Odyssey's Biggest Weakness: It lacks depth

Edit: I feel like my intro makes my opinion seem skewed against Odyssey as a whole, and that's my mistake. But it would be a waste of your time to add a long rant about what I like about Odyssey to this post, and would detract from the message of the post as a whole, but I'll just quickly add here that I think Odyssey is a welcome and positive addition to the game as a unit, however has some serious yet addressable weaknesses that I strongly believe may hamper its reception and ultimate potential. That's what this post is about. This is not about why "Odyssey is bad and you should all review bomb it on release". Not at all.

To start off, I wanna point out that I'm not saying that Odyssey is horrible, and I think it has a ton of potential. But from the way I currently see it, Odyssey is missing quite a few things that are going to prevent it from getting good reviews and good reception when it comes out. In fact, even with bugs aside, I can see Odyssey getting rather negative reviews from fans and journalists alike if what we're seeing in Alpha is representative of the final product. Given the <2 month release window, I'm very afraid that it might very much be representative of the final product.


I'm not here to beat the bloodied horse. No, this thread isn't about Apex/Supercruise times. No, it's not about enemies being bullet sponges. Rather, it's about just how shallow Odyssey's content has been turning out to be after some quite extensive playtesting. To try to avoid a disorganized mess, lemme try to break it down into some categories:



TLDR; it feels horrifically linear, and after you dig for ten or fifteen hours, you suddenly hit the floor of what Odyssey's existing content has to offer you in terms of replayability. And that's a huge problem.

  • Missions are sub-par for the first person genre, and deceptively lack freedom of choice
  • Settlements are littered with buttons and details that look important, but don't actually do anything, and the content almost entirely lacks any sense of cause-effect
  • Progression is nearly non-existent compared to ship gameplay, and relies entirely on repetitive grind
  • Odyssey is obsessed with making you fight, or at least commit crime

Lets dig in, shall we?



Missions are sub-par for the FP genre, and deceptively lack freedom of choice

The title explains this one fairly well. Initially when loading into Odyssey, you're presented with quite a few mission types. This looks great, and for a while, it feels great (besides the unpolished difficulty and nonstop death). But once I got the hang of it, and started to learn the basic patterns and flows of gameplay, I decided to try to branch out a little, to try to do my missions creatively. And this is where Odyssey fails.

Most missions don't actually have many avenues to go down. Here's a scenario: you arrive at a pitch black settlement. You need to reboot the reactor and put out the fires, but the glow of flashlights all over alert you that it won't be easy. Sneaking in, you notice a couple powered-off sentry turrets. Great! If you can get the power back on, surely they'll come to life and mow down the bandit invasion? So you make your way to the reactor, taking great care to avoid the bandits. You cut your way into the reactor room and boot it up. The lights come to life, the base drones power on and take flight, and the turrets wake up and begin scanning the base. Awesome, now time to wait for the bandits to face their reckoning from the base they assaulted... any moment now... But the drones and turrets never do a thing. They can only target and interact with players.

That's just one example of just how lifeless the missions are, and just how much freedom they lack. For another prime example of this lack of freedom, see the stealth-enforced reactor shutdown missions. There is only one single linear way to successfully approach these missions. 1. Make way to alarm controls, 2. Disable alarms, 3. Disengage reactor, 4. Get the out of there fast and book it into the desert because even if the alarms are off, AI will always investigate a reactor shutdown and see you if you stick around for more than ten to twenty seconds. And yet another example, covert assassinations, where you need to use the overcharge tool as there is no other way to commit a silent kill without detection.

This only gets worse if you compare Odyssey to, say, an average open world first person game. There are no traps you can set. There is no combat preparation beyond poking a couple panels in the CMD building. There are no distractions that don't require you to break and sneak into another secure building to poke a keypad. This is fine at first, but once you get bored of sneaking directly to the objective, or committing a massacre, it becomes glaringly obvious how little choice you have.



