Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Fan Expo 2018 Impression

On the weekend of Fan Expo, in one of the furthest booths, on the deepest levels of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, lies the Microsoft booth. Among the various Forzas and Plunkbat tournaments on display were a few stations dedicated to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the next entry to Ubisoft’s long-running parkour, murder, and collect-em-up franchise.

The demo offered two options, one where you join a packed battlefield and another where you command a warship. Both are quick to jump straight to the violence but there are enough preamble and post-mission conversation to give an inkling of the story. Alexios or Kassandra (players will pick at the campaign’s start) is a descendant of King Leonidas and mercenary of some repute, and will be dragged into the conflict between Athens and Sparta, able to choose between them and change the course of the war. I also spotted dialogue options both plot-related and for fun in-character moments, as well as a budding romance between the player character and a Spartan officer.

A peek at the skill trees in the menu showed three groups: Warrior for kicking more butt faster and better, Hunter for ranged combat and crafting prowess, and Assassin for all the cool moves the game is known for plus bonuses on sneaking about. All seemed broad and fleshed out with a lot of numbers and data for RPGamers to fiddle about with over the course of an Aegean adventure.

Boat-murder mode is exactly what people might recall from Assassin’s Creed IV, but instead of cannons, you just have several rows of guys with bows and arrows (so maybe not exactly — you cannot call for chain shots to the rudder or mortar fire). The player directs the ship, aims the arrow volleys and tries to outmaneuver the enemy in hopes of sinking or boarding them, though the reasons for this were unclear. The Spartan captain is super hunky and it’s the warship gameplay from Assassin’s Creed IV, and people have wanted more of at least one of those things over the years.

Conquest mode is not Dynasty Warriors. It looks like it, with the red and blue bars and the rushing of dudes to an area. The frequent instructions to run off to the opposite side of the field to kill a specific dude who has special attacks and way more health points than the mooks populating the field is fun. It still plays like Assassins Creed Origins with its more staid and steady combat flow, having a bunch of goons running around mixes that pace up, but maybe not in a great way; it feels less strategic and more about running from the guys kicking you until you can ambush the ranking foe of the moment. A giant guy with two maces killed me and then I went for coffee.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is shaping up to be another foot forward from the pivot that was Assassin’s Creed Origins, but these new modes feel like additions for additions’ sake, especially the return of naval combat. I hope I can get a better feel for them in the main game or at least avoid too many of these to complete the main story when the game releases on October 5, 2018.

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