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Do I need to know anything about Assassin's Creed to enjoy Odyssey?

The Assassin's Creed series is comprised of 11 main games, not even counting the numerous spin-offs. From its initial release in 2007, Ubisoft has made it a yearly franchise for nearly the entire time. This can, of course, be intimidating when you're thinking about picking up the newest game. Will I understand it? Do I need to know anything about the rest of the series? If you're asking yourself these questions, I'll help break down the vital plot points you may want to understand.

Each Assassin's Creed game takes place during at least two time periods; one set in the historical past and one set during the present day. This is explained with some in-game sci-fi elements and technology. Through the use of a machine called an Animus (and later the Helix), players can witness their ancestors' past by analyzing their DNA. Odyssey will feature a storyline in ancient Greece and another during the present day, which I will detail below.

How does it continue the narrative?

Assassin's Creed Odyssey doesn't directly continue any historical narrative from the past, but it does pick up where its modern day story left off. Thankfully a significant portion of the game takes place in ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian war. You shouldn't get lost or confused when experiencing this story as it's entirely standalone and new.

Think of it like Marvel's Cinematic Universe. You don't need to have watched every Captain America movie to enjoy Black Panther. The same goes for Assassin's Creed. They all share the same universe and will at times contain references to each other, but their historical narratives are not always direct sequels and are mostly independent.

Historical

Odyssey is set to take place between 431 and 404 BCE on the Greek mainland and surrounding islands in the Aegean Sea. This is the farthest back any Assassin's Creed has ever taken place. Because of this, it's not a direct sequel to any of the other entries, nor will it feature your traditional Assassin vs. Templar conflict as those societies haven't been founded yet. It's its own beast.

If you're interested, check out everything we know so far about Assassin's Creed Odyssey.

Modern day

Now its modern-day narrative is a bit more complicated. This is where it will come in handy to have at least some tertiary knowledge about what's going on.

The crux of the modern day is the continuation of an ancient war between Assassins and Templars. The Templars, in this case, aren't the Knights Templar you may visualize. Instead, they are a group of people committed to the Templar Order's ideals under the guise of controlling a multinational corporation known as Abstergo. To put it simply: these are the bad guys.

The goal of the Templars, and by extension, Abstergo, is to create a perfect utopia through the use of manipulation and control. To do so, they search for powerful artifacts known as Pieces of Eden, which were made by beings known as the First Civilization (also known as the Isu, Precursors, and Those Who Came Before).

Isu

Isu (Image credit: Assassin's Creed Wikia)

Though the First Civilization aren't technically gods, it's easy to refer to them as such as there really isn't a better term for them. Through the use of Pieces of Eden, they subjugated early humanity and turned them into slaves. After a great disaster, nearly all were wiped out and their Pieces of Eden scattered across the globe.

The Assassins and Templars are now caught in a game of cat and mouse as they attempt to locate these Pieces of Eden to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands, each thinking that they are the heroes of their own story. Both ultimately want world peace, but the Assassins want it through free will while the Templars want it through domination.

Layla Hassan

Layla Hassan (Image credit: Ubisoft)

The series has featured a few different modern-day protagonists across its run, notably Desmond Miles, but what you need to know is that right now you are playing as a woman named Layla Hassan, a former Abstergo employee turned Assassin affiliate.

As she relives the life of a Spartan mercenary in ancient Greece who came in contact with a Piece of Eden, she'll simultaneously be on the run from Abstergo.

What about gameplay mechanics?

Regarding gameplay, last year's Assassin's Creed shook its entire foundation by totally revamping the series' long-running combat and exploration mechanics. Odyssey takes this newfound RPG experience and refines it even more. You won't be doing yourself much of a favor by growing accustomed to previous entries' gameplay. Odyssey is unique enough that you should be able to jump in without worrying about its controls.

Conclusion

While you can enjoy Odyssey without playing any other Assassin's Creed game, you may still be confused from time to time. Hopefully, the above information helps to get you sorted out with what's been going on and the importance of some key players in the franchise, and allows you to enjoy Odyssey to its fullest.

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.

8 Comments
  • Great synopsis of the series.
    I actually came away from ACII thinking that the ancient ones created the human species, rather than merely subjugating an existing species. After all the subject 16 truth video eludes to that.
  • Thank you! I believe the First Civ did play a hand in developing humanity's evolution iirc, but ultimately they're still there to be subjugated slaves.
  • Ever since Black Flag the modern narrative has been terrible, it's the sole reason I haven't been pushing through the games because I just no longer care about this constantly changing faceless person you control.
  • I agree. A major part of my love for Assassin's Creed came from its modern day narrative, and Ubisoft really dropped the ball on it after killing off Desmond. It's like they didn't know what to do with it so the direction is all over the place. I'm hoping they can course correct and get it back on track with Layla.
  • And they set up this massive World changing event with Juno but just, nothing. Black Flag also set up a relationship with the previous assassin's that helped Desmond, but Rogue ignored all that, and I've yet to see it come up at all in Unity. Haven't played anything beyond Unity because I just can't bring myself to finish it, I have no interest in the Parisian characters, and as stated, I have zero care for the modern day scenario now.
  • Unity was absolutely terrible in terms of its modern day (and not that great altogether tbh). When my friends ask if they should play it before getting into Syndicate or Origins I honestly tell them to skip it. Apparently Juno's storyline was wrapped up in the comics, but I haven't read all of them so I can't really attest to what went down. Very disappointing to see Ubisoft let it go to waste and just shove it into peripheral material that most people won't read. I'm all for expanding the universe outside of the games, but they shouldn't have taken such a crucial storyline from the games and conclude it in a comic.
  • Ah, thanks so much for that info, maybe I will just skip Unity and move on to Syndicate. It's a real shame too because I love the setting for Unity, Paris is an incredible city and from what I remember from being there a lot of the places are recognisable to me which is amazing. But I just cannot get into the story, and have zero care about Arno. I got Syndicate in Games with Gold recently so I will give it a crack after I finish Tomb Raider, if it piques my interest then I'll get back into the series again.
  • Every time I try to play an Assassin's Creed game I dead end when it jumps to the future. Boring as all get out. I love Romans/Spartans/etc, but I have a feeling I'll get to a point fairly quickly where I lose all interest just because they jump me somewhere else that I don't care about at all.