Settlements are littered with buttons and details that look important, but don't actually do anything, and the content almost entirely lacks any sense of cause-effect

There are few buttons in the settlement that do much. Base defenses, alarms, auth scans, and the reactor regulator. Beyond that, the options are very scarce. Honestly, I'm not even asking for more to be added. I'd just like the buttons that are there to do something real. Lets take a look at atmosphere controls. Sure, they depressurize a building... but what does that do, really? It nearly equalizes the temperature with outdoors and removes the oxygen and pressure, which affects your suit power use and can get you killed if your power runs dry. Also, it puts out fires. Alright, seems right.

So... what if we try flushing out the building by turning off the atmosphere! Cut open the emergency atmosphere control access on the roof and turn it off. Surely the staff will come running out to the next building and the guards will come looking for the controls now, right? Nope. -230 degrees celsius cold? No oxygen or pressure? Pff, the scientists and staff wearing business casual clothing don't mind. Helmets up and everything is peachy. Keep on working. They don't even attempt to switch the atmosphere back on... I believe this is self explanatory of the entire point.



Progression is nearly non-existent compared to ship gameplay, and relies entirely on repetitive grind

Right now, I assume most of you who have completed a few missions could buy every gun if you wanted. I'm sure some of you have already. This gun lineup you already own is a large chunk of what will be in the full release. On top of that, there will only be 3 suits. In totality, pretty much any of you with anything better than a Sidewinder probably have enough credits to buy every single item of progression for footfall gameplay and barely break a sweat. There are no attachments to toy around with beyond engineering. There are no suit modules you can tinker with to make an optimal build for what you do.

So that leaves us with ONE path of progression: engineering/upgrades. The current way to go about this? Pick every settlement you come across dry, again, and again, and again, and again. Google the spawn locations of materials, and cheese the heck out of Elite in every way you can figure out how so you can slowly acquire the very rare materials to conduct upgrades. It's like engineering but far worse and far more boring, and being forced upon players very early into the Odyssey gameplay loop. I can only imagine how many people this will turn away from Odyssey after they play for a few hours.



Odyssey is obsessed with making you fight, or at least commit crime

This one barely needs explanation I'm sure. Nearly every mission you get sent on is an illegal action, including the legal missions. Break in here. Kill people here. Steal this here. Do some fighting here. That being said, I'm aware that not all mission types are out yet. With that being said, Odyssey is so obsessed with making you fight, that a large amount of even peaceful missions are stacked so high with enemies to fight, that they typically become combat missions anyhow if an enemy shines their flashlight in your general direction. 75% of the time, even on missions like reactor reactivations at Threat Level 0, I end up becoming Rambo, gunning down hordes of enemies on my way to the escape shuttle.

Sure, it's Elite Dangerous, not Elite Snuggly, and there ought to be challenge just as there is in the base game. But on the other side of the coin, I'm sick of mowing down 20 bandits single-handedly when I'm just trying to be a repairman, and I'm tired of hopping and sprinting off into the frozen wastes as a Goliath drone chases me down because I made the mistake of jumping three seconds before a guard decided that he wanted to search me while im 30 feet in the air. Of course, like I mentioned, in the base game there's hostile challenge put against you even on the simplest of missions, but it is never overwhelming odds, and it isn't nearly as common. Odyssey just feels obsessed with making you fight. It feels obsessed with becoming an FPS over an adventure game. I never go into a mission in Odyssey expecting to roleplay or to conduct myself peacefully. I always go in expecting to fight for my life or flee. And that, above all else, is immensely disappointing.




So to conclude, I really like Odyssey's structure. The visuals are stunning, the small details are great, and the atmosphere is unrivaled. But after getting somewhat experienced in what Phase 1 has to offer, the content that has so far been presented feels far too shallow. It feels linear, and in a space simulation game with a heavy catering to open ended exploration, roleplay, and immersion, linear is the last thing I wanted to see from Odyssey.
 
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What's the bet Odyssey missions will end up like Horizons missions, where the best way to do the scan missions is to ram the nose of your ship into the thing you were supposed to scan from an SRV so close that it shows up on your ship sensors, scan it, then bail before the base agros.

"Can't target NPCs on ground from a ship because they are too small to target"? Let me introduce you to my little missile launcher friend...
 
At the end of the day, this is still a realistic space simulator. It's a very niche genre of gaming. There was never gonna be an in-depth FPS add-on for this game, it's just there to give us more things to do and allow us out of our ships.

