Where Gaming meets Education: the new Assassin's Creed Odyssey 'Discovery Tour' mode05.09.2019, 10:40
Assassin’s Creed games have always removed some of the guilt that comes with spending hours playing video games. They transport you back in time to explore vast open worlds set in actual, historical periods, exploring (and traversing) vivid reconstructions of historical locations, interacting with famous characters and getting a real sense of what life was like. They either feed young, hungry minds with historical knowledge (if gamers read all the background notes included with these games), or at least inspire a deeper respect or appreciation. They may even make students attend their lectures, forcing teachers to work harder and answer more questions!
Meanwhile, Ubisoft developers pour over historical records to try and accurately resurrect these historical worlds for their next digital playground. So impressive was the cathedral of Notre Dame rendered in AC Unity (set during the French Revolution) that the game was considered as a reference for the ongoing post fire restoration work.
However, these open worlds must of course, be primarily fun and exciting, which is a tricky process and of course involves necessary trade-offs, or else story narratives can become just excuses for the next game challenge to plunder a historical concept or moment, and the mystery of the Creed itself can also wear a bit thin. At times, the level design shines out gloriously, along with - or in spite of - the underlying narrative, setting or history. At times, everything shines together, and the latest instalment Odyssey in ancient Greece has perhaps come the closest to uniting all elements, while giving more freedom and consequence with player choice and decision-making too.
So this is why the new Discovery Tour for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, launching on September 10th is so welcome. It’s even been designed specifically to supplement school teaching as it attempts to extend the whole historical learning element in the game further, by removing the gameplay challenge, combat and many such elements. Removing the fun? Well, maybe, but haven’t we had enough of that? When you’ve got a game with scale and detail of Odyssey, a more leisurely experience is surely welcome and a great way to add longevity and value to a title already fully - or partially - completed. Besides, the idea is to replace constant action with an alternative, more rewarding kind of fun, including quizzes at the end of each guided tour.
This kind of 'extra' mode brings a lot of credibility and importance to video games.
The Open World of Ancient Greece Opened Up
The Discovery Tour mode will allow you to journey through the entire, massive world of ancient Greece, free from any gaming preoccupations. That’s 29 regions, and you can activate guided tours populated by characters from the game’s story. These include Aspasia, Barnabas and Herodotus. The tours will be offered at over 300 in-game stations, covering five fields or subjects: philosophy, famous cities, daily life, war, and myths.
If done successfully, the mode will magnify the details already present in the game, enhancing and enriching all facets at once: the historical element, the game development decisions and overall appreciation of the main game.
Learning by doing and interacting
There are gameplay elements and decision-making that still help to make the world engaging and exciting. Principally, the dialogue interaction can really make learning about the times far more fascinating than a simple tour, or even a lecture at a university.
You can freely roam the world and 'learn the way you want, with 35 unique avatars and 15 mounts that are accessible by progressing through objectives.'
Perhaps this sort of thing is only possible in Assassin's Creed titles, but it makes one wish that more games would be so committed to history or fact, and allow games to become something much more than just another throw-away experience, or throw-away 'world'.
The new DLC is free on all platforms for existing owners of the game (Sept 10th) and also available for PC as a stand-alone product.
The streaming version of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will be a Google Stadia launch title this November.
Assassin’s Creed Origins also has a Discovery Tour mode.