For the last few weeks I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey on and off. It has been mostly a good time with some frustations, mainly centered around the leveling system.
Now, why is the leveling system frustraing? Well, in essence it actually isn’t and does bring something of an RPG-feel to the game which I at least welcome since I tend to like RPGs quite a lot, Arcanum for example being one of my favourite games. The problem comes in how the leveling is interleaved with the questing.
Now, I’m a person who tends to like story in games, even at times when that story might not be particularily well written and so far I have found the story of Odyssey quite enjoyable with some interesting decisions even in the side quests. What however makes me somewhat miffed at times is the game’s tendency to encourage me to ignore the story and go do side activities, be it questing or the like. The most recent and egregious example of this came recently, where I finished some main story related quests and a character told me to meet them later in another area. Now this area is 10 levels above my level and the quest is also marked 10 levels above my level; the main story quest I just completed was of my level. Now they did also point me to some more appropriately leveled main story content though that was already a bit off the path, but completing that went quickly and only yielded a level or so and afterwards also provided more quests that were 6+ levels higher than my level. This is the point where the leveling system starts to detract instead of adding to the game.
Now one could make the argument that these are places where the game designers would have added in filler quests if it were not for the leveling system in order to pad out the play time of the game and actually having the option of choosing the content one does in order to get to progress the story is a better option, but the cynic in me feels these sections are there in order to push people to buy the experience boosts from the in-game store. And even if I were to believe that argument, I feel it falls somewhat flat since wouldn’t it be better in general to just remove the padding alltogether while keeping the optional side content for people who really enjoy the game or the gameplay? I mean, that is all content that I might very well be tempted to return to after I have completed the main story if I enjoy the game, I remember doing this with Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Saint’s Row 3 for example. Both were games I greatly enjoyed and consequently I wanted to complete all available content after I was done with the main story. It feels strange that the developers would choose to actually detract from the main story in order to pad something so meaningless as a playtime number for a singleplayer game, especially since that number is already greatly extended for those people that want to keep playing by the side content as noted earlier.
Beyond that though, the only thing that has annoyed me with the game is the somewhat lackluster performance, it only runs at around 60 FPS though the frame times seem to be decent, I at least haven’t noticed any stuttering.
The rest, really, is quite good. I quite enjoy the setting as someone who has been rather fascinated by Rome when I was younger since ancient Greece thematically can be quite similar and having the option again of choosing either a female or male protagonist again was really nice, I really wish more games did that.
The “modern day” story telling has been kept to a minimum so far, which for me is a big bonus since that was something that completely ruined the first game for me and put me off of the series for quite some time. I still can’t quite figure out why they think we’re interested in some random people trying to find some old stuff over the actual main meat of the game, the historical storytelling. Hopefully it is kept to a minimum for the rest of the game, extended segments of that could be something that could really ruin the game for me. Another reason, by the way, why I found Assassin’s Creed: Liberation one of the better AC games, barely any interaction outside of the historical stuff (also the first one with a female protagonist, which is a bonus for me).
While I generally enjoy the game, it is also a game from which I have ended up taking several breaks due to the aforementioned leveling problem which makes me somewhat hesitant to recommend it. Now I have a friend who is also playing the game and seems to be enjoying it just as much as I while not being bothered by the leveling since she likes to do the side-quests and such anyway and if that’s your case then it would definitely be deserving of a recommendation if you like the Assasin’s Creed in general. But if you think that might bother you, it might be better to stay away. Even then, a ancient Greece themed RPG with action combat is already a pretty damn cool game and not something likely to come along anytime soon, so might be worth pushing past that annoyance. That’s my plan at least once I get the motivation to continue.