Assassin’s Creed Odyssey vs. Witcher 3

Anvil (known as Scimitar until 2009) is an engine developed by Ubisoft Montreal for use with two of its most successful franchises, Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia. One of its most innovative features is its use of Autodesk’s HumanIK middle-ware package.

Source: Anvil (game engine) | Assassin’s Creed Wiki | Fandom

According to the AC Wiki, the game engine used, apparently, by the (most of the) entire series is an Ubisoft-developed one designated “Anvil.”

REDengine is a game engine developed by CD Projekt Red exclusively for their nonlinear role-playing video games. It is the replacement of the Aurora Engine CD Projekt Red had previously licensed from BioWare for the development of The Witcher.

REDengine 3 was designed to run exclusively on a 64-bit software platform. CD Projekt Red created REDengine 3 for the purpose of developing open world video game environments, such as those of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It introduces improvements to facial and other animations.

Source: CD Projekt – Wikipedia

According to Wikipedia, the game engine used for The Witcher 3 is a CDPR-developed one designated “REDengine.”

I find these facts to be difficult to reconcile. The two games are remarkably similar in many ways, which all seem to be the responsibility of the game “engine.” Examine the similarities:

  • Environment rendering: Both games have a very similar level of detail in rendering vegetation and buildings. Both feel similar in how the character moves, and his size compared to his surroundings and the camera viewport.
  • Map: Both games use a white question mark on the world map to indicate an unknown point of interest.
  • Swimming: This one feels like a dead giveaway. While the water is rendered very differently, swimming feels the same. The animations are very similar, and the controls are exactly the same, including a little burst of speed. Also, both have floating debris above places you should dive to find loot.
  • Quest list: Both games have a very similar quest list, which you can sort by distance or difficulty.
  • Level scaling: Again, it feels like this is a dead giveaway. Both games are very similar in terms of difficulty with respect to level difference between the character and enemies. In both games, if an enemy is one level higher than you, you should expect a very difficult fight. If they are 2 levels higher, it will be almost impossible, and don’t even think about any more than that.
  • Skill points: Both games have similar “trees” of related skills to specialize in, though Witcher 3 takes this to the extreme. Both can accommodate different “builds” of character, but the Witcher 3’s system is much more interesting.
  • Equipment: Both games have 5 armor slots and 2 main weapons slots. Both games deal extensively, yet pointlessly, with bonus differences in armor and weapons, as both games require ruthless scavenging and deconstruction of randomly-found gear in order to afford to upgrade the couple of sets of legendary gear you’ll actually want to keep, use, and improve.
  • Mounts: Both have mounts that you can whistle for, and magically appear 20 meters away. Both run through forests, “glancing” easily off trees (very much unlike RDR2), but get really fiddly when trying to climb rocky terrain. You can throw a body over the rear of the horse for transport in both games.
  • Sherlock Holmes mode: Both have little quests to discover clues to advance the plot, but there’s no analogue of “Witcher vision” in Odyssey. Just the same little magnifying glass icon to direct your attention.
  • Collectibles: Both have a little shimmer on collectibles as they pop up in your view in the world.

With all of these mechanical similarities, it’s hard for me not to make comparisons while I’m playing AC Odyssey. Once I turned down the difficulty, and got ahead of the level curve in the game, I’ve quite enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it’s almost too long, as if such a thing were possible in a video game. I’m sure I have a couple hundred hours in the game now, and I’m still only in the mid-60’s, for a game that maxes out at level 100. And I’m certain there are enough side quests for me to easily hit that mark. It’s just going to take several hundred more hours to get there.

Witcher 3’s world was large, but it felt manageable. Odyssey’s world feels almost like the real world. I looked this up, and AC Odyssey has one of the largest open worlds made to date. It’s breathtaking to look at. It just goes on and on. It’s filled with towns and cities that have unique buildings. Each of the forts are carefully constructed. However, the wilderness is filled with camps and outposts and random encounters that are cookie-cutter, cut-and-paste, and a waste of time. If the world was half as big, I would find their density appealing. In a world this size? When I want to find and “do” each question mark on the map? It’s exhausting.

I really like AC Odyssey, and I’m glad I bought it. However, I bought it with the game pass, and these kinds of games are just getting out of hand. Borderlands 3 has “events” which you can participate in. I’m not clear if some of the quests I’m seeing in AC:O are a similar thing. It’s confusing to me what missions belong to what. I mean, there are missions colored in white, which are the base game missions, but there are missions colored in cyan and orange which belong to… what? Expansions? Events? I’ve played this game off and on for over a year now, and the system is so vast that I’m still not clear. I finished one stage of the orange-colored Atlantis subplot quests (where you kill 4 legendary monsters and get yet-another, marginally-useful, gold-tier unique staff), but now I’m running through a different set of cyan-colored missions with one of my main henchmen. Where does this plot line come from? I don’t know. I suppose it doesn’t matter. I should just play the content available to me, and take it or leave it.

Tangentially, I really regret buying the Borderlands 3 game pass. I do not enjoy the game. Every enemy is a bullet sponge. It’s exhausting and repetitive. I finally forced myself to finish the main quest, but then uninstalled it. I don’t care about participating in some fabricated online “thing,” dominated by sweaty try-hards, to get a drop with a 1% chance of getting something interesting. That sounds like an MMO, and I’ve concluded that sort of thing is not really for me.

There was a time when I learned that, if I like a game, I will enjoy all the extra content, so it became automatic to buy a game pass. Borderlands 2 is a good example. However, with Red Dead Redemption 2, Borderlands 3, Spider-Man, and Doom Eternal, I’ve learned that this is no longer automatic. I got lucky with AC:O, but I will no longer pre-order anything, nor automatically buy the game pass. I will wait and read the reviews before buying, and then see if I like the game before I spend the money on the expansions. The next Borderlands game will be a take-off on the Tiny Tiny D&D campaign from B2. This would have been an automatic, pre-order, with all the fixins, just a year ago, but I’ve learned my lesson.

I’m eagerly awaiting the PlayStation 5 respin of Witcher 3. I’ll get it, even if there’s a cost associated. It will be the third time I will have played it through, which means the 5th, including “new game plus” mode. I finished the main quest in Odyssey around level 70, and started over in NG+. I’m worried that I will never have enough money and resources to fully upgrade the gear I like to use. I should have finished the majority of quests before I restarted, and I’d have had all those extra resources. On the other hand, when I looked, I had — thanks to the season pass — like, 5 more DLC to install which I haven’t even seen yet. So, my complaint about there being — in essence — too much content got even stronger.

They’re going to make the next one endless. That’s just great.

The next game in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise will unfold across multiple historical settings and receive persistent updates, according to a report from Bloomberg. The game, which is currently codenamed Assassin’s Creed Infinity, will join the likes of Fortnite and Apex Legends by offering ongoing updates to keep players engaged.

Source: Ubisoft announces Assassin’s Creed Infinity, a live service game – Polygon