From the looks of this article, the year’s hiatus has really done the Assassin’s Creed series well, with details on how the development team approached Origins, compared to previous games. Rather than build on what they had, Creative Director Jean Guesdon asked his team to focus on inventing new and interesting gameplay mechanisms, asking them to completely forget about Assassin’s Creed. That approach appears to have paid off, as the article reveals what might be the most innovative Assassin’s Creed game for a long time.
As previous rumored, Assassin’s Creed: Origins takes place in Egypt, during the tail-end of the Ptolemaic period. The developers are hoping that Classical Egypt offers a more interesting time period than Ancient Egypt would have, with the political struggles of Cleopatra (yes, THAT Cleopatra) presumably taking the center stage of the narrative.
Players will assume the role of “Bayek”, a member of the Medjay – a dying discipline of warriors most easily thought of as the policemen of the Egyptian state. His role presumably takes a turn for the worse, and we to follow him through his journey, as he becomes an assassin, founds the Assassin Brotherhood, and creates the eponymous “Creed”. According to the article, we can expect Bayek’s character to be slightly different from previous main characters. Older than your usual Assassin’s Creed protagonist, Bayek will be nothing like Jacob Frye or Ezio Auditore. Bayek is very much a man who knows who he is – a seasoned and experienced warrior. Expect much less sarcasm, scathing wit, and impulsive liaisons. The developers were quick to point out that this doesn’t make Bayek moody brooder – instead, the article sees him playfully interact with a child, indicating that the middle-aged man has more than one facet to his personality.
As mentioned earlier, Origins is bringing the largest shake-up that the Assassin’s Creed series has seen (and some would say, has needed) for a long time. The run key has vanished, and Bayek will instead respond to the inclination of the analog stick and the use of the Crouch button for stealth. So too have the indications for free-running. Instead, Ubisoft Montreal has done more to ensure that more of the map is parkour-able – leading to a more fluid experience when free-running. Also gone is the minimap, replaced by an Elder Scrolls-style compass that fades in important details as the player approaches. This method, according to the article, is meant to allow the player to focus on the world around them, rather than a minimap of dots and icons. And what a world – Origins is another open world, but with some major changes. The compass will highlight various points-of-interest as you play and will guide you to various side quests, as will NPCs on the main questline. NPCs will also follow a day/night cycle that you can track – which presumably can lead to variously timed situations. Would an attack at the change of the guard allow you to exploit a weak point in a camp’s defenses or would it instead bring twice the number of soldiers down on your head?
And combat’s probably something you want to avoid, at least to begin with. Assassin’s Creed: Origins has changed the rules of the game. Gone is the old combat style focused around counter-attacks, and a laughably “you first” approach from enemy NPCs. Instead, Ubisoft Montreal has focused on creating a combat experience that allows for multiple attackers at once. The article refers to the combat as feeling reminiscent of Dark Souls – something which should be an upgrade for the series. But Bayek isn’t helpless against his enemies. Quite the opposite; an adrenaline gauge that builds up during combat allows the proto-assassin to unleash powerful special attacks against his enemies – something which should come in handy in the game during the promised Roman-style gladiatorial combats.
Parts of the Assassin’s Creed mythos are also being explored in this juncture. The Assassin Order’s link with eagles is being revealed in the form of Bayek’s relationship with the eagle Senu. Not just a cosmetic feature, Senu can be controlled from a third-person perspective and used to help track enemies, and reveal hidden areas and chests. Eagle Vision has also been changed, and no longer shows the positions of enemies. Instead, it highlights useful items and objects that can be interacted with. This is, presumably, to make Senu’s birds-eye view more useful to the player, and will likely be something that players learn to love.
There’s also a return to “Fash-assin’s Creed” (heh), with Bayek able to equip different costumes, from an Anubis outfit, to a stylized mummy costume. In a change-up for the series, stats have been removed from items of clothing and rolled into a gear system. Each piece of gear will have a different effect on Bayek’s stats and customizable elements – one example being a set of stabilizers in Bayek’s bracers that make his bow shots more accurate. The iconic hidden blades will also be available but will have to be crafted. Makes sense, since this is supposed the start of the Assassin-mythos.
Origins will also include an inventory system of sorts. Players will be able to break down unwanted weapons into parts for the crafting system, but players otherwise won’t be hindered by bag space. Reading between the lines, it seems likely that pouches and other items crafted from hunting animals or breaking items down will instead make more items available to Bayek during combat. Two melee weapons and two bows will be available to Bayek in use during combat – and two ranged weapons implies that we’ll be seeing a wide variety of different bows for the character. The article makes reference to a “shotgun-like hunting bow”, which seem to confirm our suspicions. What is confirmed is the mention of a gear rarity system, and of “Legendary” weapons to be found.
Coming along with the new equipment system is a leveling up system. Compared with Final Fantasy X‘s Sphere Grid in Game Informer’s article, Origin‘s RPG elements are meant to allow as much freedom as possible to the player, without restricting them to a specific playstyle or upgrade path. Loosely organized into three disciplines, the Seer upgrades allow you to take control of the world, using poisons and taming animals to turn the battlefield to your advantage. The Warrior path is combat-oriented, and the Hunter path is the most similar to a traditional assassin’s playstyle from the previous games. Bayek has a level cap of 40, and this level will be important when facing off against higher-level enemies. A lower level on Bayek means he’ll have a harder time using his assassin skills on higher level enemies, and so on. While not impossible to take out, the article makes it clear that the intention was to make kills with a high amount of level disparity harder to achieve.
There was more that Ubisoft Montreal clearly didn’t want to talk about – the mentions of more than one player-character, and the implication of playing in both the cities of Alexandria and Memphis (the former Greco-Romano in style, the latter more classically Egyptian). In particular, story has been left vague at best. But we’ll likely hear more about these elements as we get closer to the leaked release date of October 27th.
One of Ubisoft Montreal’s stated goals with Origins is proving that the Assassin’s Creed series can evolve still further, and these leaks go a long way to proving that.
You can find screenshots of the leaked article here.
I won’t lie – I’m bummed out that this isn’t Republican Rome, and the Roman historian in me is disappointed by the lack of Roman interference in these early leaks. However, the world of Classical Egypt is certainly a good one for Assassin’s Creed, and having the chance to explore the very beginning of the Assassins Order is going to be very revealing from a lore point of view. Having the chance to shed so many of the “legacy” features from the previous games should also give Origins the chance to breathe. But this is looking very good indeed.
Let us know what you think of these leaks in the comments down below.