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    dkirschner's Assassin's Creed Odyssey (PS4)

    [January 28, 2023 08:53:14 PM]
    Figure I'll do a little reflection on how this one's going. My last entry was at 40 hours. This one's at 80. Hopefully I finish it before 120. My earlier observation is correct. The game is ridiculously large, absurdly large. I'll say that there is no good reason it should be so large! Can we have like a 40-hour Assassin's Creed game?

    I played most of the game so far exploring every single "?" on the map. Recently, I stopped doing that because I realized that the game's level scaling doesn't hit a ceiling. I thought that at some point I would start to out-level enemies. After level 50, not only does it keep scaling, but you level out of your skill trees and can start spending ability points on other bonuses, like + damage with daggers or whatever. I realized that there was no use for experience anymore. Although I was mostly exploring the "?s" out of curiosity, they definitely get same-y. Another huge fort, another bandit camp, another temple, another animal lair. After a long time, I decided these things were slowing me down too much to be worth the enjoyment of doing them.

    Now, I am only doing quests, exploring wherever those happen to take me. This makes for a more focused experience, and I am still clearing many "?s". Some quests are quite long and require going all over the world map to complete. For example, a blind man wants you to synchronize 5 tall view points and describe what they are like. A huntress wants you to slay some legendary beasts. These, handily, are marked by golden "?s" on the map instead of regular white "?s". I've been able to clean up these quests by exploring enough to find the golden icons and focus on those. I've also completed the arena, competed in the Olympics, and killed several mythological creatures (Cyclops, the Minotaur, the Sphinx!).

    I'm getting close to eliminating all the cultists, too. I might have 10 or so more, and have already killed a couple of the main ones. My last play session, I killed one through a story quest. He was a reigning champion fighter in the Olympics (of course you get to participate in the Olympics), but was a cheat! I found him on a bench later and one-shot him with a charged assassination. Then I killed another on accident. I was clearing a fort to complete a quest and got spotted, which caused most of the fort to rush me. I was slaughtering them all and suddenly I got a "confirm cultist kill" popup. There was a cultist in the fort?! Another one bites the dust, I guess.

    In that pile of bodies were also like 5 mercenaries. I've figured out how these annoying enemies work more since my last entry. When someone sees you kill someone else or steal, your bounty goes up. Once your bounty reaches a certain point, a mercenary comes after you. Your bounty can keep increasing until up to 5 mercenaries are looking for you. And find you they will. I used to fight them, because there is some system whereby you kill increasingly difficult mercenaries to get rewards at blacksmiths and shops or something. After purposefully hunting mercenaries for a while though, it became clear that a better course of action is to avoid them and kill the person who placed the bounty on your head. After avoiding mercenaries for a while and killing people who placed bounties on my head, it became clear that an even better course of action is to just pay the bounty so the mercenaries will go away. This strategy is far simpler. As long as you aren't going around slaughtering townsfolk and stealing from the town square, you can easily afford to pay your bounty whenever it gets high enough to be annoying (which is to say, when mercenaries start interrupting whatever it is you are trying to do in the game). I really would miss nothing if the mercenary system didn't exist, though I understand how it ties to the story (your character is a mercenary and this is a thing; there are mercenaries everywhere).

    Another thing I finally figured out, or rather finally took advantage of, is upgrading gear and equipping legendary sets. It's not too expensive to keep a set of legendary gear upgraded. By the time you are my level (57...?), you have a lot of legendary gear and don't need to spend time slogging through your inventory all the time assessing your 20 new shoulder pads. It's far more efficient to pick your best legendaries to keep upgraded, based on your play style. I like assassination abilities and using daggers and swords. So, I have been going with gear that provides bonuses to that stuff, as well as a gear bonus of +40% to poison efficacy, which is sick. My poison ability costs nothing, so I have perpetual poison daggers that do a ton of damage. I could re-spec and make poison an even stronger backbone of my offense.

    I've still got several totally unexplored regions of the world map, and I can see a few cultists in those regions. Otherwise, most everywhere else is explored. I still can't say enough cool things about how beautiful ancient Greece is. I love just running, riding, or sailing around. It's easy to be aimless in this game. I know that, in addition to the remaining cultists (main quest) and side quests to clear up, there are DLCs. I've read that the Atlantis one is the best, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm not sure if I'll take a break from the game after beating the main story before tackling DLC, or if I'll burn straight through it. I'm not playing much, so I probably won't get tired if I go straight through. But yeah, this game is so, so long...

    Here's to continuing to chip away! At the rate I'm able to play, it'll take me the rest of the semester.
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    [December 28, 2022 07:24:23 AM]
    Time for an update on this. I'm like 40 hours in--have been bingeing it whenever I get the chance over break--and still have so much more to do. The game is ridiculously large. As usual, the world-building crushes it. The recreation of ancient Greece is so cool.

