Ok, Cupid: An ode to same-sex romancing in Assassin's Creed Odyssey
It's okay to be gay in Assassin's Creed Odyssey. In fact, hunting for relics and cult members throughout Ancient Greece is much more fun if you're also hunting for the hot doctor.
Lykaon is like the McSteamy of the region Phokis. He's a healer you find treating sick kids in the woods close to the Sacred Lands of Apollo — and you can totally hook up with him if you play your cards right. He's hot, a doctor, lives off the land, and is great with kids. In other words, jackpot.
Odyssey gives players the option of venturing through this RPG world as either Alexios (male) or Kassandra (female). If you encounter Lykaon as Alexios, the dialogue options will give you the choice to flirt with him, as indicated by the little heart icon. That will bring about some choice pick-up lines, like, "Will I have to roar for you, too?"
It's a quote like that that made crafting the dialogue "a blast" for the developers. "We have to keep in mind that most of our romance are fairly light and meant to be fun moments that you can decide or not to engage in," creative director Jonathan Dumont tells EW. "So yeah, we kept it fun and sometimes it's a bit corny."
GLAAD announced this year that the organization's annual awards will include a category for Outstanding Video Game in acknowledgment of how "games can empower LGBTQ players with the agency to explore and express themselves safely within a virtual environment." That is true of Odyssey.
"We knew that if we were making a game about choice, that philosophy had to permeate throughout the entire experience and not just gameplay," Melissa MacCoubrey, the game's narrative director, says. "Having same-sex partners is part of that ability to play your own odyssey, and it was something we knew we wanted."
"Ancient Greece was a setting that lended itself to same-sex romance," Dumont adds, "so to be honest it just felt natural." Some characters looking for love "are more exuberant," others "are more stoic or feisty," he continues. "We tried to approach it that way. We have a pretty big bank of voices but honestly we did not look at it from the romantic angle but more the point of view of: Is that an interesting character?"
Lykaon offers one of many side missions scattered throughout the immense world of Odyssey, which sees your character thrust on a journey to discover secrets from their past and unmask a mysterious cult that threatens all of Greece. But if you complete the Lykaon challenge, hot doc will become so enamored that he'll call on you for some afternoon delight.
Another side mission sees Alexios getting frisky with the eccentric Alkibiades and some sensual oils, while Kassandra can get cozy with a rebel woman named Kyra. No matter who you play, you can romance either genders — or both genders. It's about choice.
Even as the toxicity of GamerGate and online trolling continue to grab headlines, Dumont and MacCoubrey weren't concerned so much with a negative reaction from players. MacCoubrey explains the developers of Odyssey (who are gamers themselves) already "come from all different backgrounds" and Dumont says "most fans were very positive" when the romance options were revealed at the E3 convention earlier in the year.
"Since the story is choice-driven, we never force players in romantic situations they might not be comfortable with," Dumont says. "Players decide if they want to engage with characters romantically. I think this allows everybody to build the relationships they want, which I feel respects everybody's roleplay style and desires."
MacCoubrey explains the "goal from the beginning was to create an experience that could please the long-time fans of the franchise while encouraging new players to step inside the Ancient Greek world and discover the franchise for the first time themselves." She continues, "As Jonathan says, same-sex romance in our game is part of the roleplay options and is there if you want to engage with it. From the first reviews and impressions we're reading it seems our players are happy with the way it's presented."
Assassin's Creed Odyssey is available now on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.