I finish my AC Odyssey and give my final thoughts(Spoilers Abound for everything)

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About five years ago I took a vacation to London and made it a point to visit the British Museum. I knew it was huge and budgeted a full day for it. By the end of the day, I was exhausted from fatigue of seeing so much in so short a time. It was worth it and I'm glad I went but the sense of being overwhelmed by the scale and amount of stuff there(much of it truly cool to behold) was amazing. That's kind of Assassins Creed Odyssey in a nutshell. It's Gigantic, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and am glad I did it but it's just a lot. Probably too much.

Since there's enough to discuss on its on, I'm gonna talk about Legacy of the first blade once I go over my thoughts for the base game. Especially since there's a rather big elephant in the room that I'm sure will spark a fair bit of conversation and I don't want that part getting buried in me whining about proper trireme combat and such.

First off, Greece is amazing. The way it feels both huge and accessible is a testament to how well the guys who make the world maps do their job It was one of the big joys in the game and was even more fun to wander around then Egypt in Origins. I'm going to admit straight out that I was probably willing to overlook quite a bit due to the game being set in Ancient Greece. The Ancient world is fairly underrepresented by video gaming and I've wanted something that allowed me to explore the Ancient World pretty much forever. Origins hit pretty hard because of that and Odyssey continues to keep my attention long past the point it might have otherwise because of this. Interestingly, the world depicted in Odyssey has more of a sense of myth and legend to it then other games. Aside from the well known aspect of the legendary beasts and the mythical monsters, there are examples scattered across the game world that hint at a wild, magical past. Massive statues of the gods, ruins of temples in the woods and under the waves, weapons and armor that claim to be those of famous Greek heroes, running across stone statues of centaurs in the woods in action pose and with no explanation whatsoever. Hell, the word Demi-god is thrown about at times to describe Kassandra and some of the dialogue choices have her embrace it. It all has a certain charm about it.

That being said, The world feels too big sometimes. While some of the stuff is amazing, there's about a million forts, outposts, bandit camps, caves, ruins, etc, etc. There's 12 legendary animals to slay(who are essentially optional boss fights), there's an Arena to fight through, there's a bunch of epic ships to fight and destroy on the seas, there's a bunch of islands and regions you probably will never see if you only play the family quest(though you will see them if you do the cult/Atlantis story-lines), there's 2 cyclopes which have no reason to exist other then to be extra boss fights and a bunch of tombs. It's kinda exhausting after a while, especially if you're trying to see everything. There's also the issue, for me anyway, that while I dug the grecian open world a lot, it didn't feel quite as amazing as Origins did. Maybe it's because Origins already did something similar, maybe it's because we already saw a fair bit of Greek culture/buildings in Origins so it doesn't feel as unique as it did before. Though I can see that the shared art assets and mechanics were how Odysseus was able to drop a year after Origins and feel a lot smoother around the edges(taking the Trireme missions from Origins and tweaking them a bit for Odyssey for example). Along similar lines, I liked the Tombs in Origins a lot, despite the flimsy justification for having so many just available to visit and Bayek being so cool with robbing them despite his strong religious views. Here they fixed some of those problems since it's implied Kassandra doesn't particularly care about violating tombs because money and a lot of them have walls you need to break first to reach the actual tomb part. That being said, while they're pretty, a lot of them aren't particularly interesting and it feels like a waster opportunity. Maybe it was because they were new in Origins it didn't bug me so much but I swear it felt like they were better designed there. Also a number of them had creepy ass looking ISU ruins below them hiding an ISU tape recording which helped add to the exotic feel. None of the Odyssey tombs had anything that interesting deep within them.

Kassandra(I played her and I'm gonna stick with that from here on out) unlike most of the other AC protagonists is notably a Mercenary, which gives you a degree of flexibility in her morals and help justify the new for this series dialogue choices, as well as being asked to do any number of errands and tasks for anyone and everyone(which kinda makes you feel like a handyman but anything for coin I guess). It's also supposed to allow you to fight for both sides in the war without getting called out for being a traitor(I'd imagine at least one side would get salty with you for fighting for them one day and against them the next after a while). Interestingly, this dynamic of Kassandra the Mithos/Mercenary who is based on a ship(a Trireme called the Andrestria) in that it essentially makes Kassandra a Classical era Pirate using a ship combat system fairly similar to that the Jackdaw used. In this light, Odyssey feels somewhat like a successor to Black Flag though admittedly with a fair bit of black flags elements cut down or stripped out(no fortress assaults or decision making when a ship is captured). OTOH, the game also doesn't have any insta-fail tailing or eavesdropping missions, thank god.

It's peculiarly interesting when remembering that Edward was a Pirate for 90% of black flag and only joins the Assassins formally near the end. Until that point he just happens to share some of the same goals(and notably disliking the Templars due to their authoritarian attitudes) but his big goal is to get paid, not unlike Kassandra. While Both Origins and this game take place before the Foundation of the Brotherhood(Bayek and Aya found the brotherhood pretty much at the end of Origins so Bayek technically isn't an assassin either), it doesn't change the fact that Bayek and whichever Spartan version of Big Boss you choose to play as are assassins in everything but name, though with a little more emphasis on mixed combat and a little less on sneaky murder because ancient times and warrior training.

The plot is generally good to decent for this type of game and while it rarely reaches any great highs, it holds together fairly well throughout. AC games tend to run into "cosmic deadline" syndrome a lot where the end tends to feel very rushed. Origins had a couple notable parts I've harped on where the game tended to constrict into plot tunnels(particularly near the end) which funneled the player from setpiece to boss fight(sometimes to another boss fight)without much ability to bypass enemies or use creative measures(especially the end of Origins, where you're stuck using Aya, who you can't develop her skills or upgrade her weapons, you're just dropped in a pit with the boss and told to go at it). Origins also did that weird thing near the end where 3 in-game years just kinda vanished in the last 20 or so minutes of the game whereas Odyssey seems to flow at a fairly steady pace(some rushing near the end is still noted, but not nearly as bad).

Odyssey is unique in the series in the fact that it broke the plot into 3 separate branches or pillars. The main Family plot, Kassandras Journey from Childhood and the loss of her Family to tracking their diaspora and ideally reuniting all of them, the Cult plot and the Atlantis Plot, which involves Mythological beasts and Atlantis. All of them have key pieces of the plot and there's a bit of interaction between the 3 but otherwise are more or less separate. Which feels like both an asset and a detriment as you can more or less jump back and forth between them as you want assuming you're strong(properly leveled) enough but it also means that all 3 plots more or less can't connect to each other most of the time. Ideally it would be better if all of these were better integrated together but you'd still have to have some kind of gating requirements and there'd still be the problem of the main plotline being very long. The Family plotline can be finished around level 35 or so(which in Origins was the level for the first DLC) but the Cultist Storyline is level gated all over the place(with the last few cultist being level 50) and while the Atlantis Storyline is a bit shorter, you're still restricted to level 40's and 50's to actually finish it(particularly with the last fight, who is damn tough even if you're at her level).

The Cultist story-line, while not terribly tight, was a nice way to keep those Assassination Skills sharp and it was kinda cool to have to find clues to find them out so I could hunt and kill them, not to mention it was a nice call back to AC2's Conspiracy Web(which had the FUCKING POPE at the center) and getting to the center does get you some kind of closure, even if it isn't great closure(The answer for why the Cult does what it does seems to be that somewhere along the way their little scheme to control Greece via the War turned into a giant clusterfuck that nobody was really controlling, that they went "Full Chaos"). The downside is that it does take a very LONG time to get there and some of them require some special triggers(completing certain quest chains, fighting in the arena, starting conquest battles, etc), though a couple I literally killed without realizing their cultist status and then got the "Confirm kill" prompt. The Atlantis Storyline is a bit more interesting and shorter, but it's also heavily level gated as endgame content and is really the only way to get some conclusion to Both Kassandra and Laylas story. Otherwise you basically "Discover Atlantis, go to Atlantis, Layla jumps back in the animus again" and unlike in Origins, she won't jump back out until the story dictates(yeah, Origins didn't have much to do in that cave of hers but at least you weren't constrained by the story).

The ability to romance numerous people from across the world feels shallow. While a couple people it feels like there's some chemistry going on there, a lot of them it feels like they boil down to "Pick the dialogue option with the little heart" and the person will practically jump into bed with the mithios. The fact that it's so easy to do this an nobody so much as mentions it(even if they join your crew) makes the miithos come across as a pick up artist, at least to me. The fact that you'll pretty much never interact with most of these people after that only reinforces this perception.

The Peloponnesian war makes a decent backdrop though beyond that seems to exist mostly for game-play purposes. Both the Spartans and Athenians(and their allies, who are just represented as being Spartans and Athenians respectively) are presented in game as being equally matched both on land and sea, in contrast to their historical disparity of Sparta having the superior Army and Athenians having an unmatched Navy, which is one of the reasons the war dragged on for 30 years, because the Spartans couldn't hit the Athenians at sea and the Athenians rather tried to face Sparta head on in a land battle(and Spartan Siege craft was apparently crap, so breaching the walls around Athens wasn't particularly viable for them). In game, the war ties together a number of mechanics, particularly the conquest battles which can be triggered when a province has been weakened enough(killing leaders, breaking into forts and stealing all their monies, burning war supplies, killing national leaders), but the conquest battles feel mostly unnecessary and kinda phoned in. They took the gang wars from syndicate and made them far less interesting and a hell of a lot longer. It's painfully clear Ubisoft doesn't know how to make land-based battles look remotely realistic which is why they always turn into giant melees. I think the last time I saw this series try to do land combat was in AC3 and it looked incredibly scripted, particularly during the bunker hill sequence.

Odyssey lets you fight for either side as a mercenary, but it effectively makes no difference. You can turn the entire map Red(Sparta) or Blue(Athens) and the war will rage on. The guards will be just as hostile if you piss them off. Even if you fought for the other side nine times out of ten, nobody will hold it against you when you decide to fight for them. It just changes the color of the uniforms of the soldiers(Granted, AC3 did something similar, where the American troops were just as likely to try to murder your ass as the British or French ones). Ironically, the plot missions will almost always have you siding with Sparta against Athens but you'll still be able to hang out with your Athenian friends without issue.

The game does feel a lot more open, For the most part, you're not locked into missions once you start them, proceed to objectives as you want and sometimes even accomplish multiple objectives at the same location(clearing a fort, killing a cultist and finishing a mission on the same trip). The fact Kassandra can climb almost ANYTHING helps this, even if it make some of the fortresses seem trival. Sure, you could try to sneak around the massive fort, or you could find the unguarded wall closest to the objective and climb over it(or jump from the nearby cliff). This openness works both for and against it, as noted above how there's less structure beyond the level gating aspect and some parts(such as the war) end up feeling less compelling as a result. Odyssey really seems to love it's rule of three. Namely, for any given quest, there will likely be 3 tasks or side quests required to be accomplished to proceed further. Even the main quests will on numerous occasions tell you to go to one of 3 different regions(and then the other two) and do the quest string there before proceeding. While it does offer a sense of choice, it's still essentially taking a linear narrative and just letting you mix up which objective you want to do first and while it's not a bad thing, it's relied up so often as to be predictable.

