Assassin’s Creed Odyssey doesn’t reach the heights of Origins and is marred by several optimization issues.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey much to many players’ surprise has turned out into an exceptional well-made game. Although the game is largely based on last year’s excellent Origins gameplay mechanics, Odyssey manages to build up on that fantastic benchmark by adding more variety and verticality in level design. Featuring fast paced combat, dialogue choices and much more, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a drastic deviation from what makes a true Assassin’s Creed game but it’s all for the better. But how does the game perform from a technical perspective and does it manage to build upon the technology that made Origins such a wonderful looking game? Let’s find out.
Running on AnvilNext 2.0, the engine that has powered almost all Assassin’s Creed games this generation, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey brings all the usual traits of physical based lighting on the table. From material-based shaders to dynamic lighting and from impressive ship sections to an open world that is filled with intricate details and a ton of things to do, Odyssey is perhaps the busiest Assassin’s Creed game in terms of the things it’s doing all together at once. The world is absolutely massive and as mentioned before has a vertical level design with explorable seas and hidden caves allowing players to get lost in the world. Compared to Origins, Odyssey has a darker tone and the color palette of the game reflects that to an extent. Burned villages or fully realized cities, Odyssey has got the details down to the T with each location fully supported with your usual alpha and volumetric effects.
The biggest change comes in the form of dialogue exchanges between the player and the various NPCs, and this gives us the perfect opportunity to check the out the animation framework in action. For the most part, the conversation animations are really good but there are instances where Odyssey clearly falters with random gestures and weird movements. It’s not a game breaking issue but it can pull players out of the immersion. In short, the up-close animations during conversations are fine but the in-game ones for NPCs are absolutely terrible. In one of the sequences, the player has to follow a woman for new equipment and her running animations are absolutely hilarious! It’s stunningly bad. Unfortunately, animations have never been the series strong point but Odyssey is a new low for the series.
Up close, character models look great, the tress effects of both Kassandra and Alexios are exceptionally implemented. Even the NPCs during one on one conversations look good with fully implemented physics-based clothing simulation and skin shaders. Furthermore, the ship sections are easily one of the best in Odyssey with fantastic water and volumetric effects, and given that this is a Ubisoft developed game, water has to look good, right? These sections further benefit by the use of explosions, destruction and various volumetric effects like smoke and wind.
However, this amount of detail in the huge open world comes with a slight disadvantage. Now this is purely based on our assumption, but there seems to be a slight downgrade in terms of visual fidelity when one compares Odyssey to Origins. There seems to be something off with Odyssey in terms of its lighting tech…the image quality (not in terms of pixel count) isn’t as sharp as Origins. This is not to say that Odyssey is a bad looking game but as someone who completed the latest DLC of Origins a couple of days ago, the visual gap is clearly noticeable for me.
So, how does the game perform on consoles and PC? Let us begin with the PC build. The developers recommend an AMD Ryzen 1700X @ 3.8 GHz or Intel Core i7 7700 @ 4.2 GHz CPU, AMD Vega 64 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0) GPU and 16GB of memory. Note that the recommended requirements noted here are for 4K resolution at 30fps with HIGH settings. Graphical settings include but are not limited to texture detail, water effects, ambient occlusion, depth of field, screen space reflection, shadows, and an adaptive quality option that tries to maintain the required fps whilst making changes to the anti-aliasing solution on the fly.
Our test build consists of GTX 1080Ti, 16GB of GDDR4 memory and Ryzen 1700 CPU. We tested the game on Ultra High settings and performance was a bit disappointing, specially at 1080p. We ran the benchmark and the game clearly struggles to hold a solid 60fps at 1080p and this comes off as a surprise to us because Origins ran great at the same setting and on the same test PC specifications. At 4K resolution and Ultra High settings, performance is where we expected it to be, in the 30s but there were some drastic frame rate drops here and there. We also tested the game at an intermediate resolution and got more or less the same performance at 1080p. Furthermore, the game suffers from a strange blurring effect when we ran the game at 1080p resolution. We are not sure how widespread this issue is but it’s most likely a driver issue, However, this is something that the developers should have taken care of as this is the resolution point many players will play at. Overall, we are not pleased with how Odyssey performs on the PC. It’s a clear-cut case of a game that is in desperate need of some optimization and coming off from the excellent Origins, we are more or less disappointed with the PC port’s performance.
So, what about the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X versions? Other than the usual gulf in resolutions between the two version there are some interesting difference between the two platforms. The PS4 Pro seems to have less frame rate drops compared to the Xbox One X, hitting that 30fps cap more often than its Microsoft’s counterpart. However, the PS4 Pro for some odd reason has really long loading times with each conversation often interrupted by black screens. It’s an absolute immersion breaker and given how narrative heavy the game is, it can be downright frustrating waiting for the game to resume. Furthermore, the Xbox One X excels in better shadow quality, ambient occlusion and slightly better draw distances compared to the PS4 Pro build. However, in terms of core assets like texture quality, volumetric effects, and texture filtering both versions are similar. Comparing the PC version against the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro versions, it’s clear the consoles lack the quality of level of detail, shadows, screen space reflections and draw distances as seen on a more powerful platform.
Overall, in terms of sheer visual quality, there is nothing like the PC version. But as noted earlier, performance isn’t great on the PC. Performance on consoles is more stable but it isn’t exactly on point either. This game needs optimization patches in the future and given how Ubisoft plans to support the game in the long run, we are hopeful things will improve. But as it stands, consoles are better than PC in terms of expected performance relative to each platform’s strengths but in terms of visual fidelity, it’s the usual order of PC, followed by Xbox One X and then by PS4 Pro.