Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Assassin's Creed Odyssey is Zelda: Breath of the Wild but Better

Assassin's Creed Odyssey is basically Zelda: Breath of the Wild but better. Those are bold words, I know, but before you snap your carrot sick in half and drop your sippy cup of OJ in a fit of rage, allow me to explain. This isn't just an edgy faux controversial take for attention as the games are remarkably similar in a surprising number of ways. Except, you know, one is much better than the other. Continue reading for a full explanation.

I wrote an article already about why I love AC Odyssey, but I've kept my opinions about Zelda: Breath of the Wild pretty close to the vest for the last two years since its release. Well, here it is - I think Breath of the Wild is thoroughly mediocre. Not bad by any means, just boring. I don't like the combat. I don't like that your weapons break. I don't like the stamina system. I don't like that you can't climb in the rain. I don't like the big giant empty boring world with nothing in it. I don't like the total lack of items and power-ups. I could go on and on. It has basically nothing in common with the rest of the franchise except for the Zelda name on the box. I'm all for franchises trying new things, but they could have done literally anything else besides a giant boring empty world and weapons that break constantly and it would have been much better. I will say that I love Hyrule Castle and feel like it's the only thing in the whole game that actually feels like a Zelda game.

So why is Assassin's Creed Odyssey part of this discussion? Because it does almost everything that Breath of the Wild does but better, that's why! Both games start in an isolated part of the world - the island of Kephallonia in Odyssey and the plateau in BOTW - where you learn the basics of the game before you're unleashed out into the rest of the game and have a "holy shit" moment when you realize how big the map is. Odyssey's ancient Greece is gigantic and filled with varied locales where every island and region has a distinct look and feel. Every area is filled with quests and people and temples and tombs and stuff to do. Breath of the Wild's open world is just a big empty bunch of nothing in between a handful of towns and mostly pointless shrines. Yes, you do get bored of certain aspects of Odyssey's gameplay loop after a while - taking down forts and doing quests with the same objectives definitely gets old - but compared to BOTW's boring nothingness in between the major areas, Odyssey clearly has an advantage.

(Shopping with our links helps support the site)

The gameplay itself between the two games is remarkably similar as well. Both are hand to hand combat third-person action games where you are free to climb on literally anything and explore and approach objectives from any angle you wish. Obviously, Assassin's Creed is a game about sneak-murdering cult members while Breath of the Wild is about collecting 900 Koroks, but the core of the games are virtually the same. Well, they're the same except for a couple of key differences. In Odyssey there is no stamina meter, so you can run and climb and swim and fight as much as you want. Stamina in BOTW sucks. In Odyssey your weapons don't degrade and break so you don't ever have to worry about it. Weapons breaking in BOTW is pointless and almost ruins the game. In Odyssey you can climb and explore even if it rains with no penalty. Having to stop and wait out the rain in BOTW sucks, though I did kind of like having to worry about lightning which is something that Odyssey doesn't bother with. 

Obviously, both games are very similar but Odyssey steps it up in key ways. There are actual upgrades and abilities and a progression system in Odyssey. There are tons of armor sets and unique weapons (that don't break) to begin with, but you can also upgrade your favorite gear as well as engrave it with new attributes to totally customize the game however you want. Odyssey has boss fights against giant mythical creatures, too, that feel much closer to classic Zelda boss fights than the gimmicky Ganon blight fights in BOTW. Add on top of this the very enjoyable sailing and genuinely fun ship battles in Odyssey and you have a very solid complete package.

Let me put it a different way. I played Breath of the Wild for something like 56-hours when it launched in March 2017 and haven't touched it since. I have no desire to return to that world. It was big and empty and boring and even though there were exciting and good and fun parts I would like to revisit, they are spaced too far apart with too much repetition and monotony in between. Assassin's Creed Odyssey, on the other hand, totally hooked me for 50-hours for my first playthrough and I kept coming back over and over again to explore every nook and cranny and finish off quests. And then I started a new game plus playthrough to do it all - well, not all, I'm skipping a lot of side stuff and am gunning for cult members ASAP - again and I'm just as invested and having just as much fun as I did the first time around. Breath of the Wild is something I don't want to return to, but Odyssey is a game I can't stop thinking about and coming back to play. That's kind of important.

To finish I want to reiterate something - I'm not picking on Breath of the Wild just because it is popular. I'm comparing BOTW and Odyssey because they are ridiculously similar and it pains me (yes, pains!) to see one game lauded as one of the best games ever made while the other is already being forgotten six-months after release despite doing most of the exact same stuff much better. If you liked Breath of the Wild but expected something more, I highly, highly, highly recommend Assassin's Creed Odyssey. If you think you won't like Odyssey based on previous Assassin's Creed games, don't worry. Odyssey (and Origins) is wildly different from past AC titles, so I beg you to give it a chance. It's basically a new Legend of Zelda game just with more murder interesting stuff to do.