1. #1
    Sorrosyss's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    The Grey
    Posts
    1,269

    Assassin's Creed Odyssey: A Celebration Of Choice

    Warning: Spoilers from across the franchise



    As a franchise, Assassin's Creed has changed remarkably over the past decade. With each game release, different iterations and refinements have added or taken away elements, with every experiment either being praised or rebuked in kind. I am no stranger to either critical response, as I have always given my honest opinion on where I feel things are, and where they should be going as a fan. That being said, some of the changes being introduced to Odyssey are a welcome positive to me, and many of which are desired features that I have long called for, both on the forums and on ATA.

    So let us start with the obvious one. Gender select. As a female gamer, this is a huge deal to me and so very welcome for all female fans. Especially when you look at how far we have come to now. If you think back to prior to the release of Assassin's Creed Unity in 2014, there was a tremendous uproar over the co-operative multiplayer mode not offering the option to play as a female character, especially when previous multiplayer modes had offered them. Now admittedly a lot of the upset was down to the fact that people were not really aware that everyone in game was technically playing Arno (a similar system was successfully used with the character Aiden in Watch Dogs), but the social media storm that followed was primarily a result from some very infamous comments about how animating female characters took a lot more work – which in turn was even more silly when you had a fully animated Elise in the game, but I digress.



    In my view, female character representation within the franchise had been very limited to that point. Main female characters were often times merely cliché love interests, or simply killed off as part of the narrative. (Or in the case of Elise, both.) It was a dispiriting time for the franchise, and whilst some players had been pushing for better female characters against “SJW” calls, this extra level of perceived sexism for Unity by the gaming media was not helping. Many cited the fact that the only female lead Assassin's Creed game was Liberation, and that this itself was only a handheld game and not a main release. Sadly, to date, we still have not had this main female lead release. (But you know, we like to compare Assassin's Creed to Marvel, and it took ten years for them to come up with a female lead movie. So you never know.)

    Still, things started to change within the next year after Unity, and it became clear that Ubisoft had taken the vocal criticisms to heart, as in April 2015 we had the release of Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, starring the fan-favorite Chinese female Assassin Shao Jun. Things did not stop there. October brought us the new Assassin's Creed comic series by Titan Comics, which also starred a female protagonist – Charlotte De La Cruz. Finally, the October 2015 release of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate really shook things up with the first playable female character in a main release, Evie Frye. She was a hugely popular character within the fanbase, and many showed she was much preferred over her brother Jacob, despite being playable for far less of the content.

    In 2016, we had Anastasia Nikolaevna in the Russia Chronicles game, as well as the release of the Assassin's Creed movie, which featured two strong female characters in the form of Maria and Sofia Rikkin. Following this, 2017 brought us the much acclaimed release of Assassin's Creed: Origins, which again featured an occasionally playable female character in the form of Aya, but also introduced a new Modern Day female protagonist – Layla Hassan.



    Ubisoft was not sitting on its laurels elsewhere though. Nearly every release from 2015 onwards suddenly allowed the ability to play as or create a female character. These included:

    Rainbow Six Siege
    The Division
    Far Cry 5
    South Park: The Fractured But Whole
    The Crew 2
    Steep
    Ghost Recon: Wildlands
    For Honor

    This new found level of inclusivity in Ubisoft releases was very welcome personally, and it therefore comes with genuine appreciation and gratitude to see my beloved Assassin's Creed, the flagship franchise, finally able to step on board to this new world of gamer choice with Odyssey. The ability to play as either Alexios or Kassandra for the entire game allows us to tailor our experience as we choose, and for players that point blank refuse to play their opposite gender – they now have the choice to not do so. It really is the best of both worlds, and the most efficient option to cater to as large an audience as possible. Some fans may feel having two protagonists will in turn lessen the strength of the quality of their characterisation, but by token can we really say that every sole protagonist was equally amazing? Some were certainly far better than others, so the quality is certainly a point of personal debate. All in all, the gender option empowers the player to experience the narrative in a way that will feel more impactful and meaningful, and having your own gender represented is the first step towards that extra level of immersion.



