'Assassin's Creed: Odyssey' and the Perils of Copy-and-Paste Syndrome
Ubisoft Caught Red-handed Borrowing a Lot from 'The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt' and 'Middle Earth: Shadow of War'
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is named in homage to the Homeric Masterpiece. However, an homage to some is plagiarism to others. The name also stands as a warning sign to players that Ubisoft may have pilfered ideas from more than an old poet.
It is not story that has been duplicated; it is the foundational building blocks of the game. The developers at Ubisoft have been copy-and-pasting the mechanics from other games in a rather lazy fashion.
All games are built on an array of mechanics. These cover animation, combats, dialogue, leveling up, etc. The best games create mechanics that make the game feel as real as possible by hiding the limitations of the mechanics. The problem with nicking mechanics from other games is they tend to stand out in the mix.
Here are the most blatant examples of plagiarism.
'Middle Earth: Shadow of War'
The unique selling point of Shadow of War is the nemesis system whereby your enemies have names and characteristics and hopes and dreams. Odyssey has taken this system and gutted the soul from it, using it merely as a time-killing world filler. You are hunted by mercenaries who have names and biographies. That’s the extent of the individualisation of these "unique characters." Some enemies even have catchphrases that they sneer as they are revealed.
The mechanic of killing a leader's bodyguards to weaken him and draw him out is also borrowed. It's another cheap copy, which doesn't mean it's not fun—just that it's not very innovative.
You can also recruit the "unique characters" to join your army. They even use the same animation of picking up an enemy, pushing them behind you, and them magically disappearing to join your army.
I admit they are not actually sieges in Assassin's Creed. They are instead battles on a flat surface where you kill as many of the enemy as you can for an undetermined length of time. No goal, no progression, just fight. It’s a very poor reflection of the excellent Shadow of War sieges.
Falling Without Taking Damage and Doing a Flip
Once you hit Level 20, you gain the ability to do a magical flip in mid air that allows you to jump from any height and take no damage whatsoever. The intelligent reason for this skill? Just 'cause, mate. It's a helpful power; Greece is massively mountainous and climbing down is not as fun as climbing up, but at least give us a justification for this power. In Shadow of War, you share your body with an elven wraith who provides you with your powers—that is a reasonable explanation.
'The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt'
There is some serious Wannabe-Witcher Syndrome going on with the addition of dialogue options. Origins gave Assassin's Creed the first dose of the RPG treatment and now they doubled down with a choose-your-own-story element.
No Running Indoors
If you want to upgrade your spear, you better lay some time aside for it. Fast travelling to the Hephaestus forge transports you to the entrance and you then are forced to lightly jog the 182m to the forge. 42 seconds to run 182m? My granddad could beat that and he's dead. At least let us use a horse. You can fast travel out but you've already had your precious time stolen for no good reason.
The developers at Ubisoft have clearly been playing A LOT of Middle Earth: Shadow of War and a fair bit of The Witcher. Odyssey is replete with cheap recreations of mechanics from these games.
Shadow of War was flawed but its mechanics were consummately precise and satisfying. The Witcher was one of the best games of this generation. This is why the mechanics copied in Odyssey stand out, because they're rather sloppy in comparison to their sources.
It really should be called Assassin's Creed: Shadow Odyssey of the Witcher War.