If you like the genre, you'll be happy with the update.

If you're not a huge fan of the genre, you're gonna be disappointed.
 
To start off, I wanna point out that I'm not saying that Odyssey is horrible, and I think it has a ton of potential. But from the way I currently see it, Odyssey is missing quite a few things that are going to prevent it from getting good reviews and good reception when it comes out. In fact, even with bugs aside, I can see Odyssey getting rather negative reviews from fans and journalists alike if what we're seeing in Alpha is representative of the final product. Given the <2 month release window, I'm very afraid that it might very much be representative of the final product.


I'm not here to beat the bloodied horse. No, this thread isn't about Apex/Supercruise times. No, it's not about enemies being bullet sponges. Rather, it's about just how shallow Odyssey's content has been turning out to be after some quite extensive playtesting. To try to avoid a disorganized mess, lemme try to break it down into some categories:



TLDR; it feels horrifically linear, and after you dig for ten or fifteen hours, you suddenly hit the floor of what Odyssey's existing content has to offer you in terms of replayability. And that's a huge problem.

  • Missions are sub-par for the first person genre, and deceptively lack freedom of choice
  • Settlements are littered with buttons and details that look important, but don't actually do anything, and the content almost entirely lacks any sense of cause-effect
  • Progression is nearly non-existent compared to ship gameplay, and relies entirely on repetitive grind
  • Odyssey is obsessed with making you fight, or at least commit crime

Lets dig in, shall we?



Missions are sub-par for the FP genre, and deceptively lack freedom of choice

The title explains this one fairly well. Initially when loading into Odyssey, you're presented with quite a few mission types. This looks great, and for a while, it feels great (besides the unpolished difficulty and nonstop death). But once I got the hang of it, and started to learn the basic patterns and flows of gameplay, I decided to try to branch out a little, to try to do my missions creatively. And this is where Odyssey fails.

Most missions don't actually have many avenues to go down. Here's a scenario: you arrive at a pitch black settlement. You need to reboot the reactor and put out the fires, but the glow of flashlights all over alert you that it won't be easy. Sneaking in, you notice a couple powered-off sentry turrets. Great! If you can get the power back on, surely they'll come to life and mow down the bandit invasion? So you make your way to the reactor, taking great care to avoid the bandits. You cut your way into the reactor room and boot it up. The lights come to life, the base drones power on and take flight, and the turrets wake up and begin scanning the base. Awesome, now time to wait for the bandits to face their reckoning from the base they assaulted... any moment now... But the drones and turrets never do a thing. They can only target and interact with players.

That's just one example of just how lifeless the missions are, and just how much freedom they lack. For another prime example of this lack of freedom, see the stealth-enforced reactor shutdown missions. There is only one single linear way to successfully approach these missions. 1. Make way to alarm controls, 2. Disable alarms, 3. Disengage reactor, 4. Get the out of there fast and book it into the desert because even if the alarms are off, AI will always investigate a reactor shutdown and see you if you stick around for more than ten to twenty seconds. And yet another example, covert assassinations, where you need to use the overcharge tool as there is no other way to commit a silent kill without detection.

This only gets worse if you compare Odyssey to, say, an average open world first person game. There are no traps you can set. There is no combat preparation beyond poking a couple panels in the CMD building. There are no distractions that don't require you to break and sneak into another secure building to poke a keypad. This is fine at first, but once you get bored of sneaking directly to the objective, or committing a massacre, it becomes glaringly obvious how little choice you have.



Settlements are littered with buttons and details that look important, but don't actually do anything, and the content almost entirely lacks any sense of cause-effect

There are few buttons in the settlement that do much. Base defenses, alarms, auth scans, and the reactor regulator. Beyond that, the options are very scarce. Honestly, I'm not even asking for more to be added. I'd just like the buttons that are there to do something real. Lets take a look at atmosphere controls. Sure, they depressurize a building... but what does that do, really? It nearly equalizes the temperature with outdoors and removes the oxygen and pressure, which affects your suit power use and can get you killed if your power runs dry. Also, it puts out fires. Alright, seems right.

