Please note that this story includes some spoilers for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey content.
Ubisoft has apologised for a new Assassin’s Creed Odyssey DLC episode that forces the in-game protagonist into a heterosexual relationship.
While the full game permits the male or female protagonist to pursue romance options regardless of sexuality, Legacy of the First Blade episode 2, however, forces a straight relationship, subverting what many fans feel was a key part of their main-game experience. It also sits in contradiction to a statement creative director Jonathan Dumont gave to Entertainment Weekly at the time of Odyssey’s release, which said: "since the story is choice-driven, we never force players in romantic situations they might not be comfortable with."
"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 said in a post on the game’s forums (thanks, Kotaku). "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.
"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," Dumont added. "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.
"We have read your responses online and taken them to heart," he concluded. "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."
Despite the chiefly negative fan feedback, an Ubisoft representative confirmed to Kotaku that the content of the second DLC will not be changed or updated, but said that the next expansion will "make the character development and choice much more clear to players, and that is where they will be able to decide how they want to handle their relationship now that they have ensured that their bloodline will continue".
However, Ubisoft has promised to rename the trophy/achievement players receive after their character has a child – currently called "Growing Up" – after fans reported the name implied that being gay, or choosing not to have children, was a temporary phase of being young or immature.
"It was definitely not written with that intention," Dumont said by way of an additional statement. "This was an oversight in the review process and we very regrettably missed it. We share the frustration of players who find this offensive and the achievement/trophy name will be changed when DLC 1.3 patch is available."