Can you have too much of a good thing? Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has provided an answer to this age old question: it’s when having too much of a good thing makes you realise that the good thing isn’t that good at all, it’s actually distinctly average. I’ve been playing Odyssey for over seventy hours now and I still haven’t reached its conclusion. I’m not sure I ever will, as boredom has now well and truly set in. I’m fed up of the meaningless fetch quests, the constant level grinding, the repetitive combat and the lack of depth to the ‘moral’ choices. It is a game that has been stretched to such an extent it now inspires only apathy from me.
I had renewed hope for the demise of my apathy when the Fate of Atlantis DLC was announced. Surely, I thought, repurposing Odyssey to explore the rich and varied tapestry of Ancient Greece mythology would freshen things up significantly?
It didn’t. This is without doubt the dullest DLC I’ve ever had the misfortune to play. Things start off poorly as the game insists you must go to three different tombs and discover three different magical symbols to even get to the new content. This long distance trudge is made even more tedious as the game switches between past and present timelines, passing player control between Alexios/Kassandra and Layla. Each time it does so you’ll have to sit through another lengthy loading screen, killing any pace the game has built up entirely.
Layla’s sections, in particular, are dreadful. For reasons known only to the animators, Layla runs like a bow-legged, flat-footed hunchback wearing tap shoes, clod hopping her way through instant kill spike traps and boring block shifting puzzles. The story during these present day moments is Assassin’s Creed at its most nonsensical. There are reams of dialogue that are rendered incomprehensible as the writers desperately try to incorporate the series’ convoluted lore into proceedings. The sooner these modern day elements are jettisoned from Assassin’s Creed the better, in my opinion. Were I not playing the game for this review, I probably would have switched it off at this point.
Things don’t improve much when you do finally reach Elysium. Despite being an entirely new play area, and representative of the paradise were the righteous heroes of Mythology are sent, Elysium looks a little too similar to many of the Greek islands you’ve already spent dozens of hours running around. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a strikingly pretty locale, but without the wild animals and side quests of the main game, Elysium just feels empty, heightening the sensation of your only task being to get from A to B as quickly as you can. It’s symptomatic of the issues with Odyssey’s quest structure as a whole; far too often you feel like your quest is just to go between two map points with little payoff other than a few items.
You’ll get some new goons to murder – including irritating teleporting statues that absorb damage for fun – some re-skinned horses to ride, a selection of fun god-like abilities, and a few new weapons and bits of armour. So, pretty much exactly like a game you’ve already spent far too long playing.
In Elysium you’re seeking to overthrow the evil divine dictator, Persephone, by having to go around and smash up her statues, kill her generals, burn her supplies and complete other box ticking tasks. So absolutely nothing like the tasks I’ve been completing in the main game he says, voice filled with sarcasm. Go here, go there, kill all the people, rinse and repeat. It’s a small gameplay loop disproportionately dragged out to fill game time and it’s made all the more painful as you cannot progress until each region is complete. Perhaps Ubisoft felt that they needed to pad their content in order to stretch this DLC out to three episodes? If so, they didn’t get away with it. Episode One feels like filler.
You’ll also have to contend with Ubisoft’s usual litany of bugs, the most horrendous I encountered occurred during a battle – the frame rate dropped to nothing, Kasandra turned invisible and then the game decided it didn’t like this and promptly crashed. You’ll also have to put up with lengthy loading times throughout and plentiful graphical pop in.
On the plus side, the developers should be credited for at least attempting to add some grey to the black and white moral choices found in the main game. Certain decisions have unexpected consequences, which will alter how you are perceived by the litany of gods and heroes you’ll encounter, even prematurely ending your relationship in some cases. It was also refreshing that the ‘good’ choice wasn’t so easy to spot this time out; sometimes lying, cheating and stealing result in the most positive outcomes. It’s just a shame then that some of the voice acting is so horrendous that there’s little emotional investment in proceedings. Hermes just sounds like a sad pirate.
There’s a few other highlights to be had – running into King Leonidas and the resulting battle against him is one of the few sections within the game that excites – but thrilling moments are few and far between in an episode that never really gets going. Worse still, when something exciting does start to happen the episode promptly ends. Clearly Ubisoft hope that on this cliff hanger I’ll come back for the second episode. They’ll be lucky. Based on this evidence, Atlantis can stay well and truly lost.