Archery Popshots | Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
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Archery Popshots | Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

August 17, 2019


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.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. 3rd
    the helenics may loathes archery (like toxotoes or something) but in the east… hmmm~
    in 9:10 i think well placed balistae or catapult could be the main weapon against ships before the rise of cannons

  2. I love you SO MUCH and am learning so much about bows, I’m wanting a traditional longbow for casual target shooting and stump shooting!

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