    The next step is dialogue options. We have actually seen this once before in the franchise, if you consider the Interrogation functionality introduced in Syndicate, primarily used in the Investigation zones. Here you could choose a dialogue topic, by selecting via a different button press. It was rudimentary, but it was certainly a first pass at the concept. Now with Odyssey, things are taking on an even more real and fundamental application.



    I have long held the belief that the Witcher series, the Mass Effect trilogy, and Dragon Age games have been some of the greatest experiments in RPGs. Not only do they allow you to dictate conversations as you please, but also to genuinely impact on the story in a significant fashion. In some cases, literally resolving entire plotlines by two distinctly different results. This gives rise to a massive amount of replay value, and in turn is a great thing that we will be able to explore within Odyssey as well. Being able to express our opinion on a topic, to dictate a course of action, to decide who we desire to romance – these are all expressions of player choice, and very much make the experience so much more personal to you.



    Now the obvious counter to this new found freedom of choice from some fans has been citing that the Animus is set, and that you cannot have multiple endings as history cannot be changed. Well.... is that really the case? For example, is the order that you eliminated the members of the Order of the Ancients in Origins canonically correct? How do you know?



    I'm not trying to be pedantic, but what we do know first hand is that Abstergo has been manipulating the software to censor data in the past. Take the story of Assassin's Creed: Liberation. Here we literally have an example of multiple endings already present within the franchise, as it takes some hacking from Erudito to uncover the true reality of what the Animus/Helix simulation had uncovered in the historical past. Even then, you are reliant on the software to “Best Guess” what actually happened. And this is completely true of every piece of lore that happened within the Animus as well. Many characters seen within the simulations may not have ever truly existed, if a software engineer decided to completely fabricate them. It is entirely possible to fake a lot of things in the digital age alas. We honestly do not know the actual truth without actual time travel. And herein is where we bring Layla Hassan into the picture.

    Many of us have speculated that her Animus will be able to time travel, and there have been some suggestions along that path from the Isu mechanisms present in Origins. But perhaps we have been looking at it all wrong. Becoming the “Chaos” that the Isu desire her to be, could literally be what they say about “Breaking the Code of Reality”. It is not actual reality. But the simulated reality. The Animus reality. I raised this in a previous article, but Layla's Animus could in theory bend the simulation rules.

    As Jonathan Dumont, Creative Director, stated in an interview: "The DNA is old and imprecise, so it offers you the choice to pursue two characters”. We know from the Last Descendants novels that the Animus is capable of Extrapolated Memories, where the machine best guesses scenarios from available data. The less data available, the more fluid the accuracy could become. With that thought in mind, the actual gender of the data subject is completely open to interpretation, as well as their dialogue decisions, whom they interacted with, and finally what their true fate became. It may even provide some explanation as to why we have mythological creatures within the game, as the Animus is attempting to recreate them from purely mythical tales.

    As such, here we have an in-lore explanation as to how the options of choice within Odyssey can not only happen, but also how Layla can use her version of the Animus to manipulate the data to try different paths, and to help uncover hidden truths behind the Code that may well lead her to further Pieces of Eden or encounters with the Isu.



    Speaking of choices, this is an area that Ubisoft have a lot of options with as well. I'm not going to sit here and speculate over what those Isu encounters could be too much though. After Origins, I have learned my lesson to temper my expectations when it comes to the level of First Civilization influence on the narrative, but you cannot discount the possible appearance of Eris (Discordia), who famously had an Apple of Eden as mentioned in the glyphs of Assassin's Creed II. Another of course could be Neptune (Poseidon), whom we saw with his Trident on a statue outside of the Monteriggioni mansion. As the beloved deity of Atlantis, it would not be a surprise with all of the water content to the world map to find it as a hidden Isu vault below the sea. His Trident has been covered in the Last Descendants novels though. Origins gave us a glimpse of statues of both Diana and Venus (Aphrodite), the former of which briefly appeared in The Fall comics long ago. If ever there was a game for these lesser known Isu to appear then this would be it. Finally, the Trojan War of mythology heavily involves Juno and Minerva, so a further appearance by both should not be discounted. Perhaps this actually was the Great War of Unification that Consus spoke of, that had originated from a presumed huge divide amongst the Isu. Hephaestus made a great many weapons for this war, so it would not be a surprise to see some new iterations in the Odyssey story either, one of which may well be the Spear wielded by our historical protagonist.





