Similar to Middle Earth: Shadow of War’s fortress raids, conquest battles fulfill the void of what was teased but missing from Assassin’s Creed 3. These large-scale fights are intense and serve as the perfect outlet to put your acquired skills to the test. Interestingly, you’re able to choose a side. While attacking a nation is more challenging and more rewarding than defending one, both sides grant epic gear when you’re victorious. Plus, it’s nice to have options and gives you all the more reason to dig deeper into conversations with key characters.
Not unlike the ones scattered throughout the world of The Witcher 3, message boards can be visited in every one of the seemingly countless locations in Odyssey’s ancient Greece. They offer quick bite-sized quests that grant additional XP and crafting materials. One may have you clear a small bandit camp while another will have you battle a squad of ships at sea. I’ve found them to be most beneficial when in need of a bit more XP to level up or if I’m lacking a small amount of crafting materials for that next upgrade. And I’m always in the mood to stealthily lay waste to a camp of bandits regardless of the rewards.
Refined Ship Combat
Like many, I adored Black Flag. I fell in love with the ship mechanics and the pirate life in general. I for one was ecstatic at the return of ship combat and ocean exploration in Odyssey, and I’m happy to say it feels better than ever. Though sinking ships with volleys of arrows and spears severely challenges my ability to suspend my disbelief, operating your war boat is smooth and straightforward. My favorite new addition to ship combat is the inclusion of Lieutenants. Instead of viciously slaughtering every one of them you encounter, you’re presented with the option to non-lethally subdue and recruit them for your crew. Each Lieutenant has a unique skill that can be applied to one of four unlockable slots on your ship. From increased volley damage to stronger hull attacks, the Lieutenants provide a way to further customize the way you approach battles at sea. And let’s rejoice in the fact that we have a killer new setlist of shanties to belt while shredding the waves.
Dialogue Options and Choices
Though it’s certainly “been there, done that” for the genre, the inclusion of dialogue options and story-altering choices fit nicely into the fold. I’m inherently more invested in the plot being able to directly impact it, and optional conversations provide a greater sense of character development across the board. They’re especially interesting when playing in exploration mode, as the information you gather from chatting with characters around the world is critical to completing quest objectives. The execution of said mode isn’t as glamorous as it sounds on paper, but it’s a neat idea I hope to see return and improve going forward.
Ultimately, these features result in a much deeper and more satisfying ARPG experience. Odyssey feels like a cross between the best of what was overhauled in Origins and what I loved about Black Flag. My investment in the franchise has undeniably dwindled in the last five years, but I’m genuinely having a great time with Odyssey, and it’ll more than likely be the first Assassin’s Creed title I complete since Unity. For more on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you can check out our full review here or catch up on a multitude of gameplay videos on our YouTube channel.
***Assassin’s Creed Odyssey code provided by Ubisoft***