    One of the biggest things I notice is that the world feels less bloated. Yes, there are icons all over the place, but the proportion of icons that are important to me to those that arenít is improved. There are fewer ď?Ē, which means that those remaining are more interesting--so far, not a single ďshoot this animal with an arrowĒ like in Origins! It is also easier to figure out which quests are radiant (those that you can endlessly repeat for rewards). Basically, if it has an exclamation mark, then itís a normal quest. These are the ones I care about. If itís anything else, then itís radiant--a bounty, something on a timer, etc., that Iím not wasting time on.

    It would be a quality-of-life improvement though to have better map filters. You should be able to toggle the specific icons you want to see and hide others. I want those radiant quest icons gone. Odyssey, first, doesnít let you toggle specific icons, and second, it resets your filters every time you boot the game. No, I never want to see other playersí photos. Please leave it off forever.

    You can choose to play as either Alexios or Kassandra, two siblings. I chose Kassandra because Iíve never played Assassinís Creed as a woman character, and I assumed that Ubisoft will offer a different perspective with her. Is she...funnier than Alexios would have been? Less gruff? I like her character and the voice actor does a great job. Iíve also been able to attempt to seduce numerous NPCs of both sexes, and I wonder if Alexios can seduce women and/or men too. My favorite seduction was at the end of my favorite quest so far. In the quest, you arrive at a village to find that someone claiming to be you had recently been there and made a mess of things. So you, the real Eagle Bearer, must clean up after them and find the imposter. The quest is weird and funny. You help an old blacksmith move some stones and gather some tools, but at the end, he slips, falls, and comically dies. Then, you help a woman get special food for a horse. Turns out the imposter told her it would turn the horse into Pegasus, and upon giving her the food, she promptly feeds her horse and rides off a cliff. Anyway, eventually you find the imposter, who you can choose to sleep with and recruit to your ship's crew, both of which I did. Mission success.

    It is impressive that to allow the choice of two siblings, Ubisoft must have built the entire game from each characterís perspective. The sibling you donít choose is the bad guy, so all the good guy stuff and all the bad guy stuff would have been scripted and acted twice. And this game has a lot of scripted content.

    I feel more like an assassin in Odyssey than Origins. I critiqued that game for being melee focused, that it was easier to just rampage through forts rather than sneak around. In Odyssey, I find sneaking around more rewarding. Maybe the mechanics just click better. Iíve found joy in sneaking through forts, hideouts, etc. and completing the objectives without killing every enemy. Sneak to the chest, loot it, and leave. As I unlock more abilities, combat becomes easier and easier. Last night I actually died for the first time in probably a dozen hours, and I chalk that up to drinking wine. I've unlocked and leveled up most of the abilities in the Warrior and Assassin skill trees, and haven't touched Hunter because I don't care about using a bow and arrow in this game. I can't finish fully upgrading some skills though until I kill more cultists and upgrade the Spear of Leonidas, which is your mythical dagger.

    I again started with legendary equipment, but it hasnít made the game any easier. Odyssey is a better challenge than Origins. The legendary starter equipment (from Epic Games freebies?) goes out of fashion fast. A rare item just two or three levels higher than the legendary one can be better. There are also more epic and legendary items to find. Iíve got tons of them. Also, upgrading items is expensive, and you share the resources with your ship upgrades. So, in Origins, I upgraded my legendary starter weapon every so often; in this one, I did it once before realizing that that specific legendary weapon isnít the best thing I have, and that whatever differences between it and an at-level epic or even rare that I just got are minimal. I've since upgraded legendaries once more, and this is partly because they have better stats and partly because I realized they are parts of sets and you can get set bonuses. Upgrading them is more cost effective later in the game. You'll be swimming in resources.

    Iím currently level 30 or so. I've played one Abstergo interlude; they are almost nonexistant. Also, I like the nod to the Mordor games with the mercenaries and the cultists. Although they donít fight each other or learn from battles with you, itís a similar feel. How cool would it be if mercenaries and cultists actually learned from fighting you! I've figured out that mercenaries just keep coming until you decrease your bounty. I thought for a long time that killing a mercenary would lower your bounty, but it doesn't. You have to either pay it, wait, or kill the person who put out the bounty. Finally, the ship battles are objectively more Black Flag and slay those in Origins. That's all for now. My goal is to finish this before school picks up again. I've been methodically exploring the map. I'd estimate I'm 50% of the way through, but who knows!

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    dkirschner's Assassin's Creed Odyssey (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Thursday 8 December, 2022

    GameLog closed on: Monday 6 February, 2023

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Really enjoying it so far. World-building is exquisite, as usual. ---------- Goes on forever, but never boring. Really enjoyed this one.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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