'Assassin's Creed Odyssey': Everything we know including post-launch plans

 digitaltrends.com  9/15/2018 6:30:12 PM  2  Gabe Gurwin

Just prior to E3 2018, Ubisoft officially announced Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the next evolution in its long-running series and the successor to Assassin’s Creed Origins. The gameplay we’ve seen thus far looks like a healthy mix of classic Assassin’s Creed elements with new-school ideas introduced in Origins, and a heavier emphasis on player choice and story could make it the most personal Assassin’s Creed game yet. From the combat to the setting and everything in between, here’s what you need to know about Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

It’s all Greek to me

We haven’t heard any Sirens or spied a Cyclops, but the “Odyssey” in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey does indeed refer to Ancient Greece. Taking place during the nation’s golden age, you play as a Spartan during the Peloponnesian War and will venture into not just Sparta, but also the famous city of Athens.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will kick off in Kephallonia Island, located on the west end of the Korinthian Gulf. As the open world opens up, you’ll be able to travel to Northern Greece to see Makedonia, the Attika Peninsula, the tree-filled Forest Islands, the idealized Paradise Islands, the terrifying and volcanic Arid Islands, and Peloponnese – the home of the original Olympics.

There will be a lot of ground to cover in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, with some estimates putting it at 130 square kilometers – a huge increase over Origins’ map – but the locations will be varied. Despite the sandy beaches and beautiful urban structures we associate with Ancient Greece, the country has plenty of options for players looking to mix things up.

The story so far

Assassin's Creed Odyssey review

For the first time in the AC series, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey allows you to choose your protagonist, giving you the option of either Alexios or Kassandra. Both are outcast Spartan mercenaries who must investigate their past on the way to becoming a legendary warrior. Leonidas’ spear holds the key to solving this mystery, and the game was even first announced with what appeared to be an homage to the character’s most famous scene in the film 300.

That scene appears linked directly to Alexios or Kassandra, who were literally thrown off a cliff as babies after their family learned of a prophecy that spelled doom for them. Other characters you’ll encounter during Odyssey include the philosopher Sokrates and travel companion Barnabas.

Alexios and Kassandra are warriors rather than assassins, but they are descendants of the series’ First Civilization, which has been the focus of several games’ modern-day segments. How this will connect Odyssey to other titles remains to be seen, but we do know that Leonidas’ spear is an artifact from the First Civilization. You might remember another artifact, the Piece of Eden, which was featured heavily in Ezio’s games several years earlier.

As the series moves further into role-playing territory, so does Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s presentation. You’ll have the ability to choose from different dialogue options during conversations, similar to Mass Effect or Telltale’s many games, and depending on the choices you make along the way, you can experience different endings to the story.

Though still partially rooted in history, expect to see some fantastical elements in Assassin’s Creed Origins in Odyssey. Ubisoft promises to reveal the true nature of Greek mythological beasts. We’re guessing that means giant boss battles that have absolutely no relationship to fact. One of these we know of is Medusa, the snake-headed monster made famous both in Greek mythology and in classic video games like Castlevania. These fights appear to be the game’s “boss battles,” which haven’t been a large focus for the series in the past.

Combat on land and at sea

Assassin's Creed Odyssey review

The gear-based, tactical approach to melee combat introduced in Assassin’s Creed Origins returns in Odyssey, and Ubisoft is leaning into it more this time around. The system is based heavily on timing, blocking, and knowing when to get a hit in versus when to go on the defensive, and you’ll be able to augment your weapons with certain special abilities to get an advantage. Finishing moves return, as well, giving you a gloriously over-the-top animation when you finally manage to take an enemy down.

An adrenaline meter similar to the one in Origins is also included and charges as you attack in combat, but this time it’s tied to super-powerful Spear of Leonidas abilities. This is how you’ll make use of special moves like the Spartan Kick.

Stealth is deemphasized in a similar manner to Origins, as well, with sneak kills not actually guaranteeing the death of your target, even with an added ability to increase the damage dealt. With fewer scenarios where stealth is preferable, however, this shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Not everything relies on the formula set forth in Origins. According to Gamespot, shields have been put to the side in favor of simple dodging, though enemies will still utilize them.

To properly convey the epic nature of the Peloponnesian War, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey features 300-person battles between the Spartans and Athenians, making the fights literally “all Greek to me.” We saw a brief glimpse of one of these during Ubisoft’s E3 2018 demo, and their scale and spectacle are similar to the beachhead scene in the film Troy. In addition to less-powerful enemies who you can slaughter in a few hits, you’ll also face more powerful targets who deserve your full attention.

