This series may have begun as an open-world action adventure focusing on cinematic parkour hijinks, but it has now fully transformed into an action role-playing game (RPG) experience. Assassin's Creed Odyssey, much like 2017's Assassin's Creed Origins, is focused not just on the historical world-building that's long been a hallmark of the franchise -- though the Ancient Greece on offer here is a magnificent re-creation of that much studied time and place -- but also traditional RPG elements. That means earning experience, leveling up, learning new abilities, crafting and upgrading items, taking on side quests, making story-altering decisions in dialogue, and scouring dungeons in the form of caves, tombs, and fortresses. It's an epic journey, with an enormous world stretching for miles in all directions that takes scores of hours to fully explore and -- thanks to random timed daily missions -- an all but endless array of mini-objectives and goals. And the inclusion of sailing and naval battles in their full form (as opposed to one-off bonus missions, as we saw in Origins) is a real treat, especially with new abilities like being able to cleave ships in two. In terms of scope, ambition, and visual presentation, Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a phenomenal achievement sure to knock the socks off most players.
That said, it's also a bit untidy. The war between Sparta and Athens, for example, often doesn't feel fully formed. You'll be faced with plenty of massive battles and tasked to choose sides, but frequently without knowing anything about the conflict. This makes your character a true mercenary fighting for money rather than people or ideals. And the franchise's overarching story of the disagreement between the Templars and Assassins seems to have been given short shrift, with little new or interesting information provided for much of the adventure. Plus, some of the systems don't seem fully formed. Crafting, for example, is overly simplistic, seeming to exist solely so that we have a reason to harvest resources and a way to keep our favorite hard-earned weapons and gear with us as we level up. And while combat is extremely sophisticated and a highlight of the overall experience, there are times when it feels unbalanced. You'll switch from being an unstoppable warrior to being nearly unable to make a dent in your enemies -- or vice versa -- simply because you entered a new town, learned a new Assassin's skill, or upgraded a weapon. What we're really saying here is simply to set your expectations. Assassin's Creed Odyssey is enormous and beautiful and full of fun things to do, but it's not perfect. So long as you understand this, you'll be in for a great historical adventure.