    Anyway, ultimately though - yes, one version of events would have been correct canonically, but I'm not sure it is that important in the grand scheme of things if it gets the Present Day to where it needs to be, and ultimately opens up history to a whole new level of immersive storytelling. This time you will get to choose the path of the story, rather than everything being set and linear. And honestly, that's going to feel so fresh and exciting as an Assassin's Creed experience. This embrace of some of the more intricate RPG mechanics of the genre will add a great layer of depth to the series, and I cannot wait to see how this all plays it as you have to live with the narrative decisions that you make. If nothing else, it will make the replay value of the game even more enticing.

    Frankly, I am supremely impressed by Ubisoft for attempting to push the franchise in this bold and intricate RPG direction. Player choice and inclusivity should always be celebrated, and according to many surveys it is something that players firmly want to see more of in the products that they buy.



    Elsewhere in the gaming industry, I was actually very encouraged by what I saw recently in the Battlefield V announcement that involved adding female characters to that franchise. EA/Dice stood fast on the small but vocal criticism, and repeatedly stated that player choice is how things are going to be going forwards – as the number of female gamers continues to rise. I feel this is the best approach for Ubisoft too. If these kind of options, such as gender select, become the normality instead of the exception, then acceptance will surely come faster to the majority.

    Ultimately, for every single sexist/misogynist/racist that threatens to walk away from a franchise, hopefully there will be multiple newer (and female) fans to replace them. Inclusion is also a good business practice at the end of the day. Case in point, I have never played a Battlefield game in my life. But the recent focus on female characters makes me feel like it as an IP that I can identify my gender within, and be welcomed into it. As such I may well consider buying Battlefront V. Assassin's Creed following this positive industry example can be no bad thing in my mind.

    That being said, Ubisoft would be advised to review their marketing for Odyssey. For example, the vast majority of the officially released screenshots were of purely Alexios, with Kassandra somewhat absent by comparison. Plus fans have noticed that the main game cover only depicts Alexios too. This is a somewhat disappointing way to acknowledge the gender choice present in the game, especially when Syndicate had both of its protagonists on its cover.



    Ultimately, we will see how this grand Odyssey experiment pans out with the release. Many are cautious that we are again entering a period with no actual Assassins, but we shall see where the story takes us. I believe even Ubisoft knows that Odyssey's sales will struggle going up against a juggernaut like Red Dead Redemption 2 in October, so it would be foolhardy to instantly assume the changes made are what would be to blame for any sales drop versus Origin's retail success. Franchise fatigue is often cited by many fans as well, being that we only ended Origins' post release content a matter of months ago. But certainly the feedback they on the new choice functionalities will be fed into the usual post game surveys. I happen to believe this will prove extremely popular amongst the casual fanbase.



    As a final thought, for the next release they could even take the customization of the historical protagonist even further. Mass Effect had a 'default' appearance for the main character Shepard, and this was what was used throughout marketing. But in the end players again had the choice to create a character as a reflection of themselves with a full on customization option. For Assassin's Creed, what your avatar actually appears as within the simulation makes no difference if only you – the player – perceive it. We have several examples of this already too, such as the way you could play as Desmond or Raiden with skins in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, or the multiple Avatar characters usable in the multiplayer modes. If we can ultimately reflect our gender, race, and sexuality onto the game character that represents us, then there can be no stronger level of immersion to the storytelling. Through the power of choice, Odyssey is a strong step towards this reality - and I am most thankful for this new creative direction.



