I Keep Playing 'Assassin’s Creed Odyssey' Because it Reminds me of Xena


#1

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a perfectly fine game. The combat is ok. Running and jumping and climbing and assassinating is all pretty fun. The bird is kinda cool. It’s all pretty, it’s all fine. It’s the sort of thing I’d enjoy for a few hours and forget about, except for one glorious detail: playing as Kassandra the badass mercenary, has me feeling like I’m playing through an entire season of Xena: Warrior Princess.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/vbkjg8/assassins-creed-odyssey-xena

#2

Can I say that the title alone made me way more interested in AC: Odyssey than any thinkpiece or review so far? Gimme my Warrior Princess simulator dammit!


#3

I really do like Kassandra, but I feel Austin made a good point about how she’s a conflicting character. With her always jumping between sides, hailing Sparta as her homeland but then also being a fan of the democracy and elegance of Athens, you never get an idea of how the game wants to steer you. She needs a bit more agency than we’re given.

The line that sticks out to me is after she realizes Elpenor is supplying both sides of the war with weapons. Kassandra speaks out, without our input, that Elpenor is scum for doing this.

Uh… Kassandra… You are doing the EXACT same thing. Your skills and prowess in combat make you a weapon, and you have no problem jumping between sides in this conflict.

I appreciate the sweeter moments with her. The quest I’m on now, the Prince of Persia, is a cute little quest where you relay the sights of Greece to this old Persian blind man. You have the choice of telling him the truth or exaggerating what you see.


#4

I’m still playing as Alexios because I wanted to be a queer guy…


#5

Definitely feeling that Xena vibe from my 25 hours with Kassandra so far! I just wish there were a Gabrielle to my Kassandra… sorry Phobos, you’re just not cutting it.

As irrelevant as a lot of the dialogue choices throughout the game are towards gameplay generally, they really do let you role play the character how you like, and I think it is significantly increasing my enjoyment of the game.

I’m playing a version of Kassandra who is thoroughly the misthios–almost any job, she will immediately inquire about how much it’s paying. Someone screws with her and she’s quick to draw her blade. A very “take no sh*t” kind of misthios, I suppose. She’s free with love as well, happy to have a roll in the hay with anyone from a woman who’s clearly just using her to a horny old lady whose husband can’t keep up with her libido to a burly blacksmith who needs some help gathering… blacksmith stuff, I guess.

But at the same time, her interaction with Phoibe on Kephallonia inspired me to play her as a woman with a soft spot for kids. So whenever a dumb fetch quest pops up and it’s a kid asking, my Kassandra is eager to help and plays along with whatever it takes to make that kid’s day. Suddenly she’s not demanding payment anymore when it comes to kids, and I love that I can play her that way.

The dialogue options do have some effect, of course. In one quest, Kassandra is asked to choose who dies between both people or else both die. I decided my Kassandra would be the type to think she could save both of them and to go for it and, of course, both of them ended up dead in the end. I think the fact that I’m given the choice to make the “suboptimal” or “less heroic” choice is really empowering and I’m enjoying it.

There are a number of things I’m not enjoying that much in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (the mercenary system being a poor attempt at the far superior nemesis system from Shadow of Mordor, for example), but I’m completely honest in saying that the dialogue trees and ability to role play as a result of them combine well with many of the other systems and do keep me coming back to play with (and as) Kassandra.


#6

The dad of a close friend of mine had a small role on Xena and whenever the show comes up I can’t think of anything else. What happens in that show? Couldn’t tell you. There’s my mate’s dad on a horse tho.


#7

Wouldn’t Alexios be in the same conflicting position as kassandra though? That weird tension in the game of flipping sides and sometimes even fighting Athenians when you’re in and around Athens infects practically everything, I feel.


#8

sees title “I wonder if Danielle wrote this.”


#9

Oh yeah, I mean there’s no real difference between the characters until you choose one. I just said Kassandra because she’s the canon main character, despite Alexios being on the box for some reason.

Yeah. I wish there was some kind of notoriety system on top of the war system. Swing towards Sparta, and you’re declared for them. Towards Athens, declared for them.


#10

Oh fuck, really? Well, that changes my perspective a bit. I guess I’ll go play as Kassandra then.


#11

All I know about Xenia is that Simpsons episode in which she flies.


#12

I mean, it doesn’t matter. Play who you want!

I personally think Kassandra has the better VA, but that’s subjective.


#13

There’s actually another outcome to that quest you can get.

