Assassin's Creed has often dabbled in the supernatural. While the modern day conspiracies and First Civilization technology might be contentious for a lot of fans, there has always been a bit of weirder undercurrent. Assassins Creed II had the hidden Kraken, III had the alternate history George Washington DLC and most recently Origins had the Underworld DLC and God battles. All of this has lived on the sidelines of the Assassins Creed franchise, existing as easter eggs and fan service, until now.
At Gamescom, I was able to play an endgame mission of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and with a little bit of effort, I was even able to kill Medusa. This is the first time such a plainly supernatural event has existed in the main section of Assassin's Creed. And there is a reason for it in the lore. Based so long before Origins and much closer to the First Civilisation, more of there immense magic science was exposed to the people.
Regardless of that though, it does make the game feel different. Origins was the first game for the series after a hiatus and started leaning towards the RPG side Plainly, it felt more like the incredibly popular Witcher 3 in terms of combat mechanics and loot. Following on from that, it seems Assassin's Creed Odyssey might be borrowing even more from the roleplaying genre.
But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The section I played began with the exploration of a petrified forest, followed by a spot of island hopping for supplies and information before tackling the big nasty. There was a lot of foreshadowing about what you would be facing, although the name was never mentioned.
I had a lot of fun exploring the islands and soaking in the lovely depiction of the ancient Greek culture and lovely Mediterranean weather. The combat was good, though it took a little getting used to the end game abilities that were already unlocked on the character. Given the lack of a shield, in Assassin's Creed Odyssey you’ll be playing a lot more aggressively than you might have been used to in Origins, much like the shift from Dark Souls to Bloodborne. But with the sheer variety of unlockable abilities, you’ll find you can get over enemy defenses and commit area of effect attacks if you start getting outmaneuvered.
Stealth was mostly the same affair from every previous Assassin's Creed entry and involved poorly hiding in long grass and somehow remaining undetected. Of course, you have the option to go in all guns blazing (so to speak) but personally, I prefer to save that for when everything inevitably goes wrong. Commanding a ship was very nice, but my voyages were peaceful, so I couldn’t really tell you if a Greek Trireme is anything like a pirate ship. They did sing Greek shanties though, which was nice. I will say that it looks like there’s plenty to do out at sea given the chance.
When I finally reached Medusa’s lair, the boss battle was impressively challenging. She was a greater threat than the human and animals foes I had already encounter by quite a margin, which felt right. There was a side quest accompanying the hunt but once again the not so subtle foreshadowing sort of spoiled itself. It was a good battle, but I still couldn’t help but feel it was slightly out of place against the more traditionally accurate games of the past. Then again, drawing from Greek mythology makes sense given the setting.
I think I’m looking forward to the game's release even more after playing it, but it still feels a bit weird to cast a spotlight on something that was never the main event. Ubisoft have announced that the series will be taking another break after Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and I can only imagine it's to see what the reaction is to this take, and whether or not to lean into this change or back away from it next time.
The game is due soon, on October 5th to be exact. Look forward to more coverage ahead of the launch.