June 11, 2018

6 Min Read

Choose Your Own Odyssey

In a series first, Assassin's Creed Odyssey will continually confront players with story-altering choices, letting you pick what to say, who to trust, and what to do.

"Choice was absolutely one of the first things we wanted in the game," says Game Director Scott Phillips. "Not just in the dialogue system, but within the structure of the game. And we wanted to have consequences for those choices. The things you make decisions about within quests are going to have an impact later on. You're going to have quests pushed on you because of choices you made in the past."

The central story will branch, says Phillips, but some things are immutable. "It's going to come back together so that you have similar choke points where certain events will occur, historical events that we're not going to change. But there are many, many other choices where games will diverge dramatically. And then if you look outside of the main path, if you look at what you've done in the world, what choices you've chosen to make for other quests in the world, you're going to see a dramatic shift in how the world perceives you, and what's available to you because of what you've done," Phillips says.

"The goal that the team really rallied behind is that you will have an odyssey, I will have a different odyssey," says Creative Director Jonathan Dumont. "So yes, there is a main story that's going to be told, and we will have similarities. But what happened to you on that island, when you met that girl who wanted to kiss you? Did you save that poor little girl on that other island? Did you help that Spartan general, or did you kill him? It is your story."

So while you can influence your mercenary's personal journey and the way they interact with historical events, you can't actually change the course of known history. Or, as Dumont puts it, "Sokrates isn't going to explode in the middle of the Peloponnesian War if he's slated to live 30 years more."

As a mercenary, your morality is also largely yours to define, which means you can stay on the (relative) straight and narrow, keeping a friendly demeanor and doing helpful things like hunting pirates; or you can walk around with a huge chip on your shoulder, stealing and killing to get what you want. Just be aware that your actions can put a bounty on your head, and the bigger it gets, the more other mercenaries will actively hunt you. Behaving somewhat like the Phylakes in Assassin's Creed Origins – in that their movements are visible on your map and compass, and a warning horn sounds when they're near – these tough operators can match or exceed your abilities, sometimes with pet predatory animals in tow. Without an active bounty, they'll leave you alone – but when they're tracking you, they'll zero in on your location and can often appear at inconvenient moments, like in the middle of pitched battles or infiltrations. Sometimes two or three at a time.

"The mercenaries in this world – of which you are one – travel the world looking for jobs," says Phillips. "When you do bad things in the world, stealing or killing other people, you're going to be found, a bounty is going to be put on you, and these mercenaries are going to come and hunt you down. Now, the good thing about that is that they have some of the best gear in the game, and so they're bringing that gear to you, if you can defeat them."

Defeating them is far from easy, however. "When you get multiple mercenaries together, it's like having three player characters all fighting you at the same time," says Phillips. "You have to be good or you have to be smart about it, because you can set up ambushes if someone's coming to you. You're going to know when they're coming, and you're going to know what their abilities are, you're going to know if they have a pet with them. There are a lot of ways that we can mix and match with those mercenaries, and just a huge amount of opportunity for the player to challenge themselves, or to feel really smart about playing as a stealth player and creating that ambush."

Killing mercenaries has the added benefit of raising your own standing in Greece's mercenary rankings, but there are other ways to get them off your trail. Paying off your bounty is one, but if you'd prefer to save your money, you can track and kill the person who put a price on your head, usually an enemy officer who's marked on the map and flanked by guards. Also, if you can take a mercenary by surprise, there's a chance you can knock them out instead of killing them – and if you can pull that off, you'll have the chance to make them a better offer and recruit them as a lieutenant on your ship. And they're not the only ones, either.

You can also try to recruit people you meet during quests to serve as your lieutenants, although they won't always accept. For example, one of our assassination targets during the demo turned out to be an Athenian defector in hiding, who was eager for a second chance as an archer on our ship. These characters will also assist while your crew boards other ships, and can even be called in to fight alongside you while you're on land.

"It's a nice loop we wanted to put into the system, of making it not just about ‘Here's a bunch of enemies in front of me, I need to wipe them all out,' but ‘Here's a bunch of guys – ooh, that guy's really interesting! He has a stat that I really could use on my ship. I'm going to go get him.' So I need to figure out a way to approach this situation where I'm going to not kill him accidentally," says Phillips.

If you're going to E3, you'll have a chance make your own decisions by playing the Assassin's Creed Odyssey demo in South Hall, booth #1623. Assassin's Creed Odyssey will launch on October 5th for PS4, Xbox One, and PC; stay tuned for more updates.

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