Assassin's Creed Odyssey review diary: killing time in Ancient Greece

Part III

It’s day three and I’ll be honest, I’m struggling a bit. Although I haven’t dedicated every waking moment to Odyssey, I’ve still spent around nine hours to essentially get the the start of my journey (possibly because I cleaned up all the areas I could in Kephallonia).

Either way, it feels like fighting an uphill battle, where I know that I’ve barely made a dent in the monolith game and there are many, many hours to go. It’s intimidating. When am I going to get the time to finish this game? I’m enjoying it, but is there any point when the chances I’ll ever complete it are slim? 

Regardless, I continue on, setting our ship's course for Megaris and destroying the Athenian blockade which plugs the harbor. Yoink, yoink, yoink – I grab up all the loot from the debris of their ships and command my crew to dock. 

Megaris is still a pretty active – and bloody – battlefield. Athenian and Spartan soldiers are skewered all over the crimson beach. Yoink – they won't need their loot anymore. As I arrive, the Sparta Wolf (the guy we're here to murder, remember) is celebrating his latest victory. Kassandra has history with the sly bastard but, to avoid spoilers, I can't tell you anything about that. Just know she's not a fan. 

The Spartan soldiers are impressed by how I took down the Athenian blockade, with the Wolf's right-hand man promising a meeting with the enigmatic leader if I help Sparta conquer Megaris. They're very trusting. Essentially, because Kassandra is a mercenary, and not technically a Spartan or an Athenian, she can move through hostile territory unnoticed. 

So how do you conquer a nation? Well, in Assassin's Creed Odyssey it's fairly simple: you must weaken a nation's power enough to trigger a conquest battle. A bar on the bottom right of the screen tells you how much power a nation currently has, this decreases when you complete activities such as killing the nation's leader, completing forts, killing enemy soldiers, pillaging or burning war supplies. 

This part I found too simple, and a bit odd. I completed a couple of side quests and a couple of forts, then made my way to assassinate a national leader. Killing the leader and completing these forts didn't feel like a challenge at all, I did all these activities in very little time yet it resulted in the nation being weakened enough to begin a conquest battle for Megaris. 

Recruit crew members

You can add almost any NPC to your crew by knocking them out and then selecting ‘recruit’. It's probably a good idea to choose the best fighters, but if you make a mistake you can always get rid of them later. 

Conquest battles take a similar form to the Battle of 300 at the very beginning of the game. You are transported to a battlefield, where each side (in this case Sparta and Athens) have a bar which shows how strong they currently are. To weaken your enemy's bar you must kill enemy captains, as many soldiers as you can, and - for extra measure - the enemy hero. It's a welcome challenge (the captains aren't overly easy to kill) and manoeuvring through a living battlefield is extremely immersive. The one bug bear I had was the Athenian minions who felt the need to jump in on my duels with enemy captains or heroes when I accidentally hit them. It was comparable to being accosted by a wasp during a family picnic. Not a massive deal, but annoying.

Having slain the Athenian captains, minions and hero, Sparta reigned victorious. Winning a conquest battle like this means the location you are fighting over now sides with you – so in this case, Megaris now sides with Sparta. There's also some sweet gear to be had. 

As promised, leading Sparta to victory meant I was honored with an audience with the Wolf. The following cutscene reveals even more about Kassandra's background and her relationship with the Wolf. 

Again, Ubisoft has requested we don't give anything away, but there are a lot of twists and turns in the main storyline. Unfortunately, it feels as though they're rushed and we're getting drama whiplash – almost like a soap opera. The main story feels like too much is being crammed into too little time, when in fact it needs space to breathe and for players to be more invested in the characters before these shock and awe moments occur. It feels superficial.

Your meeting with the Wolf sparks another game-changing decision – one that will have a direct impact on the main story path – so choose wisely. 

Vic Hood
Associate Editor, TechRadar Gaming

Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.