Assassin's Creed Odyssey's Sharks Are Killing Me

Literally, of course, but also emotionally.

It has been well established on this website that I am a video game coward.

I’ve got my reasons for this—mostly that horror doesn’t give me a “rush”, it just makes me physically sick—but my aversions aren’t restricted to spooky games. There are “scary” experiences I prefer not to handle in all kinds of games, but the one I seem to run into most regularly (and that is fucking me up right now) are sharks.

From Half-Life’s alien fish monster to Resistance 2's sea battle to Assassin’s Creed Black Flag’s diving missions, there are tons of games that I either won’t play, or will skip entire sections of if possible, if they include sharks (or shark-like creatures).

I don’t make those calls lightly! I have a genuine fear of sharks based on real world events, like multiple close encounters with them while living in a country where human beings are definitely on the menu.

I also very nearly drowned as a teenager while surfing, and ever since have been terrified of the dark depths of the ocean in general.

So it’s killing me that they’re everywhere (or at least seem like they’re everywhere, even though they’re obviously not) in my game of the moment, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. I’ve been loving almost every second of the newest game in the series, lapping up every open world task it’s asked me to do.

Ride here and kill a guy? Sure. Sneak into this fort and steal some stuff? Hell yeah. Dive to the bottom of the ocean to search a shipwreck and get jumped by four huge man-eating sharks?

Get me the fuck out of here.

It was not fun getting screenshots for this post.

Here’s my main problem: the limitations of the game’s camera mean that I can only ever see a small area in front of me, which means that while underwater—where I’m vulnerable to attacks from all sides—every second is anxious death for me, as I don’t know whether I’m just swimming around or if I’m moments away from a sharp, bloody demise.

(Yes, there’s a small audio cue to alert you if a shark is striking from behind, but its sharp nature only adds to my anxiety, because I then swing the camera around like a madman and lose my bearings).

So much of the Assassin’s Creed experience (on land anyway) is about me being the hunter, creeping up on my unsuspecting prey and dealing out swift death and judgement. I’m the one in control.

Going beneath the waves and running into sharks flips this on its head; suddenly I’m the one lost and disoriented, stripped of most of my speed and powers, while the sharks, in their natural habitat, have the advantage. And I hate it.

Being underwater in Odyssey triggers that same ol’ horror game feeling: I get anxious, and then I start to feel sick in my stomach, and then I don’t wanna play (or at least play that part anymore).

It’s got to the point where I’m actively avoiding missions involving diving into the ocean, and on any quest where I have to get down there, I’ve been ... trying to stand on a boat and shoot arrows at the sharks from the surface.

What’s funny is that another animal I’m terrified of for Australian reasons are snakes, which are also in this game. But where my fear of actual snakes comes from how they slither around disgustingly, unseen in the grass, in Odyssey they just kinda sit around hissing until you stab them.

I wish the sharks had been nerfed like that. But no, they had to be turbocharged, bloodthirsty underwater death machines.

This sad state of affairs is testament to just how much of a video game coward I am, I guess. It’s also a credit to Ubisoft, though, for nailing what makes a shark so scary: it’s not their size or their teeth, but the fact they can—and do in this game—strike from out of the darkness anywhere, at any time.

No thank you to all of this.

Comments

    Spoopy horror games I have no problems with (Except that I find them tedious and boring and generally not scary) but you put an underwater section in your game, no matter how harmless it is and I'm noping the heck out of there.

    Deepwater sections kill my game boner. But then I bought Subnautica and tortured myself into playing it and now I hate myself even more ????

    Oh the irony of an assassin being afraid to die.

    Perhaps a shark can be the protagonist of next year's Assassin's Creed. Ubisoft have pretty well covered most of the land surface of the earth (Tasmania excluded). May as well head under water now.

    I wish I could find sharks. Every time i do, for a few quests, I track them in the water, get to a place where i can attack them and they despawn. Sigh.

    I would often semi-panic swimming the ocean in Far Cry 3, even worse when I was collecting shark skins to upgrade equipment. I always killed them in as shallow water as possible and only during the middle of the day (never in low light conditions), but even then, going down to the carcass that always SANK to the bottom, I was a bundle of nerves, almost holding my breath until I got back to the surface and safely on board a boat/jet ski where I would let out a giant sigh of relief. I would say that there is a fine line between wonderment and horror when it comes to the sea, and this seems to translate quite well in some games.

    Underwater sections make me nervous in games.
    The new tomb raider is especially guilty of this.
    Not a complaint, and I won't stop playing them - there's just something about your protagonist about to drown that makes me very uneasy. And I applaud games for this.

    The sharks in tomb raider 2 terrified me. I would jump in the water.
    These assassins creed sharks look waaaaaay worse.

    Maybe stay away from Shark Attack on the PSVR is a little tip I have for you.

    You know, although Luke clearly has specific personal reasons for shark/ocean fears, I wonder if the rest of the posters have trouble because of movement. Most of the time we move on one plane, and we are comfortable with that. If a guard attacks us in a game we instinctively jump back or to the side or whatever. But moving in all directions is unnatural and so when I play a game where I am diving underwater, I feel clumsy trying to move around to stop being attacked.

    Also as someone who has done some scuba diving in the real world, I can attest it is all fun until you go down beside a 'drop-off' and on one side of you have rock and fish to look at, but the other is just a deep blue void. It is unnerving.

    There's a trick with the Odyssey sharks that makes them much less threatening than they otherwise are: they can't change their altitude very quickly. If you swim to directly above the treasure or whatever underwater thing you're after and then swim straight down, odds are they sharks won't be able to touch you at all. Then swim straight back up to leave.

    Alternative suggestion: When you need to swim, switch the difficulty to easy and 1-2 shot them while taking no damage. That's gotta be empowering, right?

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