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From the sands of Egypt to the blessed land of Greece, Assassin's Creed Odyssey takes
the smooth gameplay from Origins, adds a few tweaks, and presents a new adventure in a
bright, vibrant world. And for us toxophiles, the Eagle Bearer is just as competent with
a bow as with a spear, and what an Odyssey we are in for. In this episode of Archery
Popshots, we take a look at the historical context of archery in Ancient Greece, and
the mythical feats we'll achieve in Assassin's Creed Odyssey.
Greek mythology is filled with epic heroes, and the bow is inseparable from legendary
figures. The deities Apollo and Artemis, the mighty Herakles, the huntress Atalanta, Orion
the Hunter, and Odysseus himself, whose feats include stringing a mighty horn bow and shooting
an arrow through a dozen axe heads. Even the strongest warrior of all, Achilles, was brought
down by an arrow to the heel from Paris of Troy. These timeless legends are retold and
sprinkled throughout the ancient Greek world, and Assassin's Creed glorifies these legends
to titanic levels.
While skill with the bow was ubiquitous to being a warrior, the use of the bow in combat
held a much lower significance. Indeed, passages from Homer and the Trojan War describe archers
as cowardly and effeminate. Diomedes, upon being shot in the foot by an arrow from Paris,
cried out:
"If you should fight against me in hand-to-hand combat, your bow and thick-flying arrows would
not help you. It bothers me no more than if a woman or unwitting child hit me; mute is
the missile of a weak and worthless man."
The disdain for archery also carried over to real warfare. Combat was based on the hoplite
– equipped with a large shield, spear and sword. The phalanx was the backbone of Greek
armies, and Greek citizens – most of all the Spartans – were trained first and foremost
as heavy infantry. Archers had very little role in battle. Some archers were deployed
as light skirmishers alongside slingers and javelin throwers, but very few battles were
significantly influenced by the bow and arrow. Nonetheless, the Athenians were known to have
maintained a corps of archers, a distinction that is actually shown in Odyssey.
As far as the game is concerned, it bypasses the disciplined warfare typical of the period
– in fact, the conquest battles are unrealistically chaotic. Nonetheless, the game emphasises
the individual heroic warrior rather than organised warfare, and if you can look past
the trappings of historical accuracy, the possibilities are literally endless.
Those who have come from Assassin's Creed Origins may appreciate the small changes that
make gameplay more streamlined, and things…make sense in Odyssey. In Origins, Bayek juggled
several different kinds of bows, each with uniquely different functions and ammunition.
In Odyssey, the Eagle Bearer makes use of a single type of bow, based on the reflex
bows that would have been imported from Scythia during this time.
Instead of locking powerful abilities to bow types, the player can unlock and assign hunter
skills as they level up and acquire more skill points. This allows the player to specialise
into being an assassin, warrior or hunter, each with distinctly different playstyles.
Some skills make a return from Origins. The Spread Shot skill shoots several arrows in
a shotgun pattern, and the fan-favourite Predator Arrow is back, changing the view to first-person
and giving the player the ability to steer the arrow in flight.
There are several new additions. Multi-shot automatically targets several enemies, allowing
you to quickly burst down entire encampments at range. Rain of Destruction does area damage,
while Devastating Shot is a mid-range high-damage burst that stacks elemental damage. Ghost
Arrows of Artemis is perhaps the most useful skill, allowing you to literally shoot through
everything, setting you up for some high damage assassinations without being detected. The
player can also unlock the overpower Bow Strike, which acts as a high-damage finisher and crowd control.
In addition, the player can craft several different arrow types, including paralysis
for non-lethal shots, exploding, poison and fire arrows. Later in the game, death arrows
can be crafted, which are much faster and stronger, though very expensive to craft.
I found myself using normal arrows most of the time as the economical choice, and late-game
skills largely negate the need to use specialised arrows.
