Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is breaking from its predecessors in a number of big ways; Odyssey takes place centuries before the Assassins were even ‘a thing’, adds considerable RPG elements, and, most significantly, puts the power of choice into your well-armed hands.
“Because choice is at the center of everything, we thought it’d be a huge disservice if we were then like ‘here’s your person: go!’” Mel MacCoubrey told me at a recent preview event. She’s the Narrative Director on ACO, working out of Ubisoft Quebec. So, with that in mind, let’s meet Kassandra and Alexios.
Unlike Assassin’s Creed Origins, which allowed you to occasionally sail around the Mediterranean with Aya as a changeup from Bayek, or Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, in which you assumed the roles of twin assassins Jacob and Evie, Odyssey only has one main character. The story will be the same either way, so what is different? The voice talent bringing them to life.
MacCoubrey tells us more: “Michael [Antonakos] plays Alexios, and he’s fantastic because he’s got the charm down and he has these really amazing sarcastic moments that he really can bite into. There’s some really great moments with him where he’s making fun of some of the other characters and you’re just like ‘yay!’ and there’s some really fun facial interaction that goes with it, it’s so nice.”
“Melissanthi [Mahut] plays Kassandra and she is very good with the dry wit as well, but she brings a very great emotional tone to the character that really lifts that character up and provides a lot of backstory work that we put into it. It’s been cool working with the two of them and they really bring their own spin, but it makes for a really cool experience when you’re playing either.”
That’s helpful, but who should you pick? This was an unfair question to ask Scott Phillips, Game Director.
“I’ve played both because I’ve played the game many, many times. I have things I like about each of them,” he diplomatically answered. “Kassandra has a very nice performance and Alexios has a very different style to hers, the voice acting style is very different. They both have qualities that make them interesting, but I hate to pick between the two of them. We look at a lot of the data of what people have chosen, and it’s very close to 50/50 between the two of them. And it’s not all men pick Alexios or all women pick Kassandra, there’s always a mix.” That’s a good sign that the experience with one character isn’t inherently better or worse than the other. Who you pick may be a matter of mere personal preference, but what you *do* with them will have a huge impact in the game:
Phillips continues, “You’re not just taking a character and pushing them through the story, you’re changing the story as you go and making it your own.” During the event, MacCoubrey demonstrated a sequence in which you can make meaningful choices during a chance encounter with an NPC, later explaining, “We really wanted to make a role play system that would work within the character’s own morality compass that aligned with this character’s goals, and let them progress as people too as you’re making choices along the way. These characters will change as they go forward, and it does depend on the choices you make but I think it’s an integral part to have this character that exists and functions in the world already.”
And that means your game may look very different to mine at the end of the tale. “When you talk to someone about the choices you made and the outcome you got, I think we’re going to see a lot of interesting things that people are going to talk about how their game was very different than someone else’s,” said Phillips.
Ultimately, it’s your first choice – Alexios or Kassandra – that may be the least consequential.
“If you’re somebody who picks somebody who looks the coolest, then go for whoever you think looks the coolest,” MacCoubrey concluded. “In the spirit of choice, you get to choose who you want to be and I honestly would recommend you choose whoever means the most to you.”