Odysseus unlocks the most Iliad-like Trojan Horse in A Total War Saga: Troy

You’ve heard of Odysseus. He was the Greek warrior-king who quite famously had the world’s worst ever commute home from work, having spent a decade at war with Troy and then taken another decade to sail back to Ithaca – a voyage of under 600 miles (or roughly 320 as the crow/Hermes flies).

He was also famously cunning and, in Homer’s Iliad – the famous, fantastical account of the Trojan War – came up with the idea for the Trojan Horse. One of Sega’s marketing phrases for A Total War Saga: Troy is that the game will look for ‘the truth behind the myth’, and we’ve heard that there will, accordingly, be three different versions of the Trojan Horse, one of which will be an earthquake.

Appropriately enough, wily Odysseus, he of many ways, will “hold the key to pull off three Trojan Horse mehcanics,” game director Maya Georgieva tells us. One of these strategems will be unique to him – the one that’s most authentic to the version in the Iliad.

“It requires you to be Odysseus or to own him – maybe you could confederate him – but he comes with a plan, which is to get a Phoenician vessel – which is horse-headed – to put a lot of offerings into it as if you’re making a sacrifice to the gods, and then rely on the Trojans to get the offerings back into their city,” Georgieva says. Of course, there are soliders in the ship – which you’ll get to select – and this scheme will lead to a special version of the siege of Troy, set at night, in which the gates are open and you start with some of your troops in the city already. It’s “a unique way to take over the city, and it’s relatively hard to take otherwise.”

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Georgieva also shared a few other details of Odysseus’s faction mechanics. “Mastery of the sea” is one of his defining traits – “probably a little bit ironically,” given his torrid journey home. “Each of our factions derive their unique mechanics from their leader, so Odysseus is able to deploy sneak bases in enemy territory where he can recruit and train troops, even though he doesn’t actually own the regions.” We also hear he’ll have unique strengths in coastal regions, “so he is an interesting faction to play, because instead of making one big blob of an empire and painting the map, you’re actually going to be striving for the coastlines.”

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In battle, Odysseus is all about being sneaky. He “relies on hit-and-run tactics,” senior game designer Milcho Vasilev says. “A lot of his units can’t stand their ground for long, but even some of his starting units have precursor javelins, for example, which is a really strong weapon we’ve seen in previous Total War games. Most of his elite units are able to do really great ambushes by hiding not just in tall grass or forest, but in plain sight, and sniping enemies, moving silently, and so on.

“It is very micro-intensive, and I believe it’s one of the hardest factions to play because of that approach to battles. You really need to know what you’re doing. But it can be very satisfying once you see your plans spring into action and you’re actually managing to ambush and surround your enemies.”

A Total War Saga: Troy releases on August 13, and is exclusive to the Epic Games Store for one year. But it’s also entirely free to download and keep on launch day.