Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Release Date: 10/02/2018
Also Available On
Man, I am completely exhausted. That’s the feeling you will get when trying to slog through this insanely beautiful yet equally insanely bloated mess of a game. I have a complete love/hate relationship with Odyssey. It’s been installed on my PC since it launched in 2018 and it’s taken me three years to finally get around to completing it. There is so much to digest and chew with this game that I don’t know where to even begin. I have a lot of negative things to say about this game and will probably go on a tirade about certain mechanics and systems the game has, but there is still something here to be enjoyed.
Let’s just start with the story in which Odyssey doesn’t really have a meaningful one. Unlike previous games where there was a hand-tailored narrative tightly woven between assassins and templars, this game seems to forget most of what Assassin’s Creed’s makeup really is. The game features a seemingly generic male or female protagonist who are trying to bring their family back together after a tragic event that took place while they were children. Therein lies one of the first major issues with the game: The story has no meaning and takes way too long to unfold and there are no characters worth caring about. The game features generic dull voice acting with badly faked (I think it’s faked?) Greek accents with cookie-cutter models that repeat throughout the game. They are mannequin-like and stiff and just boring. Gone are the well-thought-out historical characters we can grow to love, but instead Ubisoft thought it was cute to shove nearly every single major famous Greek person in this game and give them lifeless personalities and stale dialog to spew.
The second issue lies with the fact that this is an RPG and not really an action-adventure anymore. In fact, assassinations take a major back seat in favor of head-on combat, which rolls into the level grinding and enemy leveling that plagues this entire game. I miss the days when you can just do what you what when you want in an AC game and that’s that. I miss the well-crafted and unique assassination levels, but instead, we get generic everything as Odyssey is the epitome of quantity over quality with every single aspect of the game. There are a lot of layers to the gameplay loop in Odyssey, but let’s just start with forts and restricted areas in general. The combat itself is fine. It’s slightly tweaked from Origins which I haven’t played much of yet. However, it’s boring and dull, and repetitive like the rest of the game. You get to assign four abilities from the skill tree for ranged and melee, respectively. There is a heavy and light attack and most of the game requires you to perform a perfect dodge so time slows down and you can get hits in to fill your ability bar. Each segment is needed for various abilities to activate and you will rely heavily on this. The combat looks good and feels fine, but it’s just the usual AC button mashing, dodging/parrying fest we’ve grown tired of.
There are probably hundreds of them in this game, and that’s not an exaggeration. Most side quests, some story missions, and the Cult of Cosmos main/side storyline make you go into a lot of these. This was fine back in the early days as these areas felt unique and well-thought-out, but here it’s just a random splattering of various enemy types. Each fort/restricted area has a variety of things you can do to “complete” that area. Burn supplies, steal loot, kill a leader to bring that area’s stronghold down (which as far as I know doesn’t mean anything), and kill various types of leaders. Some have specific mission-based items. The issue here is the whole RPG/leveling thing as assassinations now require you to be at a higher level before you can one-hit kill them like in past games. So, taking down an entire fort can be a slog when you have to fight every enemy head-on.
It doesn’t help that these areas don’t feel well put together with hardly any cover to hide inside most, and it takes forever to become anonymous. You can’t blend in as you could back in the older games. It either doesn’t get caught by the awful AI that seems to make enemies just wander around aimlessly with no set patrol pattern, or fight it out head-on. That’s your only option. I miss the satisfaction of running through a restricted area and just assassinating everyone with a leap-frog type of momentum. It was incredibly satisfying to get everyone without blowing the horn, but in Odyssey, this rarely ever happened. The game keeps the entire world either two-level above or below you and no more or less. You can’t go back to a previous area at level 5 and just slaughter everything in sight. Eventually, that area levels up too.
If that doesn’t sound bad enough the main story missions are locked away behind these level walls. I would then have to go do maybe a character world mission to go up two levels to finish the next few story missions. This would normally be okay, but I don’t care bout a single character in this game! For such a massive and detailed open world everything in it is so boring and lifeless. I only kept playing to explore the world and nothing else. Let’s also not forget the “real-world” that AC games keep shoving in our faces. There’s maybe an hour of this at the most, and I never went back during the main story. The Cult of Cosmos is where most of the “real-world” jumps are, and yes, I could care less about those too. Can we please just completely cut out this real-world Abstergo nonsense already? It was okay with Desmond Miles in the Altair/Ezio saga, but now it’s just stupid and silly.
