Assassin’s Creed is going further back than it ever has done before, to Ancient Egypt and the origins of the Brotherhood of Assassins. After taking a year out, it seems this new entry in the series is trying to change the formula with a revamped set of systems. What’s different? What’s returning? Here’s everything we know.
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Assassin’s Creed Origins release date
To compete with the other titles this holiday season, Assassin’s Creed Origins is coming out on October 27. It’s not a huge surprise, considering the series has always been so popular, so it should have no problem racking up those sales.
Assassin’s Creed Origins setting
We’re going back to Ancient Egypt for Assassin’s Creed Origins.While there, we’re going to be playing as Bayek of Siwa; the last of an Egyptian military order called the Medjay. Since the Medjay are chosen by the Pharaoh, they are considered to essentially be chosen by the gods. It also makes Bayek a type of peacekeeper whose task it is to punish injustices with force. The story takes place during the transitory period between the Macedonian Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom, roughly about 300 BC.
Bayek is a proto-Assassin in his thirties and is considered a hero in his hometown. But he’s looked down upon as an unnecessary hangover from the past by those in the more Greek Ptolemy-influenced areas - the Medjay became obsolete when the Pharaohs lost their power as supreme rulers of Egypt.
The events of Assassin’s Creed Origins are set against the backdrop of a clash of civilisations. There is an increasingly tense struggle between the Pharaoh and Boy King Ptolemy XIII, Cleopatra (whom Ptolemy exiled), and Julius Caesar of the advancing Roman army. As this time period spells the impending demise of the Egyptians and Cleopatra as the last Egyptian ruler, things might not end well.
We also know about the game’s shady villains, The Order of the Ancients, who seem to replace the Templars as Assassin’s Creed Origins' big bad. The gameplay trailer above describes them as, “mysterious figures, hidden and faceless. They control the Pharaoh from the shadows.” Speaking to Bayek directly, we’re told that this mysterious, all-powerful order threaten Egypt itself and are the reason for our pain. It seems that these guys will be the trigger that sets Bayek off on his adventure.
Bayek will be accompanied on his journey by other playable characters, but, unlike Jacob and Evie Frye in Syndicate, you can only plays them in specific missions. The only one we know of so far is his wife Aya of Alexandria. Aya is not a member of the Medjay, but she supports their mission through her own methods. More specifically, detailed in Assassin’s Creed Origins’s ESRB rating summary, it has emerged that Bayek and Aya are tasked with taking down a secret order that threatens Cleopatra’s power. We also know that the pair’s marriage gives birth to the mysterious Brotherhood in some way.
Little is known so far about any modern day framing narrative, although it appears to have been confirmed that it will return in Assassin's Creed Origins in some capacity. In a video from PythonSelkanHD, artwork in an accidentally-opened page of the Dawn of the Creed edition seems to show a modern day Abstergo soldier. The modern day has been a part of every Assassin’s Creed game to a greater or lesser extent and focuses on an ongoing feud between the Assassins and the Templars, which stretches throughout history to the present day. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate limited the modern world’s aspect to some cinematic cutscenes.
Something we do know is that there will be no time-hopping anomalies in Assassin’s Creed Origins as there were in Unity and Syndicate. There will, however, be a similar element that plays with the idea of Assassin’s Creed Origins as a historical metanarrative, as Ismail says in an interview with Edge magazine: “We have fun with the fact that we’re not actually in Egypt, we’re inside the Animus. But they’re not time anomalies, per se.”
Assassin’s Creed Origins open world
There’s a huge feat being undertaken for Assassin’s Creed Origins - Ubisoft are recreating all of Egypt. It’s probably not to scale (trekking through a 1:1 desert can’t be that much fun) but it’s still a huge task that hopefully will yield impressive results. Naturally, this means a huge map that’s shown above; almost ten times larger than Syndicate’s, with multiple cities.
On the map we can see Memphis, which counts for a small portion of the overall world. That, we know, is big enough to rival any Assassin’s Creed city size yet, without any load times even when entering major cities. Blimey. The many pyramids in the game are also pretty sizeable, too: Redditor CrossingEden noted that sliding down even a small pyramid takes around 12 seconds.
Part of the way they’re capturing all of Egypt is by creating defined areas. In an interview on the Ubisoft blog Ashraf Ismail, Assassin’s Creed Origins’ game director, said that they’re trying to show off the different areas of Egypt as “the perfect playground.”
