Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s creative director has apologized for a story choice in the game’s latest expansion that forces the main character into a heterosexual relationship, undoing the promises of same-sex romance options in the main game and reversing the personal stories some players may have built.
[Warning: The remainder of this post contains spoilers for “Shadow Heritage,” the second chapter of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Legacy of the First Blade add-on.]
Jonathan Dumont, in a post on the game’s forums, said that, despite developers’ benign intentions for chapter two of the Legacy of the First Blade expansion, “it is clear that we missed the mark.” Dumont said that the story arc, in which either Kassandra or Alexios ends up having a child, was meant to link those characters to the lineage of Assassins established elsewhere in the series.
That means that, even if a player refuses the romantic appeals, they still wind up having a child with the son (if playing as Kassandra) or daughter (as Alexios) of Darius, introduced in Odyssey as a proto-Assassin who is the first to use a hidden blade.
“Alexios/Kassandra realizing their own mortality and the sacrifice Leonidas and Myrrine [their grandfather and mother] made before them to keep their legacy alive, felt the desire and duty to preserve their important lineage,” Dumont reasoned. “Our goal was to let players choose between a utilitarian view of ensuring your bloodline lived on or forming a romantic relationship.”
The gravity of that choice — that is, to biologically perpetuate one’s bloodline despite their sexual orientation — was not apparent, Dumont acknowledged. “The clarity and motivation for this decision was poorly executed,” he said. “As you continue the adventure in [the next episode, ‘Bloodline,’] please know that you will not have to engage in a lasting romantic relationship if you do not desire to.”
After revealing the game at E3 2018, Ubisoft Quebec developers showcased the player choice of a male or female protagonist, along with the same-sex or different-sex romance options, both firsts for the 11-year-old series.
On the game’s subreddit, fans decried the major change in story direction, regardless of whether they had chosen same-sex relationships. “This is just really lazy and dumb on Ubisoft’s part,” said one. “Either stick to linear stories or give us total freedom. This weird in-between bullshit just makes all the optional dialogue and ‘choices’ feel like a complete waste of our time.”
“Being forced into ‘lol here get railroaded into a sexual [en]counter and have a baby?’ I literally recoiled,” wrote another player, who said they are bisexual.
“That honestly kills any desire for me to play the rest of the DLC. I really have no desire to have a romance plot shoved down my throat in a game that up until now at least gave me the option,” said a third. “What a poor decision.”
“We have read your responses online and taken them to heart,” Dumont said on the Ubisoft forums. “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.”
Further alienating some players was the name of a trophy/achievement given out after the scene where the character has the child. It’s called “Growing Up,” to which some took offense, believing it regarded being gay or childless as a youthful phase to grow out of.
Polygon reached out to a Ubisoft representative for comment but did not hear back as of publication time. Kotaku on Wednesday got a statement from Ubisoft saying that the trophy/achievement will be renamed in a future patch. However, the story and choices in the DLC itself will not be altered.
In his review of “Shadow Heritage,” Polygon’s Colin Campbell, playing as Kassandra, panned what he called the jarring story change.
“Natakas [Darius’ son] is a nice enough fella, but I don’t appreciate the way he moons over me,” he wrote. “There’s something desperate, even vaguely douchey, about his demeanor.” Despite making every effort to reject him, Kassandra still ended up “fetching groceries and cooing over her baby.
“It’s a travesty,” he concluded.
Correction (Jan. 18): An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the protagonist character marries their counterpart; the story makes no reference to marriage, though they do end up having a child together. This story has been revised throughout.