The wait is over! Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is finally here. I had the esteemed privilege of chatting with Scott Phillips, Game Director at Ubisoft Quebec. We discussed what makes Assassin’s Creed Odyssey unique from other games in the series, why the team choose ancient Greece as the setting, how naval battles have evolved and more. Read on to learn more about Assassin’s Creed Odyssey!
Interview with Ubisoft Québec’s Scott Phillips
Best Buy Canada: What would you say makes Assassin’s Creed Odyssey unique in the Assassin’s Creed franchise? What sets it apart from the others?
Scott Philips: I think the easy answer is choice. Giving the player the option to have more ownership and authorship of their experience, the story, and the mechanics of the game. Also, the way you look, the way you play the game, and the way you engage with the story.
Where you go in the world, how you upgrade your ship—all these elements are really driven by the player. Traditionally, these are not something Assassin’s Creed games have been about. They’ve been much more tailored experiences, generally, in the past.
I think with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, we’re really pushing into new territory. By allowing the player to make these types of choices in a world that’s going to react to them and have consequences. It’s not about whether they did something right or wrong, but what happened because of choices they made—something brand new for Assassin’s Creed franchise.
Evolution of combat
BBYC: How would you say the combat has evolved in terms of abilities and skills for aspiring assassins to unlock and master this time around?
SP: We focused the combat to build on top of what Assassin’s Creed Origins did with the hit box, movement, timing and distance based fight. All of, which was brand new and I think a really good change for the brand. We wanted to focus more on being active, so we removed the shield and gave you an offhand weapon.
We also focused on giving the player the ability to build their own skillset. You get to choose from a whole bunch of different abilities. From being a warrior, a stealth player, or a ranged player—the choice is yours to make.
Then, you mix and match those. You can map those on the controller where you want them to be. You can change them at any time, so if you figure out “Oh. I don’t really like this build”, or “It’s not working for me”, you can change them completely at any time.
You really own how you’re going to play the game, and you can change it. The way other people are going to play the game is going to be very different. These special abilities are really game changing things. This just pushes the impressiveness and epic-ness to the level that we wanted for ancient Greece.
Influences on deciding the game’s setting
BBYC: Why did the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey team decide on the setting of ancient Greece?
SP: Greece has always been in the surveys and in the top five of where people would like Assassin’s Creed series go. We chose the Peloponnesian War era, we looked at others, like Alexander the Great or even more ancient periods like the Iliad and the Odyssey and the Trojan War.
We choose the Peloponnesian War because it was a great setting with Athens, Sparta, Socrates and all these developments of people like Hippocrates. Democracy was being born in this era—fundamental aspects of western civilization were being developed then. There was so much spectrum of choices and opportunities. All because we wanted choice to be key to the game, it became the best setting for us.
Naval combat and what has changed
BBYC: Naval battles are back in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey; how do you find the seafaring mechanic has evolved?
SP: Well there’s fewer cannons, that’s one thing. It’s mainly based around ramming, using archers, and throwing javelins. The combat is very active and visceral. Boarding is back and it’s very dynamic, so you can get into the boarding seamlessly.
You can actually swim from the coastline, climb onto a ship and start boarding that ship. Then, kill all the crew and sink it and steal their treasure. We wanted it to be a very dynamic experience. For instance, when you go into a boarding, if you let the ship sink to the bottom of the ocean you can swim down and try and get the treasure from it. We wanted it to be a full experience. I think having naval allows us to deliver on the idea of an odyssey.
On the idea of exploring this amazing world, building this ship as your home. You add crew to it, you bring back specific people you want to join your crew, and really make it a place that you’re going to come back to many times, and then love to just travel around the world with as well.
The Sparta kick
BBYC: How many times did you watch the movie 300, or quote it during development?
SP: Well, “This is Sparta!”, come on! That was so iconic.
Any time people would “Sparta Kick,” that was the first ability we prototyped. That’s still the team’s favourite, knocking someone off of a high cliff with the Sparta Kick is still the best feeling in the game.
It takes a little bit of skill to get it right. But then when you do, we want to reward you and make that an awesome feeling. 300 was definitely a reference, but the battle of Thermopylae has been done, I was watching a movie that was made in the 1950s about it. It was talked about back in the days of the Alamo in the 1800s.
It’s such an iconic thing from 2000 years ago that people are still making movies and writing stories and comic books, and talking about how it references to our modern day life. Greece is just full of these elements that are super strong for us.
BBYC: Thanks a lot for your time, Scott!
Look for my review soon of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey right here on the blog!
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