ASSASSIN'S CREED ODYSSEY
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on October 1, 2018
Today, we set foot in Ancient Greece. And not as just anyone, no sir! We do this as one of two awesomely skilled siblings; a brother and sister that go by the names of Alexios and Kassandra. But before we do any of this, we first take the role of King Leonidas, as he leads his troops into battle against the Persians. How's that for an action-filled start of a game?! Time to get down and dirty with Assassin's Creed Odyssey!
After the battle with Persia is over, King Leonidus addresses his troops after which we are, all of a sudden, transported into the present, where we witness a woman named Layla Hassan, digging up the remnants of the spear of Leonidas. Layla then takes the spear to a friend and collaborator of hers; Dr. Victoria Bibeau. To unravel the spear's mysterious history, Layla decides to sync her mind with that of one who wielded the spear along long time ago. She will make this awesome journey in what looks to be a stolen and then modified beta version of the Abstergo Animus. Dr. Bibeau sends Layla to the year 431 BCE which incidentally, denotes the start of the Peloponnesian War. So hold on to your butts, ladies and gentlemen; 431 BCE, here we come!
As we enter the Animus, Dr. Bibeau explains that she has taken it upon herself to add a few features to the machine, the most important of which are two ways to relive the memories of your chosen protagonist. You can either choose Guided Mode, which is basically the classic Assassin's Creed mode in which mission markers are continuously shown and your objectives are clearly explained. If this is not enough of a challenge for you, you can always choose to play in Exploration Mode. This brand new mode challenges you to find your own targets, destinations and objectives and is more suited for those among us who value thorough exploration above all!
For my playthrough, I selected to play as Alexios, the male protagonist. He is a fun-loving mercenary who lives on the idyllic Greek island of Kephallonia. As we start our journey, Alexios is almost immediately attacked by two thugs who want to shake him down in name of a rich bad guy that goes by the ominous nickname of "the Cyclops". After dispatching the two thugs, Alexios sets out to have a serious word with his long-time friend, Markos. This Markos, it seems, has bought himself a vineyard, in spite of the fact that he owes Alexios a substantial sum of money. That's something worth checking out, don't you think?
This simple mission signals the start of an adventure of epic proportions that will lead you to a huge number of islands, lost temples, dark caves and sprawling forests. Along the way, you'll meet numerous people; some friendly or in need of help, others hostile and hell-bent on your untimely demise. During conversations, you will come to moments in which a decision has to be made. You can, for example, choose to end a conversation by splitting the other character's skull with your sword, but you can also try to come to a peaceful resolution. Keep in mind that the choices you make at these junctions can have a lasting effect on how the story develops, as well as the world around you, so be sure to choose wisely!
During the first few missions, the basics of the game are explained to you and you'll get a brief introduction to the game's menu screens. First up, there's the map screen, which shows you a complete map of the Greek Islands, along with their defense strengths. On this map screen, you can also fast travel to previously discovered synchronization points in the game world, or to your ship. "Your ship?", I hear some of you ask. Yes, your ship! Because Greece is mainly made up of islands, the preferred way of getting around fast is by sailing from one island to the next. Now, because the story is set at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, a small dinghy just won't do. So, with the help of an old captain, you take command of your very own Greek warship! This ship and its crew can be upgraded, but more about that later on. Back to the game screens!
The second screen on the list is the Quest screen. Here, all your quests are listed and categorized. You can select which quests should be shown and which quest you want to track. The quests are divided into three main categories: Odyssey, World & Characters and Bounties & Contracts. The Odyssey quests are all part of the main storyline and, together, they form the backbone of your own private journey to greatness! The World & Characters quests are side-missions that you receive from NPC's in the world. These missions grant you additional rewards upon completion. Finally, Bounties and Contracts are quests that you pickup from quest boards that are placed in cities around the islands. Both the World & Characters and the Bounties & Contracts missions are not mandatory, but the rewards they yield can make your life quite a bit easier!
This brings us to the third screen; the Inventory! To make it through these crazy and epic adventures alive will take some serious gear and weapons. Luckily, these items can be found throughout the world and are also received as payment for completed missions. Be sure to check your inventory often to see if you're still using the optimal weapons and armor. You can even upgrade your gear by visiting blacksmiths. Here, you can use raw materials you've found and discovered engravings to add bonuses to your gear. The stuff you no longer need, can be dismantled, which both gives you a more neat overview of your items, and yields raw materials, which you can use to upgrade the gear you do want to use.
