Much of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey‘s marketing push emphasized the importance of player choice. One choice in particular that garnered the publisher much praise concerned the lead character’s sexuality. Players can choose to have Alexios or Kassandra identify as straight, gay, bi, or asexual. To the dismay of countless fans, the second round of story DLC, Legacy of the Blade’s “Shadow Heritage” episode, entirely disregards players’ romantic preference for the protagonists. In the wake of backlash, Ubisoft has since issued an apology.
Spoilers for Legacy of the Blade follow.
Without getting into incremental details, the heat of the issue is as follows. In the DLC’s first episode, players meet Darius, a proto-Assassin responsible for the murder of King Xerxes I of Persia. If the player character is Alexios, Darius has a daughter named Neema. With Kassandra at the helm, players meet Darius’ son, Natakas.
Throughout the second episode, players’ romantic choices become an illusion. Players are allowed to determine whether they want their misthios to pursue a relationship with Darius’ offspring. Regardless of player choice, however, a montage near the episode’s end shows Alexios/Kassandra having had a child with Neema/Natakas. The trophy that pops following this surprise revelation is entitled, “Growing Up,” which seems to harmfully insinuate that parenthood is the be-all and end-all of adulthood.
In the hours after the DLC went live, the fan community online exploded with disappointment, with Ubisoft’s intentions critiqued. Many in the LGBTQ community felt that yet another mainstream franchise had robbed them of adequate representation. It didn’t matter if your Kassandra was a lesbian that had only romanced women during AC Odyssey’s main storyline. She’s now mother to a man’s child.
Ubisoft has responded to the backlash, issuing an apology and explaining the lack of choice on this front. A representative of the publisher told Eurogamer,
We strive to give players choice whenever possible in Odyssey and apologize 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.
A subsequent statement from Ubisoft on the matter appears below:
We don’t want to reveal too much right now, but we have always tried to keep the story inclusive of people of all sexual orientations, and players will be able to choose their motivations behind this particular narrative depending on their sexual preferences. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was developed by people of all sexual orientations, backgrounds, genders and beliefs, and we have tried to reflect that within the game.
For now, what this means for the narrative going forward remains to be seen. Given Assassin’s Creed’s emphasis on bloodlines throughout the long-running series, a child of Alexios/Kassandra will likely become integral in the future. However, could not the family’s bloodline have been preserved and carried on by some other means, to ensure player choice remained central to the experience?
Assassins Creed Odyssey Romance Options Ignored by Recent DLC