Update: We recently had some extensive hands-on time with Assassin’s Creed Origins, read on to see what we thought of the four hours we had with it and see some exciting new screenshots.
Also don’t miss our recent interview with the game’s Creative Director, Jean Guesdon, who told us a little more about the technology behind the Origins’ development and how this bigger and more visually stunning game world is now possible.
Keep reading for more information on Assassin’s Creed Origins as well as our hands on impressions of the game.
Assassin’s Creed has become a familiar gaming franchise, with a new mainline installment appearing just about every year since Assassin’s Creed 2 was released all the way back in 2009.
Just as Assassin’s Creed was becoming one of the old faithfuls of the gaming world, though, Ubisoft surprised us in 2016 by taking a year out. There was still a film and two Assassin’s Creed Chronicles titles in the meantime but no sprawling mainline game.
You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone and after just one year of being away people are clamoring to hear about what the next game will bring. After this break, though, expectations are raised.
In 2015 Assassin’s Creed Syndicate barely managed to pull the series back from the precipice Assassin’s Creed Unity had pushed it towards. Ubisoft wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders.
With an extra year to refocus and get things right, though, fans are expecting the series to return bigger and better than ever.
With Assassin’s Creed Origins now confirmed to be on its way and seeking to bring new RPG elements as well as take the series back to its roots it’ll be interesting to see whether Ubisoft achieves its goals
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next and highly-anticipated installment in the historical adventure franchise
- What can I play it on? PS4, Xbox One and PC
- When can I play it? October 27 2017
A brand new cinematic trailer has been released for the game. Simply titled Sand, this trailer is a melancholy and quietly beautiful look at the game world. It doesn’t give much away but it certainly sets a tone and you can watch it for yourself below:
A recent trailer has cleared up some of the mystery around which evil order would be replacing The Templars in Origins, given that the game is set long before their formation. Called The Order of the Ancients, these villains appear to be big fans of masks, murder and power and according to Ubisoft it’s their mission to “tear Egypt apart.”
At this year’s during the Microsoft conference a brand new CG trailer for Assassin’s Creed Origins was revealed. The visually stunning trailer sets up the atmosphere for the game; an Egypt where order is built upon slavery before Bayek comes in, dismantling the inequality and bringing necessary chaos.
That wasn’t the only trailer released at Gamescom, though. Following Microsoft’s CGI reveal, Ubisoft . This trailer features in-game footage and shows some of the historical characters you’ll cross paths with in the game. Look out for Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Ptolemy XIII.
Where Gamescom brought the cinematics, back in June E3 was heavy on the gameplay with two trailers, one 4K and one on the mysteries of Egypt.
News and features
The game will star a native Egyptian proto-assassin called Bayek. As a Medjay, it’s Bayek’s responsibility to protect the people of Egypt and alongside his wife Aya he forms an early version of the assassin’s order.
Bayek and Aya are up against the power hungry Order of the Ancients which is taking advantage of the political instability of Egypt as Greek and Roman influence creeps to seize control in the background.
This order is the Templars before the Templars and the game will revolve around Bayek’s fight to stop them taking over the country and using the native Egyptian people for their own gains.
We know the game will also have a modern day storyline but details on this are much less clear. The game’s director told Game Informer that the reason for this is that he wants players to be surprised when they play. He did, however, say “I think people will be happy.”
Many methods of travel
After seeing the game’s trailer and trying it out for ourselves we know that there will be a few ways to travel across the game world. As well as the usual running on foot, it’ll be possible to cover ground more quickly on horseback (or camelback), use chariots and commandeer ships and boats to travel across bodies of water.
Being from the developers of Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, the sailing mechanics in Origins are very satisfying and extremely well constructed.
Huge open map
It’s essential that there be faster means of travel in Origins as this is the largest Assassin’s Creed map we’ve seen yet. Even more significantly, it’s open to the player from the very beginning to explore. Though certain areas will be dedicated to certain parts of the story, after a short introductory sequence players will be able to head off in any direction they like, rather than find themselves blocked off from certain areas because they’ve not reached a particular part of the story.
The map is made even larger by the fact that underwater is now an explorable area. Players can dive under the surface of the water to explore, finding shipwrecks and loot all around.
