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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Legacy of the First Blade

A 3-part DLC of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Other than the tight deadline, the biggest challenge I faced in this game is to create interesting and compelling quests within the limits of an existing game where most of the world cannot be altered.


QuestsOther tasks

Quests

As mentioned previously, due to the limits on what we could do with the world, we had to get creative and find ways to convey the story as well as offer engaging content within these limitations. Here are some highlights on what I worked on.

Persian Puppetry quest

  • Deliver exposition on main villain for Part 2 of the DLC
  • Explore ways to make non-combat sequences interesting

As the goal of this quest was to deliver exposition for The Tempest, the main villain of Part 2 of the DLC, I had to find ways to make this process fun and engaging as we build up this image of a feared Admiral with a fire-breathing ship.

This is done in several ways. One way we achieve this is through cutscenes. This is done in heavy collaboration with the Narrative Designer and Cinematic Designer due to the complex nature of the opening cutscene and the one where the protagonist confronts the bounty hunter. I helped in bridging communications with the leads and the aforementioned designers to align on the direction and also worked on some cinematic design work to hook up certain setups on the backend and adjust certain framings.

Another way this is done is through background NPC chatter. They provide exposition as the player passes them. They are placed strategically in the ‘Golden Path’, increasing the likeliness of the player encountering them on their way to the next objective or while they’re going about their current objective. This paces out quieter moments in the quest fairly cheaply. If players aren’t interested, they can just walk away at no extra effort on them.

The third way is through the NPCs you interact with. The way we convey a bulk of the exposition is through an Investigation objective. Through interrogating workers at the shipyard, the player will learn more about The Tempest by seeing how the people who work for her react when you ask about her. My experience with Investigations, as a gamer and a developer, is that they can get way too complex for their own good and make the whole process a chore. I decided to make it as straightforward as possible by removing most of the random NPCs in the investigation area and placing the ones important to the quest in easy to spot locations. That way the player doesn’t have to do a lot of frustrating legwork figuring out how to progress this step and instead be directed to the main aim of this step: getting exposition on The Tempest.

It’s not shown in the video but a little foreshadowing I added here is to have more NPCs follow the protagonist from a distance as they go about their investigation. They are sent out by the bounty hunter that the player fights later on in the quest. The protagonist will also mention this in passing as they go about the investigation and confirms it after they are done. If the player notices the spies and interacts with them, they’ll give an awkward, nervous reply about ships or boats and stops following the protagonist. This was another little detail which I felt helps to add to the exposition. If players notice them, I figured that it would feel rewarding as they figured out the reason for those mysterious NPCs following them moments before.

Knives in the Dark quest

  • Leverage on the game’s systems
  • Tie in back to the narrative

Seeing that the procedurally generated and systemic content in the game is already designed to accommodate for some kind of changes over time, this is one of many quests which we utilized them in the quests.

In this video, I utilized the Mercenary system to create pre-fabricated archetypes. Unlike the regular Mercenaries that are only created if the player reaches a certain bounty threshold, these are created at pre-determined points in the quest.

While their archetypes are pre-fabricated, everything else is handcrafted to fit the narrative. From their fighting style, to where they appear, to their behavior, they are customized so that I can inject a unique experience to an otherwise repetitive quest.

The video jumps ahead to the final two mercenaries the player has to kill. While normal mercenaries would home in on the player and attack them on sight, these two go about their day scouting from a guarded villa. It is also not typical for mercenaries to work together, so this experience offers a different challenge to the player.

To reward skillful and patient players, they are also designed to be easily assassinated silently without arousing suspicion (which is shown in the video) if they are doing certain activities. As for players who prefer to come in guns blazing, so to speak, I had made these two to be of complementary archetypes – a slow-moving, heavy damage brute type and an agile rogue type that deals poison damage. Coupled that with the villa’s guards, it offer a formidable combat experience to end the quest.

We approached many of the other quests in this DLC in a similar way. We identified what we can alter in the game – it usually involved a system in the game. Then we look into introducing handcrafted elements to it, sometimes even creating some custom behaviors and transitions, in order to introduce something fresh and exciting for the player.

Other tasks

  • Part of the team that brainstormed the narrative beats of the quest
  • Writing some flavor text and dialogue lines
  • Adjusting some framing and composition for the cinematics