Last Thursday, Kotaku reported on a leak that revealed the next Assassin's Creed game was going to be set in Greece, called Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, and would feature new role-playing game (RPG) mechanics to the series, including a reworked dialogue system. The leak ended up being proven to be true later by the official Assassin's Creed Twitter account.
A system with dialogue choices is certainly an interesting addition to the franchise. Here are three things that I think it needs in order to work.
A variety in responses
One of the most important things for a dialogue system to have is a plethora of options that the player can choose. A common number seen in many games is four, but some, such as the Mass Effect series, offer as many as six responses for your character to say. This variety of dialogue contributes heavily towards character-building, and with Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, it shouldn't be any different.
The ability to give your character a distinct personality through their speech allows the player to make that character their own. For example, a person who is naturally hot-headed will want to have an option to say something rude, but players who like to be funny will search for witty responses. This strengthens the bond the player has with their character, which makes the game more enjoyable overall.
Making choices matter
Creating a world that feels alive is a challenge RPG developers continue to wrestle with, and one of the best ways to do it is to make dialogue spoken by the main character have a lasting impact. When players project their personality onto their character, the game world and the people within it should respond to that appropriately. After all, what you say doesn't really matter if the in-game NPCs don't react differently to unique types of dialogue.
Some games, like Kingdom Come: Deliverance, even have different communities within the game world that will view you differently depending on what you say to them. Be confrontational and disrespectful and you'll be hated; be polite and friendly, and you'll be respected. All of this contributes to that feeling of the world being alive because people in real life would respond similarly.
Quality voice acting
Often, having a talented, passionate, and dedicated cast of folks behind a microphone is what makes or breaks a dialogue system. This is because speech is an emotional way of communicating — people get loud and aggressive when angry, soft and shy when they're sad, and so on. For this type of speech to sound genuine in a video game, the people voicing the characters need to have mastered the art of voice acting.
It can be easy to forget how important voice work really is. It's something that a lot of people take for granted in today's gaming industry, but you will notice when it's not done well. Especially because this is the Assassin's Creed series' first foray into a dialogue system, it is imperative that the developers get this right with Odyssey.
What do you think about a dialogue system in Assassin's Creed? Do you think it will end up being a good thing for the series? Let me know.
We won't know more about Odyssey until E3, but if you want to get your hands on an Assassin's Creed game while you wait, check out last year's release, Assassin's Creed: Origins. It's currently $59.99 digitally, but you can get it for $29.99 on Amazon if you order a physical copy.
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I'm wary about a system like this, while it maybe allows you to choose how the story goes, it also can slow down the game.
That's kind of the point of the RPG.
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