Storming the Seas & Making Friends with Assassin's Creed: Odyssey Game Director Scott Philips
As a continuation of my adventures in ancient Greece with Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, I also managed to snag a moment with Scott Philips, the Game director. Scott was very open and willing to share some of the specifics on some new and improved in-game mechanics that have been incorporated into Odyssey, and share his thoughts on the potential scope of future AC games.
MMORPG: Will there be a difference in how you're perceived in the game in relation to whether or not you played stealth or melee?
Scott: Yes. Some quests it will matter whether you just go in guns blazing and get detected and kill everyone. Or even the first choice you have in the game of: do you want to kill the thugs that were attacking you right outside your house or do you want to let them go and let them live? To give you that example, if you kill them it's over with. Nothing else happens. If you let them flee they come back with some of their friends and they attack you further on down the road. So, there are results that are not always "be good and get good things". Sometimes you're good and you get punished for it. Or you're a bad guy and you get the good thing out of it. So, it's a variety. We wanted it to be, as we said in the presentation, not black and white. It's a little greyer in what your result is going to be, and you sort of have to feel out what's going to happen.
MMORPG: Naval aspects of Odyssey look phenomenal and I see that there have been some upgrades since Black Flag, can you tell me if there will be greater customizability with the sea vessels?
Scott: For sure. The ship can be upgraded so you can make it stronger so you can make your ram or your arrows or your javelin stronger. Functionally you can dash the ship for longer, sort of boost for longer. With the rowers, you can upgrade them. So, there are some mechanical aspects to how you upgrade it or progression. And there's visual customization of changing the sales or the coloring of the ship as well as the (figurehead), and then in addition to that, you can also change out your crew. Either the look of all of your crew or you can recruit individual crew members from the world. So, any hostile NPC you can knock them out, convince them to join your crew, pay them, and then they join your crew. Or you can find characters in a quest that you can offer to ask them to join your ship; some of them will say yes, some will say no, others you can have romantic relationships with. You can bring them back onto the ship and they'll be with you. That crew can be used for boarding, so they'll jump across to an enemy ship with you and you can fight (alongside) them. There is also a skill where you can call them on land and they'll help you out in conflicts either to create a distraction or wipe out some of the enemies. So, there's a lot of ways to really make the (ship) your own.
MMORPG: As you were saying, you can knock someone out and ask them to join you. Is that pretty much with any hostile individual?
Scott: Yes. The best ones generally tend to be these mercenary characters, like you, because they are the strongest, they have the best weapons. Some of them have pets, they'll have special melee fighting styles. So, they are very varied and useful and very good to have on your crew.
MMORPG: So, essentially my only enemies are friends that aren't my friends yet?
Scott: (laughs)Yes. That's one way of putting it.
MMORPG: In Origins there were cats, does Odyssey have any specific type of pets or fond animals within Odyssey as well?
Scott: So, there were no cats in ancient Greece, they had not been brought to Greece yet, so we don't have cats wandering around. We do have lots of dogs wandering around as well as you have the taming skill so you can tame certain animals to follow you and fight with you. So, you can tame wolves and bears and lynx, which are a sort of bobcat, which is sort of a nasty, big cat. When you have a tamed animal, if you're close to it, you'll pet the animal so you can have that sort of animal bond.
MMORPG: Can you have multiple animals?
Scott: Pets? No, you can only have one with you at the moment.
MMORPG: So, we know that Ubisoft tends to cycle through different studios to do each game in the series and we wonder if there is a system that designated which studio and when? Do you have some kind of office fight club going on?
Scott: No. The sync up with Montreal and Quebec just started with Syndicate because Ubisoft felt that the Quebec studio was ready to be a lead on a big AAA title. So, Syndicate was our first chance at that, and after that, the next step was to do another Assassin's Creed so that's where we started on Odyssey 3 years ago. But Ubisoft changes and are trying always to grow different studios outside of Montreal to diversify the talent pool into other studios and allow them to be leads on other projects. So that's occurring all the time and I think you'll see other studios outside of Montreal being used on big AAA's in other franchises as well.
MMORPG: Given the inclusionary policies at Ubisoft is there any possibility of having a protagonist in the future that was maybe disabled, possibly had lost a limb; and if it is possible, what kind of difficulties do you see with making that happen?
Scott: As a possibility, Absolutely. I don't see any reason why not to. I think narrative-wise that brings interesting opportunities and different aspects to focus on and bring light to. I think even mechanically gameplay-wise there are some interesting possibilities there. I was just playing Wolfenstein: New Colossus and you are in a wheelchair for a portion of the beginning of the game and it's actually really interesting, it brings a new style to the mechanics of the game and a new feeling to it. Yeah, I don't see why not, but I can't speak to any possible or potential plans for the future.