Another year, another Assassin's Creed entry: After taking 2016 off, the historical action/stealth series returned in rare form last year with Assassin's Creed Origins. Ubisoft cleaned up a lot of the bloat that had plagued entries like Unity and Syndicate, implemented a revamped combat system and introduced character customization via upgradeable skills and equipment. And the refinements continue in this year's Assassin's Creed Odyssey.
Odyssey gives players the opportunity to explore the Peloponnesian War as a Spartan mercenary, or "misthios." Throughout the course of their adventure — which will almost certainly take 50 hours or more — players will sail the Aegean Sea, match wits with Socrates, hunt mythical beasts and much more. There's no question that Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a big, beautiful game, but does it improve on last year's installment?
That depends on whom you ask. The reviews for Assassin's Creed Odyssey are in, and they all seem to say about the same thing. Assassin's Creed Odyssey presents a beautiful, enormous world and solid core gameplay, but at the expense of some focus in both the main story and the new gameplay features. How strongly you feel about these elements will determine whether you view Odyssey as a good game, or as a great one.
I reviewed Assassin's Creed Odyssey for Tom's Guide, and gave it a 3.5 rating out of 5. I liked the whole package, especially the beautiful Greek landscapes and fast-paced combat. The game's sheer size and scope was a bit daunting, though, and I couldn't determine which of the competing plotlines was supposed to be the most important.
"Open combat is similar to what we saw in Origins: fast-paced, chaotic battles where locking onto enemies and timing your combos correctly are vital for victory. There are two major changes, though, and both of them help make combat feel much more dynamic."
"I reviewed the game on a regular PS4 on a 1080p TV and loved exploring the lush Greek mountainsides and wine-dark seas."
"These story lines intersect occasionally, but it's more accurate to say that they compete. Each one demands Alexios' attention, and it's usually unclear which narrative is supposed to take precedence."
"The game froze up on me completely at least once; another time, I encountered a game-breaking bug in a vital plot mission, because I had missed an encounter with an important character."
At Forbes, Paul Tassi gave Assassin's Creed Odyssey 8.5 out of 10. He thought that the game was jam-packed with stuff, perhaps even to excess. But since all of the content was fun, he felt that the game ultimately gave players a sprawling and satisfying adventure.
"Later in the game, you will start to realize how your choices shape the larger narrative of the story, especially regarding which of the other main characters survive until the end."
"Like Origins, Odyssey is at its best when you simply explore the map and hunt down question marks on the horizon, which will lead you to an untold amount of quests and loot. The loot here is pretty good, and there are a lot of excellent armor sets to collect."
"Even at level 50 with great gear and perks, this still barely felt like a traditional Assassin’s Creed game, as stealth rarely seemed like the best option anywhere."
"I feel like this game is just…a bit much. A bit much so soon after Origins, and a bit much where it literally takes almost 60 hours to complete all four main questlines and hit level 50."
Alessandro Fillari reviewed the game for GameSpot, and gave it 8 out of 10. He loved the setting and the dual protagonists, but thought that the Athens/Sparta mechanic was underdeveloped, and the central story could have unfolded faster.
"In your trek through the Greek mainland and the islands of the Mediterranean sea, you come across diverse locales that showcase lush environments that pay tribute to the old gods, while rubbing shoulders with the many historical figures of the era looking to make their impression in Greek society."
"Much like in Black Flag and Rogue, seafaring offers up some of the more exciting and visually pleasing moments of the game, finding lost sunken ruins in the oceans depths or facing off against increasingly aggressive rival ships."
"In some of the more bizarre cases, the game and its narrative don't seem to take Conquest seriously, especially when the main story has you helping a particular faction, despite the side content in the area actively hurting them."
"When looking at Odyssey in the bigger picture, it can often feel like too much game for its own good."
At IGN, Brandin Tyrrel was particularly fond of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, awarding it 9.2 out of 10. In fact, the game has earned the highest score of any Assassin's Creed title that IGN has reviewed. Tyrrel was thrilled with the extensive skill upgrade system and gorgeous world, but didn't like how the side content could get in the way of the main story.
"Greece is a stunning series of picturesque locales: white-stone isles, eternally autumnal forests, sun-blasted desert islands, an endless expanse of beach, alabaster cities defended by titanic statues of bronze and stone, and the inviting, rolling waves of the open sea."
"Leveling is a seamless experience, and though it predictably slows the higher you get, I never felt like I was spinning my wheels for an excessively long time before being rewarded."
"Odyssey’s main story is padded with mission after mission of meaningless errands that make getting to those strong character moments a painstaking gauntlet of splintered tasks."
"Flaws lurk just under the surface. They range from minor immersion-breaking hiccups like draw distance that never seems to be quite far enough to capture the view, textures that arrive moments too late, or slightly off-sync audio, to the more severe."
Although Kotaku doesn't give review scores, Heather Alexandra enjoyed her time with Assassin's Creed Odyssey, especially the late-game content. However, she felt that some of that enjoyment came at the expense of series lore and continuity.
"When the need for sneakier solutions arises, Odyssey can really shine. Sneaking through an enemy fortress is a satisfying puzzle, and the player has many different tools at their disposal."
"The ramifications of Kassandra’s journey intersect with Layla’s in a major way, culminating in a moment that fully embraces the speculative fiction qualities the franchise has recently seemed so eager to leave behind."
"This open world romp comes paired with decisions that are disappointing, marking an erosion of identity and vision that’s grinds Assassin’s Creed into something unrecognizable from the first half-dozen games in the franchise."
"Not every quest is so memorable. There are plenty of one-off cases where you’ll deliver bear pelts or fight off bandits."
Polygon recently elected to forego review scores, which means that Colin Campbell's review of Assassin's Creed Odyssey has no number attached. But it did earn the Polygon Recommends badge, as Campbell liked the protagonist, the setting and the story (for the most part).
"I’ve come across a couple of instances when decisions I made hours before come back to haunt me. This makes the world feel more like a human construct. There are, of course, a limited number of endings, but I enjoy the ability to make well-meaning mistakes, and feel awful about their consequences."
"Its geography is a beautiful montage of sunbaked islands, war-ravaged towns and towering ancient cities. From the brand-spanking new Parthenon to the tiniest butterfly, Odyssey provides a place of intense visual pleasure."
"The whole modern Animus sub-plot is the stupidest thing about Assassin’s Creed. I feel like the historical fiction stands well enough on its own, without the addition of burdensome sci-fi claptrap."
"Narrative linearity is easily broken. In one example, I engage romantically with a character immediately after making her very angry, while also completing a mission crucial to her, which I was unable to tell her about."