Hands-On With Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Click here to read my impressions for Skull & Bones/The Division 2 and Trials Rising/For Honor: Marching Fire.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Leading up to E3 2018, I’ll admit I was a bit critical of the idea of having a new Assassin’s Creed game release so soon after Origins.  It just seemed strange to make this one title an annual one, like a sports or Call of Duty game, especially after the disastrous effect Unity had on the series.  After they waited a couple of years after the release of Syndicate to debut Origins, I thought that they would stick to their guns and make it a bi-annual title. Alas, they didn’t and they revealed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a game set in ancient Greece.  As a man who grew up in Greece, I was skeptical, yet excited about playing this game. Would this do my people’s culture justice? Was it a year too soon? I can safely say, I have never been more happy to have been wrong in my life.

Ubisoft has always done a great job of taking great care with their historical games to make sure that everything stays true to the times.  The only time anyone can really say they didn’t was in Unity, but that had more to do with voice acting and glitches than anything else. In the small sample size of Odyssey that I had, I nearly cried hearing how the characters spoke.  They spoke English like my father speaks English, with that distinct, sometimes harsh dialect only a native Greek speaker has.

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So, imagine how I felt when the developer (that works on Quest Design), guiding me through my session, informed me that all the voice actors for this game are native Greek actors, and that they even had to be flown in after Christmas because they all went home to Greece.  Dialect, aside, the authenticity in the voice acting extends also to the way they talk to each other. In Greece, people tend to call each other Malaka. It’s not a good word, at all, but they do it in a friendly way, sometimes. This word is predominantly spoken in Odyssey and I have never been more happy in my life to hear a cuss word.  Furthermore, when Alexios tells his horse Porthos to go he says, Ela, which is Greek for let’s go.

I can go on and on about this, but I’ll end by saying that even the mannerisms were spot on. Greeks have a tendency of having a carefree way of looking at life, but can get fiery when they need to.  Certain moments in this demo, I felt that from Alexios and even the old man he travels with. These are things that people may not notice, but it’s something that’s important to my people. To see them represent us and our culture in an accurate light means more to me than whether or not its release date is too close to Origins.

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In terms of gameplay, Odyssey features a bevy of new moves that make fighting feel easier than it did in Origins, when this new fighting style was introduced.  Obviously, since Alexios and Kassandra don’t use shields, they’ve taken away the ability to raise a shield. That’s been replaced with a roll function to allow for better dodging.  They’ve also incorporated new special moves to help in a fight. By hitting left bumper and a direction, you can heal in battle, do area of effect damage, or remove an opponent’s shield.  These abilities have a short cooldown afterward.

In terms of naval combat, battles on the open sea have never felt harder than they do in this game.  They use the spears and arrows like in Origins, but the difference is that the ships seemed to move faster than ever.  This increased speed and precise accuracy made for a tough experience where I died early and often. I did take one ship out, which did feel pretty satisfying.

I know it was a short sampling, but Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is everything I could’ve ever wanted to see out of an Assassin’s Creed game set in Greece.  It’s colorful, vibrant, just like my home. Plus, the map extends across all of Greece that I actually found the island my family and I are from. The developers were delighted and proud to see that they had made this Greek so happy with their game.  Regardless of it wins our fan vote for Best of E3, for me no other game compares. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was the best game I played at E3 2018.