Next up is the Abilities screen! Being a trained mercenary, your character has a number of abilities he or she can use. New abilities can be unlocked by leveling up and spending the so-called Ability Points. Each time your character goes up a level, you earn one Ability Point. These points can be spent on unlocking new abilities and making your character more powerful by doing so. Once you've procured an ability, you can then assign it to a action quick menu, making it really easy to use your chosen abilities. As you make your way through the game, your abilities can also be upgraded, making them stronger with each upgrade. Using abilities costs adrenaline, which you build up by performing normal attacks, assassinations, dodges and parries. Below your health bar is the adrenaline bar, which is divided into segments. When you use one of your abilities, one segment of adrenaline is drained. If your adrenaline bar is empty, you'll need to refill it before you can use any of your abilities.
So, you can upgrade your weapons, armor and abilities, but is there something else you should upgrade? Well, if you've been paying attention, you might recall me saying something about upgrading your ship and its crew. This is where the next screen comes in; the Ship screen. Here, you can spend raw materials to upgrade a number of traits your vessel has. You can enforce the hull, strengthening the ship and raising its overall "health". On the offensive side, you can increase ramming strength, the damage that your archers and spearmen do and so on and so on. Now, I never really got into the whole seafaring side of Assassin's Creed, but I must say that taking control of your ship and sinking (and boarding) enemy vessels in AC Odyssey is quite a lot of fun!
The last screen on our list is the Mercenaries screen. As you play through the story, you are bound to tread on a few toes. Some of these toes are so hurt by your actions that they put a bounty on your head and this is where the mercenaries come in. These hardened warriors are also trying to get by and the price your head will fetch them is a welcome addition to their stream of revenue. They will track you down and fight you when they get the chance. All characters in Assassin's Creed Odyssey have levels and fighting a character that is way above your own level is not always the perfect recipe for a long and happy life. So, if you are being hunted by a mercenary with a level that is higher than your own, it might be a wise decision to avoid them for the time being and try to defeat them after you've leveled up a bit.
The ancient Greek world is a place of violence and bloodshed, so you will be fighting a lot of the time. I mean, even some of the wild life is trying to kill you, so you'd better be ready when a fight comes calling! The combat is true to the Assassin's Creed style and involves a lot of dodging, parrying and skewering your enemies with the pointy end of your sword. The main difference between this game and previous installments in the series is the number of enemies you can face at one time. If you decide to infiltrate an enemy camp and start hacking and slashing, you will be overwhelmed in no time flat, so stealth is often your best option. In addition to the usual fights, Ubisoft has also incorporated huge battles into the story of Odyssey.
When you look at the regions on your map screen, you will see that each region has a defensive strength. Upon entering a region, it can be weakened by destroying war supplies, stealing a nation's treasure and dispatching a big number of its soldiers. After a region is sufficiently weakened, the region leader will become vulnerable, and a Nation Battle is unlocked. In this battle, you're on one of two sides of the conflict and your goal is to kill as many enemy soldiers as you possibly can, without dying of course. When you've decimated the enemy forces enough, the rest of the troops will run away, leaving you and yours victorious!
Now, every warrior needs a trusted friend and companion. In Assassin's Creed Odyssey's case, this companion is Ikaros, a majestic eagle that you can send soaring into the sky. When Ikaros is flying over the land, you can use his supreme vision to spot and tag enemies, treasures and other points of interest. Ikaros is an invaluable tool in planning your attacks unless, of course, you prefer to blindly rush into any conflict. And while this can also be a lot of fun, you're life expectancy when doing so is shorter than that of a porcelain plate during a Greek wedding, so it's always a good idea to use your trusted feathered friend before engaging a fortified temple or other stronghold.
I absolutely love playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey! There are tons of cool additions like, for instance, the ability to meditate. This fast forwards time, turning night into day or day into night. Or how about the ability to make your horse automatically follow the road to your destination?! Everything about the game looks brilliant and works fantastically. The free climbing seems to have gotten a slight overhaul, so you can make your way up sheer cliff walls with ease, without getting stuck even once. The underwater portions of the game also look really cool and the entire environment, under water or above water, is positively teeming with wildlife. Although war is never, and should never be, a funny subject, the game manages to keep the story both thrilling and emotional, as well as light-hearted when it can be. This, in my opinion, is mostly attributed to, in my case, Alexios.
This guy reminds me a lot of a young Ezio, who has always been, by far, my favorite assassin. Assassin's Creed Syndicate's own Jacob Frye came really close, but it is Alexios who is likely to be tied for first in this little competition I have going. I like the way he is a tough guy in his own right and still manages to have an enormous sense of humor. Overall, Odyssey is a great game that truly deserves to inherit the Assassin's Creed throne and sit on it proudly. Everything you want from a game in this legendary series is there, and the addition of the second game mode adds something to the already challenging story. It truly caters to those gamers that don't want to be simply shown where to go and what to do. And don't worry if you just want to play the traditional way; in whichever mode you choose to play the game, you can be sure of one thing; Assassin's Creed Odyssey offers you more than enough bang for your Drachmae!
ASSASSIN'S CREED ODYSSEY
October 5, 2018