The game does have some noticeable improvements over Origins. The Phylakes(the roaming mini-bosses from Origins) were replaced with Mercenaries, which are generated(likely randomly) by the game as you explore and assigned to 9 tiers, of which you start at the bottom. Killing Mercs above you moves you up a spot while killing Mercs below you get you their gear and any experience but doesn't affect your rating. Moving up the tiers unlocks better rewards, often upgrade related. Like the Phylakes, they act as mini-bosses, but unlike the Phylakes, they aren't restricted to a specific area and aren't inherently hostile on sight. Rather, instead of desyncing you when you kill innocents, you get a bounty put on your head from committing crimes(killing guards, innocents, stealing, sinking ships, etc) which will eventually give you a wanted level(1 to 5), each of which will put a mercenary on your trail until the bounty is paid, the sponsor is killed or the wanted level just recedes on it's own. I was worried when I heard about this system prior to playing it, thinking it would be obnoxious. Rather, I ended up kinda having fun with it, since killing mercs moves you up the tiers faster and sometimes they could just be avoided. Other times it was annoying because it's clear they teleport to near your location when they're pull on the trail and they somehow know more or less where you're hiding at any given time. It's not so bad when you're moving around the countryside(especially when you can hide in the woods or summon a horse to get you away) but when you're infiltrating a fortress and a mercenary decides to keep patrolling in the same area you happen to be in(and they generally can't be stealth killed, unlike the guards), it's incredibly frustrating.

I also appreciated how Odyssey did a much better job of boss encounters. Origins had a bad habit of locking you in a room with a boss without warning and making you fight it out(especially with high ranking Order members) and having a number of optional fights which were basically war elephants in an arena(scattered over the map because reasons). Odyssey gives you the Legendary Animals in the "Daughters of Artemis" quest-line, which are bigger, tougher versions of regular animals and completely optional(and you can run away if you feel like it's not worth it) and the Mythological creatures from the Atlantis storyline(which are quasi optional) which are all tough(except for the Sphinx, because you don't fight her) Dark Soul-ish boss encounters with heavy damage and long health bars.

Despite the level gating in game, I didn't see it as being particularly grindy. There's more then enough activities and side quests in the game to easily keep pace with the required levels for the next region and the main quest. You just can't rely on only doing the main quests to get enough XP to reach the next main quest, though that's been standard for RPGs pretty much forever and Odyssey, like Origins before it, is very much an RPG rather then a pure stealth oriented game(which is probably why they've made these characters more warrior oriented then before). I suspect it's also to force you to explore and engage with the content beyond the main story-line(though the cultist quest will make you visit pretty much everywhere and do a number of side quests regardless to complete it). I mostly forgot there was even a store to buy XP boosters and resource packs because I was almost always on track through exploring and regular questing that I rarely had to worry about not hitting the level needed for the next main story quest, occasionally reminded by the occasional loading screen message. I'm not convinced that the progression was hobbled to push people to buy micro-transactions, at least not anymore then Origins or Syndicate(and neither of those games were accused of such things to the same degree).Odyssey is certainly longer(It took me longer to finish the main 3 quests in Odyssey then it did to finish the main game and both DLCs in Origins) and objectively bigger(even if the odyssey map is like 50% water) and maybe that's where people like Jim Sterling were getting this impression from. Maybe because the new take on the series(Witcher 3 like RPG with Soulsy-lite combat and looter elements) isn't as fresh as it was in origins so the flaws are more apparent.

I'm honestly not sure how to make it work better, other then removing the level gating but then you'd have to rework the entire leveling system and it's rather integral to the core gameplay much like it was in Origins. It's clear(to me anyway) that the game is level gated to control what parts of the world you explore in a certain order(notice how the levels scale up roughly in the same path as the plot takes you through the world) and also force you to engage with the side quests rather then just rushing the main story. That and the fact Ubisoft has been going down this road for quite a while with this series. I can remember the ships being leveled as far back as Black Flag and Syndicate was level gating the main missions and regions(though that was 10 levels rather then 50). Aside from the fact this is what ubisoft does now, where all the UBISOFT GAMEs now have leveled enemies and regions to control progress(based on the new Far Cry and Division 2). I honestly didn't mind the leveling so much because there was more then enough to do to keep the levels paced with the main missions(and by the end I was overleveled a bit with quite a lot left unfinished). It was honestly a little bit wierder how the scaling follows you up once you reach it and pass it, meaning that on the upside, enemies never become boring one hit kills(which happened if/when you went back to earlier parts of Origins) but it also means you have to keep upgrading or finding new gear(and while you practically trip over new gear everywhere, upgrading, especially the legendary equipment, is fucking expensive) to keep pace.

I still have mixed feelings about the looter direction the new games have taken. Origins wasn't too bad in this regard, where you got new weapons and resources to either upgrade those weapons or a small category of armor/pouches but here you have armor but now there's armor sets that come in 5 different pieces, all of which have different damage values and bonuses associated with different types of play(Assassin,Warrior or Hunter) and you practically trip over the damn stuff all over the place but it does add the feeling of being at the mercy of numbers a lot. I found an option in the game menu that turns off the little numbers in combat and it helped immersion a fair bit but I still have to pay attention to them a little when looking a new gear. If anything, I'd prefer assassination kills be instant kills 100% of the time like they used to be(without specializing gear and the assassin tree), but I do appreciate the ability to build around the play-style you want to play(and unlike in Origins, playing full assassin is viable this time around)

So the progression/looter aspect of the game isn't really my favorite thing in the world along with the level gating, I have to remind myself of the previous AC games and the notorious amount of padding that has existed in this series over the years. The City Conquests, the Collect-a-thons that do nothing useful, the tailing missions, the eavesdropping missions, tower defense games, etc. I playing Origins/Odyssey, I'd forgotten about instant fail states in various missions and the "full sync" objectives, and honestly, I can't say I miss them either. I was shocked in one mission where I failed it where my escorted target got himself killed, because it just hadn't happened so far. For every thing the old games did better, I can think of at least one thing they did worse as well and ways all of them could be improved. The fact I'm still interested 110 hours later means something, because most games I start really petering out around the 40 hour mark and by the 50 hour mark, if I'm not done, I'm usually looking for the endgame. So I have to admit, despite how I would have done things differently, it's still a worthy entry to me. Odyssey feels like it reinforces a lot of the good parts about Origins while adding some new stuff to the mix, though despite it's world it feels like it loses something as well. While the writing is generally good most of the time, it felt like the side quests in Origins felt more interesting then the average side quest in Odyssey ,or maybe had more unique flavor. That might have been because Egypt isn't as well known to us as Greece is so everything in Origins felt more like part of another world in comparison. Still a number of the quest chains are worth following to see where they go.

Meta/Modern plot theorizing ahead

So as far as the Modern Day story/metaplot is concerned, we're apparently going somewhere but it's almost as vague as it was in Origins. By the end, Kassandra and Layla have found Atlantis(2500 years apart) and both taken possession of the Staff of Hermes after activating a machine at the gates(the purpose of which is still vague, but apparently locks the gate). Apparently Atlantis was the ISU Doomsday Archive/Library, meant to be stored/passed down forever, but one of the ISU(Aletheia). decided to hijack the system and leave a bunch of messages for whoever might find their way down there(including Kassandra, Layla and possibly the player). Notable things we've learned between Origins and Odyssey:
-Pyramids are somehow connected to all this bigtime, and the Abstergo logo apparently is a pyramid broken down and re-arraigned and this means something but what that is is a mystery.
-Layla or somebody else needs to figure out the true nature of reality and "WAKE UP" before it's too late, because another Apocalypse is coming and apparently coming soon. Desmond stopped the 2012 event(which apparently nobody still acknowledges ever happened so sure, why not?). Odyssey suggests this might have to do with simulation theory
-Aletheia makes some interesting comments in the Atlantis ending. One is that the ISU were obsessed with finding a vision of the future where nothing changes and another implies that somehow the ISU created the Catastrophe that destroyed themselves through their technology, like somehow the universe is reacting to their magical POE tech. Like the ISU were trying to use the POE to lock the universe into some kind of stasis, at least as far as their dominance is concerned and the universe apparently pushed back hard.
-For that matter, what did the ISU use the POE for? We know what humans ended up using them for but aside from using the apples to control humans(by showing them powerful illusions) most of them seem to exist so humans can fuck around with them long after they're dead.
-When Kassandra touches to pyramid at the end of the cult storyline, she gets a vision that says "It was never supposed to be like this", "Fix the mistakes of the past. Heal the Rift in the universe".
-Somehow the Staff of Hermes factors into all of this due to somehow allowing one to alter reality itself in some way.
So it's something, but I do find some of those quotes interesting, like there's something wrong with the universe and somehow the ISU are responsible. Their magic-like tech or their attempts to change the laws of the universe somehow succeeded in the worst possible way, bringing the catastrophe down on their heads(and almost again in 2012) and of course leads to the eternal assassin/templar war with created/fucked with history, which means that the universe either needs to be stablized somehow or there's gonna be some kind of Time Travel involved. I don't know and I doubt anyone does.
The other thing I've been tossing around in my mind is that they're gonna eventually reveal that the world of AC isn't real, but yet another simulation run by the ISU or by an unknown entity and the POE are basically cheats to break the laws of the simulation, and of course, the simulation is.....AC GAMES.Layla eventually realizes this truth, that "Nothing is true(because it's not real). Everything is Permitted(because you have the cheat codes via the ISU artifacts)" I really hope they don't go down this road but I wouldn't put it past ubisoft.It might also be one of those other myriad pieces of information or plot threads(like the EVE or JUNO thing) that never really gets resolved because it would endanger the possibilities for endless sequels.

Ok, I got that out of my system......I'm finally gonna talk about the First Blade DLC(you can all stop holding your breath)

Overall, the DLC is fairly good. The chance to meet Darius, the first assassin(that we know about anyway) and user of the hidden blade is pretty cool and he makes the appropriate impact. His story worked for me, between being an opposer of Tyrants betrayed to the Order of the Ancient(Yep, those guys again) by a friend and having to spend the rest of his life hiding and on the run was something that none of these games have really dealt with much. Normally the Assassins might be Hunted and "underground" but it never seems to be much of a detriment for very long, but rather a prelude to building themselves back up. In Darius's case, there was nothing to fall back on and unlike Connor and Ezio it became less "Build up the power base where the Templars weren't looking" and more "Stay the fuck out of sight and hope you're never noticed", and it's clearly been wearing on him.

On the opposite side, the Huntsman is an imposing villain and the Tempest cuts a notable presence when they do show up on screen. I also rather appreciate the fact that the Order of the Ancients/Templars finally has a decent justification for their actions. In this case, it's twofold: The Chaos and violence from the Peloponnesean war that the Cult has stoked has begun spilling over into Persia and the Order(who apparently controls the place) is not terribly happy about it and has decided to take matters into their own hands. It's also mentioned a couple time the Cult of Kosmos and the Order of the Ancients aren't on the best of terms with each other.

