[Spoilers: This article contains spoilers for the main story of the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey DLC]
After dealing with a long-running and overly-repetitive game style in previous entries, Ubisoft released the breath of fresh air that was Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The update to the franchise changed how the game played and felt and even got the #9 spot on MXDWN’s Top 10 Games of 2018 List.
With its success, a DLC was made titled “Legacy of the First Blade”. Recently, the second chapter of this DLC titled “Shadow Heritage” launched, which ended up being overwhelmingly controversial.
In the main game, players can choose between playing either Kassandra, or Alexios. And during the main game, players can role-play Kassandra/Alexios as different sexual orientations or completely dodge all romantic relationships. This led to a lot of praise from many LGBT players as the previous installments of Assassin’s Creed only had the story based on heterosexual romances. This choice-based part of who the players can or cannot romance was a huge step in the right direction for many fans.
But this changed in “Shadow Heritage”.
In the second chapter of the DLC, players meet the first assassin, an old man by the name of Darius, and his child. If players are as Kassandra, Darius has a son named Natakas; if players are as Alexios, Darius has a daughter named Neema. And, by the end of the chapter, either assassin you play as has a child with Darius’s offspring.
In “Shadow Heritage”, players can deny the romantic relationship all they want, using choices to turn down the advances of whoever is attempting to woo them. The final choice of the chapter either has the player accept the romantic advances, settle down, and have a child, or turn away the advances and be on their way. Except, if players choose to turn down the advances, the aforementioned child of Darius will approach the player’s character anyways, and they still settle down and have a child. There is no actual ‘walk-away’ choice.
Because Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has the options for players to role-play their chosen assassin as whatever they wanted in terms of sexual orientation, this left a sour note in many players’ mouth.
Heather Alexandra, a writer over at Kotaku, wrote in her review of the new chapter what was on a lot of people’s mind surrounding this controversial situation:
My Kassandra was strictly lesbian. And yet here, after countless hours where my dialog selections defined her character, Kassandra is forced down a path that I wouldn’t have chosen. Hell, I’d tried to avoid it. It can feel like a slap in the face, particularly if you were playing Kassandra as gay, to have her embrace domesticity, a heterosexual relationship, and motherhood.
Alexandra’s experience was not a singularity, either. A Reddit post that has since been removed showed that people are still telling their experiences regarding this false choice, and exemplified that for many LGBT players, this was universal. The Steam page reviews section, while mixed, more or less reflected the negative responses as those over on the Reddit page. Furthermore, the response on the Ubisoft Forums seems to be the same as well. Even a Kassandra-based tumblr account joined the backlash.
Naturally, Ubisoft noticed.
Only a day after the release of the second chapter and the immense backlash, creative director Jonathan Dumont came forth with an extended apology discussing the choices they made and how while their intentions were a specific way, they “missed the mark.” The apology continues on, talking about how the team were touched by the dedication to the players’ Alexios and Kassandra and how the role-playing choices weren’t ever meant to be denied. Dumont does mention that in the upcoming third chapter of the DLC, players won’t have to continue with the romantic relationship if they choose not to. But that wasn’t enough for some people.
The thread this commenter mentions is here.
The quote that this commenter mentions is from an Entertainment Weekly article that has an interview with Dumont and other developers that goes into the choice based system and how players can choose whether or not to romance other characters in the game.
With no words on whether or not the DLC will change in the second chapter to better fit the choices that players can make as their chosen assassin, it can only be assumed that the chapter will stay this way. As mentioned above, the third chapter of “Legacy of the First Blade” will allow players to choose on whether or not to be a part of the forced heterosexual romantic relationship, and can carry on their way.