Hey everyone, remember when I reviewed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and praised it for its freedom of choice? That same choice that allowed me to take the absolute unit Kassandra and romance every beautiful woman I met but also spurn every man that looked at me for too long? It was thrilling to see one of the big names in modern gaming allow player choice, giving us romance options that let us create a character that represented our community. Well I take it back, because the latest DLC Legacy of the First Blade just forced my beautiful lesbian mercenary into a relationship with a man, and I never got a say in the matter.
To shed some light, when Assassin’s Creed Odyssey first revealed itself it was quickly discovered it would be introducing romance options, a new addition to the newly RPG focused game. Shortly after it was revealed this would include same sex romance and that would also offer you the option to be straight, gay/lesbian or bi. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly the games narrative director, Melissa MacCoubrey, said.
“We knew that if we were making a game about choice, that philosophy had to permeate throughout the entire experience and not just gameplay. Having same-sex partners is part of that ability to play your own odyssey, and it was something we knew we wanted.”
This was a new Assassin’s Creed for a new age and we were expecting it to be nominated at the GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Video Game, which is due to announce its nominations in the next few days.
While you will still be able to live your best gay life in the main game, the addition of the first paid story DLC raised alarm bells for me, as a specific character would appear as a man for Kassandra and as a woman for Alexios, and you would have strangely deep conversations about your future. However, today Episode 2: Shadow Heritage released and if you’re concerned about story spoilers I wouldn’t read beyond this point, but boy did it boil my blood.
Through the new DLC Kassandra befriends Dairius, a proto-assassin who killed King Xerxes I of Persia, and his son/daughter, Natakas/Neema as they flee their Persian enemies. While dealing with a new arm of the cult you will weaken the forces of the Persian enemy that is trying to wipe out any blood corrupted by the Isu, such as Dairius and yourself.
Regardless of my choices however, as Episode 2 came to a close I was greeted by Dairius and Natakas in my home that triggered a cutscene. Kassandra was at a market buying more food as there are more mouths to feed. While my blood pressure rose about what that could mean it was revealed that the extra mouth was my creepy child Elpidios, who I had mothered with the exceedingly bland Natakas.
I was furious. There was no choice given to me; the option to say farewell to the father and son still resulted in this outcome. My character who I had exclusively had female relationships with had settled down with a man, against my will. I was quick to check the internet to see if I had missed a choice only to discover that no, I hadn’t missed anything. Regardless of what you did this was the only outcome and if you played as Alexios you fathered the child with Neema.
The real sting? The achievement I received. “Growing Up” ties in a little too closely to the idea that Kassandra was going through “a phase” and hadn’t found the right man to “fix her”. This is an awful sentiment that many LGBT+ people hear from closed minded people in their lives. Even if you had played the characters as bi it still ties into that idea that choosing the opposite gender is the grown up thing to do, something that our bi brothers and sister hear far too often.
In a post that has since been deleted on Reddit by moderators, despite it’s 800+ upvotes, user star621 commented on the toxicity hidden behind this move.
“I’m a lesbian, I was happy to be able to play a character like myself the same way guys or straight women who play games do. Ubisoft made a big fucking deal of being able to choose your character’s sexual orientation. It was part of their marketing campaign. They used what is clearly a lie to sell the game.”
As of yet Ubisoft hasn’t made a public statement but a spokesperson for the company has stated in a response to Eurogamer when they reached out.
“We strive to give players choice whenever possible in Odyssey and apologise to those surprised by the events in this episode. Without spoiling it, you will engage in an important relationship as part of a set story. The motivation behind this relationship is yours to explore in game and will be reflected in your character’s story arc. There is one episode left in Legacy of the First Blade which will tie your character’s actions together.”
Personally, the third episode in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Legacy of the First Blade will need to really write itself out of this corner. If I am being honest right now it reads as if they just didn’t think any of the players who chose exclusively lesbian or gay characters would care and now they don’t know what to do. For the foreseeable future, I’m mad, but most of all I’m tired. Tired of developers being shocked by the LGBT+ community demanding better representation and more respect than this.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was sold to us as offering freedom of choice and freedom of sexuality, something our community begs for so often, and it seems that we were lied to. Instead that freedom only goes as far as they are willing to offer it, and once they decide we’ve had our fill, well then it’s time for “Growing Up” and heteronormative relationships.
For now I just want to say that however you chose to play your mysthios is valid, regardless of the things you’ll start hearing about all of this, and so is your identity beyond this game. Now please enjoy this image of MY Kassandra enjoying the ocean view with her true love, Kyra.