The justification is that the Order regard those with ISU blood and superhuman abilities(such as the Assassins) as being inherently dangerous, too dangerous to just run around unchecked doing their own thing(often killing people and breaking things). It's hard to argue that they're inherently wrong about this considering Kassandra and Alexios are both essentially people of mass destruction, able to best small armies by themselves and by the end of the game, likely the best Mercenary in Greece, the deadliest fighter in the arena, captain of one of the most dangerous ships in the Aegean and probably carrying around every piece of legendary armor and weaponry in the Ancient World(and leaving none for anyone else). And that's the one who wasn't highly placed in the Cult of Kosmos and was known as Deimos, the Greek word for Terror. Don't get me wrong, the Order are still a notable force of assholes who do awful things(send a bunch of people to kill you and then treat you like the jerk when you kill them in self defense), but for the first time since probably AC3, the Assholes actually have a point. It's just too bad that the (Proto)Templars having anything meaningful to say happens so rarely.

Now to the elephant in the room for the DLC. Early in the DLC, it's implied Kassandra is starting to look forward to a simpler life, perhaps settling down. Around the same time, you meet Darius and his Son(Daughter if you played Alexios) and before long, Kassandra and Natakas start getting friendly with each other fairly quickly and by the end of the 2nd episode, shack up in an abandoned house on a hill together, have some wine, some offscreen sex and then there's a timeskip where they have a baby boy of their own(though the game stretches this out for like 10 minutes while you run to the market for food without showing us the kid or even mentioning it because apparently it's meant to be a surprise). There was some controversy over this due to the game up to this point letting the relationships be optional and driven by player choice, especially since that meant some players had homosexual relationships only or none at all and now you were mandated by the storyline to fall in love and have a baby, which resulted in Ubisoft tweaking the storyline a bit due to the outcry.

Being aware of this going in, I can definitely see why people were upset and agree to an extent. I was annoyed by it due to it feeling very railroaded. The problem with the "This doesn't reflect how I played my character" aspect of it is a problem of the base game as well as the DLC in how shallow the romance system is. Unlike Mass Effect or other RPGs, there's very little hint of anything resembling deep relationships. Wether you were platonic with everyone, banged half the Aegean(because STDs and unwanted pregnancy won't be invented for another 2500 years) or just found that one person and brought them on your ship(such as Odessa or Roxanna), the game doesn't seem to care and barely acknowledges it. Mass effect, the closest alternative I can think of, developed the relationships over the entire game and more or less made you commit near the end to one person(if any), and even then you were constricted by the characters(Tali would never sleep with femshep, no matter how much many people would like it to be otherwise). Even Stardew Valley made you earn that progress with the romancable NPCs by appealing to their personalities and spending time with them(which, sure, still feels like you're just looking for the right combination of responses and gifts to fill hearts, but it works).

For me, it was that the game pretty much decided that Kassandra was gonna really fall for Dariuses kid and doesn't do much to earn that. Natakas comes across as being a nice guy but not much else and it's hard to see why you're supposed to care that much about him or why Kassandra likes him so much considering a lot of the other love interests are far more interesting then he is, especially considering the little amount of time you spend with him before they settle down for some wine and sexytime which leads to their baby being conceived. Maybe the female version Alexios falls for sells this better.

Eventually, Natakas gets killed, the baby is kidnapped, and after Kassandra finishes her roaring rampage of maternal revenge(because getting in between a mother and child is always a good idea), she goes into a fair bit of Mourning for Natakas. And while, as said before, I didn't really see what she sees in him, the fact she tries very hard to sell it helped salvage this somewhat, to the point I was getting feels over her loss. Admittedly, I was also affected by the fact at the end she sends Darius away with the child because to protect him from more Order coming after him in the future and as a father myself, I can only imagine having to never see my kid again in such a manner. Even the child being alive and presumably safe doesn't really change the fact they're gone forever. So to some extent the whole thing works, but only after some rough spots.

This all ends up setting up a direction connection to Origins, since it's revealed Darius ended up in Egypt with the baby, who eventually ended up being one of Aya's ancestors(and no doubt explaining how the hidden blade ended up there). And since Aya and Bayek ended up forming the Assassin Brotherhood, Kassandra and Darius end up being the distant Progenitors of the Assassins in spirit, if not in blood(though I'm pretty sure Aya wasn't a single line of descent either, so Kassandra/Darius's bloodline no doubt continues running through the Brotherhood all the way up to the present).

Still, another problem not really mentioned is the fact of how insulated the DLC is from the rest of the game from the main game. If you finished the Cult Storyline prior to starting the DLC, people refer to the Cult as if it's still active(Sure, there are a couple dudes still out there but all their important people are dead so it might as well not exist). Whatever family members you saved at the end of the family storyline won't be mentioned at all when Kassandra talks of settling down with Natakas and once the DLC is finished, neither Natakas or their son will ever be mentioned again and it feels kinda jarring. And of course, Order of the Ancients will never be mentioned outside of the DLC missions. Other games got away with this by having the DLC removed in time and/or space from the main game but in this case all the action takes place on the main map, though admittedly not in areas you did much in during the base game and it's more noticable.

Nitpicks and various thoughts

It took me a while to realize that the Death Confessions were absent this time around, especially after the big production numbers the ones in Origins were. Instead, they were replaced by the little bio screens for the varying cultists and maybe a note detailing their views found on their person.

In the First Blade DLC, Kassandra muses a few times how the Order from Persia knows about her. I'm kinda surprised by this. You need to be around level 30 to start the DLC, which is pretty close to being able to complete the family quest. By that point, you're not only a respected mercenary but half the people you talk to pretty much know who you are(or have heard of you) from the moment you meet them. Is it really so hard to believe her reputation hasn't spread as far as Persia considering how it's all over the Greek World at that point? However, on a related note, I appreciate the callbacks(Call Forwards?) to the Ezio games, which included Darius as a famous Assassin(and we finally get to meet the man) and the acknowledgement that Pythagoras was tied up in all of this somehow(In The Da Vinci DLC for brotherhood, Ezio and Da Vinci discover an ISU temple under Rome being studied by the Pythagoreans, and included a notable location coordination which would be the location of the Grand Temple from brotherhood).

There are a ton of things I could harp on it for not being true to history but I'm going to let it slide because it's hard to really hit a lot of these seriously when this is literally the same game where you can use a magic spear to kill the Minotaur in an alien ruin. That and this is going to be really long already. However, a couple things do irk me with this in mind. Notably how ISU ruins show up so often in this game it seems like it becomes more difficult to believe the Proto-Templars/Templars managed to keep all of this under wraps for the entirety of Human history. Some of those ruins are quite notable, like the ones on Lesbos and Boetia and can't easily be mistaken for anything natural and you'd think SOMEONE in history would have been writing about this stuff, perhaps drawing pictures of it. Apparently the Templars have some damn good camouflage netting at this disposal?

It's long been established that the ISU can more or less see the future, yet 2 of their ruins are in active volcanos(one of them being Atlantis). Which begs the question of WHY? Volcanoes exist on geological timescales and don't exactly need prescience to see where they are, but the ISU decided to plop their ruins down on them regardless because why the fuck not despite the inherent dangers of instabilities and eruptions. And there'e the fact the way to reach the gateway to Atlantis boggles the mind on how that's a feasible travel route or ever was one(and since we don't see an alternate route down there in the past, we have to assume the route between the surface door in the minion ruins and the huge antechamber below is how it's presumably supposed to look, plus or minus a few lava pits).

Finally,how exactly is Atlantis a myth already? To the best of my knowledge, the first mention of the idea in History was Plato, who would probably still be wearing diapers around this time(and wouldn't write his famous Atlantis as a social metaphor dialogues for quite a few decades yet) and yet, when Kassandra makes it to Atlantis halfway through the family storyline, she makes a comment about "So this is Atlantis!". I know it's a dumb thing to get worked up about but the fact it's not even mentioned before that(aside from the "Atlantaen" weapons you can find in your travels) but it's treated like it's common knowledge or something irks me. I'd be less annoyed if Barnabas or Herdotus brought it up beforehand(like, say, when they reached the island) since both are implied to have traveled a lot farther and longer then Kassandra have. Or some kind of justification how Socrates learned of it from Kassandra and presumably mentioned it to Plato years later. This shouldn't bug me, but it does, but I'll let it rest there before I lose my mind and whip out a chalkboard proving why this is incredibly wrong forever and somehow Obama is responsible.

Oh, and finally, that baby in the First Blade DLC is just weird looking. Not Eraserhead baby creepy but Sara Ryder from Andromeda "What's wrong with your face?" kinda creepy.

At last... quite a read, I'd 'like' ( -_-' ) it if I could.

Anyway, I agree for the most part, though I have some nitpicks which are pretty petty and trivial, so I won't bother with this (though I am curious as to your thoughts regarding naval combat, the land combat having already been covered, but eh).

I've been hankering to bounce this off someone since I finished playing it, but regarding the elephant in the room.

Episode 2 of LotFB... to me that romance was indeed railroaded, and I would not have minded if it felt natural and was paced properly, but it wasn't. It was just foisted on the player with minimal build up, just a few cutscenes of the Misthios with the Child of Darius getting cozy then bam! settle down and pop out a sprog (the implications in episode 1 were crap and drowned out by better Darius/Kassandra interactions). In so saying, in all honesty, I felt a greater connection between Kassandra and Darius himself. Their dialogue came across as more natural, relatable and intimate at times, in a way. It didn't help that Natakas' character design was a bit... off. He didn't have the qualities that I'd expect to go with Kassandra's personality as he had lots of humility and was too 'normal' (not helped by the almost hobo-ish outfit, by comparison, he had in-game), lacking his old man's charisma, wit and typically sharp character.

Then in Episode 3, I positively hated the way it opened with the attack on Dyme. It turned Kassandra into, to quote Yahtzee, a 'shrieking mimsy' for the opening couple of missions, where tranquil (but blatant) fury, punctuated by occasional outbursts of shouting in her character's distinct contralto and/or just plain violence would have been more in keeping with her irrespective of how you played her earlier in the game. Her interactions here with Darius again cement my bizarre leaning towards the two of them making a better couple than her with Natakas.

For a general gameplay perspective, I avoid the Conquest Battles unless I'm feeling silly. 'Cos, as mentioned, the fact that they're entirely a confused melee really got at me. I'm a history buff (perhaps more so than OP? Hey, OP, let's talk shop...!), and the complete absence of hoplite combat in the game except a split second during the prologue where you play as Leonidas bugged me (I'm over it, but it doesn't stop me from thinking about it). There's no paean, no phalanx, no othismos, all of which they could have included in the conquest battles. Potential fix as follows:

Step 1: Camera pans down to battle. Missile troops and cavalry engage in the aforementioned confused melee, this is OK, but preferably with more stick-chucking.
Step 2: Perspective restored to the Misthios. Surrounded in phalanx formation with shield in off-hand, favoured weapon in main-hand. Start marching forwards.
Step 3: Battle proper commences. Skirmish line buggers off, dust settles, enemy phalanx becomes visible. Misthios leads a randomised chant with the rest of the hoplites as chorus.
Step 4: Charge. Phalanxes crash into each other, Misthios shouts something or other and the shoving match commences.
Step 5: Player control. Line crumbles on both sides, then let it descend into a confused melee, the Misthios drops the shield, proceed as in-game now, except with a clearer demarkation for where enemy soldiers are, not just everyone everywhere, with the stress on needing to move left to find greater concentrations of elite/officer enemies.

