I'm sorry, the old Assassin’s Creed can't come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, 'cause it’s dead
Yesterday, I upgraded my ship’s hull, so I could assign another officer with better stats. I’d just recruited a new one, you see, and they’re purple - which is obviously better than blue. I earned a new breastplate, also purple, and it has tassels on it. It makes my swords do 8% more damage, for all the difference that’ll make. I unlocked a new skill that lets me poison my weapons at the touch of a button, my character jabbing her arm outward like she’s activating a lightsaber.
Assassin’s Creed is unrecognisable. The alabaster robes are now a spectrum of rarities and statistics, the once-limited weapon pool an endless chain of randomly-generated swords, maces, bows, daggers and spears. Hell, Odyssey doesn’t even have a creed, and the protagonist (at least, the protagonist I chose) is adamant that she isn’t an assassin.
The RPG-ification of Assassin’s Creed isn’t exactly surprising, and neither is it alone in an industry increasingly obsessed with levels, skills and loot. Odyssey just takes things a few steps further, choosing to shed its old skin entirely.
Mechanically, the core of the series has totally shifted. Crowds are flavour rather than foxhole, and all-out combat against overwhelming numbers is a hack-and-slash gorefest, a far cry from the methodical dance of early titles. What once would have required finesse, stealth and forward planning can now be done without moving. Now, assassinations can be chained with supernatural teleportation, arrows can lock on to multiple targets and you can fall from great heights without so much as a scratch.
The thing is, I’m not even complaining. Odyssey (and Origins before it) are the most fun I’ve had with the games since 2010’s Brotherhood. It’s a vast and beautiful sandbox littered with great characters and a lot of organic discovery—I just wish it would stop toeing this strange line in the sand between the old and the new. If Ubisoft’s new release cycle of releasing two games and then taking a year off keeps up, Assassin’s Creed will probably look more like Skyrim come 2021.