“We know that people, when they think Egypt, they think desert,” Ismail says. “But Egypt is way more than that. You have the Nile Delta, you have the Nile River, you have tons of oases.”
The E3 demo shows off a small part of one region, Faiyum, and there’s going to be further regions that span the country, presumably to match the different areas and ecosystems of Egypt. The Egypt conveyed by Assassin’s Creed Origins might not be completely factual, but Ubisoft Montreal allowed its team to mix fantasy and reality to create the game’s epic vistas. The painterly art style is also inspired by the watercolours of historical artist David Roberts.
Inspiration has clearly been taken from Black Flag in the way you navigate the open world by boat. In the IGN video preview below, we see the making of the now non-existent Memphis city in Origins, where a network of canals allow you to see all of its districts from the water, as well as the imposing Royal Palace and Temple of Ptah. We also get a sneak peek at the diversity of the population and environments within Memphis, a city already 3000 years old by the time the player discovers it, from docks to wheatfields and bustling commercial districts.
Something important here is that viewpoints, an Assassin’s Creed staple, are a little different. Rather than only being used to reveal the map (although, in the same blog post as above, it’s implied this may not be the case for the final version), they’re for unlocking fast-travel points and quests. You can fast travel between unlocked locations, as well as use horses, camels, or chariots to get around the country, or boats along some of the bodies of water.
The world’s day-and-night cycle will now offer you a larger range of opportunities. At night, many NPCs will go to bed, leaving the streets empty for you to make your approach. And if your target has tucked in for the night too, well, that’s just easy pickings. Animals all have a lifecycle, schedule, and agenda, too: Ubisoft call this ‘meta AI’. By meditating Witcher-3-style, you can choose whether daytime or the cover of darkness is most suited to your mission.
Inspired by ancient Mongolian hunters, Bayek takes a golden eagle with him on his adventure called Senu. This eagle companion grants Bayek a sky-high view of the landscape, but you can also use her to fast travel without exiting to a menu.
Assassin’s Creed Origins combat
One of the major changes to the Assassin’s Creed formula is a revamped combat system. Fighting mechanics are now rooted in stamina and adrenaline. Successfully striking and dodging will build your adrenaline meter, and you can spend this to finish enemies with flashy attacks. This includes a ‘fury mode’ in which you can rain down all hell on your foes for ten seconds.
Bayek is also equipped with a shield, which adds a new element of defence; it can be used to deflect incoming strikes and knock enemies back. There’s also a parry system, one you’ll be familiar with from any Souls-like game: if you time your shielding correctly you can stun your opponent and leave them vulnerable to extra damage. Also borrowed is dodging, which you can stack up to three times before your stamina is replenished.
You can also unleash a special move that can only be activated after being in combat for a while, should you just want to just batter your way through a crowd. You don’t always have to be a sneak.
There is also a newly-introduced hitbox detection system with Assassin’s Creed Origins. Where in previous games in the series you’d simply press the attack button when in combat, now you actually have to make a concerted effort to aim towards your target. That means it’s now possible to swing and miss without doing any damage, and potentially leaving yourself open to taking increased damage. With that, your weapon’s range, speed, and the loadout of your enemy becomes even more crucial.
The key thing to take away from Origins is that it is being re-tooled as an action-RPG. That means unlockable abilities, as seen in the skill tree, and a move towards XP-governed systems. Enemies will be levelled, and if you take on foes that are among the game’s higher levels you’ll fail to assassinate them in a single hit. Targets in story missions will always be at your level, but you’ll find it pretty much impossible to remain undetected in areas populated by stronger characters.
Your options when it comes to approaching combat have also had a bit of an RPG makeover; while you don’t select a class, the items available to you allow you to roleplay the likes of a warrior, ranger, or rogue. Bayek can use a bow and arrow, meaning the series now has fully-integrated ranged combat now. There’s also a skill to control those arrows and bend them mid-flight to ensure that all-important headshot.
The RPG elements also pass over to loot and gear; slain enemies drop items, weapons, and armour that are all at different levels (the latter now confirmed to be customisable).It should go without saying, but you’ll want to make sure you have the best stuff equipped before taking on your high-level targets. You can also choose to boost your gear with poison or bleed damage, with the type of damage you deal appearing above your target’s head, akin to action-RPGs.
