In the realm of gaming, a medium that often lacks for robust LGBTQ visibility, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey stood out for queer gamers by introducing options to pursue same-sex relationships in a choice-driven ancient Greek setting. But these additions also made the most recent DLC a let down.
Jonathan Dumont, the creative director behind Odyssey, released a formal apology Wednesday over the newly released Shadow Heritage chapter of Legacy of the First Blade. Dumont once told EW, “We never force players in romantic situations they might not be comfortable with,” but this second installment of the DLC story forced players back into a heterosexual relationship, no matter what choices were made along the way.
“Reading through player responses of our new DLC for Legacy of the First Blade, Shadow Heritage, we want to extend an apology to players disappointed by a relationship your character partakes in,” Dumont wrote on the game’s community message board. “The intention of this story was to explain how your character’s bloodline has a lasting impact on the Assassins, but looking through your responses it is clear that we missed the mark.”
Spoiler warning for the Legacy of the First Blade DLC.
If you play as Alexios, the male “misthios” mercenary, you form a bond with the daughter of Persian assassin Darius. If you play as Kassandra (who is female), it’ll be the same, but with Darius’ son. Rebuking the options to flirt is still an option, but many LGBTQ players once thrilled by the ability to play as an identifiable queer character were turned off by the DLC’s conclusion, which sees Alexios/Kassandra conceiving a child with Darius’ offspring.
A response piece on Kotaku reads, “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.”
In a lengthy thread on Reddit, many LGBTQ players called out those earlier comments from the Odyssey creative team. “Players decide if they want to engage with characters romantically,” Dumont told EW. “I think this allows everybody to build the relationships they want, which I feel respects everybody’s roleplay style and desires.”
“I’m a lesbian,” one user wrote in a comment that appears to have been deleted. “I was happy to be able to play a character like myself the same way guys or straight women who play games do. Ubisoft made a big f—ing deal of being able to choose your character’s sexual orientation. It was part of their marketing campaign. They used what is clearly a lie to sell the game.”
In his apology, Dumont said, “Alexios/Kassandra realizing their own mortality and the sacrifice Leonidas and Myrrine made before them to keep their legacy alive, felt the desire and duty to preserve their important lineage. Our goal was to let players choose between a utilitarian view of ensuring your bloodline lived on or forming a romantic relationship. We attempted to distinguish between the two but could have done this more carefully as we were walking a narrow line between role-play choices and story, and the clarity and motivation for this decision was poorly executed. As you continue the adventure in next episode Bloodline, please know that you will not have to engage in a lasting romantic relationship if you do not desire to.”
He added, “We have read your responses online and taken them to heart. This has been a learning experience for us. Understanding how attached you feel to your Kassandra and your Alexios is humbling and knowing we let you down is not something we take lightly. We’ll work to do better and make sure the element of player choice in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey carries through our DLC content so you can stay true to the character you have embodied throughout.”