If you’ve seen anything Ubisoft has shown of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, whether it be their 2018 E3 demo, their Gamescom demo or one of the game’s many trailers, you may have noticed that naval combat is back as a full-fledged system for the first time in the series since 2013’s Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. We recently had a chance to speak with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Game Director, Scott Phillips, at preview event and he told us about how the Odyssey team collaborated with the Skull & Bones team.
“Some of our team worked on parts of Skull & Bones [because] within Ubisoft, there’s always a connection,” Phillips said.
If you’ve seen Skull & Bones, you know it’s basically an expanded-upon version of the sea traversal and naval combat of Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. While Phillips said the Odyssey team hopes to meet the expectations of those who loved what Black Flag was able to do with a ship, he said Odyssey will be different.
“Obviously Black Flag is high bar to meet in that experience, but I think the main thing is that we were a different style because we don’t have cannons and we’re not pirates,” Phillips said. “The focus of the combat tends to be more ramming and a little less on the ranged.”
In terms of ranged, rather than shooting cannons, players will be commanding sailors to shoot arrows and throw spears. While this system worked like the cannon shooting in Black Flag (or Skull & Bones for that matter), it’s clear that relying on just these mechanics is a quick way to see your ship sunk. You’ll have to use not only arrows and spears, but the ramming mechanic as well if you want your ship to come out of a battle in one piece.
How did naval combat even make its way into Odyssey, though? According to Philips, it fit not only the era of time Odyssey takes place in, but the themes of it as well.
“It was definitely something we felt fit our time period, our setting, our era and our fantasy of having an Odyssey,” Phillips said. “With The Odyssey, obviously a ship is very important and that story is based around travel, moving to different islands and discovering these amazing things. When we visited Greece, we could feel that the mountains were a key sort of point of the world and the physical space, and so a lot of people historically would travel by sea because it was just easier than going through the mountains. The ship was important to the setting and to the time period.”
While it fits the setting, Phillips admitted that the Odyssey team also wanted to be the ones to bring back naval combat to the series.
“We felt like it gave us access to be the one to bring back the full-on sea naval combat and exploration,” Phillips said. “We really wanted to invest on delivering this thing that a lot of people really enjoyed in this era [Ancient Greece] but with a new style.”
You can traverse the seas in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey when it releases on Oct. 5 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.