As well-received as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was, there was one aspect that’s proven controversial. A new DLC story chapter really raised some eyebrows, and Ubisoft have been forced to backtrack over some decisions they thrust the player into.
Buckle up for some minor story spoilers if you’re not up to date with the DLC, and let’s see what all the fracas is about.
As we saw last November, Odyssey is breaking its DLC campaigns up into episodes. The first slice of the first campaign, Legacy of the First Blade, launched on December 4, taking us deeper into the story of the origins of the Assassins.
Last week, the second part of Legacy of the First Blade dropped. It’s been dubbed Shadow Heritage, and it’s been… well, more than a little problematic. The controversy centers around a certain interaction that your character is forced to make, near the conclusion of the episode (which you might not want to know about just yet, so stop reading here if that’s the case).
As reported by Polygon, whether you’re playing as Alexios or Kassandra, you engage in a heterosexual relationship and conceive a baby. This baby will prove crucial to the overarching storyline, as they are the progenitor of what will become the Assassin’s lineage.
The issue is, the player may have been pursuing same-sex relationships with Kassandra or Alexios elsewhere in the game’s campaign. The disparity here caused a real backlash, and the writers’ assertion that they “had intended to show that, even despite their sexual orientation, either character found it imperative to continue their bloodline in light of sacrifices made by their forebears” didn’t really cut the mustard with anybody.
Prior to release, after all, Odyssey had made a bit of a song and dance of the fact that players would be able to choose their character’s sexuality, and pursue it as they wished. This was a huge step for Assassin’s Creed, and for the industry too. The LGBTQ community did not take kindly to all of that seemingly being invalidated.
After the irate response, an Ubisoft Community Manager confirmed that the team were taking these complaints on board:
“After hearing player feedback and discussing within the development team we are making changes to a cutscene and some dialogue in Shadow Heritage to better reflect the nature of the relationship for players selecting a non-romantic storyline. These changes, along with renaming a trophy/achievement, are being made now and will be implemented in an upcoming patch.
We’ve also been carefully looking at the next episode, Bloodline, to ensure the paths that players experience mirror the choices they make in game.”
GLAAD responded positively to the changes and the apology, defending their decision to celebrate Odyssey in their 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards (the first time video games have been recognised):
“Our decision to nominate Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is ultimately rooted in the understanding that progress can sometimes be messy… If we want to encourage developers and publishers to continue to make these types of bold moves in the future, we must allow for growth, acknowledge that missteps do occur, and give proper credit where credit is due.”
Acceptance, respect and understanding, going both ways? Maybe there’s hope for humanity after all.