If you attack the thugs from range without getting close you initiate combat with them, with the two hostages as npcs on your side. You can run up and protect them fast enough to save them both. I did this because I was so mad at Cutscene Kassandra threatening the thugs then standing still and waiting for 20 seconds while they killed them both that I reloaded and tried again.

I love Kassandra, she is amazing. Basically the entire reason i’m playing this game at all, and she is exceeding expectations. I especially love all her interactions with the big thinkers of the time, having no time at all for their nonsense and preferring a more straightforward approach.

Maybe my favorite line of dialogue in a video game this year and it’s one word and a facial expression: (from the quest On A High Horse in Attika)

I don’t think that this game is going to bump Crosscode from the top of my GOTY list but holy hell i’m enjoying it a lot.


#14

Oh shit, that works? That’s amazing.

That quest bothered me a bit, because it made the implication that I could solve the problem by talking instead of fighting. When it became clear that I would have to fight the dude I was trying to convince to leave the theater alone, I Sparta kicked him into unconsciousness to try and talk to him afterwards. Too bad the game didn’t account for that, but I’m glad it does in other ways.


#15

Yeah, that’s basically what I’m trying to get at—they actually enabled numerous approaches that allow you to role play Kassandra however you want.

My Kassandra, for example, had just left Kephallonia when I happened upon the quest we are talking about. My Kassandra was very much used to the people of Kephallonia rolling over for her when she threatened violence, so she would just expect to get her way or be able to handle the situation. This was the first time she experienced the outside word where she’s no longer the big fish in the small pond!

But of course, you could play her as a completely different type of person, and that’s what makes this game different and, frankly, better than a lot of the other Assassin’s Creed games, IMO. That said… still not sure I like it as much as Origins (which I loved). But I might in the end!

Also, on the Xena commentary… I feel like this little scene is ripped directly out of a Xena script!


#16

This is orthogonal to the topic, but in an Athens main story quest that gives you the choice of whether to kill some guys who did a bad or forgive them

as is my general inclination when given the choice, I was fully prepared to be the nice gal, but then one of these guys fully busts out a MAGA “make Athens great again” and I was all NOPE.


#17

I just want everyone to know that Xena is all on Hulu and it’s still good


#18

I’ve loved Odyssey most when it’s felt like I TV show. I drop in for an hour or so, go through a little side arc with Kassandra, and mostly just enjoy riding around in the beautiful afternoon sunlight. I feel the systems are at their best when you just take a little nibble of each one, a little sailing, a little fighting, a little exploration.

That being said I think the game has a real problem with how it depicts slavery. I’ve run into a number of substantial side characters who are enslaved and they are almost always depicted as people who have no meaning in their life outside of serving their masters and in some way desire to continue their enslavement. A number of times enslaved characters are portrayed groveling or apologizing to masters when they are offered freedom, while the same masters are portrayed as beneficent for emancipating one of their slaves after decades of ownership. Given the long history of white slave owners justifying slavery on these exact terms- that the slaves find meaning in slavery, that the masters are their benevolent father figures etc- it seems really gross.


#19

You are definitely not alone. I actually sent an email to the Waypoint question bucket about this before I saw how the game handles it, and then I saw how it’s portrayed in-game and it is really disappointing, especially given that this isn’t exactly a historically accurate portrayal and the social and cultural environment this game is being released into.

Here are some of the egregious ones I preserved:

First off, in the major sidequest line about slavery that I’ve found so far, one of the first interactions is this one where a slave explains that slavery isn’t that bad, actually. It seems like the game is trying to say, “You see, it’s much more like indentured servitude than it is like scare-quotes “slavery” we’re all so used to.” As if that’s really better.

Also, spoiler alert, but this quest line with the dutiful slave and the kindly slavemaster ends with…

The slave being allowed to run free by the nice slavemaster only to run off and get himself killed. I mean, really? What’s the message there, exactly?!

And not to drone on too much about this, but when you go to the nearby slavemarket, you encounter… jokes about slavery?

There’s someone selling slaves and you hear him say, “Surely they’re worth 1,500 drachmai.” The buyer says, “1,200?”. The seller replies, “Sir, this is a set - you get husband and wife together.” The buyer replies, “1,250?”

That’s the punchline. To a joke about slavery. That including the wife only increases the value by a pittance. That the buying and selling of human beings to be put into slavery is something to make light of? This is something someone had to write, someone else had to animate, someone else had to set to activate while the player is present, and that voice actors had to act out. In the year two thousand and eighteen.

I’m not saying the whole game is “problematic” as a result of this stuff, but man, this is bad.


#20

Odyssey pulling the “Dorian defense” (from Dragon Age Inquisition) is questionable enough, but at least he didn’t quip about it.