Assassin's Creed Odyssey was due to launch its first live event this week, setting players forth across Ancient Greece in search of limited-time japes. However, thanks to unspecified technical issues, Ubisoft has been forced to admit defeat and cancel the whole thing.
Last week, Ubisoft announced that Odyssey's live events - an opportunity "to face challenging battles and earn Epic and Legendary rewards" - would alternate between Epic Mercenary and Epic Ship contracts. Things would get underway, it said, on October 16th.
All seemed golden when players logged into Odyssey yesterday, with in-game notifications announcing the arrival of Damais the Indifferent as Epic Mercenary target number one. Unfortunately, despite players' best efforts to find him, Damais was nowhere to be seen.
On Monday, UK physical console sales of Assassin's Creed Odyssey were revealed to be down 25 per cent on last year's Origins. While we said at the time there were likely other factors in play, it didn't look great for Ubisoft's well-received new release.
A few days later, and Odyssey's worldwide launch week sales are now in. Crucially, these include both physical and digital download copies sold.
The good news for Ubisoft? Odyssey is now tracking above Origins - and indeed also above Assassin's Creed Unity and Syndicate. Odyssey, Ubisoft says, has had "the franchise's best launch-week performance of this console generation".
Assassin's Creed Odyssey on PC version is utterly gorgeous, with the ability to scale well beyond consoles in terms of visual quality, frame-rate and resolution - but to play this game at its best, some serious hardware is required. Yes, careful settings management helps - and we've got you covered here - but even getting to 60fps with a console-equivalent look requires some meaty kit. Mainstream GPUs like GTX 1060 and RX 580 have the horsepower to get the job done in terms of the graphics requirement but even the enthusiast's price vs performance champion - the Core i5 8400 - can't keep you locked to 60fps.
Ancient Greece-set Assassin's Creed Odyssey has received a warm reception from fans and critics, although its launch sales are slower out of the gate compared to last year's Origins.
Odyssey arrived second in this week's top 40 chart, behind FIFA 19, but with 25 per cent fewer physical sales than last year's AC entry (thanks for the comparison, GI.biz).
But it's not too much of a worry for Ubisoft. The rise in digital sales will cover a bit of that (UK numbers company Chart-Track doesn't count these) - and Odyssey feels like a game many would choose to own digitally because it's built to be played for months.
Assassin's Creed returns once again with the excellent Odyssey, built upon the same technological revamp that successfully powered last year's Origins. By and large, it's a successful multi-platform deployment across consoles and PC, but similar to the last offering, it's best played on the enhanced '4K' consoles. There's an almost majestic scale and scope to this new title across all systems, but it's PS4 Pro and Xbox One X that deliver a quantifiably smoother, more consistent experience over base consoles.
Technologically, Odyssey follows Origins in adjusting rendering resolution according to load, improving image quality using a variant of the temporal anti-aliasing technology pioneered in the remarkable For Honor. So yes, if we look at the raw numbers, there is a clear resolution boost as we scale the console power ladder - base Xbox console at the bottom, followed by a 1080p-centric PS4, before we move on to Pro and Xbox One X at the top end of the scale. However, the traditional way we perceive resolution - edge jaggies, pixel-popping, etc - is circumvented via the use of TAA.
The end result is that more GPU power simply translates into more clarity. It's an elegant solution that gives the developers the freedom to more easily deliver their vision without being limited by the host platform. If the scene is more complex, resolution drops, but the end result still looks fairly consistent, and even platform comparisons hold up fairly well in motion. Think of each system as having a specific resolution window designed - in theory - to keep the game running smoothly at 30fps and this effectively sums up how both Origins and Odyssey work. However, the implementation varies fairly dramatically.
Google has unveiled Project Stream, a new streaming initiative designed to enable users to experience complex content - including demanding video games such as Assassin's Creed Odyssey - via their Chrome web browser.
Locations have been the secret star of every Assassin's Creed game, so the difference between a memorable backdrop and a mundane one can be critical. Odyssey's Ancient Greece didn't feel an obvious choice at first. It's a time period before the Assassins existed, a country known more for its myths than its history, and a spread of islands which, its capital aside, are relatively unknown. Mykonos is lovely this time of year, by the way, but you're more likely to have heard of Rome, London, Paris, New York. Even with Assassin's Creed Origins, a game similar to Odyssey in style and scope, you had the lure of the pyramids, the Sphinx and icons of history such as Caesar and Cleopatra. What can Ancient Greece offer?
