I'm sorry, the old Assassinâ€™s Creed can't come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, 'cause itâ€™s dead
Yesterday, I upgraded my shipâ€™s hull, so I could assign another officer with better stats.Â Iâ€™d just recruited a new one, you see, and theyâ€™re purple - which is obviously better than blue. I earned a new breastplate, also purple, and it hasÂ tasselsÂ on it. It makes my swords do 8% more damage, for all the difference thatâ€™ll make. I unlocked a new skill that lets me poison my weapons at the touch of a button, my character jabbing herÂ arm outward like sheâ€™s activating a lightsaber.
Assassinâ€™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 doesnâ€™t even have a creed, and the protagonist (at least, the protagonist I chose) is adamant that she isnâ€™t an assassin.
The RPG-ification ofÂ Assassinâ€™s CreedÂ isnâ€™t exactly surprising, and neither is it alone in an industry increasingly obsessed with levels, skills and loot.Â OdysseyÂ justÂ 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,Â 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.Â Now, assassinations can be chained with supernatural teleportation, arrows canÂ lock on to multiple targets and you can fall from great heights without so muchÂ as a scratch.
The thing is, Iâ€™m not even complaining.Â OdysseyÂ (andÂ OriginsÂ before it) are the most fun Iâ€™veÂ had with the games since 2010â€™sÂ Brotherhood. Itâ€™s a vast and beautiful sandbox littered with great characters and a lot of organic discoveryâ€”I just wish it would stop toeing this strange line in the sand between the old and the new. If Ubisoftâ€™s new release cycle of releasing two games and then taking a year off keeps up,Â Assassinâ€™s CreedÂ will probably look more likeÂ SkyrimÂ come 2021.