2018 in Review: Game of the Year

ASODYSSEYFINALAssassin’s Creed Odyssey did the impossible: it turned me into a one-game-to-rule-them-all player, even as new blockbusters were hitting store shelves every week. Nothing could take my attention away from Ubisoft’s insanely ambitious new game. I bought Red Dead Redemption II, Let’s Go Pokemon, and Destiny 2 Forsaken… but after about an hour of play in each, I came right back to ancient Greece.

(Note: I’m sensitive to the over-use of adverbs, but this game deserves to be called insanely ambitious, instead of merely ambitious).

Finally, at the 50 hour mark, I had made Kassandra’s family complete again. I hadn’t defeated all the cultists, or sealed Atlantis, but my primary goal was achieved. I was done. I excitedly turned on Divinity II for the first time, played for an hour… and decided to return to Greece.

20 hours later, I had defeated Medusa, slain every cultist, hit level 50, and toppled the first round of DLC. At long last, I was ready to move on.

Of course, I’m going to drop everything the second the next round of DLC arrives.

Deep into Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, I was finding new lands with novel objectives to complete. My play style continued to evolve in satisfying directions. The combat never got tiresome. I felt increasingly powerful, but never invincible.

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I connected with Kassandra. She’s more interesting and dynamic than prior heroes in the series. And the supporting cast is memorable, too… in particular, Kassandra’s combative, deeply flawed family members.

The game is not perfect. The running animation can make Kassandra look a bit like a speedy orangutan.  A critical “Anakin Skywalker” moment in the story is resolved way too cleanly for my taste. And the decision to offer microtransactions was a mistake – particularly the “XP Doubler” (which, to be fair, I didn’t buy, and never once felt I needed).

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Regardless, this is an enormous, relentlessly entertaining product, one so generous that you feel like you are getting three games for the price of one. Don’t miss it because it’s part of an annual franchise that’s been historically uneven in quality. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is better than Grand Theft Auto V. It’s better than The Witcher III. In fact, the only open-world game it doesn’t top is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild… but to be fair, “Best Game of All-Time” is a pretty high bar.

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