughout your odyssey.
While they are essentially fulfilling the same role in the story no matter who you pick, the performances of both Melissanthi Mahut (Kassandra) and Michael Antonakos (Alexios) are to be lauded, with the former stealing every scene she is in, with her great voice acting.
Couple that with the most impressive facial capture the studio has ever done, and it makes for an engaging and immersive experience through the game. This is most evident when you are choosing dialogue for your character, a feature that is making its debut in the series.
Every line is delivered with conviction, every facial animation tells a story, and while some of the supporting NPCs are less than ideally rendered, the work behind the scenes is impressive.
Such choices make for the most flexible protagonists in the long history of Assassin’s Creed. As a misthios, or a mercenary, you are beholden to no one but your own motivations and ideals. There are no right or wrong choices, but the consequences of your actions can lead to ramifications, big and small, further down the line.
Key figures can live or die by your choices, certain quests may open up or close, and it all leads to multiple endings based on how you approached the game. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey allows players to be who they want to be, and never does it feel like you made a mistake, only a choice that made sense to whoever you are.
Choosing a side in the bigger picture of the war plays into the Conquest mechanic of Odyssey. Destroying supplies, clearing forts and camps, stealing from war chests, or assassinating a leader will weaken a nation’s hold on a territory, and open up a Conquest battle to wrest control of the region.
These large-scale fights are always fun to participate in, with better rewards of XP and gear to be earned if you are on the invading side. However, as you progress into the late-game, they become significantly less enticing, as in the grand scheme of the story, they mean very little.
As Alexios or Kassandra complete quests and adventures, the precious XP you earned opens up a plethora of options to hone the way you play. The distinctive skill trees cater to three different styles of play – an Assassin (stealth), Hunter (ranged), or Warrior (melee).
While certain skills are more useful in general (destroying shields, shooting arrows through walls etc), each skill brings something new to the table, and you can respec at any time to suit the occasion, with a small fee of course.
Letting fly powerful ranged attacks to clear an area before engaging in assassinations or pure combat is always a great time, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has something for everyone.
Navel combat has also seen an upgrade, with the Adrestia, a mercenary trireme captained by the lovable Barnabas, as your weapon of choice. Be it firing off volleys of arrows, spears, or just plain ramming into opposing ships, the ship combat has never been better.
It is always a sight to behold as multiple vessels engage in combat, and the upgrades available for the Adrestia can make you a force of nature. Better arrow damage, more durability, adding fire to your projectiles and more change the formula of ship combat quite a fair bit, and in a good way.
The crew of the Adrestia can also be augmented by fellow soldiers and mercenaries you meet on your quest, bestowing a multitude of benefits based on their rank and rarity. It bridges the game whether you are at sea or on land, and with the number of resources it will take to upgrade your vessel to its full potential, it is undoubtedly helpful that everything you do can contribute towards that cause.
Following Assassin’s Creed Origins well-trodden footsteps, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey changes up combat into a more free-flowing affair with light and heavy attacks, parries, dodges, and skills to play with.
With a fine variety of weapons (swords, daggers, staves, axes, maces, spears, and bows) and an even larger selection of armour, the amount is simply staggering and more importantly, utter fun in keeping the loot grind alive.
Although you can always upgrade your favourite old gear to your current level with resources, the game does a great job of always rewarding you with better gear as you progress. Epic and Legendary gear provide the best bonuses, and the fact that they always look cooler does not hurt either.
Being a misthios that does whatever pleases you could mean going on murderous sprees or committing crimes throughout the lands, but that will only lead to increasing bounties placed on your head. The new notoriety system pits an escalating number of fellow mercenaries that vary in skill who will hunt you down.
While the lone warrior that comes after you in the initial stages could be an easy mark, level scaling ensures the challenge gets tougher as you gain mastery. With special abilities of their own, like pet bears, flaming or poisoned armaments, or being extremely agile, it becomes a test of your mettle each time a mercenary comes about.
No matter the time and place, if you are being hunted, the mercs can appear at the most inopportune of times, and can complicate things fast. A fort siege becomes harder when a competent opponent arrives, and getting discovered could add a second or third bounty hunter into the fray.
It is essential to manage your notoriety to avoid such conundrums, or you can always hunt the mercenaries down and ascend to the top in one of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey more enjoyable side activities.
Juggling all that and the main quest can be a daunting endeavour, but enjoying the sidequests and exploring the world is how Odyssey is meant to be played. The tale of your lost hero is equally grand and riveting, punctuated with emotional tangents that are only enhanced by the colourful cast of characters.
With the eternal conflict between the Assassins and Templars is absent, the family drama, machinations of the omnipresent Cult of Kosmos, and deciding the fate of the world more than make up for it. Even the sporadic modern-day sequences are presented with purpose and quickly surpassed.
All that said, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is not without some issues. A humongous world cannot always be perfect, and occasional visual hiccups are to be expected, though there is nothing game-breaking. There is nothing a slight wait or reload cannot fix and the team at Ubisoft were fixing issues quickly as they arose during the duration of our review.
No matter your inclination, there is always something to drive you forward in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Be it exploring a wonderful, breathing world, wreaking havoc on the Aegean sea, hunting down the shadowy Cultists of Kosmos, or fighting the creatures of legends that await, the amount of content in Odyssey is astonishing, and above all else, meaningful and fun content.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is and will be remembered for building a world where players can truly be who they want to be, pursuing a tale of legend, and having a smorgasbord of choices to explore and discover. It is without a doubt, one of the best open-world role-playing games of all time.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Easily the best Assassin’s Creed game, and one that will be remembered as an instant classic in gaming’s pantheon.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 10/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 10/10