If you’ve played through Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, then you’ll know that Ubisoft Quebec poured hours and hours of research to create one of the most expansive and gorgeous video game worlds of this generation. Just like with Assassin’s Creed Origins, Ubisoft Montreal returns to compile all of the game’s research material into a new Discovery Tour that offers an in-depth, factual look at the civilization of Ancient Greece, from the Bronze Age to the start of the Peloponnesian War where Odyssey’s story takes place. Being an educationally minded digital reality tour of Ancient Greece, you’ll get to explore the land and learn about its people, customs, and culture without having to worry about the Cult of Kosmos trying to take over the world.
Beginning with a brief tutorial in Athens, you have the freedom to explore the world at your leisure. The bread and butter of this experience, though, are the thirty guided tours that walk you through life in Ancient Greece. These tours run anywhere between ten to twenty minutes and cover all aspects of life at the time, from architecture and mythology to politics and the granularity of everyday life. The guided tours are set at the same time period as the main game so you can see how life in the region was shaped by the events leading up to 431 BCE. Your hosts for these tours are famous historical figures you rubbed shoulders with in Odyssey, specifically Barnabas, Aspasia, Markos, Herodotos, and even King Leonidas himself. Each tour is comprised of hotspots linked together by a golden trail to make it easy to follow the intended progression. Stopping at each point lets your guide take over and talk in-depth about the numerous elements that make Greece’s landmarks worth calling out. The Olympics tour, I felt, was one of the most fascinating of the lot. When finished, you’re encouraged to take a simple but completely optional quiz that covers the main points of the tour. These fun little tests are impossible to fail because you can keep answering until you get it right and all answers come with extra morsels of historical information.
In addition to guided tours, there are over two hundred Discovery Sites to be found, indicated as small black markers on the map. These are self-contained tidbits of information not big enough for their own tour. Finding these sites unlock high-quality images of items recovered from various archeological digs throughout the years, like pottery, currency, and art, as well as images of what these locations look like today. Another similar collectible, marked as a black icon with a blue border, offers behind the scenes information from the development of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Most of them are pulled as excerpts from the book The Art of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey but the material is still valuable because of the concept art, renderings, and quotes by those responsible for creating this massive game.
In the base version of Odyssey, travel was limited to walking or riding on horseback to find synchronization points that opened up fast travel. For the purposes of Discovery Tour, all of the fast travel points have been unlocked to make getting from one side of the world to the other a lot easier. If you want to speed things up, you’re free to initiate guided tours through several different methods. There’s the Tours menu, which shows your progress and offers a suggested tour to take, a tour sub-menu that breaks them down into different topics, and a timeline that divides the experiences by when they occurred. You’re also welcome to simply open up the world map, pick a tour, and be transported to its location. Those preferring a more organic and exploratory experience are encouraged to mount up and take in the digitized beauty of Ancient Greece at your own pace. By default, my avatar for this experience was Kassandra (once more for those in the back, best Assassin’s Creed character ever!) who rides a run of the mill brown horse. As you complete tours and find Discovery Sites, you’ll unlock new character and horse skins that are purely cosmetic. Those hoping to gain some sort of incentive for spending the time to complete all the tours and sites might be upset that the reward isn’t substantial enough but really, that’s not the purpose of the experience. That’s what Odyssey is for.
Growing up, I had access to a fun little Microsoft product called Encarta which functioned as a digital encyclopedia of knowledge that used mixed media to help make learning fun! Discovery Tour Ancient Greece is the best iteration of that classic digital resource. There is no “game” here. It’s an educational and informational resource - edutainment - that offers an in-depth look at how people lived in 431 BCE, stripped of all the mechanics that defined Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s action-adventure gameplay. Instead of swords and precursor artifacts, you can indulge your inner shutterbug with a photo mode and partake in light, hands-free interactive experiences. Odyssey’s version of Discovery Tour is available as a free add-on for those who already own the base game but it can also be purchased separately for PC in case any teachers out there that want to include it in their curriculum. Though not a game in the traditional sense, Discovery Tour Ancient Greece is a fantastic supplement to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey that, if nothing else, showcases one of the best historical recreations this franchise has ever seen.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.