'Assassin's Creed Odyssey' Is Classical Ubisoft in the Wrong Ways


#1

In the histories of Classical Greece, wolves have never gotten their due. The epitaph at Thermopylae should say, “Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by: BEWARE OF WOLVES.” At least that’s my view of ancient Greece after playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which depicts Hellas as a land beset by packs of ravenous canines. In its systems and the ways they interact, Odyssey often plays like as much like a parody of an Ubisoft open world game as it does a new Assassin’s Creed.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/a38jbg/assassins-creed-odyssey-is-classical-ubisoft-in-the-wrong-ways

#2

But in a ‘good’ way?


#3

Next AC will have Cliff Racers.


#4

This is disappointing because the idea of island hopping across Greece seemed really exciting to me. Maybe it’s something that they’ll patch over the coming months.

ETA: not patching my excitement, patching the issues with timing and frequency of bounties and animals.


#5

So you could say there’s hella wolves in Hellas.


#6

If video games have taught me anything it’s that wolves hunt in packs


#7

This is exactly why I burned out on modern open-world games after The Witcher 3, and that the first one to revive my interest in them was Zelda: Breath Of The Wild.

Because yes, I won’t disagree that BotW was a little too empty of varied content. But after being absolutely swamped with all kinds of trite content in big open-world games, of there always being some kind of objective around every corner in the likes of Shadows of Mordor, Arkham City and all the recent Ubisoft outings, the peace and quiet of BotW made me feel like I could breathe again. The world actually felt vast and spacious, I felt unburdened by meaningless chores (as I quickly stopped looking for Koroks once I saw the pattern of puzzles available) and for the first time in a long while I actually wanted to explore it again. Even if, in the end, there wasn’t all that much to see.

It’s why I never got Horizon Zero Dawn after playing it on my brother’s PS4, when I got my own PS4. I love that game’s world, but all the upgrading, collectibles and side content got in my way of just enjoying the world of the game. I wanted to get to the game’s main city, but simply going there burned me out so much, with its constant attacks by robo-dinosaurs, that I didn’t progress past it. It was all too full, too much stuff. I felt curtailed in my freedom to roam that place as I wished, a feeling that was hammered home even more when I couldn’t just scale a cliff to get to a pre-apocalypse logbook but instead had to do a stupid obstacle course.

If I look back on my experiences with open world games I remember that Fallout 3 and New Vegas left me feeling similar as I did with BotW. Many of the locations of those games are relatively unimportant, and just there as window dressing. The same goes for the Hyrule of BotW. What Fallout 3 and New Vegas did particularly well was telling little stories simply by certain environmental setups. Just a collection of props and maybe the odd document with nothing actively going on, similar apparently to that shipwreck in the desert of AC: Origins. And honestly, these days I’d much rather stumble across such little passive details, or just a quiet, neat vista like in BotW, and not have much to actually do once I find that thing than not have an inch of quiet in the game’s world. I really hope Red Dead Redemption 2 is going to respect that solitude, peace and quiet.

Speaking of RDD, RDD1 did really respect that solitude, and to me that game actually had the perfect balance of having stuff to do while still having a vast world in which you can feel truly alone. And animal attacks that didn’t actually happen every ten seconds.

Except the cougars.

Fuck those cougars.


#8

This is probably the most concerning thing to me. I continue to think a lot about Austin Walker’s review of The Crew and this specifically his discussion of “The New Power Fantasy”:

The new power fantasy is the feeling that you’ve earned your success by your hard work alone. This is the fantasy behind the guitar-riff that signifies that you’ve leveled up in Call of Duty multiplayer. It’s the fireworks and orchestral bombast of Peggle. It’s the steady return on investment in Fantasy Life. It is a power fantasy that reflects our time. We want to be reassured that our effort will pay off in the end, that progress is guaranteed, and that our achievements are fully our own.

Games have really steered into this idea, and the solution in many cases is to give the player more powerful equipment over the course of the game to emulate improvement. And sometimes it works wonderfully, like in Monster Hunter: World I’d argue. In that game you can feel yourself improve alongside your equipment and its great because the weapons and armor you create feel earned in a way they wouldn’t if the monster dropped them outright. And returning to a monster that bigged you previously to take it down in significantly less time feels great. Leveled loot, can be a good thing for a game! But in Origins, I was in far too many situations where fights would take way too long because I was level 14 instead of 15. Or maybe my sword had an eight beside it instead of a ten. Origins didn’t have a great balance, and to hear it’s worse in Odyssey bums me out!


#9

This is really sad. It really seems like Ubisoft are drawing the wrong conclusions on how to make open world games interesting. I was looking forward to Odyssey but it seems i might be better off with Origins.


#10

the “legions of wild animals attacking you” thing is SUCH a pet peeve of mine, not only because it’s annoying and makes exploring a game a huge chore, but also because like…animals don’t behave like that? why on earth would a pack of wolves (or any other animal, for that matter) annihilate themselves trying to take down prey that’s clearly more than a match for them? why wouldn’t they try to run away once they get hurt?

it’s very silly to get annoyed about unrealistic animal behavior in a video game, i know, but i feel like in a game like this that tries super hard to at least seem like it’s painting a believable and well-researched picture of ancient greece it isn’t too much to ask for wild animals that haven’t made it their life goal to kill you or die trying for some contrived reason


#11

I’ve not been much of an AC guy except for the sheer novelty of AC2 and more recently Origins. I enjoy Origins quite a bit while playinig it at a very leisurely pace, i.e. I play it every few months, for 4-8 hours over a weekend, and put it down again, satisfied. I’d always hoped for an AC game in Ancient Greece but the one Ubi made appears looks contrived: too much like a movie set and too little like a credible take on Peloponnesian Wars-Era Greece. The silly beach battles, animal brawls, and fantasy pushed me over the edge into non-interest. Thanks for sharing your impressions, and the comparison with Origins – they confirmed my fears.


#12

I just started Origins last night off the back of Waypoint’s sober response to Odyssey and I can confirm that it’s much more human and likeable than I expected. The way game plays is nothing mind-blowing the the quantity of solid, empathetic writing so far has me very excited.


#13

I just started Odyssey after playing through Origins twice in the last year, and this hits at something that’s been nagging at me since I started.

I realize this is a vastly oversimplified metaphor, but it feels like the developers turned every slider in the game up by, like, 10%. Everything is just a little bit busier, a little bit harder, a little bit more. Movement is just a touch faster. Collecting is just a touch faster. It feels like the whole balance of the game has been thrown off.

Maybe once I get used to it, I won’t notice anymore, but at least at the start, it’s jarring.