Naval combat makes its triumphant return from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed Rogue, with technology to reflect the much earlier timeframe. You’ll be able to recruit new crew members — including Evie Frye, in a nod to fans of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate — to staff your ship and assist in battles, and you can customize your ship to suit your particular nautical playstyle. If the weather is dangerous you’ll find it more difficult to sail, as well.

The progression goes full RPG

Assassin's Creed Odyssey review

To improve and customize Alexios or Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey you’ll make use of a skill tree split into three categories: Hunter, Warrior, and Assassin. The three branches allow you to spend ability points you earn on new skills and enhancements for bow, melee, and stealth combat. Four abilities can be mapped to the face buttons of your controller at any one time, giving you the ability to pull out some deadly tricks when you’re getting overwhelmed in a duel.

Progression isn’t limited to your character, however. As you perform illegal actions, mercenaries will come looking for you, and as they’re defeated, others will take their place in a similar manner to Middle-earth: Shadow of War’s orcs. Which mercenaries choose to come after you will depend on your relationship with the Athenians and the Spartans – you can attempt to work with both of them, but focusing too heavily on one or the other will cause conflict to erupt.

Special editions

As with all Assassin’s Creed games, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has a number of different versions available for collector’s to purchase. Here is what they contain:

  • Deluxe and Digital Deluxe Edition ($80) – XP and currency boost, Kronos gear pack, Herald of Dusk gear pack, Capricornus naval pack.
  • Digital Gold Edition ($100) – Season pass and three-day early access.
  • Gold Steelbook Edition ($110) – Season pass, three-day early access, and steelbook
  • Digital Ultimate Edition ($120) – Contents of Digital Gold Edition plus Digital Deluxe Edition.
  • GameStop Exclusive Kassandra Edition ($150) – Season pass, three-day early access, steelbook, “Secrets of Greece” mission, and Kassandra figure.
  • Ubisoft Store Exclusive Spartan Collector’s Edition ($160) – Contents of Ultimate Edition, Alexios figure, art book, lithograph, map, and soundtrack CD.
  • Pantheon Collector’s Edition ($220) – Contents of Spartan Collector’s Edition, but with an additional enemy figure.

If you prefer to purchase the standard version of the game but still want a collectible, Ubisoft is currently selling standalone Alexios and Kassandra figures, as well, though these are different than the ones that come bundled with the special editions. A Spear of Leonidas replica is also available.

The end isn’t the end

As was the case with Assassin’s Creed Origins, reaching the ending of the main story mode in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey doesn’t mean you’ve seen all the story content it has to offer. Whether you’re interested in purchasing the season pass or just want to play through free content, there will be something for you this year and beyond.

The free quests will be called The Lost Tales of Greece, each of which will give more story alongside mercenary contracts for players to complete. Ubisoft said in the announcement that we’ll see new characters as well as familiar ones in this content, but it won’t be all players get for free. Special ships and mythical creatures will also be available to defeat every week, and the game will feature a New Game Plus mode with additional challenges.

Those who do purchase the season pass will be getting extra content, as well as some bonus goodies. The first major expansion is called Legacy of the First Blade, and its first episode launches in December, with episodes coming every six weeks. The second expansion is The Fate of Atlantis, and it will begin next spring. As the name might suggest, it will heavily feature Greek mythology and the lost city.

Season pass buyers will also get two additional games. Assassin’s Creed III Remastered and Assassin’s Creed Liberation Remastered are included with 4K and HDR support across PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and Assassin’s Creed III also includes all post-launch content.

A long break

Though Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is going to release just a year after Origins, this doesn’t mean Ubisoft is returning the series to an annual release schedule. While speaking at Gamescom, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said that there will not be a new AC game released in 2019. The company will instead focus on giving continuous content updates and supporting Odyssey for a longer period of time.

Guillemot elaborated that the decision to release Odyssey a year after Origins actually came about because the two games had been in development simultaneously. Ubisoft has several different studios typically creating these games at the same time, and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate studio Ubisoft Quebec is leading the charge on Odyssey.

Release date and platforms

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey comes to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on October 5.

Those who pre-order the game will gain early access to the mission “The Blind King,” and if you pre-order at GameStop, you’ll also receive a bonus Spartan Helmet keychain — it’s the keychain that originally leaked the game’s existence ahead of its official announcement.

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