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Ubisoft apologises for forcing heterosexual romance in Assassin's Creed Odyssey DLC

Publisher explains story-based decision behind relationship but admits it was “poorly executed”

The developers of Assassin's Creed Odyssey have apologised for the latest DLC forcing players into a heterosexual relationship.

In Shadow Heritage, the latest instalment of the game's Legacy of the First Blade expansion series, the main character enters a relationship with a member of the opposite sex and has a child.

However, this contradicts earlier promises made by Ubisoft Quebec about enabling players to define their own sexuality in a role-playing game. In the main game, players are able to take partners of either gender.

In fact, creative director Jonathan Dumont told Entertainment Weekly in October that, because the story is choice-driven, "we never force players [into] romantic situations they might not be comfortable with."

Yet in Shadow Heritage, while you can rebuff your partner's advances, the story dictates that you will still end up procreating with them, which has frustrated many players.

Fans also took umbridge with the name of the achievement/trophy granted for having a child, 'Growing Up', arguing this implies non-heterosexual relationships are a phase experienced between young people before settling into a straight partnership.

Dumont has since told Kotaku this will be renamed in a patch, and issued an apology on the game's official forums. He explained that the purpose of this plot was to "explain how your character's bloodline has a lasting impact on the Assassins" (given that Odyssey takes place before all previous games) but admits that "we missed the mark."

"Alexios/Kassandra realising 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," Dumont wrote. "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."

Dumont assured fans that Ubisoft has "read your responses online and taken them to heart", describing the situation as a "learning experience" for the publisher.

"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."

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Latest comments (9)

Ralph Tricoche Studying MA, CUNY2 years ago
Sad that you now have to apologize for the story you wanted to tell.
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James Berg Games User Researcher 2 years ago
Ralph, the issue isn't the story being told, it's not respecting player agency (decision who to romance) *and* going back on what UbiQ said would happen in the story (you wouldn't be forced into it)
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Alex Bunch Proof Reader, ZiCorp Studios2 years ago
James, they should never have made that pledge in the first place. A knee jerk reaction to a vocal minority and ends up painting themselves into a corner in ALL future games story wise.
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Show all comments (9)
Daniel Trezub QA Analyst, Ludia2 years ago
Trying to have more diversity and inclusion in games is not "a knee jerk reaction to a vocal minority". It's a global trend, and probably Ubi saw that this "vocal minority" has money to spend on their games so they tried to reach for them.
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Angelo a guy, Dacori2 years ago
I liked the ending. I played as Kassandra. I guessed from the beginning of the first DLC story that she would end up with Natakas to preserve their bloodline. Sure he may be a boring dude but Darius is awesome and Kassandra is badass. Ubisoft has no reason to apologize. They gave you the choice to chose who you wanted to bone throughout the game which had no impact on the story anyway. The ending of this episode was forced because its part of their story they wanted to tell. That's it. Now everyone shut up about it.
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Hugo Trepanier Senior Game Designer, Ludia2 years ago
Diversity is laudable, not mandatory. We can't have every single plot point in every single game be entirely up to the player's decision. It makes no sense from a development point of view to offer every possible choice always, and we shouldn't have to apologize for taking certain creative decisions on the player's behalf.
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Any game that lauds giving players narrative choices to shape and identify with their character which then forces said character into an enormous, life-changing decision like having a child has made a serious misstep. For a lot of women who identified with and admired Kassandra after hours and hours of gameplay, seeing her suddenly forced by the story into a heterosexual relationship and having a baby is more than just narratively dissonant for the character they had thought her to be - it's literally the stuff of nightmares.

I'm glad Ubisoft apologised but I'm amazed that they made such a big error in the first place when up til now everyone had been full of praise for their narrative.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 2 years ago
So when the game makes a romantic decision for us it is the end of the world and when the game decides we should now murder anyone without a trial based on hearsay (quest text) and bribery (sorry, loot and xp) it is ok somehow?

What happened to diversity in conflict resolution? Where is the diplomatic chat options during combat missions?
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David Cornelius Software Engineer, Dire Wolf Digital, LLC2 years ago
Lots of people here being purposefully obtuse, for whatever reason. At no point was writing a heterosexual romance into your narrative outlawed, but it is most definitely a betrayal of the players' agency and their personal narrative (which, again, Ubisoft said would be protected). In the same way that a game with non-violent solutions to every conflict ending with a gigantic pyrotechnic boss fight, the design is letting down the player and their expectations. Not to mention all the questionable messaging about the place of same-sex relationships i.e. "I fooled around when I was younger, but settled down and 'grew up'"
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