Last point... copied over from Assassin's Creed: Origins except a little more egregiously, but can't quite remember which sword (heavy cavalry?) but... Sword of Goujian?!?!

I always enjoy these threads of yours, it is good to see someone have the patience to write the kind of longform dissertations that I myself lack the will (but have the urge) to do. Overall I am in your camp. I never played LotFB, mostly because I burned out on the game itself shortly after going to the Olympic games and then RDR2 came and murdered all my free time for two months following.

I think Odyssey is a great game though. Something the OP didn't address and which I think is really impressive is how Odyssey mixes traditional heavily scripted side quests with procedurally generated quests and does so almost seamlessly. It wasn't until some kind stranger on the internet informed me off the difference that I realized I'd been doing a ton of procedural quests and thinking they were "normal" side quests. They contain actual dialogue that's relevant if vague (like most quests) and there's often some sort of choice to be made in said dialogue, even if the quest itself is often pretty short and boils down to killing some dude, killing a bunch of dudes or burning their stuff.

Also, pretty much all the equipment in the game looks really cool. It was a joy to level up through the game to get new gear pieces to try out, even if I eventually settled for letting Kassandra be Not-Wonder Woman (due to the hilariously powerful bonus of that set).

Finally, I'd like to give the writers some credit for the fact that a lot of their emotional writing really does hit home. Despite Odyssey being an open world game, with all the writing pitfalls that goes along with it, the writers manages to evoke emotion most of the time. In the case of the main story the excellent acting of the main cast certainly helps to sell it, but it is nonetheless a great achievement. Especially as I've grown to assume open world games will, at best, contain some weak attempt at pathos that bounces clean off because the characters are underdeveloped and the voice actors are overworked providing voices to dozens of different characters.

SckizoBoy:
At last... quite a read, I'd 'like' ( -_-' ) it if I could.

Anyway, I agree for the most part, though I have some nitpicks which are pretty petty and trivial, so I won't bother with this (though I am curious as to your thoughts regarding naval combat, the land combat having already been covered, but eh).

I've been hankering to bounce this off someone since I finished playing it, but regarding the elephant in the room.

Episode 2 of LotFB... to me that romance was indeed railroaded, and I would not have minded if it felt natural and was paced properly, but it wasn't. It was just foisted on the player with minimal build up, just a few cutscenes of the Misthios with the Child of Darius getting cozy then bam! settle down and pop out a sprog (the implications in episode 1 were crap and drowned out by better Darius/Kassandra interactions). In so saying, in all honesty, I felt a greater connection between Kassandra and Darius himself. Their dialogue came across as more natural, relatable and intimate at times, in a way. It didn't help that Natakas' character design was a bit... off. He didn't have the qualities that I'd expect to go with Kassandra's personality as he had lots of humility and was too 'normal' (not helped by the almost hobo-ish outfit, by comparison, he had in-game), lacking his old man's charisma, wit and typically sharp character.

Then in Episode 3, I positively hated the way it opened with the attack on Dyme. It turned Kassandra into, to quote Yahtzee, a 'shrieking mimsy' for the opening couple of missions, where tranquil (but blatant) fury, punctuated by occasional outbursts of shouting in her character's distinct contralto and/or just plain violence would have been more in keeping with her irrespective of how you played her earlier in the game. Her interactions here with Darius again cement my bizarre leaning towards the two of them making a better couple than her with Natakas.

For a general gameplay perspective, I avoid the Conquest Battles unless I'm feeling silly. 'Cos, as mentioned, the fact that they're entirely a confused melee really got at me. I'm a history buff (perhaps more so than OP? Hey, OP, let's talk shop...!), and the complete absence of hoplite combat in the game except a split second during the prologue where you play as Leonidas bugged me (I'm over it, but it doesn't stop me from thinking about it). There's no paean, no phalanx, no othismos, all of which they could have included in the conquest battles.

It's funny, because I almost wrote "Given the choice between Natakas and Darius, I'd totally have Kassandra sex up Darius" I'd feel bad for Natakas, mostly because he came across as a sad puppy sometimes(actually, that's probably not a metaphor I want to mix here), but yeah, Darius came across as far more someone more on Kassandra's wavelength then Natakas. Actually, it's really hard to shake the feeling that Natakas was designed to be "Designated Sperm Donor" to the bloodline because he doesn't really work as a interesting character. It's notable because I started playing AC3 Remaster(which I have many mixed feelings about and am waiting for someone to start a thread about) while waiting for the Atlantis DLC and while Ziio's is mostly important as Conners Mom, she stands out as a notable character in her own right.

What makes it even weirder is that after finishing the other storylines and before playing the DLC(I played the DLC after the main game storylines), I figured that since the storylines all kinda hit on that special ISU/Assassin bloodline Kassandra and Darius have(and hell, the Ancients make a big deal about it too, just that they want it cut off), that would be the big reason why they're doing this. That if you didn't particularly like Natakas, Darius would say something like "Kassandra, between us, there's a strong bloodline we need to keep going, especially since the ancients want us dead for that very reason. Please, do me a favor and have a kid so we can keep it going". Hell, maybe he does do that if you keep cold shouldering Darius Jr, but I had a hard time being a Jerk to him despite the fact I didn't find him particularly compelling. Like a middle ground between "I want to spend the rest of my life with you" and "Don't touch me!" would have been nice.

And yeah, the beginning of the 3rd episode felt kinda cliche. I was half expecting Baby to get kidnapped the moment I heard "Hey, Kassandra, go kill some pigs so you'll be conveniently far away and unable to stop the baby abduction", which ends up happening anyway but mostly because Kassandra tried to be everywhere at once in a Heroic effect to protect Darius and Darius Jr and Baby and still gets guilted(by herself and Darius) when she fails at this because she was killing Dark Souls Immortal Dual Boss at the time.

Agree on the conquest battles. I did them no more then I had to and your idea would add some decent context to them. Hell, the gang wars in syndicate had better context because you knew your goal was to take down the leader of the opposing gang and all the mooks were there to complicate things(but once they were dealt with.....). Having a modified system of that where the lines were kinda in place and your goal was to try to break the enemy lines and force a rout for your sides hoplites and maybe cavalry to exploit would be a bit more interesting then "Everyone is fighting everyone. Oh, and here's a dude you need to kill, picked randomly from the horde. Now do it 3 more times".

The Naval Combat bothered me less, but mostly because I enjoyed the naval combat more, not because it was much better. On the bright side, it felt more fun then Origins did(and they got rid of the catapult, which while apparently accurate to some small extent, was pretty much the mortar from black flag).On the down side, I'm annoyed how the ramming and boarding wasn't nearly as emphasized as it should and could have been, and instead you use arrows and spears like the cannon from the Jackdaw(or Morrigan, if you perfer). The fact it brought back happy BF memories for me is probably the only reason I'm cutting it as much slack as I am.

I'm more then happy to talk history BTW. I don't know too many people who are that into it. My ancient history(despite AC getting my interest up) isn't great(and I probably rely on OSP too much at the moment then I should) but military history is always fun to chat about.

I tried to avoid going too much into the history issues because honestly I could do that all day with this series despite my strange affection for it and one could easily counter with "Hey, remember that time Italian Batman had a fistfight with the pope in the Sistine chapel so he could steal the popes magical staff? Because pretty much everyone agrees that was the best game in the series"
Despite this, it still gets me a bit despite this (The Jack the Ripper DLC for Syndicate really irked me and I know how dumb that sounds). I mean, that and I can far more easily pick on the ISU stuff and the fact the Templars have yet to show a compelling reason for half the shit they do other then "Because evil" and "Make Hollywood History Video games because Money!"

Gethsemani:
I always enjoy these threads of yours, it is good to see someone have the patience to write the kind of longform dissertations that I myself lack the will (but have the urge) to do. Overall I am in your camp. I never played LotFB, mostly because I burned out on the game itself shortly after going to the Olympic games and then RDR2 came and murdered all my free time for two months following.

I'm glad someone enjoys my rants. I do enjoy putting all of these thoughts bouncing around in my head on paper, cleaning them up a bit(or a lot) and then letting someone else comment on them. Especially since I don't know that many people IRL who want to hear me talk about Metal Gear Solid or Sassy Creed as much as I'd like to.

I'd wait until the Atlantis DLC is out if you already have the season pass. That way you can come back it with some degree of freshness and not have to come back once per month to finish off the DLC.

Which, BTW, I'm both hopeful for and fearful of, seeing what some of the achievements are and what they imply. If they half ass it, it's gonna hurt how much of an opportunity they missed(particularly since it feels obvious everything about Atlantis beyond the gate is reserved for the DLC, and that's why the scene where Kassandra activates the device after inserting all 4 artifacts cuts to black before going to the present with Layla).

I'm kinda at this wierd spot with Odyssey right now. I really liked it and I have fun whenever I'm playing but still have a number of side quests left to do and I feel strangely burnt out by the idea of doing another 20 side quests at the moment. I managed to finish all the "Lost Tales of Greece" chains but I'm pretty much "I'm done for now. I need to stop".

Gethsemani:

Also, pretty much all the equipment in the game looks really cool. It was a joy to level up through the game to get new gear pieces to try out, even if I eventually settled for letting Kassandra be Not-Wonder Woman (due to the hilariously powerful bonus of that set).

Oh, yeah, the gear looked pretty cool, honestly, especially thanks for the transmog system which did a lot to avoid the rainbow pimp gear trope. Which I forgot to mention because of course I did.

Gethsemani:

Finally, I'd like to give the writers some credit for the fact that a lot of their emotional writing really does hit home. Despite Odyssey being an open world game, with all the writing pitfalls that goes along with it, the writers manages to evoke emotion most of the time. In the case of the main story the excellent acting of the main cast certainly helps to sell it, but it is nonetheless a great achievement. Especially as I've grown to assume open world games will, at best, contain some weak attempt at pathos that bounces clean off because the characters are underdeveloped and the voice actors are overworked providing voices to dozens of different characters.

There were some nice spots, especially with some of the more notable characters. A lot of the family reunification stuff worked nicely for me and even some of the character side quests were quite fun. Barnabas fun to deal with whenever he's around and Socrates does this wierd thing where he comes across as half wise man and half smart ass troll, which is kinda annoying at times but I appreciate the fact Kassandra has that reaction too, and the fact we don't know much firsthand about the man somehow makes it a little more plausible.

I recently finished AC:Ody myself to completion, and while I enjoyed the game, I found myself skipping a lot of the ? marks on the map to just get through the story. The problem here is that the story consists of 3 main threads that just kinda end with no real impact. You kill at the cultists and there is no ceremony or neat cinematic hell there isn't even a tangible reward. Then there is the future storyline that also just kinda ends with no impact or meaning.