The fact that you can assign multiple skills on a single bar gives the player much more
versatility. Switching between melee and ranged skills is seamless, and the multiple hunter
skills gives you the right abilities for any scenario and style. After all, it makes sense
to carry multiple skills rather than multiple bows!
When starting the game, you…actually don't even have a bow. Yeah, seeing a broken bow
makes me sad, but don't worry. Soon enough you'll be getting epic and legendary bows,
with a few pet favourites that will last you the entire game.
What makes archery interesting is that it is fairly well balanced with an initial steep
progression curve. Since hunter skills must be unlocked through experience rather than
being innate to the bow, it takes a fair amount of time to acquire the skills you need. Early
on, you lack the damage output for one-shot kills, and skill upgrades are further locked
until further progression, notably in upgrading your broken spear . The result is that you
end up with a set of support skills that you can either use to initiate a fight, complement
your damage in the middle of battle, or specialise into by taking more bonus Hunter damage items.
Further adding to the balance, you can't just sit back and use your bow skills to wipe
out entire garrisons. In Odyssey, your bow skills require adrenaline, which is gained
from combat or assassinations. This means that you have to take other actions to increase
your adrenaline meter in order to use your bow skills, and even then you have limited
bars to use. This in turn forces the players to be strategic in when to use their ranged
skills, or whether to save them up for melee combat.
By the end-game, you pretty much turn into a demigod. Which is fine. You earned it. It's
in your blood. And while it takes a while to get to this level of archery domination
– at least, compared to Origins – this is fine. By this point you're probably running
through everything to clear out as quickly as possible, whereas every fight in the early
game is a duel to the death. Elites go down in a single hit, bosses pose little challenge,
and while the default game mode scales enemies to your current level, your power levels are
astronomical. And that's fine – that's what you get for making it to the end.
Just as Black Flag added naval combat to the established Assassin's Creed 3 gameplay,
Odyssey does the same for Origins. Now with free-roam…or, free sailing, players can
now engage in naval combat. Your ship is capable of shooting arrows, throwing javelins, using
flaming arrows and ramming. This makes for fluid, fast and exciting battles on the waves.
While this may seem like a very practical and obvious way to use archers on a ship,
this is actually not how things went down during this time, and it will make sense once
you see the context. Archers…don't do that much in this kind of warfare. Arrows
don't do anything to the hull of a ship. In fact, there weren't even that many soldiers
on a ship. Typically, a vessel would have a small contingent of marines and archers,
whose main purpose was to defend the oarsmen should the ship be boarded – and this small-scale
deck fighting is fairly realised in Odyssey.
The main method of combat was through the use of the ram, and not just to slice a ship
in half, but to approach from a sharper angle and tear a wider hole in the ship as well
as breaking oars. In that sense, the naval combat in Odyssey is actually a fairly proportional
representation of how a trireme would have been used, but with more emphasis on an enjoyable
gameplay experience that allows the player to get in and out of battle with little preparation required.
In short, you don't use arrows to sink ships. Naval battles were fought by ramming and boarding,
and it was only with the advent of cannons that ships could blow each other out of the water.
I'll be upfront: Odyssey is my favourite game in the series, and I'm the type of
fan that loved Assassin's Creed II above all else. If you're wondering whether this
game is worth picking up irrespective of the archery in the game, it's definitely worth
playing. It's been a long time since I genuinely wanted to keep on playing and looking for
more areas to explore in a single player campaign.
The archery we see is well presented and integrated into the gameplay. Of course everything is
fantastical and mythical, and that's the whole point of the character. The base form
is not much different from what we would expect, and the special skills are beyond imagination.
The fact that you have more control over what to specialise in, and the freedom to change
your bonuses and skills, means that you can enjoy all parts of the game without being
locked into just one play style. No matter what kind of player you are, Odyssey is worth
a shot.
This is NUSensei, and as always, shoot straight and aim for your best.
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Archery Popshots | Assassin's Creed Odyssey

262 Folder Collection
綠豆譯人 published on December 12, 2018    羅世康 translated    Evangeline reviewed
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