Game Review | Assassin's Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis
Game summary: Explore the Greek afterlife in the paradise of Elysium, go beyond the gates of the Underworld and help the lost souls find peace and journey into a fabled city of legend. (Assassin's Creed Wiki)
After 170 hours of play, I'm finally finished with Assassin's Creed Odyssey and its DLC stories, although ending things with The Fate of Atlantis left me feeling a little underwhelmed. Before I actually get on to this particular piece of content, a little advice: save finishing the Cult of Kosmos story from the base game until you have done everything else you want to do - that particular branch of the story felt like a far more satisfying end to Kassandra's epic adventures across the Greek world.
As for The Fate of Atlantis itself, it's a bit of a mixed bag, with the titular city only appearing in the last of three 'episodes' that make up this mini-arc. The first two parts are spent in Persephone's Elysium and Hades' Underworld and things are uneven from the get-go - even if every part is a step up from Legacy of the First Blade.
Elysium suffers thanks to the characters you meet, with all the major players you meet feeling like they have the emotional maturity of particularly hormonal teenagers. Their lack of depth and pettiness makes for a pretty shallow experience, as you can't really take anything seriously and will spend more time admiring the gorgeous setting than caring about what's going on.
The Underworld was almost the complete opposite, with enjoyable - or at least interesting - characters to meet, including several who died during the course of the base game's story. These moments are among the best in all three episodes and Melissanthi Mahut shines yet again when things get serious. The downside? A dreary, sickly yellow, brown and grey landscape which will make you wish there were more fast travel points so you don't have to look at it so much.
Once you reach Atlantis, it's a bit of a mixed bag, with the mythical city looking pretty great, but being laid out in a frustrating manner that can make it a pain to get about quickly. There's nothing here to match the more emotional reunions in the Underworld, but neither are the characters as annoying as those who feature in Elysium - overall, it still probably averages out as the best episode of the three.
Lastly, the modern-day sections are scattered throughout and are easily the worst parts, because we're just not given enough of a reason to care about the characters involved there and I don't think the creative team do either - someone dies between episodes two and three, but it seems to be glossed over so quickly and treated with such little importance that it makes you wonder why that character even existed.
It might well have been a bigger thing for those who played the episodes spread out as they were originally released, but it just doesn't work as part of a continuing story. The fact that even that part of the story ends with so little fanfare doesn't help either - making it clear that what you've just played through was ultimately meaningless and will probably only be mentioned in passing at best in future games.
At the very least, the game is still fun to play and Kassandra is still a great character to spend more time with - she continues to remain one of my favourite recent gaming protagonists, although how much my having her essentially cosplay as Wonder Woman has to do with that, I don't know. If there was any emotional depth to the ending, it was the realisation that my time with my misthios was over.
Perhaps that was for the best though, especially with some of the enhanced abilities you gain over the course of The Fate of Atlantis. A few of these feel so ridiculously overpowered that I was almost glad there was nothing else left to do, because I couldn't see how the combat could remain enjoyable, especially with The Fate of Atlantis proving that the development team couldn't either.
By that, I mean the amount of 'elite' enemies that mostly use attacks that can't be parried and forcing you to time your dodges and rolls better instead. It doesn't really make the fights any harder, it's just frustrating to have a basic part of your tool-set rendered virtually useless because that was apparently the only way of making the combat even remotely challenging.
A lot of what I've said might sound highly critical, but it's more like disappointment that even this better DLC story can't approach the same level of enjoyment I got out of the base game. It's partly Fate of Atlantis' more pronounced weaknesses, but also partly how much smaller everything feels, which is arguably intentional in-universe, but that doesn't make it any better to play.
Mentioning Wonder Woman above really does make me feel like you could also compare Assassin's Creed Odyssey in whole as being fairly analogous to varying comic book runs. You have the initial lengthy adventure with varying stories taking their turns in the spotlight, love interests, politics and more fantasy/sci-fi material keeping things fresh - at least, if you choose to mix things up.
This epic run of stories is followed by a shorter run that strips away most of that to focus on a much smaller story with a love interest that isn't interesting and a story that never grips you either. Then it's all finished by another run that over-corrects and veers hard into a science-fiction/fantasy/mythology jumble that's fun, but ultimately disposable. One last bit of advice? Maybe skip the DLC, the base game is good enough on its own.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis is enjoyable enough, but the smaller scale and greater restrictions on player freedom means that it suffers in comparison to the base game, even if it is a clear step up from the previous DLC. It does have its moments, especially in the Underworld, and Kassandra remains a great character to play as, but those aren't quite enough to fully recommend this shorter story.