The rise of microtransactions in the video game space has been one surrounded bycontention and dissenting opinions, from fans and journalists alike. We've seen the likes of Electronic Arts take a huge hit this last year and a half, between the predatory tactics they used in Star Wars Battlefront II and the recent legislation regarding underage gambling and loot-boxes in the Netherlands. Ubisoft and the Assassin's Creed series are no strangers to that conversation either; the series' most recent entry, Odyssey, hasn't been an exception.
The powder keg that set the conversation off was an opinion piece posted on Polygon titled, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s best feature costs an extra 10 bucks. In the piece Chris Plante, the author, details how much of a grind the game can be saying, “using the $10 option makes Alexios or Kassandra more likely to be the same level as their target, and gives your character stronger moves to deal a lethal blow rather than a torpid poke. You’re paying for Ubisoft to make you feel like the hero you should be in this sort of game.” His primary argument being that the time needed to grind and level up to continue the story, does the game a disservice for the people that don’t have that kind of time to sink into it.
Plante isn’t alone in this sentiment either. Popular youtuber, Jim Sterling, posted a video tearing into it on the day of the game’s release titled Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – It’s Grindy, It’s Greedy, It’s Ubisoft! He’s cited as saying “Assassin's Creed Odyssey is one damn greedy game. In addition to its half dozen special editions, its Amazon Alexa tie-in, its Totino's promotion, and its season pass, it's filled to the brim with microtransactions. As well as all that, it's been purposefully turned into a grindfest in order to sell XP boosters, like this is some free-to-play mobile game.” A focal point of his video was that the menu label where the XP booster is located is named “time savers,” which Sterling argues is an admission on the part of Ubisoft that they are wasting your time with the base game’s grind. It should be noted that Sterling is quite radical with his opinions regarding microtransactions, regardless of how light or heavy they may be in the grand scheme of the game.
The argument hasn’t been so one-sided, however. Forbes’ Paul Tassi published an article titled Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Microtransactions: Predatory or Pointless? In it he argues that the practice here is less than predatory, noting that in his 60 hours of play, he never even realized there was an XP booster. He suggests that the “grind” is something placed in the game as a way to encourage players to explore, and take part in the story focused side quests, which he calls The Witcher 3-esque.
I haven’t quite had the time to sink my teeth into Assassin’s Creedy: Odyssey well enough to form a real opinion, but I know Origins had a very similar leveling system where it took some time to level up. Yet, not once did I find it to be a grind. The side quests had a ton of attention put into them, and I often found myself enjoying them more than I did the main story. This seems to be the case with Odyssey as well, but because of the climate among the general public regarding microtransactions as an overall practice, it's difficult to implement even the simplest microtransactions that impact gameplay, without facing backlash. People simply have been burned too often by the practice to feel comfortable with what seem to be innocent practices in that sphere.
That being said, if you’ve been playing Odyssey, sound off in the comments about this. Did you even know the XP boost was in the game? Did you buy the boost and did it make the game significantly better for you? Is the game too much of a grind to enjoy without the boost?