The best ending is the family storyline which actually feels like things resolve reasonably. Except it feels rushed and wraps up unreasonably fast after dragging itself out throughout the entire game.

So I was a fun ride which is probably the point, but the destination is lame.

CritialGaming:
I recently finished AC:Ody myself to completion, and while I enjoyed the game, I found myself skipping a lot of the ? marks on the map to just get through the story. The problem here is that the story consists of 3 main threads that just kinda end with no real impact. You kill at the cultists and there is no ceremony or neat cinematic hell there isn't even a tangible reward. Then there is the future storyline that also just kinda ends with no impact or meaning.

The best ending is the family storyline which actually feels like things resolve reasonably. Except it feels rushed and wraps up unreasonably fast after dragging itself out throughout the entire game.

So I was a fun ride which is probably the point, but the destination is lame.

I do agree it feels like the family storyline is the main one and the most satisfying(especially if you save everyone). I disagree that you don't get any kind of closure at the end of the other 2, though the closure could have been a bit more satisfying on both counts. I had a bigger issue is that the cultist storyline is so damn huge and the Atlantis storyline is a lot shorter(though gated as endgame content for the most part). That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy them but there is something to be said that the length of both could have been improved.

And of course, I already mentioned how the Atlantis/Layla Storyline feels like it's setting something up, but based on ubisofts track record, we may never get a decent payoff, because neither of the other present day plot arcs have had a good payoff either. I'll let myself get interested anyway, because I'm a damn sucker and never seem to learn when it comes to big mystery plot arcs such as this.

Dalisclock:

CritialGaming:
I recently finished AC:Ody myself to completion, and while I enjoyed the game, I found myself skipping a lot of the ? marks on the map to just get through the story. The problem here is that the story consists of 3 main threads that just kinda end with no real impact. You kill at the cultists and there is no ceremony or neat cinematic hell there isn't even a tangible reward. Then there is the future storyline that also just kinda ends with no impact or meaning.

The best ending is the family storyline which actually feels like things resolve reasonably. Except it feels rushed and wraps up unreasonably fast after dragging itself out throughout the entire game.

So I was a fun ride which is probably the point, but the destination is lame.

I do agree it feels like the family storyline is the main one and the most satisfying(especially if you save everyone). I disagree that you don't get any kind of closure at the end of the other 2, though the closure could have been a bit more satisfying on both counts. I had a bigger issue is that the cultist storyline is so damn huge and the Atlantis storyline is a lot shorter(though gated as endgame content for the most part). That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy them but there is something to be said that the length of both could have been improved.

And of course, I already mentioned how the Atlantis/Layla Storyline feels like it's setting something up, but based on ubisofts track record, we may never get a decent payoff, because neither of the other present day plot arcs have had a good payoff either. I'll let myself get interested anyway, because I'm a damn sucker and never seem to learn when it comes to big mystery plot arcs such as this.

Personally, if i had found the endings more satisfying I would have bought the DLC pass in a heart beat, but it felt so lackluster and I felt so disappointed with it that I just called it quits for the game. The journey was fun and I'm glad that I played through it.

I need to finish this game at some point. Took me a while to get into it but for all it's faults "Hot Spartan Amazon hunting down an evil cult in ancient Greece" is a premise practically made for me.

I really enjoyed Odyssey right up to the second episode of the DLC when the game forced Kassandra to have the baby with Natakas. He was a decent enough fellow, but he came across too wishy washy for someone like Kassandra, and the relationship felt really forced and hammy, particularly since I kept avoiding the dialogue choices related to romance; why even have those choices if you're just going to railroad the romance anyway? I get why they needed the player character to have a child to continue to the bloodline, but the execution was incredibly hamfisted and definitely left a sour taste in my mouth at the end of the game.

Bilious Green:
I really enjoyed Odyssey right up to the second episode of the DLC when the game forced Kassandra to have the baby with Natakas. He was a decent enough fellow, but he came across too wishy washy for someone like Kassandra, and the relationship felt really forced and hammy, particularly since I kept avoiding the dialogue choices related to romance; why even have those choices if you're just going to railroad the romance anyway? I get why they needed the player character to have a child to continue to the bloodline, but the execution was incredibly hamfisted and definitely left a sour taste in my mouth at the end of the game.

I didn't understand the forced romance either. Especially considering that Kassandra is immortal and she didn't ever need to have a pigeonholed romance in Greece.

Bilious Green:
I really enjoyed Odyssey right up to the second episode of the DLC when the game forced Kassandra to have the baby with Natakas. He was a decent enough fellow, but he came across too wishy washy for someone like Kassandra, and the relationship felt really forced and hammy, particularly since I kept avoiding the dialogue choices related to romance; why even have those choices if you're just going to railroad the romance anyway? I get why they needed the player character to have a child to continue to the bloodline, but the execution was incredibly hamfisted and definitely left a sour taste in my mouth at the end of the game.

Joining the 'Darius was better for Kassandra' club?

The follow up at the start of Ep3 was just as cringy, too... :/

CritialGaming:

Bilious Green:
I really enjoyed Odyssey right up to the second episode of the DLC when the game forced Kassandra to have the baby with Natakas. He was a decent enough fellow, but he came across too wishy washy for someone like Kassandra, and the relationship felt really forced and hammy, particularly since I kept avoiding the dialogue choices related to romance; why even have those choices if you're just going to railroad the romance anyway? I get why they needed the player character to have a child to continue to the bloodline, but the execution was incredibly hamfisted and definitely left a sour taste in my mouth at the end of the game.

I didn't understand the forced romance either. Especially considering that Kassandra is immortal and she didn't ever need to have a pigeonholed romance in Greece.

It's possible to start the DLC long before you finish the Atlantis Quest(lvl 28 vs lvl 50) so chances are Kassandra hasn't taken possession of the staff yet. That and the DLC deson't really take any of the main story stuff into account either(People will take about the cult being a threat even if they're all dead). Even if she was immortal, I'm sure she wanted some kind of meaningful relationship(I imagine 2500 years gets lonley at times). I just question why Natakas had to be the one we got.

Also, it's obvious the devs wanted to link Odyssey to Origins and this was their (hamfisted) method of doing so. Pretty much the entire reason the First Blade DLC exists is to connect the two games together beyond being in the same series.

SckizoBoy:

Bilious Green:
I really enjoyed Odyssey right up to the second episode of the DLC when the game forced Kassandra to have the baby with Natakas. He was a decent enough fellow, but he came across too wishy washy for someone like Kassandra, and the relationship felt really forced and hammy, particularly since I kept avoiding the dialogue choices related to romance; why even have those choices if you're just going to railroad the romance anyway? I get why they needed the player character to have a child to continue to the bloodline, but the execution was incredibly hamfisted and definitely left a sour taste in my mouth at the end of the game.

Joining the 'Darius was better for Kassandra' club?

The follow up at the start of Ep3 was just as cringy, too... :/

If the options are Darius or Natakas, I suppose so. Mind you, the romances were all as shallow as a puddle anyway. Ubi have a long way to go to get to the Bioware/CDPR level for romances.

Bilious Green:
If the options are Darius or Natakas, I suppose so. Mind you, the romances were all as shallow as a puddle anyway. Ubi have a long way to go to get to the Bioware/CDPR level for romances.

Yeah, can't deny that. It was basically 'see the heart, jump into bed... and done' and the only one with any remote 'development' (word used very loosely) was Roxana, but that was only because of certain player choices that had zero relevance to the romance itself. :/

SckizoBoy:

Bilious Green:
If the options are Darius or Natakas, I suppose so. Mind you, the romances were all as shallow as a puddle anyway. Ubi have a long way to go to get to the Bioware/CDPR level for romances.

Yeah, can't deny that. It was basically 'see the heart, jump into bed... and done' and the only one with any remote 'development' (word used very loosely) was Roxana, but that was only because of certain player choices that had zero relevance to the romance itself. :/

Well, there's also Krya and Odessa, but Kyra's ends poorly because of the love triangle issue and Odessa's only happens if you hit on her while her father is dying, which just comes across as wierd and kinda creepy.

But most of them of are pretty crap, yeah.

Dalisclock:

SckizoBoy:

Bilious Green:
If the options are Darius or Natakas, I suppose so. Mind you, the romances were all as shallow as a puddle anyway. Ubi have a long way to go to get to the Bioware/CDPR level for romances.

Yeah, can't deny that. It was basically 'see the heart, jump into bed... and done' and the only one with any remote 'development' (word used very loosely) was Roxana, but that was only because of certain player choices that had zero relevance to the romance itself. :/

Well, there's also Krya and Odessa, but Kyra's ends poorly because of the love triangle issue and Odessa's only happens if you hit on her while her father is dying, which just comes across as wierd and kinda creepy.

But most of them of are pretty crap, yeah.

I'm not going to be too hard on them since this was their first attempt at this sort of thing, but I hope they manage to do a better job next time if they're going to have romances. I think they should try having fewer romance options but give them more depth and bigger subplots (ie. do what Bioware and CDPR do), rather than these perfunctory "pump-&-dump" scenarios.

I've now finished all three chapters of the legacy of the First Blade, and I have to say that the quality of the DLC overall was a real letdown. Its pretty clear that they were so eager to tie Kassandra/Alexios to the greater Assassin's Creed plot that they contrived this whole Persian angle and forced relationship/child situation for continuity purposes. The dumb part is that it was completely unnecessary, they could have left it open ended and just left it to players to assume that Alexios/Kassandra had children at some point post-game and that one of those descendants ended up in Egypt, which led to Bayek/Origins.

in echoing Gethsemani's sentiment, these writings are an appreciated read and it's nice to see such effort put in to something that's reasonable. previous threads I didn't have the experience to add anything to, comment-wise, but were still interesting regardless. and this one I'm late to, but had to avoid spoiling oneself of course until reaching a semblance of narrative conclusion, though I've saved the proper side-meat of the game for a new game + nightmare (for now) difficulty run

in summary, agree with pretty much all criticisms so far - well, apart from any DLC as I've yet to try them, but waiting for a sale to limit potential for buyer's remorse - they're all falling under the "not a deal breaker, but would be nice to see improved upon in possible future games" category

to be honest, was expecting to be way more annoyed by the level gating than I actually was. it's not even that bad a gate either, as I personally quite enjoyed the option of throwing myself into higher level camps as a way to add extra challenge to stealth runs with the higher risk if caught. and even a couple of the red-skull level encounters managed to hold my own against until the lock-on camera decided it didn't like enclosed spaces and two hits gifted a desynch screen. as long as you don't throw yourself into a fight or try to assassinate, you can mooch around any level area you want and start any level quest you want (which is only really viable for stealing missions and the like than anything requiring violence). also, optimising the special abilities helped a load. did a respec halfway through after failing to that bloody legendary eutha-whateverydoo boar with the poison fart gas, and found a much more agreeable murder build and a friendly consolation bear that lasted about 5 minutes as a co-op partner before hitting the dust in heroic fashion

not sure if you done the legendary beasts quest with the daughters of Artemis to get the conclusion to it, but I thought it was a fairly interesting choice at the end which almost tricked my pacifist tendencies into making the rest of the game harder for myself. nice try, Odyssey...but can imagine there are others who made the alternative choice there.
not a fan of the romance options at all, but am the same with any game that attempts them, which I could aimlessly ramble on about for way too long, but will restrain that ole chestnut

hope they continue the focus on the sci-fi alien thread more. it's intriguing, if sparing

a particularly trivial niggle that confused a fair bit were the subtitles using italics for emphasis on certain words while the voice actors either emphasise a different word or none at all. I didn't even know this could be a thing, but now it is I find it really bloody distracting as the voice in the head reads it ever so slightly different, then hears the actor do not-that and falls over, mentally disorientated from wondering how this disconnect occurred in production. it's so trivial yet so distracting! this is going in the "new shit I didn't realise my brain no likey" box along with real-life alita anime eyes and computer generated babies trying to pull on maternal/paternal heartstrings but failing due to poor effort or me having no love for sodding babies

crap, was trying to avoid writing much more than a rambly paragraph, sorry! an initial question about the dlc has already been answered, so that's another pleasant bonus. good reads and hope to see more! :)

