Here’s something that is no longer news at this point- Ubisoft is going in hard on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s RPG-ness, constantly talking up its elements of player choice, and how these will be actual, impactful decisions that players will have to make throughout the course of the story. One thing that I, and many, many others, have been wondering about this, though- how is the game going to reconcile that with the fact that it needs to maintain some semblance of historical accuracy?
Well, the short answer to that is- it doesn’t. The longer answer, though, is a lot more interesting. Being set in 430 BC and with not nearly enough historical records to refer to as Ubisoft had with something like, say, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Marc-Alexis Côté, senior producer on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey told VG247 that the development team just had a lot more freedom to fill in the blanks, while also explaining how the series’ own lore allows them to weave in quests about mythological creatures while still making some sense.
“I remember working on Syndicate and you almost have a day-by-day account of what everybody did,” said Côté. “And obviously you don’t have that in 400 BC.”
“If [mythological creatures] weren’t there it’d be very very sad, so rest assured that they are,” Côté said of the inclusion of mythological creatures in the game. “They’re really an intricate part of this world that we have created and have perfect explanations that will carry on in the history of the franchise as well.”
“One of the cool things about Assassin’s Creed that I think our fans love is [that] we can explain history a different way,” he explained. “The Apple of Eden sums up this kind of reasoning very, very well – that’s why we are embracing the mythological creatures. Because they’re so much a part of this setting.”
He then went on to talk about how, being a game, Odyssey is inherently an experience that encourages player agency, unlike something like a movie, and that Ubisoft uses this to give themselves more freedom, now more than they’ve ever done with other Assassin’s Creed games in the past.
“We’ve always used the excuse, ‘History is written that way, so that’s the way it should happen’,” he said. “While we have found many other explanations for many other things through the power of the Animus, a game is not a movie – the minute you push up on a thumbstick you’ve made a decision to move left or right. We shouldn’t hide behind the excuse that that’s the way history happened – you’re making decisions every second you’re playing a game.
“When we starting building Odyssey – I’ve been working on the franchise for what feels like most of my career now – one of the things that I’ve always felt that we’ve lacked – not to pass judgement on our past games which I’ve been a part of – we’ve lacked agency in these games.”
That sort of makes sense, I guess. By this point, I don’t think there are many people left who’d be all too bothered with Odyssey throwing in whacky elements that aren’t historically accurate – Assassin’s Creed has never been a history book in spite of its historical settings, after all. What concerns me most in the end that the choices that are presented to players are truly meaningful ones.
We’ll find out either way soon enough. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey launches for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 5.