You can only take a limited number of each equipment type with you: you have a shield, melee weapons, two bows, and tools. You will also have access to mounts, which range from your typical horse to camels and chariots. On top of that, if you purchase the specific ability, you can tame animals from hippos to crocodiles and hyenas that can support you in combat.
Distinct enemy types are designed to get you out of your comfort zone and explore the new combat system. Brutes are slow, but confrontational with high damage; Supers are elite soldiers that command the respect of the rank-and-file and must be baited into making mistakes; and Predators rarely face you head on, preferring to use bombs and trickery to gain their advantage. Boss fights will also appear more frequently in Assassin’s Creed Origins, popping up as optional fights or in side-quests rather than just story missions.
Overall, the combat appears to more closely resemble games like The Witcher 3 and Dark Souls, signalling the series’s apparent move away from stealth to a more action-oriented focus. The ESRB rating for Assassin's Creed Origins implies that it could be as dark as The Witcher, too, with cutscenes involving infanticide, sex, drugs, and some very naughty words.
Sneaking will almost certainly still be a key component, but we predict that the overall feeling of the game will lean closer to that of an open-world RPG than a stealth game. This new combat will no doubt take a bit of getting used to, and it seems like the new gladiator arena is the perfect place to learn and hone your assassin skills.
Arenas are also new to Origins and they’ll give you a serious challenge. They’ll start small but will eventually grow into elaborate coliseums with a teeming, roaring audience where you’ll face waves of enemies that culminate in a final boss. Sometimes you’ll only be allowed to use a specific weapon type, but each arena and boss is to be tailored to the loadout available. You’ll be pointed towards arenas in the main questline, but there are plenty of optional ones to be pursued that can grant big rewards to their conquerors.
In an Assassin’s Creed Origins gameplay demo with IGN, Ismail commented on the new importance of combat but also stressed the continued role of stealth: “For AC we’ve always tried to push the combat system because combat is important for us. It’s as important as stealth. Especially in this campaign we’ve been talking a lot about combat but I would tell people that we are pushing combat just as much.”
We also know that Origins will feature spontaneous gang fights. Factions of NPCs with rival agendas abound the game, and sometimes they just can’t help but descend into a scrap.
All are intended to make NPCs feel more real, which is why Ubisoft have also given them their own daily schedules. Enemies will also have their own stress levels: if a rebel group assaults a fortress and gives up, the enemy commander will be too stressed to sleep. This then allows Bayek to take him out another way.
Assassin’s Creed Origins gameplay
Climbing has been vastly overhauled in Origins. Now, if you can see it - or if Senu has helped you scope it out - you can pretty much climb it. This means you’ll be able to crawl your way up trees, cliff faces, and mountains, not just buildings. The pyramids themselves will be somewhat trickier, though; each will be a navigation puzzle requiring a bit of thought to reach the very top. The improved climbing will come in handy when you’re searching for collectibles: papyrus is one such collectible announced and, when you have the complete set, you get some cool but-as-yet-unannounced prize.
Very little of the open world is going to be locked off in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, so you can tackle endgame areas from the start if you fancy being a masochist. Senu will come in handy in these situations to scope out enemy levels that indicate if certain areas are properly matched to you.
Tombs also make a re-appearance for the first time since the Assassin’s Creed 2 trilogy, except they’re actually based on the actual Egyptian tombs this time around. In Ezio’s outing you conducted some light puzzling and platforming within Florence’s Duomo and Venice’s St Mark’s Basilica, but now it appears you’ll be doing something similar with added mummies and sarcophagi for creepy company. Tombs, both overground and underwater, also bestow ability points and other gameplay rewards on completion to improve Bayek.
Ismail confirmed as much to Official PlayStation Magazine: “We have quite a few tombs in the game, and they range from being classical puzzles to navigation puzzles and navigation challenges … So we put a lot of effort into recreating these tombs. Everything that is actually known we’ve mapped it out, we have images, we have research that’s been done on tombs, we actually try to replicate it as close as possible.”
The HUD is also customisable, from always-on to always-off to a dynamic inbetween version. For the latter, in tombs, the HUD will disappear to aid exploration and increase immersion rather than having you squint at the corner of the screen for icons.
