It’s almost too easy at this point to make a joke about Ubisoft and the mess it’s made with the Assassin’s Creed series. Once one of the most anticipated and hyped franchises in the gaming industry, rushed releases, botched, convoluted storylines, and low innovation quickly dropped the series towards critical panning. Its seemed the games have turned into endless meme fodder.
Reception has gotten better in recent years, with Assassin’s Creed: Origins being a prime example of improved reviews. However, the games have never reclaimed the height of Assassin’s Creed 2 or Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.
This year at E3, Ubisoft revealed its trailer for the new installment into its assassin adventures and things might finally be looking up. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, set in ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War, seems to have some true potential. Mind you, its only a trailer, but hear me out.
One of the best signs of improvement is that the series seems to be drawing on its best features from previous games and honing in on them.
Making a triumphant comeback is the beloved ship-aspect of the series, something tested in Assassin’s Creed 3, beloved in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, and has disappeared since. Fan will appreciate the return of one of the highest praised aspects of early games.
There also seems to be a general decrease in the Templar vs. Assassin Illuminati-eqsue background struggles, something that often muddied up the plots of other games. While giving the series an air of mystery, there were times the twisty conspiracies left gamers too twisted up and took away from enjoyment of the games and their characters. Focusing more on the game’s leads, Kassandra or Alexios, could get that connection that other games in the series were lacking.
Furthermore, the stunning settings and appreciation of whatever time period the game takes place in is clearly evident in its portrayal of Greece. The game looks beautiful and breathtaking, something that elevates the quality of any gaming experience. Even better, though, it seems truly dedicated in capturing the rustic, pillared majesticness of Ancient Greece. From the temples, to the giant statues, to 300 style battles, it encapsulates the legends and history of this land of mountainous gods.
Their smartest and most promising move, however, is that Assassin’s Creed saw a hole in the market and is moving in to fill it. To give context, the relationship/romance/choose your gender adventure king of the gaming industry has been Bioware for many years. With the flop of Mass Effect: Andromeda and the romance wash of Anthem, that role has been left up for grabs. Focusing on beautiful scenery, engaging characters, and some good writing, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey could gain real ground in the niche. Character choices, dialogue options, and multiple romances, will make it much easier to draw in that market of gamers that have been sorely disappointed by their main go-to gaming company.
Ubisoft even is getting some free publicity in the stink some gamers are pulling because of the gender choices and gay romance options in Odyssey. The previous Bioware market is pretty against homophobia and limiting character and romantic paths, so sticking to their guns and fighting against that hate is winning them major extra points with this new audience. Nothing like a little controversy to get your name out there, right?
It’s doubtful the game will be perfect. Ubisoft still has a couple of rough edges on it and has lost a lot of fan trust. Despite that, Origins was a great improvement from previous work and Odyssey could be a fantastic step in the right direction.
It may be my biased love of Greek mythology, or as a biased member of the Bioware fan-club starved for relationship content, but I’m personally wishing the game the best. This move towards character driven storytelling could be a game-changer for Ubisoft, and really put pressure on Bioware too. If they put in the elbow grease, they deserve to compete with one of the biggest names in gaming.
Good luck on your journey, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Make us love you.