Assassin's Creed Odyssey Really Blew Its Ending

Or should I say, endings.

Assassin’s Creed tried something unique this year with its story, splitting its best moments across a main campaign, some substantial smaller ones and a bunch of hidden sidequests. Which is a fun and different way of different way of doing things, but it also completely robbed the game’s ending of much of its potential punch.

If you haven’t played the game, Odyssey gives you a lot of stuff to do. There are main quests, but also a multitude of sidequests, some of which branch out into their own mini storylines. There’s a mercenary system that’s a little like Shadow of Mordor. There’s a huge assassination killboard made up of the game’s bad guys, the Cult of Kosmos, and there’s a whole other series of quests based on ancient Greece’s magic and mystical elements.

In splitting your attention across these various diversions Ubisoft has also scattered the game’s plot across them, some of it tucked away in sidequests, other parts sprinkled across the disparate storylines that develop over the course of your adventure.

For me, and the way I approach and play these games, this has been a disaster.

I wrapped up Odyssey’s main storyline first because that’s what I was playing the game for. I’m a longtime fan who is embarrassingly invested in this series, and I’m also a predominantly singleplayer-focused person, so resolving Kassandra’s quest was my primary motivation throughout most of my time with the game.

And I loved it all so much. Kassandra is a joy, and the game’s seamless open world — combined with its gorgeous water and lighting effects - made every session spent with Odyssey feel like a holiday.

As Odyssey towards its final few story missions, though, I noticed the pacing was off. Having spent dozens of hours spinning its wheels, everything seems to ramp up out of nowhere, then end abruptly with much of the story and its mysteries — especially the fate of the Cult—left unresolved. I was very disappointed.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey: The Kotaku Review

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is huge. Each new boundary is broken down the moment you reach it, the game world spilling out and expanding further and further than you can possibly imagine. It is big in the same way the Great Pyramids or Empire State Building are big, the result of untold amounts of labour and artistry distilled into something remarkable yet intimidating.

It isn’t a sandbox. It is a world, with all of the beauty, anxiety and inconsistency that entails.

Read more

Yet reminded of what Heather had said in her review, and the way so much of what I’d call the main storyline is actually found in the secondary quests, I jumped straight back in to clear the Cultist missions and see if I could plug the gaps in the story with the blood of some high level bad guys.

The Cultist targets had been my favourite diversion during the main storyline, but once they became the sole thing keeping me interested it became a terrible grind, and yet another example of how Assassin’s Creed’s new leveling system is a bit of a mess.

Introduced in last year’s Origins, Ubisoft has now given Assassin’s Creed an RPG-like level system where the more you play, the more you do and the more quests you complete, the higher your level. And as a consequence, certain items, quests and enemies are locked behind a level gate (each Cultist, for example, has a requisite level you need to be at or near to challenge).

This is bullshit! If I have to do mundane sidequests to pad my XP in order to level up and access a main quest, then they’re not really sidequests at all, they’re just sub-standard quests. Having to complete them isn’t making me a better player, or allowing me to have more fun, it’s just making me do more Assassin’s Creed, seemingly for the sake of it.

This is representative of one of Odyssey’s wider problems: it’s just too big. There’s a sprawl to the game that gets away from you only a few hours in, and while absolute obsessives will appreciate it while they rack up 500 hours sailing the Mediterranean, for everyone else it’s just too damn much.

When I say it’s too big, I’m not talking about the world itself. I’ve got no issue with the amount of stuff here to climb over or sail around. The problem is the scale of the various quest systems, and just how much of what I’d call the game’s primary storyline is scattered around them. It’s as though instead of just handing me a piece of paper that tells the story of Kassandra and her family (and leaving secondary tales for secondary quests), Ubisoft ripped it up, took it up in a helicopter and dropped the scraps all over Greece.

I eventually wound up the Cultist storyline, and it did indeed fill in some gaps that might have been better filled in the lead-up to the main quest’s conclusion. But still more stuff, hinted at in a cutscene playing after murdering the last Cultist, was now waiting for me in the Atlantis content.

