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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – a Creed for the ages

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    Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

    Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding

    Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – a Creed for the ages

    From running across the rooftops of ancient Greek ruins, to delving deep into underground tombs and sailing the high seas plundering everything the game has to offer, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey plates up a beautiful and immersive world that any developer would be proud of. As can be expected, the game carries various glitches and faults but these are easily disregarded when you consider the grand scale of everything before you. Even with said bugs, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has been propelled to the forefront of series, cementing its place as possibly the best Creed game ever.

    Thrown into the middle of the brutal Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta, you are immediately shown the ropes via a quick tutorial. This tutorial shows you the basics of attack over a bloodied battlefield between Sparta and the Persian army. While controlling the nominated light Spartan soldier, I remember how fluid and quick the combat is. Being able to charge the Persian army whilst viciously slashing through hordes of enemies was extremely satisfying and reminiscent of a certain Spartan movie.

    Your protagonists are Alexios and Kassandra, brother and sister. You are able to select between them during a brief Animus segment, where you are also introduced to a new game mode â€?Exploration mode â€?in which some objective markers are removed during quests. You’ll being given clues based on the information you acquire from NPCs and will have to locate your targets on the map. As overwhelming as it sounds, I found this mode extremely fun to play. The characters are completely interchangeable, so choosing one doesn’t mean you’ll miss any of the story of the other. Initially, I couldn’t help but be drawn towards playing as Alexios, but seeing that Assassin’s Creed had provided me with an alternative, I was extremely excited to play the game as a strong, female Greek warrior. You make optional choices via dialogue with NPCs, which can change the fate of a later quest dramatically, but other than this, both characters share a tale of vengeance that is easily enjoyable, even more so than previous Assassin Creed games.

    After a few sequences detailing your characters upbringing, you are immediately thrown into the action. Sidequests are available straight away, and you are readily able to explore the first Greek island of Kephallonia â€?an island used as a strategic point for Athens during the Peloponnese war. Straight away I felt comfortable playing as Kassandra. She easily jumped and leapt from rooftops of market stalls, held her own in battle and the game really allowed me to take control from the start. All linearity was removed, and the opening hour details every feature, new and old, that you’ll need on your journey.

    The views from the highest peak of Kephallonia are absolutely breathtaking. Being able to see mountaintops on far away islands blend with the deep, blue richness of the ocean is something I adore, and something that the developers do consistently from game to game. The only criticism I have is that the draw distance for certain buildings can have an underwhelming affect, as it can whilst you are controlling your go-to eagle, Ikaros, to mark out enemies. Sometimes you would tag an enemy without even knowing there was one there. Given the size of the map, and the sheer volume included in the game, this can be overlooked.

    All the sidequests you’re used to are back. Viewpoints are used to discover new areas nearby and to upgrade the perception of Ikaros. Forts make a welcome return after their success in Origins. It’s here that your skills of stealth and combat are put to the test with garrisons brimming with enemies that walk multiple paths, possess different weapons and combat styles. This is one place Odyssey shines â€?enemies will sometimes wield dual daggers imbued with poison or maybe you’re in a standoff with archers shooting fire arrows at you. Whatever the combination of enemies, you constantly feel like you’re being challenged by the computer and it’s a welcome change from the old hidden dagger routines. Other sidequests such as fetch quests for NPCs are included but the newest addition rests with the all new ‘Conquestâ€?mode. In this mode, you either attack or defend a position for either the Spartans or the Athenians. This mode spawns you on to a huge battlefield with more enemies than you can count and gives you specific targets who are to be killed in order to drain the oppositions health bar at the top of the screen. Defending positions are often easier yet provide fewer rewards, but attacking positions yield more plentiful rewards and provide a much better challenge. Ultimately, these are just another sidequest as they have no bearing on the outcome of the game, but are enjoyable nonetheless.

    Other new features include a new ability wheel. While levelling up your character you can choose from three skill trees, Hunter, Warrior or Assassin, and each tree allows you to develop and alter skills at your will. Will you be a predatory hunter firing pinpoint arrows to the head, a brutal Warrior with a bloodlust for pain or a skilled, silent assassin preying on the enemy and using illusory tricks to weave through forts and complete your objective? Whatever the choice, I feel that Odyssey really allowed me to customise who I wanted to be with the inclusion of this ability wheel. You can map passive and temporary skills the left triggers and use them in and out of battle to help turn the tide. At first the control method can be a bit tricky, but after a few hours you’ll be Spartan kicking even the toughest of enemies off a cliff. More ability wheels are unlocked as you upgrade the spear of Leonidas, the games main weapon.

    For all the ‘Black Flagâ€?fans, sailing has made a welcome return to the saga. Sailing across the ocean in your upgradeable ship is just as fun as it was back then. You get into multiple skirmishes with other ships, be they pirates, Spartans or Athenians, and all provide a tough challenge. At a touch, this section of the game becomes overwhelming if you just throw yourself into the middle of it, so strategic battle is recommended for the more cautious player, but not necessary for the more experienced assassin. This is when you realise that the size of the map is gargantuan compared to previous games. Islands are split up with acres of water between them and this provides opportunities to delve deep below into underwater tombs and shipwrecks while looting treasure and avoiding (or heading towards) dangerous predators. This is how Assassin’s Creed Odyssey keeps you on your toes. Predators lurk around every corner, whether they’re under water or on land, and provide you with a constant state of apprehension in the back of your mind. Beware the boars!

    For all this assassinating and plundering there has to be balance. Queue Mercenaries. Mercenaries work similar to the Phylakkes from Origins in which they are extremely strong, overpowered enemies who will come looking for you if you’re causing a bit too much trouble. If your crimes are witnessed â€?murderer, thievery or otherwise â€?then a bounty will be placed on you. You can easily pay the bounty off via the map if you wish, or you can fight the mercenaries head on which provides a different challenge from regular combat. These mercenaries carry different move sets and a combination of weapons, and sometimes they’ll be escorted by a beat, wolf, bear etc. While the challenge is high the reward is even higher. Killing these forever-spawning mercenaries unlocks rare, epic and legendary equipment for you to equip your character with. If they sound like too much of a challenge, you can simply avoid them, but if you’re on a mission with a bounty, they can and WILL show up. All gear collected can be customised and upgraded. I loved the fact that each different weapon or piece of armor had its own original design that keeps you upgrading for different looks and abilities. All loot carries base states with additional perks based on the level and rarity of the equipment. Additional perks can be ‘engravedâ€?via the blacksmith using your resources plundered from dead enemies and sunken ships.

    For all the game offers, this does come at a small cost. As with previous AC games, or open-world games in general, there are bugs and glitches galore. A few times I had found myself restarting due to map markers not loading fully, my attacks would swing right through stationary enemies and sometimes, enemies would stand right next to me and not bat an eyelid. The dialogue is, at times, something to be desired. While your protagonist speaks fluently and effortlessly, sometimes other characters sound laggy, off beat and the accents can often be described as criminal. While this doesn’t affect the gameplay, it is something that Creed games should’ve improved upon by now.

    Assasin’s Creed Odyssey has hit the mark. While it has the bug and glitches that avid players will be used to, the game didn’t lose it’s shine. Various components from the improved combat system, to the inclusion of the sailing reminiscent of ‘Black Flagâ€?and even the story had me constantly wanting more. I was constantly enjoying each conquest, fort and primary assassination as much as the last. Odyssey has taken the series leaps and bounds and I’ll never forget my time in Ancient Greece.

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