After being left slightly disappointed by Assassin's Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis - Episode 1, we needed Episode 2 to show us that the Eagle Bearer's journey through the underworld was only going to get better. The first episode was beautiful but ultimately a bit boring, and while Episode 2 does still plod along at times, it's generally better paced, and its quests have more creativity to them. The Fate of Atlantis saga, now with just one episode left to go, appears to be on an upwards trajectory.
Having been cast down into the hellish realm of Hades at the end of Episode 1, Alexios or Cassandra find themselves having to fend off Cerberos -- that's the Greek way to spell Cerberus, just to be clear -- the three-headed fire-breathing dog that guards the underworld. It's a cool boss fight, and it's a great way to get things started. Of course, our hero ends up putting the mutt down, and Hades isn't especially pleased.
The Eagle Bearer ends up indebted to the god of the underworld, and has little choice but to do his bidding. With twisted words and a dangerous smile, Hades has you travel his realm recruiting Greek warriors of legend, including Perseus and Herakles, the point being that these mighty heroes would be fitting replacements for Cerberos.
And so another jaunt through a fantastical open world map begins. However, Hades' realm essentially being hell, this barren land is the complete opposite of Elysium, the flower-laden paradise from Episode 1. Coated in thick volcanic ash and watched over by a blaring sun that gives no warmth, this is about as far from paradise as you can get, but once again, the game's art team have done a fantastic job of creating a memorable landscape.
Despite being a wasteland, Hades' realm isn't as lifeless as Elysium. As an open world it feels a little smaller, and it's more densely packed than its predecessor. Thankfully, this means that you aren't spending most of your time riding from one map marker to the next, and Episode 2 feels snappier and better paced as a result.
There's some quality action here as well. The aforementioned Greek heroes all stand as solid boss fights, and the episode ends with what is quite possibly the best-made brawl in Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Making these encounters all the sweeter is the legendary loot, which is plentiful. Episode 1 was pretty stingy in its distribution of cool new equipment, but Episode 2 is happy to shower you with powerful weapons in particular.
A number of side quests are also worth your time, and as expected of Odyssey, there are moral decisions to be made throughout. What's more, a handful of characters killed off in the main campaign reappear here as vengeful spirits, adding some welcome flavour to proceedings.
Our only real issue with the storytelling is that the dialogue continues to be very hit and miss. Odyssey obviously fancies itself a role-playing game, but a lot of the character interactions continue to be hammy and awkwardly brief. This was a notable criticism in Episode 1 as well, and nothing's really been done to improve it. Surely these Greek gods, goddesses, and legendary figures should have more nuance to their personalities? It's all a bit disappointing that heroes like Herakles barely get even a few lines of dialogue.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis - Episode 2 is an improvement over Episode 1, and we're looking forward to seeing how things play out in the final chapter. Hades' hellish realm may be a barren wasteland, but it's got a density that Elysium was missing, and some of the side quests are especially well crafted. Throw in a handful of great boss fights and Torment of Hades stands as one of the better DLC episodes that Odyssey has offered.