Hands-on: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey embraces Witcher-like RPG elements, and it’s damned exciting

It sure is fascinating to watch Assassin’s Creed reinvent itself. A series that was by and large stagnant for years—even going so far as to return to older design tropes with Unityit now seems determined to evolve into something entirely new. Something that, if we’re being honest, quite resembles (at least on the surface) The Witcher 3.

Last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins was the first step in this process, removing the series from the cities it had outgrown and putting it in a vast, detailed recreation of Ptolemaic Egypt, and then filling Egypt with mysteries big and small. It continues in 2018’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey ($60 preorder on Amazon), as for the first time ever the series adds dialogue trees.

Ubisoft is determined to turn Assassin’s Creed into a full-fledged RPG, and damn it’s exciting.

Homeward bound

For 2018, Assassin’s Creed goes even further back in time. Not quite as far back as I expected—the “Odyssey” of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is not actually Homer’s per se, which would’ve taken place almost a millennium prior to Origins. It is a prequel though, taking place towards the end of the “Classical Greece” period, around 400 years earlier (or around 450 BCE).

That puts it right around the legendary Battle of Thermopylae, the famed 300 Spartans versus the entire Persian army. It’s also a period where Athens went from one-among-many states to one of the dominant forces in Greece. And it’s right around the time of the Peloponnesian War, which saw Athens fighting against rival Sparta.

Whether any of that will play into the story of Odyssey? I honestly couldn’t say, but it seems likely.

In any case, you play as either Kassandra or Alexios, both of whom come from Athens and are thus mistrusted by many in the loose coalition of Greek city-states. This is pre-Assassins, which makes sense given Origins told the story of that order’s beginning. I was told by Ubisoft that the story does tie into the overarching meta-narrative though, even if none of that was apparent during my demo.

assassins creed odyssey 3 Ubisoft

I’m on a boat

I chose to play as Kassandra for most of my demo, which took up about an hour on Monday night. There were a bunch of options for me to choose from—a naval combat section, some loose exploration, an enormous (by Assassin’s Creed standards at least) battle sequence, and the Socrates quest Ubisoft showed during its press conference.

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