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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Hands-On Impressions

by Dylan Siegler

Odyssey takes some interesting deviations from the traditional Assassin's Creed format.

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The next game in the Assassin’s Creed series will be Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which comes out later this year. At this year’s E3, I got my hands on a demo of the game, which brings the Assassin’s Creed world to ancient Greece.

Although in spirit Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is still an Assassin’s Creed game, with the general combat and climbing mechanics the series is known for, there seem to be some pretty big departures from the franchise as well. For one thing, in the hour-long demo that I played, there was no mention of the Assassin Brotherhood or the Templars or anything like that, and Abstergo Industries and the Animus don’t appear to be a part of the game either. The Assassin’s Creed series has gone through a lot of changes over the years, but it seems like Odyssey has very little in common with the first several games, at least in terms of lore and narrative. But as I said, this new game still contains plenty of combat and optional parkour to get around the world, so fans who care more about mechanics than narrative will probably be more likely to be satisfied.

Combat is also different in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, however. I’m not the most well-versed in the Assassin’s Creed series, but I know enough to notice that the iconic Hidden Blade is not present in this game, instead replaced by things like swords and spears and other weapons you’d expect to find in ancient Greece. I’m not sure how long the Hidden Blade has been absent in the series, but series veterans shouldn’t expect to find it here (unless it appears later on in Odyssey, at a point in the game not included in the demo). There are also new Skills in Odyssey, a few of which I got to try out. There’s the Sparta kick, which is exactly what it sounds like. It doesn’t seem like it does a whole lot other than pushing enemies far away from you, but it’s fun to pull off anyway. There’s also a shield-breaking skill that’s very useful since about half of the Greek warriors you’ll be fighting have shields.

In my demo I played as Kassandra, the female playable character in the game. Since I didn’t play as Alexios, I have no way of knowing if the two play the same, but I would think they probably do. But just having the option is cool, especially for women who want representation in these games or for men, like me, who just like playing as women sometimes. What was really interesting though was when I discovered that there are romance options in Odyssey. At one point I was talking to a character named Kyra, who I had recently started working with to take down an ancient Greek tyrant. When she asked me what I plan to do after the war ends, one of the options I was given was “Spend more time with you,” or something along those lines. This option also had a heart next to it, which was the first and only time I saw any kind of symbol next to a dialogue option in the game. The option to romance characters is an interesting addition to the series, but what’s also interesting is that, since I was playing as Kassandra, it would appear that homosexual romance options are available alongside heterosexual ones. The ability to make your playable character gay obviously provides for even more diversity than just the addition of a female playable character.

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My favorite part of the demo, however, was being able to interact with Socrates (or Sokrates, as his name is spelled in the game). My interaction with him was pretty brief, but we got to argue the philosophy of morals a little bit and it was pretty entertaining and amusing. Forget the combat or romancing options; I want a game where I just debate philosophy with ancient Greek philosophers!

All in all, those looking for a more traditional Assassin’s Creed experience may be disappointed in how far Odyssey seems to stray from the series’ roots. But if you’re one who doesn’t mind change, or doesn’t even care about Assassin’s Creed and just wants an action game based in ancient Greece complete with several references to historical figures and Greek gods and the like, there’s a chance you’ll find what you’re looking for here. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey launches on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on October 5.

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