So... what if we try flushing out the building by turning off the atmosphere! Cut open the emergency atmosphere control access on the roof and turn it off. Surely the staff will come running out to the next building and the guards will come looking for the controls now, right? Nope. -230 degrees celsius cold? No oxygen or pressure? Pff, the scientists and staff wearing business casual clothing don't mind. Helmets up and everything is peachy. Keep on working. They don't even attempt to switch the atmosphere back on... I believe this is self explanatory of the entire point.



Progression is nearly non-existent compared to ship gameplay, and relies entirely on repetitive grind

Right now, I assume most of you who have completed a few missions could buy every gun if you wanted. I'm sure some of you have already. This gun lineup you already own is a large chunk of what will be in the full release. On top of that, there will only be 3 suits. In totality, pretty much any of you with anything better than a Sidewinder probably have enough credits to buy every single item of progression for footfall gameplay and barely break a sweat. There are no attachments to toy around with beyond engineering. There are no suit modules you can tinker with to make an optimal build for what you do.

So that leaves us with ONE path of progression: engineering/upgrades. The current way to go about this? Pick every settlement you come across dry, again, and again, and again, and again. Google the spawn locations of materials, and cheese the heck out of Elite in every way you can figure out how so you can slowly acquire the very rare materials to conduct upgrades. It's like engineering but far worse and far more boring, and being forced upon players very early into the Odyssey gameplay loop. I can only imagine how many people this will turn away from Odyssey after they play for a few hours.



Odyssey is obsessed with making you fight, or at least commit crime

This one barely needs explanation I'm sure. Nearly every mission you get sent on is an illegal action, including the legal missions. Break in here. Kill people here. Steal this here. Do some fighting here. That being said, I'm aware that not all mission types are out yet. With that being said, Odyssey is so obsessed with making you fight, that a large amount of even peaceful missions are stacked so high with enemies to fight, that they typically become combat missions anyhow if an enemy shines their flashlight in your general direction. 75% of the time, even on missions like reactor reactivations at Threat Level 0, I end up becoming Rambo, gunning down hordes of enemies on my way to the escape shuttle.

Sure, it's Elite Dangerous, not Elite Snuggly, and there ought to be challenge just as there is in the base game. But on the other side of the coin, I'm sick of mowing down 20 bandits single-handedly when I'm just trying to be a repairman, and I'm tired of hopping and sprinting off into the frozen wastes as a Goliath drone chases me down because I made the mistake of jumping three seconds before a guard decided that he wanted to search me while im 30 feet in the air. Of course, like I mentioned, in the base game there's hostile challenge put against you even on the simplest of missions, but it is never overwhelming odds, and it isn't nearly as common. Odyssey just feels obsessed with making you fight. It feels obsessed with becoming an FPS over an adventure game. I never go into a mission in Odyssey expecting to roleplay or to conduct myself peacefully. I always go in expecting to fight for my life or flee. And that, above all else, is immensely disappointing.




So to conclude, I really like Odyssey's structure. The visuals are stunning, the small details are great, and the atmosphere is unrivaled. But after getting somewhat experienced in what Phase 1 has to offer, the content that has so far been presented feels far too shallow. It feels linear, and in a space simulation game with a heavy catering to open ended exploration, roleplay, and immersion, linear is the last thing I wanted to see from Odyssey.

Cool, perhaps wait until you've seen the whole alpha before coming to major conclusions though...
 
What's the bet Odyssey missions will end up like Horizons missions, where the best way to do the scan missions is to ram the nose of your ship into the thing you were supposed to scan from an SRV so close that it shows up on your ship sensors, scan it, then bail before the base agros.

"Can't target NPCs on ground from a ship because they are too small to target"? Let me introduce you to my little missile launcher friend...
Oh yeah, I can see it already. It's going to be Horizons but much more dramatic in that sense at this rate. It'll be ironic when the best way to go about "Repair and restore" missions will be to rain hell upon the base you're meant to fix before you even land.