Honestly, the game is mostly just overbearing and exhausting to explore and ingest. I tried the old strategy of going through each area and doing all the side missions and quests, but that became incredibly boring fast. The entire game comes to a screeching halt as you constantly run into leveling walls and need to stop one mission to do another to get certain items or complete repetitive “kill all of these” missions to get the XP to level up. The majority of XP comes from completing missions. Discovering new areas, killing enemies, and other things like this don’t ever give you enough to level up. I just wish this whole RPG system was gone as it really hurts this game badly. Then there’s the loot system with armor and weapons, and you can engrave them and upgrade them, but this was a completely useless system as I was constantly getting new loot from dead enemies that were at higher levels. This was a completely wasted system and was poorly implemented.
I also haven’t even gotten into the ship battles. This has become boring as well and the first 15 hours of the game are a serious chore as you have to sail around a lot to get to new areas in which you need to hit every synchronization point you can find so you can fast travel around the map. I didn’t have a sync point in every major area until maybe 20 hours into the game. It’s that much of a grind. Ship battles are exactly like they have always been. Shoot javelins or arrows to bust down a ship, you can board it, you can also use flame arrows or ram it. That’s pretty much it. It’s very basic, dull, and underwhelming despite how nice the ships handle and how fantastic the water looks. You can upgrade your ship and assign lieutenants that add stat boosts and change your crew theme, but this mostly seems pointless as I spent almost no time in the water once I could fast travel around the map. This is mostly used for dull missions that require taking down certain ship types and that’s really it.
Through the first 15 hours of the game, all I wanted to do was constantly quit. I felt like I was making progress and then suddenly I had to grind 2-3 levels to get the next set of story missions and that required completing dull side missions of all kinds. There are notice boards in every major town that offer these apart from the ones just sitting out in the world. There are also timed missions that expire like this is some MMO, and boy are these the absolute worst of the bunch. I honestly can’t say I ever felt like the game was actually a lot of fun. The forts are probably the worst part of the game, and sadly, it was the opposite in the past. I wound up just jumping in, killing the person I need for the mission or item, and jumped out. I stopped completing forts about five hours in.
Traveling around on horseback is also boring as you have to clear large swaths of land before finally getting enough fast travel points, and I just can’t express enough how big this game is. It’s too big and bloated for its own good. Most people probably will never finish this game as it takes a minimum of 30 hours just to grind through the story. I spent 15 hours just trying to complete everything and gave up in the end. The final system I want to mention is the mercenary system. Committing crimes will get a bounty on your head and mercenaries will come after you. You can defeat them to climb the tiers, but finishing this requires being level 50 which is the cap and it’s not worth it. There are at least 50 some odd mercenaries to kill and you will end up killing at least half by the end of the game just because they are there and in the way. Thankfully you can pay off your bounties on the map to get them off of your back, so it’s completely optional.
Overall, Odyssey is just too damn big and too generic to be considered a memorable game. Sure, the game wonderfully recreates ancient Greece with many amazing monuments, buildings, statues, and towns, but they all start looking the same after a while. There are far too many forts to conquer, the leveling requires way too much grinding of boring side missions and lame quests and becomes incredibly overwhelming and exhausting even as soon as five hours in. There just aren’t any interesting characters and the story is fairly simple and dull. I couldn’t care about anything in this game except exploring new areas because that was at least fun. Naval combat hasn’t evolved much, there’s a useless equipment upgrade system, and assassinations have taken a back seat over combat. Hell, you don’t even get the hidden blade in this game. The skill tree, which I didn’t talk about, is also a mix of overreliance on certain abilities as they do large amounts of damage, to not caring about a good majority of others. It’s a poorly balanced skill tree and I didn’t use 90% of them. The entire game is just unbalanced, a boring grind, and most of the game feels like a chore with no pay-off. I hope to eventually try out the DLC as it seems more entertaining, but we will see.
So, it sounds like I hate the game, but I don’t. I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment when I finally did grind that next level and could move on. Most of the fun was literally just exploring the land and no, not even looting stuff that I came across as I skipped most of it. The world is beautiful and it looks amazing, but there’s so much here that’s just generic and pointless. This is my least favorite AC game to date (alas, I haven’t played any games between Black Flag and Origins, so that might change.) If Ubisoft had cut the game down even by half and removed the RPG system this game could have been much more than the sum of its parts. Lastly, I’d like to mention that the engine is poorly optimized and runs like garbage on hardware well above the recommended specs. Even after numerous patches there’s slow down everywhere.