Thankfully Odyssey is a game that entertains despite these things and because of them. As the Assassin's Creed series continues its metamorphosis from an open-world map-cleaner into a deep action role-playing game, the franchise's focus has shifted effortlessly into a place where godlike powers and mythical artefacts are now a major part of its everyday parlance. Who needs the Eiffel Tower when you have spooky forests and Medusa? What began last year with Origins' god bosses and its beautiful afterlife-set Curse of the Pharaohs expansion is expanded on here with a storyline centred on a bloodline descended from the series' First Civilisation and a weapon - your weapon - which quickly makes the regular Hidden Blade look like a cosplay knock-off. If one item sums up the change evident in Odyssey, it's this.
The blade symbolises the shift away from Ubisoft's habitual Assassin's Creed gameplay to one that feels freer, more fantastical and more fun. Why wait to dual assassinate a pair of enemies who've finally rotated around their guard patterns to stand next to one another when you can blink around a map chaining assassinations over great distances, should you have invested in the skills and built-up the stamina to do so. Another combat move, where you rip the shield away from a powerful enemy and donk them on the head with it after, reminds me of the joy felt in Zelda when, after hours whittling away the health of armoured enemies, you finally get a hookshot and are able to de-shell them instantly. Fire arrows? Sure, but how about ghostly arrows which zip through walls, through enemies into other enemies, who you can then also set on fire? Level up far enough and you'll get these too.
Nintendo trusty Switch will get the hulking huge Assassin's Creed Odyssey via a special Japanese version of the game that streams it from the cloud.
Word has it that Assassin's Creed Odyssey is shaping up to be a bit good. But if its speculated 100+ hour playtime somehow isn't quite enough Assassin's Creed for you to be getting on with, there's some extra good news: Ubisoft has outlined its post-launch DLC plans for Odyssey.
Ubisoft's post-release DLC will take two forms: there is, as you probably already guessed, a Season Pass in the works, and that'll be joined by free content for all users.
Free stuff first, Odyssey is set to receive a constant flow of new story content, in-game events, and other assorted additions. The Lost Tales of Greece, for instance, is a series of regular episodic quest lines that will feature "familiar faces and new characters from the world of Assassin's Creed Odyssey". These will be joined by weekly events which introduce a powerful new ship or mercenary to the world for players to hunt down, plus daily and weekly Contracts.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey features two playstyles to choose from: Guided Mode, described as the "more traditional" experience, and Exploration Mode, labelled as "a newer approach".
There's been a lot of talk lately about how long Assassin's Creed Odyssey is - more than 100 hours, its developers say - and it's been interesting to see the response. Time was, you'd ask how long your Ł40 was expected to last, hear a large amount of hours and think, great - the longer the better. But for me, anyway, having less time to play games these days is certainly a thing. And I think the games we all play are more demanding of the time we have to spend with them. Perhaps demanding is the wrong word, but more and more, I feel like each game I enjoy playing is trying to be the only game I enjoy playing, with little time to play anything else.
An enormous boss fight against Medusa is not something you would have expected from an Assassin's Creed game a few years ago. God of War? Of course. Castlevania, sure. But to face off against the mythological monster in a series so concerned with history as Assassin's Creed? You'd think the developers had spent a little too much time in the Animus for their own good.
There will be no new Assassin's Creed game released in 2019, publisher Ubisoft has confirmed.
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We've come a long way from Assassin's Creed not letting you play as a woman - or from doing so only in short sections of its campaign.
Ubisoft's previously-leaked Assassin's Creed Odyssey will launch this 5th October.
Set in Ancient Greece, developed by Assassin's Creed Syndicate's Ubisoft Quebec, the game is now fully RPG. It's set on land and on sea, 400 years before Assassin's Creed Origins, during the Peloponnesian War.
You can play as Alexios, or Kassandra, descendants of Leonidas in a story with branching narrative for the first time.
The Division 2! Beyond Good and Evil 2! Assassin's Creed Odyssey! Some typical Ubisoft strangeness? All this and more from 9pm BST.
The least interesting thing about Assassin's Creed Odyssey is its October 2018 release date, but the timing of another massive game in the series just 12 months after Assassin's Creed Origins will generate headlines regardless. Origins' success - its brilliant new characters and reworked RPG-lite focus - is something of a double-edged sword: these changes reinvigorated the series, but by taking an extra year of time to bed them in Ubisoft reinforced the feeling each installment could offer the same leaps forward, if only the publisher leant on its biggest franchise a little less. It's against this backdrop Odyssey has been detailed and its release date confirmed - but I'm confident, after more than three hours of gameplay, this year's installment answers those immediate questions.
UPDATE 1.00AM: Ubisoft has confirmed Assassin's Creed Odyssey via a brief teaser clip posted on Twitter, and said it will show more of the game at E3.