I've been playing AC: Odyssey over the past few days (I am a big fan of the series). And what a time it has been! I actually don't know if these are my "initial" thoughts, because I have only a very weak sense of how far I've actually gotten into what appears to be a gigantic game (for orientation, I've just finished Perikles' initial set of requests in Athens).
But anyway, here are my scattered comments (some very mild spoilers might appear):
* It's been said before, but this game owes a huge debt to Witcher III. That's a compliment -- Witcher III is one of my favorite games of all time, and I've often gone into game stores and asked "what's a game that's kind of like Witcher III"? Odyssey is more than "kind of like Witcher III"; it is precariously close to a reskin (right down to the musical cues).
Again, that's a good thing.
* I'm playing as Kassandra, and I find her to be super-likable. I think they really did a great job with her. Word is that she's the better voice-acted of the two protagonist choices, and from clips I've seen of Alexios, I'd agree. That said, when you encounter Alexios as Kassandra, he basically sounds like a half-literate cave-person (that's due to specific elements of his background, not bad acting); and I'd be genuinely curious to hear half-literate cave-Kassandra as well.
* I'm enjoying the entire storyline, but the Cult of Kosmos questline in particular is so far a blast. It's also fun to be playing this while enrolled in a political theory program -- while AC games are always basically "murder your way through history", there's something especially tickling to have a buddy who's studying Kleon and be able to be like "oh, you work on Kleon? I just slaughtered somebody for him in my game!"
* Is the map (I can't believe I'm saying this) too big? I don't know, but we might be getting close. One major problem is that there aren't quite enough fast travel points for my taste. The easiest fix would be to make towns and cities fast travel locations (in addition to the usual synchronization points). As it is, it can take a long time to get places.
* I'm not wild about timed quests (they stress me out), and in particular too many of them force you to return to quest-giver when you're done -- which is a problem when you've strayed halfway across the world. I get it from an immersion perspective -- what, a reward magically appears in your pocket? -- but (particularly given the aforementioned issue of a giant map coupled with sparse fast travel points) it's often just not worth it to slog back out to some middle of nowhere cabin in the woods just to report you've killed five sharks somewhere. Suggestion: Quests received at message boards should also be redeemable at any message board around the world.
* While I've been harping on the map, I do want to say that the "exploration mode" works, and works surprisingly well. Just a touch of extra work without ever feeling overwhelmed. Definitely a good call.
* Some gameplay mechanics feel a bit under-explained. Even know, I'm not entirely sure what attacks I should dodge (and how) versus which I should parry. The result is that combat is pretty button-mashy.
* There's something a bit weird and sad about having a million different types of gear built into the game, of which 99.9% will never be used because why would you replace your legendary outfit? Even rare equipment is pretty much pointless as a category, and what is the purpose of a Level 20 common sword?
* Sadly, the naval experience -- which had been a strength of the series since its introduction in AC3 -- is probably the weakest aspect of the game here. Naval combat isn't particularly interesting, and serves mostly as a hassle that interrupts the even greater hassle of having to sail halfway across the planet to get to your next objective.
* Overall, though, this is a very strong entry into the series -- right up there with some of the all-time best. Great job from Ubisoft -- keep it up!