The Assassin’s Creed franchise has a storied history of recreating iconic monuments and weaving in historical figures into their narratives. So, it came as no surprise that Ubisoft announced that it would do for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey what it did for Origins: provide an opportunity for players to learn more about the world they are immersing themselves in.
While it comes in shy of a year after its release to positive reception in the fall of 2018, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey sends players once more into the heart of Ancient Greece’s Golden Age, on the cusp of the Peloponnesian War. With the wealth of historical research used to develop the title and this particular time period’s burgeoning developments in philosophy, art, and politics, this backdrop could serve another purpose: education.
Much like the Discovery Tour mode within Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Ubisoft continues their tours of ancient civilizations with Discovery Tours by Ubisoft: Ancient Greece. Throughout this experience, players have the opportunity to traverse the landscape of Greece created for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey without the combat or narrative of the game itself. Run through city streets, climb up buildings, and call on Ikaros to give you a literal bird’s eye view of your surroundings.
Meet historical figures and fictional characters along the way as they guide your tours, bringing learning to life. Tour seven famous cities including Athens and Korinth, experience nine different facets of daily life, four discourses on Grecian political and philosophical, five sections on art, religion, and myths, as well as five tours about battles and war. At the beginning of each tour, your guide will introduce you to what you are about to experience before sending you off to follow beacons to your next learning location. What helps sells this format is how personal the characters introducing the tours feel - for the most part. While legendary King Leonidas introduces you to what it meant to be a Spartan, he takes time to reflect on what his younger self would think of him today. However, the fictional merchant Markos feels more caricature than character.
On the completion of each tour, your guide will give you a light quiz on the information you just learned. As you explore each area, you will find over 200 Discovery Sites, marking artifacts, culture, and more, alongside thirty Behind-the-Scenes points of interest which detail the process of making Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.
While discovery can be its own reward, there are 35 characters and 15 mounts to unlock for your journey of discovery. Switching characters and mounts is purely aesthetic and can create some situationally comical moments. You could wander Greece on the back of a majestic Mycenaen steed as the fictional Alexios and Kassandra, you could live out your best Greek life as the poet and hymnodist Praxilla, or you could wax philosophical as the renowned Socrates while riding a unicorn. The choice is yours.
The process to unlock the mounts and characters is fairly simple. Each is unlocked as you complete things like the tours themselves, locate discovery sites, and complete activities within regions. There are some unlocks that require you to complete an entire set of tours. These particular unlocks are thematic to the characters being unlocked. The Spartan king Archidamos II is unlocked as you complete all of the tours surrounding battles and wars whereas the playwright Sophokles requires you to complete all of the tours within the art, religion, and myths category.
If unlocking characters and visiting these sites is not enough, enter the Photo Mode to stage screen shots of your fantastic adventures in Ancient Greece. By pressing F3, the game will freeze all of the action and give you control of the camera. This will allow you to set up the perfect shot. This mode offer some of the same robust features as NVidia’s Ansel. Photo Mode provides adjustments to depth of field, bloom, noise, and more. You can even frame your work of art if you so choose with one of seven different photo frames.
The concept behind Discovery Tours by Ubisoft: Ancient Greece is a masterclass in tangential learning. While Ubisoft has already creating an immersive experience or interpretation of ancient cultures to weave their Assassin’s Creed stories within, Discovery Tours puts all of their research to work for the curious whose appetite for understanding is satisfied but the cultural underpinning that this experience provides.
Whether you have the faintest understanding of Greak mythology or you have studied Mediterranean history, the experience provided by Discovery Tours will be unlike any history lesson you will ever experienced. The attention to detail, the connections to ancient literature and art history, as well as the explanation of the cultural inhabiting this world help create an immersive learning experience.
On a person note, Discovery Tours by Ubisoft: Ancient provided for me an incredibly surreal experience. To walk the ancient streets of the port city Korinth and to wander the markets of Athen - cities and general time period I have spent time studying in depth for years - provided so much more context to the space than I could have ever imagined possible. After walking the streets and seeing people interact with one another, I was able to fly Ikaros around the city to gain a better perspective of the layout of the cities themselves. The experience provided by Ubisoft is one that has enriched the way that I think about this region.
Discovery Tours by Ubisoft: Ancient Greece is available today and will be free for all owners of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. There will also be available as a stand-alone experience of Discovery Tours by Ubisoft: Ancient Greece on PC for $19.99 via Uplay.
Full Disclosure: Our copy was reviewed on PC via Uplay with a code provided by PR.