Also, we know that the quest system has been designed to allow you to multitask. In other words, you won’t be forced to quit and fail your current mission to start another. This is a good thing, too, as apparently there’s going to be hundreds of side quests to tackle. None of these will be tailing missions, thank Osiris.
“There are some people who just couldn’t care about stealth,” Ismail said to Edge. “There was frustration when you had a mission that demanded you play stealthily and would even desynchronise you if you didn’t. We don’t want to make missions like that anymore. We want it to be much more open.”
Assassin’s Creed Origins weapons
There are 160 unique weapons in the game, split into categories designed to cater to different situations. On the melee side we have eight categories and you’ll be able to equip swords, sickle swords, dual blades, heavy clubs, heavy blades, scepters, and spears. You can also fight with bare fists. When you reach the end of the game, you’ll happen upon legendary weapons with added perks.
There are four types of bow: Hunter (a more traditional type of bow), Rapid Fire (self-explanatory), Warrior (high damage, but poor at long distances), and Predator (a sniper bow equipped with a viewfinder). Yes, that’s essentially a scope on a 300 BC bow.
In the style of Far Cry, bows can also be used as a distraction, such as opening up the cages of nearby animals. On top of that, fire arrows are available to set boats or oil pots on fire.
You can hold two bows and two melee weapons at any given time, but the unlimited inventory will mean you can easily swap these out for different items from your collection.
One thing to note is that the famous Hidden Blade isn’t always an instant kill now: you’ve got to keep upgrading it for it to be so effective. And it’s not just the hidden blade, either: there are progression levels for all of Bayek’s weapons and tools.
The abilities tree ties into your gear, allowing you to unlock things like firebombs or poison clouds once you’ve progressed far enough, or even tame lions to help you out. You can also use the environment to buff your weapons: for instance, move your arrows towards a wall-mounted torch and you have a recipe for some toasty enemies. On top of the screaming, you’ll know your enemy is on fire because the damage - shown numerically beside your target when they’re hit - is indicated in amber.
Assassin’s Creed Origins pre-order
There are six(!?) different versions of Assassin’s Creed Origins that you can pre-order for PC. There’s the base game, with just a bonus mission called Secrets of the First Pyramids for pre-orders, and a deluxe edition that includes a physical world map, the official soundtrack, an exclusive mission called Ambush at Sea, and the Desert Cobra pack (a collection of weapons, an outfit, and a horse with tusks). Upgrade that to the Gold edition and you’ll also bag the season pass.
If you’re a fan with cash to spare, you can invest in one of the more elaborate variants. The God’s Edition comes in a flash gold box and includes an art book and a figurine of Bayek on the Sekhmet, as well as everything in the Gold edition. Next up on the lavish-o-meter is the Dawn of the Creed edition, which packs all of that in plus an amulet, art cards, and a steelbook. The statue is replaced with a larger one of Bayek and his eagle Senu, too.
That leaves the monstrous Dawn of the Creed Legendary Edition, which replaces the Bayek statue with an identical one that’s both larger and made of resin. There are four lithographs in the box, too, to sweeten this £699.99 deal. Also, if you have 100 Uplay points, you can get 20% off your next purchase on the Ubisoft store, which includes Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Assassin's Creed Origins trailers
Get a glimpse at the Assassin’s Creed Origins story in the ‘Game of Power’ Gamescom 2017 trailer below.
In the Gamescom 2017 Cinematic Trailer we get to see more of the power struggle Bayek will have to face at the heart of Assassin’s Creed Origins.
The most important of the trailers so far, this five minute gameplay video shows off many of Origins’ new elements. Check out the refreshed UI, the slow-motion archery, the drone-like eagle vision, and the beautiful new open world.
The E3 trailer is a bit of a sizzle reel, showcasing snapshots of Ubisoft’s recreation of Ancient Egypt. We get a good luck at the wildlife and some of the landscape variety, as well as some outbreaks of cinematic violence.
Here we are chatting about our thoughts on Assassin’s Creed Origins at E3 2017.
The Mysteries of Egypt trailer shows no gameplay, but offers a look at the landscapes in-engine. It certainly looks like a beautiful place for a good stabbing.
That’s everything we can tell you about Assassin’s Creed Origins for now. There’s a few months left until release, though, so hopefully an intelligent eagle will tell us more about the new features it saw while scouting the Ubisoft offices very soon.