Assassin's Creed

Just finished the main game for AC:Odyssey and it’s already one of my all-time favorite games. So why the hate?

I've just finished the main stories (Odysseys) of Assassin's Creed Ossyssey (the Family Odyssey, the Cult of Kosmos, and the Gates of Atlantis) and I have been completely blown away. Not only has this been my favorite Assassin's Creed game to date, it joins the likes of Mass Effect 2, KOTOR, Morrowind, and A Link To the Past as one of my favorite games of all time.

The story was phenomenal, and epic. An Odyssey.

I could wax poetic (and I kinda want to) about all this game does right for me. For one thing, this game has the rare distinction of making me actually feel feelings, literally getting choked up twice during the main story. Few games – hell, few works from any medium, be it literature, cinema, etc. – have had this impact on my emotions.

I played as Kassandra, and from the moment she threatens to feed an enemy's one good eye to her bird, I knew she was something special. What I didn't know is how invested I would become in her over the next 40 hours. I think this is largely because, for the first time, I have control over who she is. Every choice I had felt like it had real consequences, moreseo than in most other RPGs I have played, and when I was able to reach the conclusion of the Family odyssey and share a dinner table with Nikolaos, Myrrine, Alexios, and even Stentor, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment that few games have given me. From the moment where she revealed – after we first saw the backstory of the tragedy on Mt. Taygetos – that the Wolf of Sparta was her father, I was invested in first finding justice for her family, and then as the story progressed that drive for justice became a search for redemption instead, and a drive for answers. Finding Pythagoras was amazing, in part because so much had built to this moment, and then due to the epic, tantalizing view of Atlantis.

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The characters in Odyssey were immensely satisfying to me. Chief among them being Brasidas, coming in like a Spartan Steve Rogers and immediately working with Kassandra like they were extensions of eachother. I savored every moment with him as my brother-in-arms, and at the point of his death I briefly considered abandoning my quest for the redemption of Deimos/Alexios. Sokrates annoyed me and first, and yet by the end the jovial philosopher was a comforting presence in a story marked by so much real tragedy. As each clue as to the identity of the head of the Cult was found, a pit grew in my stomach as I began to suspect, then realize Aspasia's true self.

Gameplay was pretty great too

Story aside, I also loved the gameplay. The freedom to choose from three very different playstyles (or to mix and match), and the gear to supplement those playstyles and provide options for very distinct and entertaining builds. This wasn't exactly Diablo (though it did at times feel similar as you were being force-fed crappy gear that served only as vendor fodder and crafting material) but it did provide a ton of entertainment for me as a mechanical theorycrafter who loves toying with various builds to personalize my own combat experience.

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While the naval side isn't nearly as deep as something like Black Flag, I appreciated the Adrestia and loved the greek tunes my crew would sing out. More importantly the ability to recruit and customize my lieutenants, and then to see them fight alongside me, was such a welcome change that in hindsight it feels like a bit of an omission from Black Flag. Of course, after completing my family odyssey, my lieutenant roster has found permanence as my family stands on the bridge of my ship.

So I come here to the Assassin's Creed subreddit and… well, at a cursory glance, most of what I see is hate towards this game that I already hold in such high esteem.

So why the hate?

I have a few theories. For one, this game flew completely under the radar from me up until recently, having only picked it up because it was on sale and 'eh, it might entertain me for a weekend', and I imagine this is due both to bad press and frnachise fatigue. I gave up on AC after Unity (with a brief bit of attention paid to Origins) due to bugs and online negativity toward Ubisoft. My guess is Odyssey had a poor reception at launch due to gameplay bugs (though, if so, they were apparently largely squashed by now. I encountered a bug-free playthrough) or Ubisoft negative PR?

Then there's the fact that this is the least-Assassin's Creed game I've played in this franchise. The control you have over your character's development, the lack of any discernable form of the Assassins, and only a precursory form of the Templars in the form of the Cult of Kosmos, and the lack of things like the acrobatic free-running of games past (the BotW-style climbing doesn't count) make this game feel foreign. This could have easily been a new IP, a mythological/ancient-era RPG, and I don't think anyone would have blinked an eye. In fact, I reckon a few would have liked this game more had it not been called Assassin's Creed.

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So… am I close? Why is this game so apparently poorly regarded in the AC community?


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