Neurotic Void Melody:

not sure if you done the legendary beasts quest with the daughters of Artemis to get the conclusion to it, but I thought it was a fairly interesting choice at the end which almost tricked my pacifist tendencies into making the rest of the game harder for myself. nice try, Odyssey...but can imagine there are others who made the alternative choice there.
not a fan of the romance options at all, but am the same with any game that attempts them, which I could aimlessly ramble on about for way too long, but will restrain that ole chestnut

hope they continue the focus on the sci-fi alien thread more. it's intriguing, if sparing

I didn't do all of the hunts but I still need to finish that(I haven't fought the farting pig yet). I'm taking a break from Odyssey(playing the AC3 remaster I got along with the DLC) until the first part of the Atlantis DLC drops. Apparently there's a new Lost Tales out too I need to check up on.

A couple more things to add to the list of random thoughts and nitpicks came to mind.

-It would have been nice if you had a home base of sorts, kind of like Black Flag or AC3 or really most of the other games did. Somewhere for your lieutenants to hang out, with a place to display your legendary weapons and armor. A small island in the Aegean that you can build up a little and acts as a respite away from the world. Which I know contradicts the "Odyssey" and "The Adrestria is your home" themes but the Adrestia doesn't really have a cabin like the other ships did(Trimenes were too small) and they didn't mind giving you 2 homes(one for the family storyline and one for the First Blade DLC). That and they had an island whose sole purpose is to host an optional cyclops battle(one of the volcanic ones near the eastern map edge), so having an island to base your ship out of doesn't seem unreasonable.

-On a related note, Fast Travel is weird in that the Adrestria doesn't follow you when you fast travel, which makes it wierd when you teleport to and from islands only to realize your ship is on the far side of the map, or when someone attached to your ship(like Barnabas) will show up, make references to having come from the ship, when yet again, your ship is across the map. Though dragging the ship with you would no doubt have it's own issues.

-I might have missed it but it feels Herodotus doesn't do much outside of Athens. He's on your ship all the time and pretty much does nothing and says nothing. Barnabas at least gets stuff to do and say every so often.

-For a game that lets you make lots of choices, I was suprised and annoyed by one in particular. When you leave Kefalonia, Markos meets you at the dock to say goodbye. You then have the choice to hug him or shake his hand. I honestly wanted an option along the lines of "Punch Markos in the dick" considering what a selfish jerk he is pretty much the entire time you work for him on the island and I can't help think of Cousin Roman from GTA4.

-I notice that Juno is mentioned like once and they've completely dropped the Sage thing. While I'm still disappointed that ended up pretty much not going anywhere, I'm also happy not to hear about the fucking sages anymore. The whole thing came across as the dumbest idea this series has ever produced and I'm glad it looks like we're rid of them.

-Thinking about it now, I get the feeling the Olympics was supposed to be a bigger deal then it ended up being in game. There's a reference to missing the chariot races(which I assumed was because they didn't want to code chariots for this game) but it felt like you didn't really see any of the Olympics at all other then the one event you compete in(and I think there was a condition of bringing home "All the medals", so I was expecting something like helping Sparta win in more indirect methods).

-I didn't really want to go into this sort of thing but playing AC3 has forced me to comment on it. I kinda wish they'd just gone with Kassandra as the PC and written more of the story around her having to face adversity for being a woman trying to do all the stuff she does. Kinda like Connor had to deal with the fact he was a Native American in a world being colonized and his tribe pushed off their land, Kassandra could have had to prove herself per the plot. Make a bigger deal about her having to compete in the Olympics because the big lunk drowned himself on accident, maybe have to have a spartan rep pull some strings to make it happen(or get Alkibadies do it in exchange for a favor. I know he's Athenian but he's also not above playing dirty and he likes Kassandra).

I guess seeing Connor have discussions with people about inherent hypocrisy and racism of Colonial society makes me miss that it's not in Odyssey.

Since I brought up AC3, I do have something to add to my theorizing about the ISU/Modern Day story. In AC3, one of the solution Juno goes on about was the idea of using the apple(or another POE) to change reality. Apparently if the apple(we'll go with that since I don't feel like looking it up right now to confirm if it's exactly the apple) is used to control a certain number of human minds and make them all focus on a single idea, that idea can become reality(because ISU magic tech fuckery). Apparently this was tried to prevent the solar flare and it didn't work because they couldn't enthrall enough humans at once(apparently it doesn't work with their own people for reasons) and because apparently, per JUNO, the best directive they could come up with was "SAVE US"(For God-like beings, that's astoundingly unoriginal and creative). Though, to think of it, the humans were the ones who survived and not the ISU, so maybe it worked after all. The ISU apparently never considered the idea that "SAVE US" might not include the people enslaving them.

There's also the fact the one ISU does explicity mention the ISU somehow caused this to happen and if the apple can hypotheically "SAVE US" what if it's what caused the flare in the first place. Hell, what if the upcoming disaster of vaguness is somehow linked to the POE being used, like they're destablizing the universe. It's just hard to get out of my mind.

Anyway, I mention this because, as mentioned before, there's been some banging on in the MD segments of Origins/Odyssey of changing reality to prevent another catastrophe and apparently the Staff of Hermes can alter reality(how we don't know). There's also the fact that the Curse of the Pharaohs DLC for Origins had visits to various versions of the Egyptian afterlife(the duat) which is never explained but implied to have something to do with the apple that was passed down along the royal line. At least, the idea that peoples belief makes things real is probably the best thing I can come up with and assuming it's not the devs just having fun with the possibilities(like in the Tyranny of King Washington, which does provide a very powerful illusion).

I'm not sure if the Staff does the same thing but it's possible it works like the papal staff in 2 and amplifies the effect. It may not be a coincidence that AC3 is the one remastered and released with Odyssey, considering it introduced the idea of the apple being able to change reality and it might be a subtle hint where they want to go with this. Maybe we'll get lucky and the Atlantis DLC will shed some light on all of this.

Dalisclock:
snip's creed: the snipperhood

Yeah, that's entirely understandable. I mostly avoided the cult of kosmos stuff, unlike yourself, to save it for the game+ mode, as it looked far more time consuming. the legendary quests just implied more xp for less time (which is another hugely appreciated bit of information the quest list provides, thanks Odyssey!) that would bolster enough to take on the bigger story beats without as much hassle. am thinking of getting the pass on sale for the AC3 remaster, as the setting and protag being a more serious (though not as serious as perhaps preferred) presentation of native Americans than other games have ever tried, in my pitiful experience at least. and did not quite appreciate that fully at the time. but have heard some rumblings that the remaster apparently makes it worse or... something? Is that the case in your experience at all?

Neurotic Void Melody:

Dalisclock:
snip's creed: the snipperhood

Yeah, that's entirely understandable. I mostly avoided the cult of kosmos stuff, unlike yourself, to save it for the game+ mode, as it looked far more time consuming. the legendary quests just implied more xp for less time (which is another hugely appreciated bit of information the quest list provides, thanks Odyssey!) that would bolster enough to take on the bigger story beats without as much hassle. am thinking of getting the pass on sale for the AC3 remaster, as the setting and protag being a more serious (though not as serious as perhaps preferred) presentation of native Americans than other games have ever tried, in my pitiful experience at least. and did not quite appreciate that fully at the time. but have heard some rumblings that the remaster apparently makes it worse or... something? Is that the case in your experience at all?

I played AC3 previously like 5 years ago so I don't remember much about how the interface was back then. I've seen a video or two claiming the UI improved a little bit, making it easier to swap weapons and tools on the fly. I'll take their word for it because I'm not gonna install and boot up the original just to compare.

The only issue that bugged me was that some of the faces/character models in the early chapters(notably Haythem) looked plastic-y and off, like all the complexion had been removed. It doesn't look at bad in the later chapters after Connor is grown up, so maybe I just got used to it but boy it had this wierd uncanny valley thing going for the first hour or so. Also, occasionally the character eyes would look wierd and offputting, though I haven't noticed it in a while. So either it got silently fixed in a patch in the last week or so or I've just started ignoring it without realizing it.

Otherwise it feels like much the same game as the original, down to the slow burn in the opening(5 sequences before you really get to explore as adult Connor) and the overly complex economic system which can be cheesed by hunting and selling beaver pelts.

Dalisclock:
I played AC3 previously like 5 years ago so I don't remember much about how the interface was back then. I've seen a video or two claiming the UI improved a little bit, making it easier to swap weapons and tools on the fly. I'll take their word for it because I'm not gonna install and boot up the original just to compare.

The only issue that bugged me was that some of the faces/character models in the early chapters(notably Haythem) looked plastic-y and off, like all the complexion had been removed. It doesn't look at bad in the later chapters after Connor is grown up, so maybe I just got used to it but boy it had this wierd uncanny valley thing going for the first hour or so. Also, occasionally the character eyes would look wierd and offputting, though I haven't noticed it in a while. So either it got silently fixed in a patch in the last week or so or I've just started ignoring it without realizing it.

Otherwise it feels like much the same game as the original, down to the slow burn in the opening(5 sequences before you really get to explore as adult Connor) and the overly complex economic system which can be cheesed by hunting and selling beaver pelts.

ah, thankyou for the clarification, that doesn't sound as bad as I feared. Perhaps it's the internet's tendency to exaggerate small flaws cropping up again. *Flashback to Spiderman puddles hysteria* it's been many a year for me also, completely forgot about the economy they put in! the wacky DLC is something I missed first time round, so that will be a pleasant addition, assuming it isn't terrible of course!

Neurotic Void Melody:

Dalisclock:
I played AC3 previously like 5 years ago so I don't remember much about how the interface was back then. I've seen a video or two claiming the UI improved a little bit, making it easier to swap weapons and tools on the fly. I'll take their word for it because I'm not gonna install and boot up the original just to compare.

