Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics thanks to its interesting story, surprisingly deep RPG mechanics and beautiful recreation of Ancient Greece. However, dig a little deeper and one of the most common complaints is that the game is simply too long, with Forbes senior contributor Paul Tassi estimating that it will take players an average of 55 hours just to finish the main storyline.
Of course, single-player games with long story campaigns are nothing new but Odyssey’s length can be attributed not only to a large number of missions and cutscenes, but level-gating that requires players to sink a lot of time into side activities in order to earn enough experience to keep pace with mission level requirements. Taken on its own, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as many players will likely relish the fact that they’re getting a lot of “game for their buck” with the new Assassin’s Creed but when you take into account the fact that Ubisoft is selling a solution in the in-game store, the issue becomes much more insidious.
Unlike most AAA games these days, Odyssey’s in-game store isn’t in your face; in fact, you have to access a separate menu to even find it. There are a variety of different weapons and armor in the store that can be purchased with Helix Credits, Odyssey’s in-game currency that can be purchased using real-world money. There’s also an item that permanently increases XP gains by 50 percent available for 1,000 Helix Credits, which works out to about $10. The fact that Ubisoft is selling something like this in what is perhaps the longest Assassin’s Creed game to date is arguably proof that the game was balanced poorly, or at least in such a way as to make some players frustrated enough that they’d be tempted to purchase an in-game solution.
For the most part, grinding in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is rather enjoyable given the variety of activities and the fun gameplay mechanics but it’s still a symptom of a larger issue in which publishers are deliberately hampering progression systems and offering microtransactions that let you “skip the grind.” Playing games shouldn’t feel like a chore and the fact that publishers are increasingly treating gameplay as something to be skipped over is worrisome.
At any rate, I’ll have more to say on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in my review, which will be posted this Friday on Goliath.
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