On this week’s episode of Make Me A Gamer, TMan and HarveyZ have an unusually focused episode where they do a deep dive into Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and the Assassin’s Creed series as a whole. They do get on a few of their trademark tangents, though, including discussing magicians, sex scenes in video games, and….John Leguizamo’s The Pest? (This episode was recorded on October 13th.)
So I’m closing in on 60 hours of playtime in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and while I’m still not finished with the main story (not for lacking of trying, mind you) I’ve reached a sufficient point where I think I can give a good review of the game. It’s pretty much the only game that’s had my attention over the last month (although there were a few others that I will go over in my monthly recap as well). I was a little wary going into the game because the last big game I played was Spider-Man and I was possibly risking burnout by jumping into another action-oriented open world game. Especially since Odyssey’s map is much larger than Spider-Man’s NYC.
I talked a little bit about my specific problem with Odyssey’s map design and traversal aspects in an earlier blog post, and they continued to persist as I got further into the game. I abuse fast travel like nobody’s business and often have my horse or ship auto-take me to the next place I want to go while I turn my attention to Twitter or Facebook for a few minutes. That is probably the game’s biggest flaw in terms of design – you do a lot of traveling from place to place in the game but the journey is never interesting.
But as the famous saying goes, it’s not about the journey – it’s about the destination. Wait, that’s not right. Well, regardless of how the saying goes, I’m going to take a deeper dive into my experiences with Odyssey and how it stacks up against other massive open-world games.
(Some main story and sidequest spoilers for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will follow.)
My play timer on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey sits at around 25 hours right now. It’s not entirely accurate – I have a short attention span and will often be doing things on my computer at the same time – or sometimes I will leave the game running and forget about it until the PS4 auto-sleep modes after an hour. But I’ve definitely been playing for somewhere between 20 and 25 hours, which I estimate is about how long it took me to 100% Spider-Man on the PS4. Meanwhile in AC: Odyssey I’ve explored maybe a fourth of the map at most, the main plot of the game is only barely beginning to come into focus and I’m only level 20 out of a soft level cap of 50. (Spider-Man’s soft level cap was also 50 – in both games you can level past 50 but the rewards are minimal.)
Both are considered “open-world action” games that have an RPG element to them. Both have skill trees that you can upgrade and customize your play-style through. Assassin’s Creed has loot-drops and equipment to upgrade, along with a system of tracking mercenaries out to kill you and the ability to recruit people for your ship crew, while Spider-Man has gadgets to acquire and special suits and powers to unlock and upgrade. Spider-Man, however is a very story-focused game with a smaller overall map that allows for a high density of things to do in the playground you’re given, while AC: Odyssey gives you an extremely large map that is still dense with things to do, but is more focused on letting you explore and find those quests at your leisure.
So why is it that, even though the map is clearly larger and encouraging you to explore everywhere, getting anywhere in Assassin’s Creed is a chore? But in the smaller map of Spider-Man I had the most fun I’ve ever had getting from point A to point B?