Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s latest DLC is facing backlash over some fairly major railroading. In a game touting freedom of choice, The Legacy of the First Blade expansion has forced players into a plot point which in turn stripped their characters of their agency.
Major Shadow Heritage Spoilers Inbound
The latest entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise has thus far prided itself on being a game where players can make meaningful choices about their character’s interactions with the world around them. These choices are especially based around who you can choose to have your character enter into romantic relationships with, meaning Alexios or Kassandra can land anywhere on the spectrum of sexual preferences. Gay characters were just as viable an option as straight and bisexual characters were, marking an important staple in the series and videogames as a whole. The system made sense contextually as well, given that ancient Greece was full of sexually expressive people, many of whom engaged in relations with numerous partners at once.
This was completely flipped on its head though in the recent Shadow Heritage DLC, the second episode in the Legacy of the First Blade expansion trilogy. Your chosen protagonist is faced with the decision to become romantically involved with either Natakas or Neema, two characters whose appearance is based solely upon your own chosen character gender. As the story of the DLC nears its closing moments players are offered the choice of romancing Natakas or Neema or sending them on their way.
The reason for the fan backlash? Your protagonist has a baby with them either way. The LGBTQ community in particular largely felt disenfranchised by the forced decision imposed on them by Ubisoft and aired their grievances freely across the internet. While Ubisoft was clearly attempting to set up the lineage of the assassins the series is known to be based around, the heavy-handedness of it all completely removed the player agency that was previously promised, and left many fans disappointed in the developer.
Ubisoft has since issued a statement to Eurogamer to provide a vague explanation as to why this decision was made. A company spokesperson stated the following:
“We strive to give players choice whenever possible in Odyssey and apologize to those surprised by the events in this episode. Without spoiling it, you will engage in an important relationship as part of a set story. The motivation behind this relationship is yours to explore in game and will be reflected in your character’s story arc. There is one episode left in Legacy of the First Blade which will tie your character’s actions together. We don’t want to reveal too much right now, but we have always tried to keep the story inclusive of people of all sexual orientations, and players will be able to choose their motivations behind this particular narrative depending on their sexual preferences.”
All in all, it feels like a non-apology that the developer has issued after completely backing themselves into a corner. The fan backlash has not let up since this statement, and it will be interesting to see how to gaming community responds to the third episode of the DLC. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a game which was previously praised for its complete freedom of choice, has a lot to prove with its next expansion.