Assassin’s Creed: The Beginning of the End?

Assassin’s Creed has been one of my favourite gaming franchises since it’s inception back in 2007. Ubisoft took a lot of stick for a repetitive formula, buggy games and a yearly release schedule following Syndicate’s release, which resulted in them completely changing the gameplay in Origins and making further additions in Odyssey. However, Odyssey is a game that I am still struggling to get through, here’s a summary of why.

A lot of different stories smashed together

Remember how in the original AC (AC1 to Syndicate), how you’d have a main story, then a load of side missions and collectables to complete. Well, starting with Origins, Ubisoft introduced two main quests, one the linear story you travel through to find the answers that are asked at the beginning of the game. Then another which is basically assassination spree, you get given a list of people, each giving a clue to the next person you must assassinate. This eventually became it’s own story in Odyssey, which intertwined with the main story but was evidently it’s own story line. Then there were mini stories which took the form of side quests. Basically it’s a lot of stories smashed together, which I don’t even think the Greek legends of myths could have actually taken on. I wouldn’t mind this, if I was allowed to complete each story individually rather than being forced to play them because of a completely unnecessary level up system (more on this later). Also, a lot of them just weren’t that good and were effectively filler to make the game last half hour longer.

We’ve got a bigger map than you

AC games have always had pretty big maps, filled with repetitive go to point A or capture said fort side missions, a load of collectables and other bits and bobs to fill out the game. However, the last two installments took it to the next level. First of all Origins had a huge map, mostly covered with desert, so the missions tended to focus in the cities and you may find the odd mission or tomb to plunder your way through. Odyssey took it to the next level, the map was just covered with stuff to do and then you had to just dauntless navigate your way half way across the map to reach the next set of missions. Odyssey and Origins both have two of the most beautiful maps in gaming, with stunning architecture and scenery but bigger doesn’t always mean better.

The mission formula is now repetitive

As I said the original AC formula had some repetitive parts to its gameplay, which games doesn’t. But because of the huge map, it seemed ubisoft had sacrificed making missions interesting. Even the main missions had become a set of 3 mission archetypes; go capture said fort, kill someone in said fort or go to point b and talk to so and so. They’d also removed secondary objectives. For me that was such a huge part, it added more challenge to the games. It also made you approach missions differently. In Unity where they gave you the different tasks before hand (like steal a key from someone to open a new way to your target) was just awesome, even in the original where you had to complete the different objectives to find out information. It just added that extra detail to being an assassin.

Lack of memorable moments

AC has provided some of my more memorable moments in gaming. Ranging from characters to those moments in stories that just stick with you. Who can forget Da Vinci’s threat to cut Ezio’s finger off, fighting Bellec on the cathedral, the ending to Origins. But as Odyssey took on a more of a RPG style than it’s predecessors, the minimisation of cutscenes really impacted the story. Nothing really breaks up the monotonous gameplay. In about 90 hours of gameplay from Odyssey, it hurts me to say, but there hasn’t been anything that really stood out.

Horrendous levelling up system

Each mission and area in the last two installments are given a level cap, giving the game a sort of linear story to follow. If the enemy is about 3 levels higher, they’re going to own your ass basically or you have to be a god to beat them. Then there’s the assassinations, hitting a successful assassination will only take off a certain amount of health unless you tower over them in level or upgraded your blade to the right level, meaning your going to have to fight your way out. It creates a huge pacing issue in the game also, as you the story missions don’t provide enough XP. So you have to spend several hours in between mission completing all the side quests on an island to make sure you keep pace with the story.

Where’re the good characters going?

AC is known for great character creation, but ever since Ezio each character has a game each and some other media to grow and develop. This has been a long standing issue with the AC franchise. Odyssey really struggled though with characters, even long standing figures in the franchise like Darius (the owner of the first hidden blade) failed to make an impact. But AC has always had quite good support characters ranging from Leonardo Da Vinci (ACII – Revelations), Elise (Unity) & Aya (Origins). Some of the characters in Odyssey such as Herodotus, who seem to be meant for more than they actually were, seem to have a couple of missions, a bit of back story and then they disappear into your ship to become a face in the background. Even Barnabas isn’t a great side character, he sort of tries to convince Kassandra or Alexios with their choices but is just bland and provides very little else.

As a long time fan of the franchise, it’s pretty evident throughout this article I don’t like the way the franchise is going. I loved Origins with the new style of play, the story sort of gripped me enough to keep playing through the monotonous parts of gameplay as did most AC games but Odyssey was a game I just wanted to stop playing. Even now opening the game and just looking for somewhere to start is a daunting task. Worst of all they keep adding more, with 3 DLC packages promised by Ubisoft and constant updates with new quests added, it doesn’t seem like feeling is going to get worse. It’s pretty evident Ubisoft wanted a game that lasted a long time but trying to force you to complete side missions or spend real money on a poor levelling system. Even 90 hours into a playthrough I’m yet to finish of the Cult of Kosmos (the original bad guys). I hope that they make some much needed improvements to the next Assassin’s Creed.

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