Assassin's Creed Odyssey's Fantastic First Expansion Sheds Light On The First Assassin

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has slowly expanded with new side missions and mercenaries battles, and while those might have been welcome diversions, they were a little light on story. The game’s first DLC, Legacy of the First Blade, launched its debut episode today. It’s a solid addition to the game, bringing tough challenges, introspective writing, and welcome connections to the rest of the series.

In Legacy of the First Blade, Kassandra (or Alexios) gets pulled into conflict with a murderous band of Persian warriors rampaging across the region of Makedonia. The warriors are hunting her down, as well as anyone else who bears “tainted” blood touched by the setting’s alien precursors, the Isu. During her altercation with the warriors, she runs into two allies: Natakas and his father Darius.

Darius, as some fans of the series might know, is a sort of proto-Assassin.

He strikes from the shadows and uses the iconic hidden blade. He and his son are also being hunted by the Persians in retaliation for Darius’ assassination of the legendary King Xerxes. The trio form a somewhat uneasy alliance to drive off the Persians, who are secretly being led by a mysterious society called the Order of the Ancients.

That set-up brings a surprising but welcome addition to the game, which is an entirely new branch of cultists to hunt down. The Order of the Ancients has operatives sprinkled around Makedonia, and while the DLC’s story will see you dispatch of most of them, a small smattering of conspirators are still left over after you finish.

The cultist system was one of the main game’s most interesting features, forcing players to snoop and stab their way around Ancient Greece. Darius’ arrival brings a portentous foray into an entirely new world of secrets, bringing Kassandra one step towards the life of an assassin instead of a mere misthios. It’s fitting that new threats appear as a result, expanding the series’ history of shadowy conflict.

It’s a while yet before Bayek and will establish the Assassin Order, but Legacy of the First Blade goes a long way to making Kassandra’s role in the wider mythos more clear.

That might be Legacy of the First Blade’s greatest strength. It helps connect Kassandra’s story to the rest of the series. The main game often felt self-contained, a tale of intrigue and family far removed from the familiar Templar versus Assassin conflict that defines the series. The game included some welcome connections to Assassin’s Creed’s sci-fi elements, but it provided less of a sense of how they all fit into the larger picture.

Legacy of the First Blade fills in the gaps by showing how smaller conflicts might have ballooned into that greater, more abstract ideological struggle. Darius zealously executes kings and kicks off the series’ political intrigue, the Order seeks to dispose of anyone with “tainted” blood, and Kassandra gets caught in the middle.

There’s a genuine feeling that these disparate elements and forces, like the main game’s Cult of Kosmos, will eventually coalesce into the conflicts we know will come further down in history.

Legacy of the First Blade’s structure is a familiar one. There’s only so many things you can really do in Odyssey, after all. You’ll sneak into enemy forts, sleuth around for clues to locate cultists, fight tricky bosses, and occasionally make some moral choices during your quests. What makes it work is the tissue connecting it all.

The writing is surprisingly introspective compared to the rest of Odyssey. From quiet fireside chats about troubled pasts to ruminations about the consequences of taking a life, Legacy of the First Blade allows characters to be vulnerable. I was oddly affected by hearing Kassandra wonder what it might have been like to have a stall in the market and to teach her children to fish.

It was also a welcome addition to have dialogue choices allowing her to reflect more on who she was. There’s a chance to define yourself as stalwart hero or someone with much more regret. These moments come hand in hand with villains that, while a little overly nefarious, have clear motivations and menace.

Legacy of the First Blade is a bite-sized Assassin’s Creed snack to enjoy after the exhaustive - and occasionally fractured - main story. It expands upon some of the game’s best features while also adding a degree of mystery and self-reflection that wasn’t always there in the main game.

The first episode set the stage for a much larger conflict, and if the rest of the episodes show as much care and awareness, they could help round out Odyssey into one of the series’ finest entries.


Comments

    Does anyone else miss Desmond, I really enjoyed the story playing out with the animus.

      I do. honestly all the buildup and then... nothing. he was just gone. I feel that it was just a move to get further and further away from the modern day until now where it was barely 5 minutes if you rushed. Having not played origins I had no idea who our modern day hero was or why I should care about her. I don't know her goals or motivations. she just exists so that I can play as Alexios.

      The fewer animus scenes the better for me.

        I like them because it gave me a bigger sense of the battle that was raging between the Assassins and the Templar's and how long it had been happening for.

        To just throw that away after 4 games just makes it feel less important. I know there were references to modern times but it was more of an Easter Egg.

        I just would of liked to see a conclusion to Desmonds story arc he was left on the cliff, it played out somewhat but feels more like a secondary story now.

      I'm a bit late to reply, but anyway.

      I've played all but Odyssey, and the only modern scenes I really enjoyed were in AC1, when Desmond and Warren Vidic had quite deep philosophical conversations about what's best for humanity. In Origins I didn't know anything or care about that modern lady (I've already forgotten her name) and thought it was weird that suddenly you don't need to be a descendent to access the genetic memories... Kind of felt that undermined a lot of the meta narrative of the series.

    Is it supposed to be Makedonia or Macedonia?

      It's pronounced Makedonia by native Greek speakers and academics/historians usually use Makedonia even when spelling it with the modern C. Greek doesn't have the same soft c sound as English unless you go with psi or th sounds.

        Also in Greece the anglicised version of a lot of place names will be spelled Makedonia. Macedonia is really just the anglicised/latin version, like Korinthia being Corinth.

        Last edited 05/12/18 2:04 pm

    Geez is it just me or is paid DLC getting closer and closer to the release of the full game?

    It's slowly creeping into the realm of "shouldn't this have been included in the game that I just paid full price for"!

      we already have that. in fact telltale basically had a monopoly on it. they want to do it to Final Fantasy 7's remake as well.

        I'd be interested to see if DLC has resulted in people waiting for GOTY versions or waiting a year or so after release for the price to go down.

        I wait until both the game and any DLC I might be interested in are at a price I'm willing to pay, there's no big incentive to get games straight away anymore for me.

        It'll be interesting to see with the FFVII remake if buying it gets you the full content of the original game i.e. to when you defeat Sephiroth and stop meteoror if it'll be just one disk at a time!

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