Why Assassin's Creed Odyssey Is Embracing RPG Gameplay

Assassin's Creed Odyssey
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

E3 revealed a ton of new games, either in development or set to release this fall. One of those new games was the poorly kept secret of Assassin's Creed Odyssey from Ubisoft. The game was leaked well in advance of its official announcement thanks to some retailers and key chains being broadcast throughout the internet. Well, during E3, Ubisoft actually demonstrated the gameplay for Assassin's Creed Odyssey, revealing that the game is a true and through role-playing experience. Well, game director Scott Philips recently explained why the team is embracing RPG mechanics for the upcoming open-world adventure title. Addressing the shift, Philips said:

It was early on, three years ago, we were coming to the end of Syndicate. When talking about what Assassin's Creed Odyssey should be, we asked where do we want Assassin's Creed to go, what does it need to evolve into? We talked with the Assassin's Creed Origins team to see what they were doing. We both had the same sort of idea of where the series should go--RPG choice, we wanted to push it forward. We knew Origins was doing some of those things, but for us, we had the time to really go even further to focus on the two characters, Alexios and Kassandra, to focus on choice within the stories and within the dialogue, to give you special abilities, to build your own play style.

While you might be wondering what Assassin's Creed Syndicate has to do with anything, you have to keep in mind that Ubisoft has multiple teams that work on multiple games at a time. The team who was in charge of handling Assassin's Creed Syndicate began working immediately on Assassin's Creed Odyssey once Syndicate had shipped back in 2015. From there, the move towards enhanced RPG elements evolved with the eventual release of Assassin's Creed: Origins from a different team, and per Scott Philips' remarks to Gamespot, Odyssey is the culmination of those ideas into something even more comprehensive that emphasizes choice.

This change represents the convergence of factors in the Assassin's Creed world. Ubisoft decided that it was time to give the franchise a rest in 2016 for the sake of dealing with consumers having franchise fatigue. In 2017 a separate team came back with Assassin's Creed: Origins, which was a stark departure from the previous entries by focusing on having a Dark Souls-inspired combat system. The mechanics also veered closer towards an RPG in terms of the weapon matrix focusing on quality-gradient loot collecting, much like Borderlands or Diablo. Players were encouraged to scavenge and explore for loot that would help increase their stats and improve their gear.

This system is being carried over into Assassin's Creed Odyssey, but also with the addition of all new dialogue trees and branching outcomes based on player decisions that can be made with the playable characters Alexios and Cassandra. Philips explains that the team drew inspiration from a number of other games when it came to the branching dialogue trees and customizing the player's narrative based on the choices they make, saying:

In terms of inspiration, I play a lot of RPGs and I would say open-world is my favorite genre. The RPG is something [that] fits together super, super well. And I play everything that comes out; games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and obviously Assassin's Creed Origins. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout, those two are probably some of my favorite[s]. And if you look at those games, they give players a lot of options. For us, that was what we wanted to push Assassin's Creed as a franchise into: more choice for the player.

It's a risky venture given that Assassin's Creed has always been known for being an alternate history assassination-adventure game, and now Ubisoft is attempting to rewrite the formula more as an RPG rather than as a stealth-action game, which is where its roots were first grounded. In fact, originally Assassin's Creed was often compared to games like Hitman, Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham series and Mirror's Edge, since all of the games shared similarities in terms of being sandbox-style experiences with stealth elements. However, over the years Ubisoft has been veering away from the digitally genetic foundations on which the series was founded and have started experimenting with other styles of play.

We'll see how well it all comes to fruition when the RPG-centric Assassin's Creed Odyssey launches this October for home consoles and PC.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.