There comes a time with any long running franchise when it needs to refresh itself, to enter a cocoon of hiatus and be reborn as something new, but also still kind of the same. Last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins was the strained, metaphorical butterfly in this particular case for Ubisoft.
It was a game from a series that had ploughed itself deeply into the ground, thanks to an annual release schedule that did little to majorly change the experience over time. I was so burned out on Assassin’s Creed that I was pretty much done with the series after ACIII, a brief flirtation with Black Flag notwithstanding.
Ubisoft’s income must have eventually caught with what know-it-alls like myself had been telling them for years. They, mercifully, decided to take a year break to look at their behemoth of a creation and reinvent it. The result was an unequivocal success. It even found its way to the number three slot of my game of the year list in December.
Assassin’s Creed Origins did everything it needed to perfectly. It introduced the best player character in the franchise since Ezio, an open world that felt truly massive and a much more free-form approach to gameplay that came dangerously close to showing the Witcher’s inspirations on Ubisoft’s sleeve.
It was a truly impressive product, an epic one, in more ways than one. Origins felt like a movie epic in video game form, a sprawling tale of revenge taking place amidst political upheaval and a time of change in the world. By the time the DLC’s came out I was full to burst, no matter how good the game was, I simply couldn’t consume any more of it.
I was happy to out it down and look forward to whatever ambitious followup Ubisoft had planned for the the game in three or four years. Oh wait, that’s not what happened.
Despite my naive hopes to the contrary, Ubisoft wasted no time in announcing a followup to Origins, coming out the very next year.
No matter how good Origins was, or how much better Assassin’s Creed Odyssey could be, I am still feeling lethargic from the beast that was Origins.
As a former fatty, I can tell you, there is nothing worse for you than continuing to gorge yourself on something just because it’s there. And by all accounts, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a game far larger in both scope and scale than even Origins was before it.
One thing that would have drawn me back into the fold would have been if the game had, yet another, drastic change in approach, but it’s not. The game, almost in every regard, looks exactly the same as Origins. Which isn’t a genuine criticism, because if something ain’t broke, then why fix it.
However, the scale of this game, coupled with the frequency in which it has been released paints the picture that picking up a controller to play Odyssey will feel like I was just picking up where I left off when I sat back and loosened my belt after my last time playing Origins. The problem being; I’m still full.
A few years ago, when I had more money and time to spend on pretty much every major video game release, I wouldn’t have hesitated to snatch this up and vanish into a hole of period setting murder and tower climbing, Now, Odyssey doesn’t seem like a valuable use of my time.
Believe me, I realise the hypocrisy of that statement coming from a person who has spent the vast majority of their video game time this year playing Destiny and Overwatch. The difference here is that the legacy of Assassin’s Creed looms over Odyssey and the future of the series in a way those game’s don’t
Ubisoft may have reinvented the wheel for Assassin’s Creed, giving fans a whole new reason to love it. But their history of never giving their games time to breathe and grow, in a way that needs to happen for a franchise to flourish, makes me wonder if I’m going to have to wait another 10 years for the next soft reboot that’s genuinely worth playing. When it’s called “World of Assassination’s Creed”, and it’s a battle royale game.
The point I’m trying to make, floury language aside, is that it feels too soon after Origins and too similar for me to really consider dedicating the, reportedly, massive leagues of time needed to play this colossus of a game. The aspects of the game that are new: the multiple characters and dialogue options, don’t interest me.
These kinds of changes feel like they dilute a story rather than enrich it, having to write their NPC dialogue unnaturally to account for both of the potential player characters and the choices they make. The new direction and innovation I want to see out of an Assassin’s Creed game comes from its mechanics and gameplay, the story is one aspect of the game I never felt like they especially needed to mess with, and yet they continue to move further away from the aspects of the story that drew me into the series in the first place.
Ubisoft’s future plans are a mystery to me, maybe they do have something grander on the horizon, and Odyssey is just a stopgap, essentially a pallet swap of Origins to make them some easy money in the meantime.
As much as I loved Assassin’s Creed Origins, I am not interested in a second helping so soon after finishing it. Had this come out towards the tail end of 2019, there would have been a much better chance of me picking it up, and maybe I will in 12 months, but right now, I’m happy to admire Assassin’s Creed Odyssey from afar, or hell, if I get the urge to play it, I could just pop in Origins and squint.