By then I’d grown exhausted of the game, tired of its attempts to dress the same handful of mission types up with jokes and spirited dialogue. Done with the way I had to grind out repetitive little quests just to get enough XP to progress the story, as though this were Destiny or some MMO.

Despite my curiosity, I’ll never know what was waiting for Kassandra below the waves, because the game had now outstayed its welcome, and I’m officially done with it. And that really sucks, because it’s not like it’s an entirely separate and optional questline; it deals with the identity of Kassandra’s father and the fate of Kassandra herself, which are two of the pillars of the main storyline!

I don’t think I’m being some kind of crybaby here fretting over a few hours here or there. I spent 138 hours on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. I’d guess at least 20-30 of those hours were towards the end as I ground my way through busywork to reach level gates, and I had to do that instead of finding out what happens to Kassandra?

Maybe there’s a FAQ out there with the perfect approach to the game, one where the missions you choose and the levels you gain (I wanted to complete the Cultist missions earlier but couldn’t, since the higher level ones were locked) all come together perfectly to present the game’s story in a single, coherent telling.

That certainly would have saved my experience. Instead, breaking the story up into pieces meant the order and speed at which I recovered and read them was important, and thanks to its level wall Odyssey gets that all wrong. So for the first time in the entire series, I’m walking away from an Assassin’s Creed game without having “finished” the story, and that’s really bummed me out.


Comments

    Another fine example of games trying to do too much, be too grandiose, and not respecting the player's time.

      Nope, just a bad review. average people in this thread, myself included finished the game including all 3 of its main quest plotlines within 60-80 hours, he says it took him 130+ hours and he only finished one of hte main quests. Its pretty clear he didnt know what he was doing.

      Last edited 27/11/18 10:30 pm

    The Atlantis ending with Kayla should have been the epilogue to the game. That would have made much more sense.

    Haven't played Odyssey but Origins suffered the same problem. I was skipping every cutscene in the last 15% cause it was just utter nonsense.

      I found Origins much easier to play than Odyssey. I could level up easily in Origins, but I was struggling to find something to do in this one. The end game became especially grindy and I was just doing random shit that I didn’t care about to trigger the next event - and it was even less interesting.

    Bit like Skyrim then? I love open world games and hate it when the ending is game over and you have to start again but it also means endings aren't really endings so they can't win!

    I remember Assassins Creed 2. I am sure that was only 20 hours to the end mission where you got to kick the Pope in the head. That was perfectly paced for me. I would rather have a great, action packed 20 hours than a 40-60 hour Action RPG filled with busy work and filler.
    That is why I haven't ventured into Assassins Creed or FarCry for a long time as they have become hunt the side quests and now even worse, grindy RPG lites.

    I don't really get it; I got all achievements (bar the Tier 1 merc one; I am top of Tier 2 but the Tier 1 one is "unknown" and I can't get him/her to trigger) and finished all three main questlines, in 90 hours.

    And that was with a LOT of full completion of areas in the first half. Even a lot in the second half. It wasn't until around 70 hours that I started to beeline the main quests and left a lot of the legit side quests (dropped the timed quests and anything but gold contracts by around hour 50).

    This includes unfogging the entire map, all regions etc. Taking my time to complete forts etc too, found and did ALL underwater markers. Didn't "rush" anything.

    What were you doing in all that time, Luke?

    I finished the real-father quest first when that popped up, then went on with the main Odyssey, which cleared up the last of the cultists I was missing also. All in a svelte 90 hours :P.

      Huh, that's weird that you finished the 3 main storylines but aren't the tier 1 mercenary because
      The tier 1 Merc is meant to be a one on the leaders of the cult

        Yes, but I killed him when I was in Tier 5, so I moved up a slot, and all the merc above me moved up to fill the Tier 1 spot.

    Disagree completely.

    Loved this AC game more than any other. Completed everything in approx. 60 to 70 hours. Thats not overkill at all for a 100% completion. I reckon you could finish the main story in 30 to 40 hours which is really just a good sized game. I think they made the game so much better to not include every single bit of story in the main quest, it kept me intrigued to actually do the side quest. Side quests are normally SOOOOOO pointless in every other game.

    I hit level 50 (max Level) way before ending the main story. You get experience and loot just by clearing out an area. If you dont do that and explore just a little, you wont hit level 50.

