Setting & Mercenary Life
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is set during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, and shows a civilized world riven by war and conflict. Ancient Greece has been torn between the two sides, but players aren't actually forced into loyalty to one faction.
Instead, we play as a misthios, or a mercenary that can wade between violet Athens or red Sparta at will. I absolutely love how Ubisoft handled this. We're a sellsword, a hired merc who plays both sides for profit and gain. You can accept a quest from a Spartan lieutenant to kill Athenians, and then jump over to an Athenian camp and grab some drachmae to kill some Spartans. There's a realistic portrayal of war during this era as many groups of fighters would simply go back and forth to whomever paid them the most, not unlike the Golden Company in A Song of Ice and Fire.
But Odyssey goes farther to illustrate the chaos of the Peloponnesian War. Greece is constantly shifting in leadership; control of specific regions will flux back and forth between Athens and Sparta. What Athens controls one day may be taken by Sparta, and vice-versa, as the two wrestle for dominance of the democratic world.
You can and will have a direct effect on this dynamic shift. Eventually, your meddling sparks grand conquest battles that are quite fun...if not long-winded at times. Things you do will lessen one side's influence--do a bunch of missions for Spartans in an Athenian-controlled region will lower their power, especially if you kill officers and key magisters, burn supplies, and sabotage camps. Once a side's power is low enough you can trigger a big sprawling battle that offers nice gear rewards and experience (both are huge drivers for growth and progress).
This power struggle continues without your presence though. The world is alive and control of regions will change back and forth even without your interference. Ubisoft is pushing its dynamism skills even further with Odyssey.
Like everything else in Odyssey, this conquest mechanic is neatly and organically folded into the historical setting. It feels authentic and taps into the brutality of the bloody war that cut a swath through this majestic and civilized slice of the world.
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