Lacks depth? We barely saw a small portion in phase 1. We are still about to see other parts of "on foot" game play and most importantly how it connects with existing game mechanics.
I'm very much aware of this, but I'm also conscious of the fact that the content isn't that interconnected. This isn't EVE Online. What we have now is a limited envelope of content, but it represents the core of what we're getting. The Phase 2 introduction of ships, frontline solutions, 3 more guns, faction conflict and the combat suit won't remedy the glaring issues that I listed above. IF you read the content of the post, or even the sub-headers, you'd realize these are core and independent issues that won't get fixed through the introduction of ships, exploration, or combat suits. I wouldn't have written this if I believed Phase 2-4 stood to fix these issues.

Like I said, I'm not complaining about bugs, or "FDev give me more to do I can't believe this alpha isn't full content from day 1". I'm voicing my concerns about the core content and core modules that they've put forward.

At the end of the day, this is still a realistic space simulator. It's a very niche genre of gaming. There was never gonna be an in-depth FPS add-on for this game, it's just there to give us more things to do and allow us out of our ships.

If you like the genre, you'll be happy with the update.

If you're not a huge fan of the genre, you're gonna be disappointed.
I'll be honest, I can't really accept this. I'm not looking for an FPS. But I am looking for a continuation of the creative open-endedness and opportunity for roleplay that Elite has offered for years. In this, at least in its core modules (on-foot settlement interaction), I believe Odyssey is falling dangerously short. I also expect more from Odyssey than we got from Horizons, as Horizons was pumped out in what, a year after release? Odyssey has been in development since early 2018. This is meant to be an expansive addition to the space simulator. Not just a sideshow to ignore as you fly around space after getting bored of it quickly. I expect more than that in the end.
 
I'll be honest, I can't really accept this. I'm not looking for an FPS. But I am looking for a continuation of the creative open-endedness and opportunity for roleplay that Elite has offered for years. In this, at least in its core modules (on-foot settlement interaction), I believe Odyssey is falling dangerously short. I also expect more from Odyssey than we got from Horizons, as Horizons was pumped out in what, a year after release? Odyssey has been in development since early 2018. This is meant to be an expansive addition to the space simulator. Not just a sideshow to ignore as you fly around space after getting bored of it quickly. I expect more than that in the end.

They've yet to show us the exploration side of legs why not wait until that comes before making your mind up.
 
Cool, perhaps wait until you've seen the whole alpha before coming to major conclusions though...
If this alpha was made for us to sit down and shut up until it was fully released like most Early Access garbage you see on Steam or whatever, FDev wouldn't have taken the incremental alpha rollout approach. But they have, and as they're looking for feedback, I'm providing feedback on what has so far been presented, while keeping in mind and reserving criticism from anything I have yet to experience.

My conclusions are only upon what we have been presented already. I'm not making judgments about exploration, faction conflict, frontline solutions, etc. I'm only providing feedback on the core systems they've presented us and have sought feedback on, and have tried my best to avoid speaking on anything that I think might be heavily affected or altered by the upcoming phases. The only point that I think I might possibly be premature on is my fourth point, but I don't think the fact that the entire Alpha isn't out yet is an excuse to be dismissive of feedback and criticism.
 
It is what it is- Odyssey is an extension of the space mission system in that its proc gen and each mission is short (plus being a human scale UI). Bugs aside you have to take the BGS into account before saying everything is about crime, or how NPCs react to you either.

Until we see EDO in its entirety in action over a month or so we can;t tell because its slotting into an already complex system that will (in theory) add much more variety and nuance.
 
I agree with most of what you said based on phase 1. I'm surprised all missions in odyssey require you to go to settlements and little to no gameplay in stations or cities. Even basic fetch quests in these places would have added some depth. Eg taking missions from NPCs inside stations to deliver to another NPC inside another station.

Its a rather mundane example, but at the moment stations feel very limited, nothing to interact with apart from terminals, typical procedural NPC mission givers always standing in the same place no matter what station and turbo lifts.

Let us interact with the environment for goodness sake, let us sit down on those cushy couches, let us have a drink at the bar, let us change the music at the juke box, because if I hear that 'ashes to ashes' song again I'm going to explode. Also let us try on suits and stuff that are hanging on the wall in pioneer.

There are obviously limitations to everything I've mentioned, but only to a small extent. The mile long inch deep mantra is certainly being applied to odyssey.
 
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