      As someone who always does the side quests first before continuing the main quest in these sorts of games I did really appreciate how the main quests mentioned those side activities.

    The game clearly highlights what the main quests are in your journal, and as @wonderingaimlessly points out it's not that hard to hit 50. I'd also say the game isn't that long, relatively speaking. I hit 50, cleared most of the game's zones and finished all the quests in about 80 hours. That's 20 hours shorter than it took me to get through The Witcher 3, or Persona 5, or even Assassin's Creed Origins.

    That said I was personally a bit disappointed in the order in which I got each ending. I finished the Atlantis storyline first, then the cult storyline, then the family storyline. Going from the cult ending to the family ending was great, but I really wish I'd left off doing the Atlantis ending until the very, very end, because it definitely feels like the ultimate ending of the story, but also because it sort of killed my drive to keep going and complete the other storylines.

    Atlantis ending spoilers:
    So the Atlantis ending has you hope out of the animus, only to be greeted by Kassandra (or Alexios I guess, if you played as him). A magic staff has kept her alive the past 2000 years. She hands the staff over to Layla, because apparently Layla is some sort of chosen one, and then dies.

    Seeing that, when I still had to finish the story of ancient Greece, end the cult and try and reunite Kassandra's family, really killed my interest in finishing off those other stories. Just knowing that no matter what happened Kassandra would live for 2000 years and then just die (in service of Layla, who I hate and is a far worse protagonist than Kassandra) just really took out any interest I had in seeing how the story played out for her back in ancient Greece.

    If I'd seen that ending after I'd completed the other storylines it would have been an interesting way to leave off the story, and I would have been able to enjoy the other two endings more. Although I will say it still would have left a bitter taste in my mouth, because who wants to see a character they've spent the past 80 hours enjoying die needlessly? But again, as a definite ending that came after all the other stuff, the bitterness wouldn't have been as harsh as when there was still stuff left to do, and it would have felt more like a definite conclusion to the game, rather than the feeling of the game/story dribbling away without any clear end line like it does now.

      Good point, i finished it in exactly the same order.

      The order in which you finish the 3 main quests can make the story a bit messy.

    First of all the game clearly separates out the 'main story quests' and it tells you there are 3 of them - Atlantis, the cult and Cassandra's family. its very obvious so thinking there is only one important main quest is ridiculous. Secondly in about 70-80 hours I had finished at least 90%+ of the game including the entire Cassandra/Atlantis/cult plot lines. There are actual serious issues with this games story telling and ending and you have missed a chance to talk about those issues in the path of whatever the heck you did to play the game so poorly. and this isnt 'gamer' elitism, my partner who is only a casual player has rocketed along the game at a similar pace with very little trouble. I dont know what you did so wrongly.

    I think the ending was just fine. It did lack the big bang that your usual scripted ending has but that's because the game had three main story arcs and three respective endings that you could complete in any order. While an overall 'ending' ending would have been nice, I have zero problems at all with the way each of the three arcs ended individually. Great game, will buy the next one.

    Oh wonderful, another article about Assasins Creed.
    Also can we have some more?

    I must admit I was into the story for the first dozen hours. I even set the language to Italian to increase the authenticity and remove the jarring fake accents.

    Then the silly sci-fi stuff started happening - I hadn't played an Assassins Creed game for years and forgot just how silly it was.

    So from that point on I went back to the English voice actors - Alexios sounds like the guy from Just Cause (same voice actor?) and I even picked up a Unicorn with rainbow feet from a cave I found by chance. The next plot development might be that Alexios's uncle is Alexander the Great who was the immortal child of aliens and I could care less.

    This is a stunning game for taking forts, stealth, loot collecting, exploration, combat mechanics and weapon levelling - and no doubt Ubisoft is collecting data on just how long I've spent enjoying such activities... and skipping the increasingly ludicrous cut scenes.

    Being disappointed by the story of a videogame is like being upset by the gameplay of a movie - wrong emphasis, wrong expectation - especially in an open world game. If you want a tight coherent story embedded with mostly linear gameplay, you want God of War - but you have to give up a lot of the flexibility to gain that coherence.

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