If you ask me, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has a problem with its own narrative. What begins as a story about a woman trying to find her family takes the familiar Assassin’s Creed turn, opening her eyes to a world manipulated by a secret cabal. The method how Odyssey delivers its multiple storylines is the problem. Pacing often falls flat and I’m constantly tripping over the loose, hanging plot threads as a result of level-restricted quests and quests within a quest structure that get me saying “Wait, what and why am I doing this for again?”. As much as I love Kassandra*, her tale experiences the Skyrim effect where the side quests are far more interesting and worthwhile than her personal story. And so, the immediate greatness of Legacy of the Lost Blade, Odyssey’s first DLC, is how it provides a concentrated recreation of the main game that’s free from the bloat.
The first episode of the DLC, Hunted, involves Kassandra* being summoned to the island of Makedonia, where a small village is under siege by Persian soldiers. For a game that leans so heavily on the war between Sparta and Athens, the appearance of a third party is a nice change of pace, even if the new foes are a texture swap. After saving the village, Kassandra* follows a trail of dead soldiers that leads her to Darius, a hooded warrior who wields the first iteration of the famous hidden blade used exclusively by the Assassin Brotherhood. The appearance of Darius is a tasty bone thrown to lore hounds who may recognize the character as the owner of the tomb that was raided by Ezio in Assassin’s Creed II. Legacy of the Lost Blade’s first episode is noteworthy for its inclusion of the Order of the Ancients, the same proto-Templar organization Bayek fought against in last year’s game.
Hunted is all about lore and through the course of the three-hour adventure, we’ll learn that the Order of the Ancients began in Persia before the assassination of King Xerxes I. Although the cult has it out for Darius, they’ve sent a small contingent to Greece to hunt down the Eagle Bearer for reasons not made thoroughly clear yet. What we only know is that they consider Kassandra* a Tainted One who must be destroyed. What this Persian incursion means for the player is more people to assassinate, army and bandit camps to raid, and new conspiracies to unravel. The hidden blade is a total tease as it remains in Darius’s possession for the length of the DLC. However, Kassandra* gains a new skill in the Assassin skill tree, called Death Veil, and boy, is it a game changer. This passive ability is incredibly useful during infiltration runs because any enemy killed by an assassination attack completely disappears from the map, leaving no body behind for soldiers to discover and trigger an alert. Not that you’re expected to sneak your way through Makedonia. You’re more than welcome to “go loud” and stab dudes in the throat with a flaming spear. Death Veil makes sneaking your way through enemy territory a bit easier to manage. I have to admit: seeing enemies de-rezz like they were in a TRON movie is a little silly and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you think about it too hard.
Even with the appearance of a new enemy, it doesn’t take long for the DLC to fall back on Odyssey’s patterns. You’ll fight your way through a series of primary and secondary quests that see you trying to remove the Order of the Ancient’s influence in the region. There are moments in the story where certain dialog choices can affect the outcome of the scene, though nothing on the same global scale like before. The best moments in the episode are reserved for the confrontations between Kassandra* and her primary antagonist who engages her in a campaign of psychological warfare, forcing her to confront the morality of her actions and all the deaths she’s responsible for. Their tete-a-tete eventually comes to a head in a boss fight that proves, if nothing else, that Odyssey does right by its boss encounters.
Legacy of the Lost Blade’s first episode is largely setup and I’m not really sure where things are going to go from here, which is kind of exciting! I was amused to see the DLC introduce more cultists to hunt (“yo, dawg, I heard you like cultists…”). Were the 40+ Kosmos groupies not enough? I wanted the DLC to find ways to expand on the core game in new and interesting ways but now I’m concerned over whether or not we’ll be fighting cult members in every episode. It was an awesome and fitting mechanic for Origins and to see it get reused twice already threatens to dilute the concept. The added lore is a welcome addition in the episode but what Hunted boils down to is this: if what you want is to spend three more hours doing the same things you did for sixty hours, then Legacy of the Lost Blade’s first episode is a success on all fronts.
*If you’re not playing as Kassandra, you’re playing Odyssey wrong.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.