Way back in mid-January, a story DLC for Assassin's Creed Odyssey was released titled Legacy of the First Blade Part 2 – Shadow Heritage. The DLC was probably most notable not for the ways it progressed the state of the world or plot lines about assassination, but because of a forced romance scene that occurred.
The following contains minor spoilers for the story of Assassin's Creed Odyssey and its DLC.
Put simply, the game forces you to have a sexual encounter with someone whose genital configuration differs from your own, resulting in pregnancy. Playing as a woman you sleep with a man who gets you pregnant, and playing as a man you sleep with a woman and get her pregnant. This is a non-optional part of the experience, and came with the heavy implication that romance and sexual attraction were factors in the choice.
Look, I get the awkward situation that Ubisoft ended up in. It wanted a game where it could let players make their own choices and roleplay as a character with the sexual orientation of their choice. But it also had a very particular story it wanted to tell that just so happened to involve your player character having a biological child. Ubisoft wanted to have its cake and eat it too, and I guess it didn't quite twig that telling players they could choose to be gay, then forcing a domestic life in a heterosexual relationship with a baby, might just be directly flying in the face of that promised player agency.
There were countless ways Ubisoft could have avoided this issue. By the end of the plot, Alexios or Kassandra – whoever you decide to play as – is practically a god; why not opt for some kind of immaculate conception storyline? Or perhaps your sibling could be the one to have a child to preserve your lineage?
Instead, Ubisoft let players like me play a strictly lesbian character during tens of hours of roleplay, before seemingly stripping away any sense of character I'd built by forcing my character to settle down happy with some man.
For me, it feels like Assassin's Creed Odyssey put out the message that my character was a lesbian – but only until she found the right man to settle down with. It's a derogatory belief often placed upon queer people in reality, and not something we're keen to see in escapist media too.
As of yesterday, a patch for the DLC was released. The patch was intended to update the way this plot point was handled and try to make it less of an issue.
Personally, I think the "fix" has still completely missed the mark. It changes incredibly little and, while an improvement, doesn't fix my underlying issue with this DLC.
The DLC now places a heart next to one dialogue option, stating that asking Darius and his child to stay is a romance option. If you pick the non-romance option, he still stays, but you see maybe a few seconds less footage as one embrace is cut from the scene. Picking the option not labelled with a heart still results in you sleeping with, and settling down to live with, your new secondary parent.
We skip forward in the DLC to see our protagonist still living a settled down life with their partner, but with the option to say a single sentence about how having a child was a matter of preserving lineage, not or attraction or love. The problem is, they still live a domestic life that's presented as a committed relationship, settled down for good. We could have had the option to have a baby and go raise it alone or with someone new, but no – we have to stay with the other biological parent.
Lastly, an achievement has been renamed from "Growing Up" to "Blood of Leonidas", getting rid of the implication that you aren't 'grown up' unless you're in a heterosexual relationship.
Ultimately, this DLC patch has fundamentally changed nothing. It still forces characters to have a child without making it clear up front that you can't avoid it, or the reasoning that it happened. It still presents our protagonist as happily settling down with their different sex partner and living a happy domestic life regardless of player expressed sexual and romantic preferences. And it still ultimately presents a major conflict between the player choice aspects of the game and the story Ubisoft wanted to tell.
I am still not happy that Ubisoft made my lesbian Cassandra settle down to live domestically with a male partner. The ability to say I did it for my lineage, before going back to eat breakfast with some man doesn't do much to change the overwhelming tone and message of the DLC. The DLC still offers choices that cannot lead anywhere but an unwanted encounter, and doesn't allow your choices to get you out of that situation. It's still a single player story that knowingly contradicts the player choice promises used to sell the game to players like me, and that's a problem.