There are thousands of video games out there, but what’s worth playing? Today let’s talk about:
Assassin’s Creed has been chugging along since 2007. Designed from a multi-cultural perspective the series has had its ups and … relatively few downs, but I wanted to take some time today to highlight just one in particular: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.
AKA, the Greek one.
Since there have been so many Assassin’s Creed games, Odyssey has had the rougher edges filed off. It’s got a lot of what made the other games good like crafting, factions, sailing, and recruiting of others to your cause. There is also a sort of elite mercenary system where you are hunted or can hunt high level NPC characters or try to avoid them. I swear, sometimes they show up at the worst times. In either case, there is plenty of combat, both stealth based and a stand-up fight; it’s brutal, fast, and wonderfully crisp.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey has also thankfully removed most of the tedious collecting of minor trinkets quests (like those stupid feathers from 2) and continues to have massive historical buildings to climb all over (unlike Valhalla where there are lots of mud huts). The world is huge, and it feels huge. It’s vibrant and colorful in a way that people don’t often think the past was. (I’m a historian, all those white sculptures and statues were garishly colored).
The gameplay has you playing as a mercenary (male or female) in the Peloponnesian war, the time between the Persian invasions and the Greek Civil War. The two remaining ideological powers in Greece, Sparta and Athens, vie for control while other less powerful city states try to escape either of their hegemonic overreach. You do the typical Assassin’s Creed quests of helping others and going on adventures while meeting colorful people of history. What feels real is that this Civil War is almost a background event to people’s lives; and it’s those human-interest stories that I remember best, like winning a wrestling tournament and pretending I was a goddess to sooth an old blind woman’s grieving heart. The Greek Civil War is not really a threat; Greece is too much of an island nation to have one city forcefully conquer it, so who cares, let’s party with Pericles.
What is especially good about Odyssey is that there is not very much of the “this is a simulation” bit and it keeps you in the “game” world a heck of a lot more. The plot of Assassin’s Creed is that people can use a machine to connect to the DNA memories of their genetic ancestors to fight terrorism / do archaeology / design other historical video games more accurately. While Odyssey is more of an RPG style, what is there as an RPG at least makes sense, unlike some of the other games where the constant “real world” interruptions disrupt the narrative to a point of making the plot murky.
All of that is boring and brings the game to a grinding halt, and Odyssey has almost none of it and it’s FAR less pretentious than usual. Hey Assassin’s Creed 1; file this under C for CUT all of this out.
1: Knock enemies off buildings whenever you can; the higher up the better. The enemies and their health all scale with each other, keeping the pace of the game rather flat as you explore. This also means that high level enemies have a LOT of health; but fall damage scales too and is extremely overpowered. You can one shot kill enemies by knocking them off high enough stuff. The “Spartan Kick” ability is excellent for this as is the “charge up heavy attack” move.
2: You will rarely need to hide bodies so don’t worry about it too much. Greece is too big and the countryside is too accessible for guards to really chase you or wall you into an alley. Unless you start targeting either Spartan or Athenian guards, you won’t get in too much trouble.
3: You don’t stop walking or riding when you gather resources. This isn’t World of Warcraft where every plant you want to harvest slows you down or ever rock you want to mine is 10 seconds. It’s automatic, so as you ride or run through the countryside, just tap the “rather resources” button and you’re all set.
4: Sell your old gear whenever you can as this game gives you FAR too much of it. Most of the time, higher level gear is better gear (as would make sense and the game is good at not giving you under leveled gear) but since you are constantly getting new equipment, you tend to forget it is even there and it fills up your inventory quickly. You might play for an hour and realize you somehow have 30 extra weapons. Try a few out to see how they feel, find a style or two that you like, and scrap the rest.