The second chapter of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey's Legacy of the First Blade DLC launched just yesterday, but it's already aggravated players. One of the key components of Odyssey is its focus on player choice. That design focus was reflected in all of the hype leading up to the game's launch, as well as much of the PR focus around the game. And to be fair to Ubisoft, the base game does absolutely reflect the player's autonomy. The story changes and develops based on the actions the player makes, with both binary choices like "kill this guy, or don't kill this guy" as well as some more obscure ones.
As Odyssey was the first game in the series to offer players romance choices, the same sense of autonomy was written into the romance systems as well. Players can choose to romance men, women, both, or none as they see fit.
Except in Legend of the First Blade.
Yes, we're going to talk about something that happens in a DLC just released yesterday, so do consider this your spoiler warning.
The second episode gives players the choice to have a baby with Darius's child, or walk away. However, the choice is disregarded by the narrative, as the player ends up with a baby either way. You can watch the sheer insanity of the forced choice back to back on YouTube if you'd like, but spoiler warnings still apply.
Fans took to Reddit in the last day or so to make sure their feelings on being forced into a romantic relationship were heard. And they were.
Odyssey creative director Jonathan Dumont provided a statement regarding the narrative to Eurogamer which you can read below:
"Reading through player responses of our new DLC for Legacy of the First Blade, Shadow Heritage, we want to extend an apology to players disappointed by a relationship your character partakes in. The intention of this story was to explain how your character's bloodline has a lasting impact on the Assassins, but looking through your responses it is clear that we missed the mark.
"Alexios/Kassandra realising their own mortality and the sacrifice Leonidas and Myrrine made before them to keep their legacy alive, felt the desire and duty to preserve their important lineage. Our goal was to let players choose between a utilitarian view of ensuring your bloodline lived on or forming a romantic relationship. We attempted to distinguish between the two but could have done this more carefully as we were walking a narrow line between role-play choices and story, and the clarity and motivation for this decision was poorly executed. As you continue the adventure in next episode Bloodline, please know that you will not have to engage in a lasting romantic relationship if you do not desire to.
"We have read your responses online and taken them to heart. This has been a learning experience for us. Understanding how attached you feel to your Kassandra and your Alexios is humbling and knowing we let you down is not something we take lightly. We'll work to do better and make sure the element of player choice in Assassin's Creed Odyssey carries through our DLC content so you can stay true to the character you have embodied throughout."
While Dumont's recognition that the story completely invalidates all of the work players have poured into their characters over a few hundred hours of decision making and roleplaying, but it may be difficult to fix the mistake after-the-fact. We can really only hope future DLC episodes and stories do a better job of handling the difficult dance of directing a narrative while also allowing players to make meaningful choices.