The only issue that bugged me was that some of the faces/character models in the early chapters(notably Haythem) looked plastic-y and off, like all the complexion had been removed. It doesn't look at bad in the later chapters after Connor is grown up, so maybe I just got used to it but boy it had this wierd uncanny valley thing going for the first hour or so. Also, occasionally the character eyes would look wierd and offputting, though I haven't noticed it in a while. So either it got silently fixed in a patch in the last week or so or I've just started ignoring it without realizing it.

Otherwise it feels like much the same game as the original, down to the slow burn in the opening(5 sequences before you really get to explore as adult Connor) and the overly complex economic system which can be cheesed by hunting and selling beaver pelts.

ah, thankyou for the clarification, that doesn't sound as bad as I feared. Perhaps it's the internet's tendency to exaggerate small flaws cropping up again. *Flashback to Spiderman puddles hysteria* it's been many a year for me also, completely forgot about the economy they put in! the wacky DLC is something I missed first time round, so that will be a pleasant addition, assuming it isn't terrible of course!

Apparently some people are running into some nasty glitches and bugs but my experience has been pretty smooth, For what it's worth.

I personally thought the King Washington DLC was pretty awesome, partially due to how nutso it gets. It's like the writers decided to cut loose and add in anything they wanted because it's a one off and technically non-canon. Even things I might find offensive like Connor drinking magic tea to get magical Native American animal shapeshifter powers(kinda) works because your opponent is King George Washington who lives in a giant golden pyramid palace and uses a Laser sword to try to murder you. No, I'm not joking about any of that.

So yeah, it's worth a go.

Dalisclock:
Apparently some people are running into some nasty glitches and bugs but my experience has been pretty smooth, For what it's worth.

I personally thought the King Washington DLC was pretty awesome, partially due to how nutso it gets. It's like the writers decided to cut loose and add in anything they wanted because it's a one off and technically non-canon. Even things I might find offensive like Connor drinking magic tea to get magical Native American animal shapeshifter powers(kinda) works because your opponent is King George Washington who lives in a giant golden pyramid palace and uses a Laser sword to try to murder you. No, I'm not joking about any of that.

So yeah, it's worth a go.

ah those pesky elusive bugs! maybe it's platform specific, but there's only one way to find out for sure!

there is almost an element of catharsis in dlc that lets go of any narrative restraint, I'd imagine as much for the developers as well as the consumer. and tongue-in-cheek material does often afford a fair bit of leeway with stereotypical representation, though it is still a careful balancing act in which can falter very easily even when no malice is intended, which the "just jokes bruh" crowd seem to not quite realise when deploying such defenses for offenses

nonetheless, intrigued one is

Oddly Odyssey is the first of the series (I've only just started Origins) where I felt having an assassin playstyle was worthwhile. Previously I just got bored and would inevitably jump in and hack and slash at the bad guys, now it is genuinely fun sneaking around locations to take everyone out silently.

Sadly the thing that drags the game down for me are the Mercenaries and Bosses. The game is quite generous with XP and I never felt that I had to grind in order to have the level necessary to do a mission. The mers and bosses though, even those a couple of levels below you just aren't a challenge, they are a tedious grind. You look at their weaknesses but even with that knowledge you end up slowing chipping away at their health pool rather than enjoying an exciting battle. They really do kill the pacing of the game.

I enjoyed the game but a certain point I felt it was made to waste my time. There is sooooo much artificial padding in this game with it's timed and radiant quests, hundreds of question marks, cult leaders, 'nemesis' lite system, gigantic world map etc. It's just too much. I also felt the same structure of the filler quests carried over to the story quests and in the end it was just too much monotony. Like, literal copy/paste work. Though, the world was beautifully designed mixing realism with a more artful aesthetic and there was enough variety to the gameplay(combat, stealth, boat combat) that it took a long time to get there. Can't say I was a big fan of the expanded dialogue system, I liked the dialogue in Origins better where it really served to flesh out the world more rather than the characters. Though, this is personal preference ofcourse. I can see how one would like Odyssey better if they're fan of games like The Witcher.

I definitely prefer Origins, despite that game also having a problem not knowing when enough is enough and a rushed final act it did felt more evenly paced and didn't rely on the player as much to sort out all the filler. Also, ancient Greece didn't grab me as much as Egypt. And I found the inclusion of the shield and slower pace of the combat more fun.

I've enjoyed Odyssey a lot more than I initially thought I would, particularly because I was burned out on Origins and rushed to finish the story. I haven't finished it yet, in fact, I'm taking a break from it because I basically had a nightmare about it. For whatever reason, I don't have the same problem with Odyssey that I had with Origins. The map is still just as daunting as Origins, but I figured very early on that I didn't have to do every single question mark. There are plenty of caves and forts I've skipped unless a side quest took me there or I wanted a nation chest. I'm also enjoying the side quests more in Odyssey. The story of Supideo is hilarious and the Delos island side quest actually took me by surprise and really made me regret a quest I completed earlier.

I love the Cult of Kosmos web. Finding clues and ambushing most of the targets was fun and an experience I certainly want more of from future AC games. I do hope they take this and flesh it out. I also love cosmetic swaps. Every game that has gear that changes bits of a character's appearance should have this system. No excuses. The only thing I dislike about it is that the changed appearance is attached to the equipment, so it has to be changed again if I equip something new.

If there's one thing I can say I dislike, it's the RPG mechanics. Despite how good the game is, I still don't think experience, level ups, and level gating is necessary and only functions to make an open world game linear. I'd still prefer it if AC ditched this and went with something similar to AC1 where character progress was tied to killing targets and not experience points. Kill a target that uses throwing knives to unlock them, likewise with bombs, etc.

Odyssey was fun, I don't think I'd be able to play another game like it. It's incredibly large, incredibly time consuming, and daunting when opening the map for the first time. I may just have to skip the next game, or at least hold off for a few months and play some smaller scale games.

Neurotic Void Melody:

Dalisclock:
Apparently some people are running into some nasty glitches and bugs but my experience has been pretty smooth, For what it's worth.

I personally thought the King Washington DLC was pretty awesome, partially due to how nutso it gets. It's like the writers decided to cut loose and add in anything they wanted because it's a one off and technically non-canon. Even things I might find offensive like Connor drinking magic tea to get magical Native American animal shapeshifter powers(kinda) works because your opponent is King George Washington who lives in a giant golden pyramid palace and uses a Laser sword to try to murder you. No, I'm not joking about any of that.

So yeah, it's worth a go.

ah those pesky elusive bugs! maybe it's platform specific, but there's only one way to find out for sure!

there is almost an element of catharsis in dlc that lets go of any narrative restraint, I'd imagine as much for the developers as well as the consumer. and tongue-in-cheek material does often afford a fair bit of leeway with stereotypical representation, though it is still a careful balancing act in which can falter very easily even when no malice is intended, which the "just jokes bruh" crowd seem to not quite realise when deploying such defenses for offenses

nonetheless, intrigued one is

Speaking of which, I was reminded of it when I played Origins Curse of the Phaoroh DLC, with the idea of "Instead of an alternate Reality where Washington is A Tyrant with a laser sword and a golden pyramid, Lets have you visit the Egyption Aferlife, or 4 different versions of it, and fight various Pharaohs".

And I see that Odyssey is continuing the tradition with Fate of Atlantis. I'm gonna give it to them. When it comes to going big or going home, occasionally Ubisoft decides to go big. And it does make you forget their tendency to make 15 variations of the same game that is their business model when they manage to pull it off.

Captain Marvelous:

If there's one thing I can say I dislike, it's the RPG mechanics. Despite how good the game is, I still don't think experience, level ups, and level gating is necessary and only functions to make an open world game linear. I'd still prefer it if AC ditched this and went with something similar to AC1 where character progress was tied to killing targets and not experience points. Kill a target that uses throwing knives to unlock them, likewise with bombs, etc.

Odyssey was fun, I don't think I'd be able to play another game like it. It's incredibly large, incredibly time consuming, and daunting when opening the map for the first time. I may just have to skip the next game, or at least hold off for a few months and play some smaller scale games.

I actually watched one of those only-cutscene LP of AC recently and I admit, it does have a lot going for it narratively and it's not bad structurally, but I do remember it being incredibly tedious even back then how you had to do the same few missions over and over again to unlock the actual assassinations(and even then,you had to defeat them in combat before you could stab them, it seems). I honeslty wouldn't mind them doing something with the structure of "Earning your way up the ranks by doing increasingly difficult assassinations and getting better equipment after each success" again.

Though when they did it with Altair it was kinda wierd because he was already established as a master assassin, just one who was demoted for being headstrong jerk, which somehow shrunk his health bar too.

The rumors going now is that the next game will be set in the Roman Empire or the Viking age and I'm not sure I'm excited about either of those. Rome would allow for a lot of fun political murders but the Aesthetic would basically be very similar to Odyessy and I'm not sure I really want a third game of Classical Architecture and Trimene combat, despite the fact I enjoyed them so far. Vikings might feel too much like Skelliage from Witcher 3 and I don't see a ton of pontential for big cities there, plus it'll be longship combat instread of trimenes.

I'm kinda looking forward to ditching the boat for another couple years, kinda like Rogue wasn't nearly as fun as Black Flag(granted, the fact Shay was an asshole and not even a likable one like Edward was might have something to do with that).

Anyone in australia, the game is $30 at big w at the moment (ps4, xbox not sure). Should keep me occupied over easter.

Fate of Atlantis Episode 1 "The Fields of Elysium" is out and I got to play a few hours of it so far. There's actually a prelude quest chain called "Heir of Memories" which mechanically isn't terribly interesting but narratively is very much so. Basically, Kassandra is summoned to a remote island, the one with the huge honking Poseidon statue on it, and finds the ISU Aletheia, or at least, a projection of her. They have a brief conversation where they discuss Kassandra's role as the Keeper of the Staff and her job is to safeguard it for someone(Layla) known as the Heir of Memories. Kassandra takes this all in Stride and it's revealed Altheia is bound to the staff itself and it's implied she did something similar to Juno and downloaded her brain into it, effectively making her the Last ISU at this point(since Juno is dead and Minerva hasn't shown up since AC3).

Where it gets interesting is that Layla, in the Present, has a similar encounter with Aletheia in Atlantis, who tells her it's time to open the seal and leads her to a previously inconspicuous door off the main chamber(it turns out that big view of the sunken city is more of a window, maybe). However, to open the door, she needs a code of 3 symbols and the proper order to place them in. The answer to this involves using Kassandra to go to 3 tombs throughout Greece(instructed by Aletheia) which Layla then goes to in person to find the symbols. Which is kinda weird considering Kassandra has to go to the tombs first(and likely by this point has already explored them to get the stele deep within). So you have this thing where it switches back and forth between the two while Kassandra finds the tomb but Layla grabs the symbol, which ends up being a bit tedious because going through the tombs in the present as Layla doesn't add anything except for some chatter and it's never made clear why Kassandra couldn't just go in there since she had to go to the tomb anyway to trigger Layla's tomb crawling jaunts.

