Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
This might be the best combat of the entire series
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.