As­sas­sin’s Creed Odyssey

This might be the best com­bat of the en­tire se­ries

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - Samuel Roberts

I don’t re­mem­ber en­joy­ing a fight this much in As­sas­sin’sCreed be­fore

At last, there’s an As­sas­sin’s Creed game where I just might end up lov­ing the com­bat. Odyssey takes Ori­gins’ sys­tem—a friend­lier ver­sion of Dark Souls— and lay­ers a load of new abil­i­ties on top. These in­clude set­ting your sword on fire, break­ing shields, throw­ing your spear, and the trailer-friendly Spar­tan kick, as well as a heal and ar­row at­tacks. The demo I play at Gamescom takes place late in the game, and cen­ters on help­ing a girl called Bryce find her miss­ing part­ner, Ligeia. All of my abil­i­ties are lev­eled up sev­eral tiers, mean­ing I’m pretty much at endgame lev­els of power. I pick Alex­ios, the male main char­ac­ter, and start at level 50 on the is­land of Les­bos on the east of the map.

The first ob­jec­tive is to pro­tect Bryce from en­e­mies who blame her for Ligeia’s dis­ap­pear­ance. It’s here I sam­ple the fully up­graded ver­sion of Odyssey’s shield break move, and reader, it is some Dragon Ball Z shit. As well as tak­ing the shield away, it sends an en­emy fly­ing. Like­wise, Alex­ios’s Spar­tan kick is now ab­surdly pow­er­ful. The re­sult is a sys­tem that in­ter­sperses fa­mil­iar melee com­bat with what feel like su­per­pow­ers.

Both the dodg­ing and par­ry­ing win­dows seem gen­er­ous, and that feels like a good choice. It keeps the flow of the com­bat, but if you mist­ime us­ing ei­ther of them, you’ll sus­tain heavy dam­age and have to use the heal­ing abil­ity. I die three times in this demo as I get to grips with the abil­i­ties. I like this, be­cause in As­sas­sin’s Creed be­fore Ori­gins, there wasn’t much com­bat worth learn­ing. Here, there’s such a range of moves in your reper­toire that you have to mem­o­rize the map­ping of up to 12 ex­tra abil­i­ties at any one time—four ranged, eight melee.

Once I’ve got the hang of it, fight­ing feels great. Play­ing with­out a shield felt like a risky move dur­ing my first hands-on, but in this build I get why par­ry­ing with the sword and spear gives the com­bat a dif­fer­ent, ex­cit­ing rhythm. It’s not a best-in-class sys­tem, but it’s beau­ti­fully an­i­mated, ex­cit­ing, and chal­leng­ing. I don’t re­mem­ber en­joy­ing a fight this much in As­sas­sin’sCreed be­fore, and the in­creased lev­els of abil­i­ties mean this late part of the game feels mean­ing­fully dif­fer­ent to the E3 demo. If Odyssey is in­deed go­ing to be longer than Ori­gins, re­flect­ing that progress is im­por­tant.

Hit and Myth

It tran­spires that Bryce’s story is ac­tu­ally about Me­dusa, who seems to be re­spon­si­ble for her part­ner’s dis­ap­pear­ance. Alex­ios and Bryce en­ter the Pet­ri­fied For­est, a grey, spooky lo­ca­tion full of bod­ies turned to stone. Upon reach­ing Me­dusa’s tem­ple, I’m tasked with ob­tain­ing a spe­cial spear from a merce­nary who claims to have slain her. The game gives me a rough lo­ca­tion, that he’s on top of a moun­tain, and I beat him in bat­tle to take it.

Upon en­ter­ing the tem­ple, I fol­low Bryce’s voice to find Me­dusa. My mis­sion giver, un­for­tu­nately, is turned into stone be­fore Alex­ios can do any­thing about it. Af­ter two deaths, I work out how to beat Me­dusa, who at­tacks with her on-brand stone gaze, and by bring­ing pet­ri­fied sol­diers to life. It’s not the best part of the demo, even though Me­dusa is a pretty cool-look­ing en­emy. The logic of the boss fight isn’t bad, re­ally, but there is a healthy bit of trial-and-er­ror in fig­ur­ing it out.

If you’re won­der­ing how Me­dusa crept into main­line As­sas­sin’sCreed lore, there is a neat ex­pla­na­tion here that I won’t spoil—it’s not a bit of An­i­mus weird­ness like the su­per­bosses in Ori­gins. Aver­age boss bat­tle aside, this demo feels like an ef­fec­tive ex­ten­sion of what last year’s As­sas­sin’sCreed set out to do in a lo­ca­tion that has loads of po­ten­tial.

I’m will­ing to bet the shark isn’t a quest giver.

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