    Thanks for reading. For the full article, please check out the Access The Animus website:

    http://www.accesstheanimus.com/ACOD_...tion_of_Choice

     8 people found this helpful
    Share this post

  2. #2
    Frag_Maniac's Avatar Banned
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    3,900
    I can sum it up with WAY less words. Ubi are taking the "Everything is forgiven" approach, assuming the sheer size of the fanbase will weather the baffling contradictions they've indulged in by now making fixed DNA memories as changeable as they were in Remember Me. A game you didn't but probably should have mentioned.

    Personally I'm torn between the new changes, and sticking to tired old worn out tropes repeating incessantly. I'd have preferred they not indulge any further than Origins' level of change, which had light but not bastardizing RPG elements, save for the arena battle live or die options. Those options were the ONE hint in Origins that schizophrenic changes were forthcoming.

    I can't help but be reminded of the tiny creature in Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder, who's death horribly changed the future. A species that was also used in Chaos Theory for the name of the history altering phenomenon known as the Butterfly Effect. My point is one of the most important elements of sequel story telling is linking those stories together in a cohesive way. You don't do that by completely abandoning your original basis of the story, which in AC has always been the tracing of DNA memories.

    I used to think Ubi were good at the story part, and really cared about it. It turns out all they care about is keeping their cash cow franchise going, no matter how much of it's integrity is lost in the process. Some choices are best left alone. You can choose to become a drug addict (Far Cry 5), or commit suicide (Assassin's Creed's demise), but are they really good choices?
     2 people found this helpful
    Share this post

  3. #3
    ProdiGurl's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    6,501
    & I'm starting to wonder if it's ONLY Ubisoft that gets condemned for greed & evil - or is this common practice w/ all gaming companies - if this is all greed, then please just buy the Standard Version game and be done with it.

    Anyways to the OP -
    As a female, I'm fine w/ female game characters & protagonists... what I don't like or want is this radicalized Feminism taking over the Gaming world !!! If this all goes to hyper PCism with 100 genders crazy BS I'm gonna come out swinging.

    I won't get political, but I've seen enough being ruined by this PC extremism... fair representation on a normal level is one thing, domination, supremacy & hyper PCism is another. It's creating too much crazy, chaos & confusion.

    As for AC adding some RPG, I'm on board with it & I see no reason why it can't be worked in for some added interest & variety to our individual game experience.
    AC is a long-standing title that will grow stale and get very boring if only the same early formats & elements are used. I saw it in this forum after the release of ACR - the boredom of the same game w/ a few tweaks added.

    I plan on playing this one twice- once as the male & female char, and making different choices to see how it plays out.
    I really like her from what I've seen in the E3 shows.... but can she make a sammich?

     2 people found this helpful
    Share this post

  4. #4
    briangade's Avatar Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    111
    The possibility to play as a female is in my opinion a good thing, the game is going deeper into the RPG genre so it kind of have to do this. Even though I'm a guy I will probably play as Kassandra during my first play through of this game, but I tend to choose to play as a female in most RPGs.
    The step to include a dialogue system with choices and consequences is something I fully embrace it will truly give the game a longer life. Given that many of the older RPG franchises are moving away from that I'm happy that Ubisoft are trying to step into the breach.
    As far as how Ubisoft will justify the branching choices into lore, I'm sure they'll find a way. And I say this with the deepest respect Sorrosyss: Most of the people that play these games are filthy casuals just like me and are not as well versed in AC lore as you are and don't care that much about it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for your knowledge about AC history and lore and usually enjoy when you explain stuff.
    Share this post

  5. #5
    ProdiGurl's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    6,501
    It's interesting that you choose to play female characters as a male - I like & prefer male Protagonists so more males in games is never an issue with me and that's probably why I don't understand why women are pushing for female characters in games. As long as they aren't annoying in either extreme of aggression or weakness, it's good. I really liked Evie in Syndicate. She was done perfectly imo.
    I plan to play the male role first then female after.
     1 people found this helpful
    Share this post

  6. #6
    briangade's Avatar Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    111
    It's a habit I picked up back in the day playing Fallout, and the superior voice acting with Fem Shep just solidified it somehow.
    And I don't have to sea representation of myself on the screen to be immersed, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to play Tomb raider back in the day, and what's the point of playing an RPG if you are just going to play as yourself.
    But again RPG's are all about choices so whatever floats your boat. If this game takes off I hope that we get an proper character creator in the next game, and maybe just maybe skills that are not combat focused.
    Share this post

  7. #7
    Frag_Maniac's Avatar Banned
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    3,900
    There's nothing wrong with having a playable female character. The problem is they took the shortcut route and didn't make her a separate character from the male like Evie in Syndicate. Evie not only has her own dialogue, she has a completely different fighting style and personality from Jacob. In a way Syndicate actually had more story and character detail than this so called RPG, which just checks boxes without getting the details right.