More intriguing is when they need the order but Kassandra doesn't know it. However, Deimos does know the answer and Layla pulls a very interesting stunt when she uses his DNA to experience something that occurred off-screen in the main game in one of the sidequests. Namely, Deimos found the sculptor Phidias in Olympia and murdered him. In this case, you get to see and experience this event firsthand from Deimos's POV and ask the order of the symbols, but there's this fascinating implication that Layla, the animus and maybe the staff are actually rewriting the past or pushing the very limits of the simulation. It's hard to say what happens, maybe it's just Layla reliving the POV of a Sociopath but it almost kills her to get the information.

There's also the implication the Templar, notably Osto Berg and Sigma Team, have finally figured out what the Assassins are up to and are closing in(I guess calling your command ship the Altair II wasn't the most subtle move), which I suspect will bear some fruit in the DLC.

So, getting into the actual DLC, Layla finally opens the door and in the past, so does kassandra. Inside is a transparent underwater dome with a series of "Thrones" at the circumference and Aletheia explaining Kassandra needs to learn to wield the staff as not to be "corrupted" by it, which is a good point since we've seen that POE tend not to play nice with the the humans who come into contact with them. So she creates a simulation, so she says, to train Kassandra, and by proxy, Layla who she knows is watching Kassandra. It's kinda trippy how they keep swapping back and forth between the two protagonists, especially with Kassandra being aware(due to Aletheia ) that the Heir is somehow aware of all she's doing.

The "simulation" drops Kassandra into Elysium, what was essentially heaven for the Greeks, or at close as mortals could ever hope to reach(Olympus was reserved for the gods), where she is greeted by Persephone, the ruler of Elysium.. Persephone is quite annoyed by a living human reaching her realm and sics a number of guards on her. And at this point one can see why the DLC is gated around level 50 as endgame content, because those guards are quite the challenge. They have moves and attacks seen nowhere else in the game and can easily wreck you if not taken seriously. When the smoke clears, Persephone is gone and Hermes shows up as a guide. He offers Kassandra some advice and then sets her loose to explore Elysium.

So remember how I mentioned before how beautiful Greece is in the main game? Well, Elysium somehow manages to be prettier. It does very much evoke a feeling of the afterlife albeit one meant to honor Persephones ego. One of the first things you see(and the first viewpoint) is a massive bronze statue of the lady herself and you'll see statues of her everywhere(some of which are part of a gameplay mechanic). Cities are built on towering bluffs providing a great view, Persephone lives in a massive acropolis which doubles as a gorgeous, huge palace and the entire place is surrounded by waterfalls pouring from some unknown and unseen ocean. The sun never sets in Elysium but as far as I can tell, it circles the edge of the map clockwise, always on the horizon(so night attacks are impossible, but guards will sometimes go and lay down at times in their bases).

It's basically the afterlife areas from Curse of the Pharaohs from Origins but on a much larger scale. Each DLC will presumably have it's own map(as opposed to CotP, which had one large map of Thebes and 4 smaller maps of the various afterlives) and apparently the DLC runs about 8-10 hours(I'm not sure if that's if you do everything or just the main quest).

The whole thing is kinda bizarre. There are thriving towns, temples ans temple complexes, ruins and wierd-ass Isu pillars scattered about. The ruins are hand-waved to be parts of Elysium Persephone abandoned over time and doesn't care about anymore, though that just underscores out of place ruins come across in the fields of eternal rest. There are guard camps a number of places around the map, guarded by blue-skinned humans, who are stated to be mind controlled/brainwashed. These guard posts also have well guarded towers called the Eyes of Hypnos which keep the locals sedated and in line. Those who criticize Elysium are punished by Persephone, one man in particular by being blinded. It all implies that Elysium is only a paradise as long as you don't try to rock the boat, and more insidiously, that perhaps it's a very beautiful prison that everyone is too distracted to want to leave.

Then there's the obvious fact that the gods have glowing lines over their body and the word Isu is freely uses in the item descriptions. So you have this weird dynamic of all the trappings of the Greek underworld yet the Gods having the sci-fi trappings because they're actually Isu. They still play the part of gods to a T, which I haven't reconciled yet, but the creepy motif of mind control and involuntary servitude fits with what we know from the Isu from earlier games in the series.

I haven't gotten to far in the plot yet but what I have picked up on is that you're fomenting a rebellion, by taking out guard posts to lower control(much like in the main game) and "recruiting"/liberating the guards to serve in your army. Presumably leading up to one massive battle(or series of battle) near the end of the DLC.

More wild speculation follows.......

Aletheia states it's a simulation, but the fact its of the Greek afterlife(Elysium here and the next DLC will be in the realm of Hades) makes me question why. Kassandra treats it like the real thing(and to her, it might as well be), but I can't help but wander if there isn't a greater purpose to all of this as far as Aletheia is concerned. The fact it involves a rebel fermenting rebellion in outwardly Utopian but enforced by mind controlled humans and Isu technology can't help but remind me of the in-universe rebellion of the humans against their Isu masters.

Like this is all some kind of Grecian friendly reproduction, or perhaps, it's the equivalent of another animus? It is mentioned in AC3 they Isu tried their own experiments with Animus like technology to change their fate, and what is the animus but a simulation of history based on memory? And what of the people met in Elysium? Are they just reproductions of real people, mythological figures? Or have people who come into Isu tech before had some imprint of themselves uploaded to a server somewhere(Brain uploading is a thing in this series. Juno did it. Aletheia presumably did it). Did the remaining Isu take refuge in Atlantis(or a digital server form of Atlantis)? Is the Atlantis part of the DLC where we see how Atlantis was ultimately destroyed, a simulation of real events.

I'm pretty much guessing at this point but I feel maybe this is all going somewhere by the time Kassandra reaches Atlantis and sometimes a little bit more concrete then the Egyptian afterlives in Origins.

I'm sure some of this will be rendered untrue by the time I get to finish the DLC early next week but until then I'm gonna enjoy speculating.

By the looks of things, I've gotten more or less as far as you in the DLC at the time of posting... still dicking about wondering which choice in the Dark Horse quest to settle with, but I'll probably shrug and go with my manual save slot.

So far, it's not bad (I'm liberating as many of the guards as I can... not entirely sure why, as there's currently no incentive to since there's no menu for recruits or indication that it has any effect due to the 'return & respawn' mechanic, but eh...), though I am a little peeved with the placement of some of the Wings of Hermes and navigating the area in general as it's a little too vertical at times...

I started liberating the guards pretty early on, but then a little bit after the Horse Quest you get a quest when you're introduced to the liberation mechanic properly and afterwards given a goal(which I believe is optional) to liberate something like 8 guards per region.

What annoys me is that any guards already liberated don't count towards that total. I don't know if that's a bug or what but I'd be done with the southern region by now if it did.

And agree that the wings of Hermes teleporters aren't always in the best place considering how vertical elysium can be.

Dalisclock:
I started liberating the guards pretty early on, but then a little bit after the Horse Quest you get a quest when you're introduced to the liberation mechanic properly and afterwards given a goal(which I believe is optional) to liberate something like 8 guards per region.

What annoys me is that any guards already liberated don't count towards that total. I don't know if that's a bug or what but I'd be done with the southern region by now if it did.

I haven't gotten that far... and damn, I've liberated at least a few dozen in each (I did the whole OCD thing of completing the whole map's side-objectives before going on the main quests and got game tip to liberate early on). *blech*

As a result, I believe I missed a plot relevant cutscene at the end of Hermes' tour... :(

And agree that the wings of Hermes teleporters aren't always in the best place considering how vertical elysium can be.

That and the roads aren't that well indicated some of the time on the map (like the road by the ruins on three plinth-thingy's which is basically a stream).

My biggest issue thus far is that you're playing for three factions pretty much equally even though they're all pretty dubious. A part of me wonders why the Misthios should care, and it's more they're doing it out of obligation rather than desire.

Also, complete aside, but why on earth are the weapons looted in Elysium monetarily worthless (like Epics valued at a few hundred, even though they still generate the appropriate amount of resources on dismantling), but the armour is valued along the lines of stuff looted in Greece? Not a complaint per se, just a bit baffling.

SckizoBoy:

Dalisclock:
I started liberating the guards pretty early on, but then a little bit after the Horse Quest you get a quest when you're introduced to the liberation mechanic properly and afterwards given a goal(which I believe is optional) to liberate something like 8 guards per region.

What annoys me is that any guards already liberated don't count towards that total. I don't know if that's a bug or what but I'd be done with the southern region by now if it did.

I haven't gotten that far... and damn, I've liberated at least a few dozen in each (I did the whole OCD thing of completing the whole map's side-objectives before going on the main quests and got game tip to liberate early on). *blech*

As a result, I believe I missed a plot relevant cutscene at the end of Hermes' tour... :(
My biggest issue thus far is that you're playing for three factions pretty much equally even though they're all pretty dubious. A part of me wonders why the Misthios should care, and it's more they're doing it out of obligation rather than desire.

Also, complete aside, but why on earth are the weapons looted in Elysium monetarily worthless (like Epics valued at a few hundred, even though they still generate the appropriate amount of resources on dismantling), but the armour is valued along the lines of stuff looted in Greece? Not a complaint per se, just a bit baffling.

Yeah, I've already liberated the Southern Area and I'm worried I won't be able to perform liberations there now. I haven't gotten to play since wednesday but tonight when I get back on I'll probably have some better ideas whats happening.

I've been reading there's a bug with the loot, which is probably also tied to the incredible number of ISU bows being dropped by the NPCs. I don't care that much since I've already upgraded the boat to legendary status(but not to the Money Sink final ugrade) and the rest of my money/resources are used to help upgrade the gear I care about to something close to current level.

Oh, and buying a couple slots of Gear Pre-sets added recently into the game, which I love because now if I want to go infiltrating I don't have to swap every piece of gear one by one to high assasin damage and then back to warrior for general gameplay.

I was amused in one quest when I tried to bribe an NPC and he just responded "There's no use for money in Elysium" which just prompts a "Oh, I knew that" from Kassandra.

Dalisclock:
Yeah, I've already liberated the Southern Area and I'm worried I won't be able to perform liberations there now. I haven't gotten to play since wednesday but tonight when I get back on I'll probably have some better ideas what whats happening.

Don't worry, ability to liberate is a constant by the looks of things.

I've finished it now (thoughts to follow tomorrow, 'cos I'm knackered...!), but haven't tried going back to Elysium post ending cutscene.

I've been reading there's a bug with the loot, which is probably also tied to the incredible number of ISU bows being dropped by the NPCs. I don't care that much since I've already upgraded the boat to legendary status(but not to the Money Sink final, final ugrade) and the rest of my money/resources is used to help upgrade the gear I care about to something close to current level.

Likewise, I went in as a lvl 77 character, but damn the quests threw XP at me hard (think I'm lvl 82/3 now? don't really follow my character level since it's not that big a part of the game at this stage for me)... same with ability points, must've accumulated a good few dozen (which I haven't actually spent yet...! O.O )

Oh, and buying a couple slots of Gear Pre-sets added recently into the game, which I love because now if I want to go infiltrating I don't have to swap every piece of gear one by one to high assasin damage and then back to warrior for general gameplay.

Yep... granted I just flipped between two legendary armour sets, but the key was needing to swap out the weapons one at a time which was annoying, so definitely agree there.

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