If it's not clear already, Legacy of the First Blade is one for the fans. It's the story of Darius, the first to wield the legendary Hidden Blade, and the one to use it on the preening Persian ruler Xerxes. But it's also another saga for your Assassin's Creed Odyssey main character (AKA, Kassandra), who meets Darius as he arrives in the main game's Greek region.
Legacy of the First Blade is unusual in that it doesn't add any new playable space to the game. It is reminiscent of last year's Assassin's Creed Origins DLC The Hidden Ones - a side-story concerned with the founding of an established Assassin concept - and yet that added a new region to poke about in as well. But where the Hidden Ones ended up fairly light on story, Legacy of the First Blade seems to be putting this first - with several peeks at Darius' past in cutscene flashbacks, and a promise from Ubisoft of a new storyline to make Odyssey fans wonder, laugh and cry again.
This week brings the first episode of the DLC, Hunted, with episodes two and three to follow monthly next year. It's hard, then, to appraise Ubisoft's new story arc fully - especially as Odyssey's main campaign often paid off its branching narrative with different feeling quest outcomes when you finally got to their conclusion. As a first episode, Hunted has some nice moments, but nothing I felt like everyone else wouldn't see too regardless of their choices. Darius himself is kept mysterious - and while fans will know his name from references made many, many games ago, his story has been kept untold until now. The question of whether you trust the hooded figure who knows a little too much about his enemies comes up repeatedly for you to answer - and I'm curious to see whether my early suspicions of him make any difference in the long run.
Your enemies in Legacy of the First Blade are a new branch of the Order of Ancients - the proto-Templar team which troubled Bayek in Origins. This lot are the Persian branch, pissed off at Darius because of his Xerxes neck stab, and similarly murderous to Kassandra because of her growing reputation as a super powerful mercenary. Odyssey has made Kassandra's bloodline a major part of its story, and it's here we get a new, if pejorative, name for her and others like her. Tainted Ones are individuals like the Eagle Bearer who have First Civilisation ancestry (and who can therefore fill out that lovely skilltree with godlike abilities). The Order of Ancients is here to restore order, the usual Templar stuff, by offing Kassandra and making sure she doesn't get too big for her boots. The main antagonist you'll meet in Hunted has killed a few Tainted Ones already, he'll tell you, and there are many others out there. It leaves me wondering if this is a tease to meet others down the line.
While Legacy of the First Blade prioritises story over exploration, it's likely you'll still be spending time in places you haven't seen much before. Hunted is set in the remote Makedonia region of the map, somewhere which has existed in the game since day one apparently just for this purpose. After playing the first episode pre-launch at Ubisoft's London office I went back to the region in my own save at home. The locations it provides have all been there waiting. I'd have loved to have seen somewhere new - been given a new bubble of map in Persia, even - but the story conceit of the Order turning up in Greece and the action playing out here works well enough. One thing which does change is a whole new Order of the Ancients targets page, accessible through the Cult of Kosmos HUD. Hunting down these figures is one of a small number of things to do when you finish Hunted's three hour set of story missions, along with a couple of other enjoyable side-quests thrown in for good measure. Again, there's nothing hugely revelatory here - but it is still the first episode in the arc. And it cannot be understated how good it is to simply spend more time with my Kassandra - see her eye-rolling and reacting to a set of new issues - and her catching up with Barnabas again.
Ubisoft has done a fantastic job expanding the world of Assassin's Creed Odyssey since its release with free side-missions, mercenary and naval targets, as well as the game's built in procedurally-generated quest system - all on top of a simply enormous game to start with. I get the feeling next year's second story arc set in Atlantis is going to be the one where Ubisoft really gets creative - just as with Origins' Afterlife-infused Curse of the Pharaohs. But I need no excuse to return to the world of Odyssey - it's a welcoming place to roam where my character feels truly powerful, as opposed to some of the other slogging open world games released this year - and the lure of Legacy's story is certainly enough.