    Some might argue if you choose different dialog for Kassandra, she will be making different decisions and thus feel different from Alexios, but that presents another conundrum. AC has always been designed around tracing DNA memories of the main characters and reliving them, not living them with choices that would in effect change history.

    When the father of AC Patrice Desilets was asked recently what he thought defines an AC game, he of course mentioned all the staples. The fight between Assassins and Templars, the hidden blade, the reliving of ancestral memories. He pretty much shook has head when asked what he thought of what Ubi is doing to AC lately and said, "It's their's now, they can do what they want".

    And that is pretty much what AC is becoming. A series where the devs do whatever they want no matter how little sense it makes or how much it bastardizes the franchise. This is not really AC anymore. Whether they have success with it or not will depend on whether today's RPG fans want just a fashion show, or actually care about how the role they are playing in game syncs with the story. I fear it is the former, as the latter seems to be dying a slow death.
     2 people found this helpful
    Share this post

  8. #8
    joelsantos24's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Portugal
    Posts
    2,939
    Originally Posted by Frag_Maniac Go to original post
    I can sum it up with WAY less words. Ubi are taking the "Everything is forgiven" approach, assuming the sheer size of the fanbase will weather the baffling contradictions they've indulged in by now making fixed DNA memories as changeable as they were in Remember Me. A game you didn't but probably should have mentioned.

    Personally I'm torn between the new changes, and sticking to tired old worn out tropes repeating incessantly. I'd have preferred they not indulge any further than Origins' level of change, which had light but not bastardizing RPG elements, save for the arena battle live or die options. Those options were the ONE hint in Origins that schizophrenic changes were forthcoming.

    I can't help but be reminded of the tiny creature in Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder, who's death horribly changed the future. A species that was also used in Chaos Theory for the name of the history altering phenomenon known as the Butterfly Effect. My point is one of the most important elements of sequel story telling is linking those stories together in a cohesive way. You don't do that by completely abandoning your original basis of the story, which in AC has always been the tracing of DNA memories.

    I used to think Ubi were good at the story part, and really cared about it. It turns out all they care about is keeping their cash cow franchise going, no matter how much of it's integrity is lost in the process. Some choices are best left alone. You can choose to become a drug addict (Far Cry 5), or commit suicide (Assassin's Creed's demise), but are they really good choices?
    I keep reading about DNA being old and degraded, which seems to serve as explanation as to why we're able to choose the gender of the character. If the DNA sample was contaminated, that is, DNA from a second person is also present in the sample, then I'd understand this bifurcation. But no, apparently, the sample is merely old.

    Another issue that bothers me, regarding this DNA question, is that the contamination possibility would only make sense if the subjects were different, along with their experiences and memories. But they are actually the same persona, that is, a granddaughter or grandson of Leonidas of Sparta. For the sake of this analogy, let's say that Leonidas had merely one grandson, but somehow, due to the DNA sample being old, the Animus can apparently "read" him as a her. We're effectively in Game of Thrones/Three Eye Raven territory, as of now, since the Animus can not only enable you to relive passed memories, but it can also change them.

    The mythology of this series, has just become a mess of unfathomable proportions, thanks to Ubisoft's pathological obsession with RPG's.
     1 people found this helpful
    Share this post

  9. #9
    Frag_Maniac's Avatar Banned
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    3,900
    Originally Posted by joelsantos24 Go to original post
    I keep reading about DNA being old and degraded, which seems to serve as explanation as to why we're able to choose the gender of the character. If the DNA sample was contaminated, that is, DNA from a second person is also present in the sample, then I'd understand this bifurcation. But no, apparently, the sample is merely old.

