Is Assassin's Creed Odyssey the series' best entry yet?
The next Assassin’s Creed sees the stealth adventure travel to ancient Greece for the first time, but the setting is far from the only change coming to Odyssey.
For the first time, players have the choice of which of two possible protagonists they would like to play as, Alexios or Kassandra.
Choice is a big word around Odyssey, because this is also the first game to include dialogue options for a player’s chosen character, enabling them to make decisions that will affect their relationship with other characters in the game, and to some extent how the story unfolds as a result.
This extends to romantic relationships too, with developer Ubisoft confirming that regardless of gender, players will be able to pursue such relationships with other key characters in the game.
All this creates what already looks and feels like a much broader and richer game from a narrative perspective.
But the changes do not stop there, even from last year’s Origins title, which introduced an entirely new combat system, there have been tweaks aimed at improving battle in Assassin’s Creed.
Shields for your character have been done away with, replaced now with a new parry tool that if pressed at the right time sees players dodge blows and be in the perfect position to quickly counter.
However, the game still does not use a target system for locking onto enemies, meaning its easy stumble in and out of the correct position to attack or defend, and now without a shield, you feel even more exposed during hand-to-hand combat.
There is a silver lining to the parry feature though, it comes with new powerful attacks that can be unleashed if a parry is perfectly timed.
There are two options, one inflicts heavy damage on opponents while the other disarms them of their own shield (if they have one) to even the odds of that given fight.
Elsewhere in combat terms, naval battles are once again set to be a prominent part of gameplay, with players frequently hopping between Greek islands and taking on soldiers and pirates as they do.
There’s also a new combat mode set within larger battles between up to 120 in-game characters, where players must take on the role of key warrior, fight their way through the battle and eliminate the enemy commander.
On first impressions, these new features do a good job of making Odyssey the most broadly playable and least repetitive feeling Assassin’s Creed games in some time, with players no longer left feeling with a sense of playing out the same overall assassin mission just in different settings.
The game’s combat system and modes also feel more diverse, even if the overall mechanics are still not quite what they should be.
The Greek setting is a stunning backdrop for this latest adventure, and the diversity in cast and narrative is a positive step too, offering promising signs that this long-running series isn’t going off the boil yet.