    Another issue that bothers me, regarding this DNA question, is that the contamination possibility would only make sense if the subjects were different, along with their experiences and memories. But they are actually the same persona, that is, a granddaughter or grandson of Leonidas of Sparta. For the sake of this analogy, let's say that Leonidas had merely one grandson, but somehow, due to the DNA sample being old, the Animus can apparently "read" him as a her. We're effectively in Game of Thrones/Three Eye Raven territory, as of now, since the Animus can not only enable you to relive passed memories, but it can also change them.

    The mythology of this series, has just become a mess of unfathomable proportions, thanks to Ubisoft's pathological obsession with RPG's.
    I'm not buying age or condition of the DNA as a viable explanation or excuse. Furthermore it still doesn't solve the bigger problem, the addition of choices that would change history, in a game that was always about reliving history through ancestral DNA. They've pretty much thrown Patrice's original script out the window and rewritten it with what seems to be no attempt to explain to the fanbase.You know why, because there IS no way to explain this mess.

    I can only hope enough TRUE RPG fans out there will try this game and complain that it's not possible to be immersed with role playing that makes no sense. They'd have to buy it on Steam and request the less than 2 hours played refund before Ubi would actually get the point though, because once they get your money, they see it as success no matter your feedback.
     1 people found this helpful
    Share this post

  10. #10
    ProdiGurl's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    6,501
    Originally Posted by Frag_Maniac Go to original post
    Some might argue if you choose different dialog for Kassandra, she will be making different decisions and thus feel different from Alexios, but that presents another conundrum. AC has always been designed around tracing DNA memories of the main characters and reliving them, not living them with choices that would in effect change history.

    When the father of AC Patrice Desilets was asked recently what he thought defines an AC game, he of course mentioned all the staples. The fight between Assassins and Templars, the hidden blade, the reliving of ancestral memories. He pretty much shook has head when asked what he thought of what Ubi is doing to AC lately and said, "It's their's now, they can do what they want".

    And that is pretty much what AC is becoming. A series where the devs do whatever they want no matter how little sense it makes or how much it bastardizes the franchise. This is not really AC anymore. Whether they have success with it or not will depend on whether today's RPG fans want just a fashion show, or actually care about how the role they are playing in game syncs with the story. I fear it is the former, as the latter seems to be dying a slow death.
    I'm pretty sure the outcomes of some RPG choices aren't going to be ones that change known & significant history - it may be more changes of process - how things end up having to be done or deaths of insignificant or fictional characters added to the game, etc.
    We can't start judging what they screwed up when we have no idea what they're deciding yet & what the finalized game renders.

    I'm not what I call a "purist" w/ AC games. It's one thing to create the concepts that made it AC, it's quite another when it's over 10 years later & you're still putting games out having to keep them fresh, exciting, and mindful of changes in Society/fan base in general. When ACR came out, I saw more boredom & fatigue from AC fans bcuz it was the same game over & over just with some added things & tweaks - too much hand-holding & control rather than the Freedom to play it "our way"... (due to animus, having to do missions just as the character once did).

    People were demanding more freedom & as Ubi gave that, more people were enjoying the game - but with that came the "purists" who were getting upset that the game structure was suffering. What Patrice started was great, but he's not the one having to keep it fresh, new & exciting for every type of fan that AC has attracted.
    And further, it's very possible that if he just continued this 'purist' approach keeping it rigid to AC dogma, that the franchise may have ended or suffered with lack of new interest from newer gamers who are looking for something else. Heck, they were complaining about Brotherhood already when it wasn't ACII enough.

    It's fine to romanticize AC - I know I still do it w/ Ezio. To me he is still the foundation of AC but I've had to move on when he was gone & it wasn't easy. I loved Syndicate, but it wasn't until Origins that I fell in love w/ AC all over again in a deep way w/ Bayek. And "purists" complained about Origins too.




     1 people found this helpful
    Share this post

Page 1 of 5 123 ... Last ►►