In an interview with Game Informer, the game’s director said that though it’s hard to compare as each game is very different, he thinks that the Assassin’s Creed Origins map is larger than the map of Black Flag, though he’s not certain of exact numbers. “I would say that it’s at least twice the size of Havana from Black Flag,“ he said. ”At least.“
After this, he added that he thinks its the content of the map rather than its size that matters, something which will please players who feel that sometimes large maps aren’t filled with enough interesting quests to justify their scope.
According to Ismail each location on the map will be filled with quests and these quests have been developed with the aim of “making each city feel unique to itself, why was it important to Egypt.“
Crafting and upgrading
Assassin’s Creed Origins is introducing many RPG elements this time around and of course that means crafting. You’ll be able to improve your armor, weapons and tools through your crafting ability and to collect the items you need you’ll have to explore the game world for loot and hunt the diverse range of wildlife that now populate Assassin’s Creed world, from hippos to crocodiles.
Crafting and upgrading will be essential in the new Assassin’s Creed games as leveling up will be key to surviving. You won’t be able to instant kill an enemy of a much higher level, for example, if your weapons aren’t up to scratch.
Rather than Eagle Vision, players will now have access to an actual eagle in Assassins Creed Origins called Senu. Calling on Senu, players will be able to scout ahead of where they are in a top-down view to identify where enemies are in order to plan the best route of attack and find hidden items for quests. Senu can even be used to attack and distract enemies thanks to the game’s skill tree.
Shields and bows in close combat
This time around, the combat in Assassin’s Creed is different. Rather than being based mostly on parrying and well-time attacks it forces players to move and dodge more, building up adrenaline to score big hits.
As well as this bows and shields have been added to combat. Players can parry attacks from enemies using their shield and even pull out their bow and arrow in close combat. Naturally, the bow and arrow will also be useful for ranged attacks and it’ll be possible for players to fire it from horseback and swing a melee weapon.
Fans of the hidden blade will be glad to know this is still, of course, an option but instant kills aren’t guaranteed if the enemy you’re attacking is a higher level than you.
More RPG elements will feature in Assassin’s Creed Origins. In our experience with the game we’ve found it has a leveling system based on experience points which can be amassed by completing quests, discovering new locations and engaging in combat. Weapons are also be more like RPG-like, with different characteristics, rarities and points attached.
The new RPG elements also extend to a skill tree which has been added to help you tailor your play in a way that suits you. The skill tree is split into three sections: warrior, archer, and a rogue-type category called Seer that revolves around improving skills like crafting.
You won’t have to focus on just one area; in fact, they overlap in a way that almost encourages blending skills together. This means that you can develop a combat style that suits you, whether you prefer to take down enemies from afar, trick them with crafty traps, or charge straight in like a battlefield warrior.
Discovery Tour is a new game mode that’s coming to Assassin’s Creed Origins. This mode essentially turns the game world into an open museum. Stripping out all combat and narrative and replacing it with guided tours and historical information, this mode is designed to appeal to those who want to know more about the real history behind the world they’re playing in.
Discovery Tour will come to the game as a free downloadable update in early 2018.
Hands on impressions
Recently we attended a press event which gave us the opportunity to get hands on with Assassin’s Creed Origins for a few hours (four hours, in fact). We played the game on Xbox One X and we’ve come away from our experience absolutely certain that this game is going to take some serious time commitment. However, we also get the sense that it’ll be time worth committing.
In the four hours we spent in ancient Egypt we only explored a corner of its map and still felt like we didn’t see everything we could have in that small corner. Ubisoft has managed to craft a stunning game world that’s diverse and enjoyable to explore, particularly when you’re seeing it in 4K.
In our short time we crossed expansive, flat deserts under the burning sun; found respite from the heat in abandoned tombs and bandit-infested canyons; weaved through crowds in bustling cities; reclined in verdant villa gardens; trudged through swamps and sailed across the sparkling surface of the Nile.
Despite its size there wasn’t a part of the world that felt empty, either. The towns and cities were, as usual, filled with reactive NPCs and guards; the deserts and plains were dotted with all kinds of heavily guarded of military outposts; the waters of the Nile were filled with crocodiles and hippos while its surface was busy with fisherman; and even the abandoned tombs housed cobras and corpses.
Basically, there’s a lot to see and given that you can traverse the world on foot, by riding a horse or camel, and by jumping onto a boat or chariot, seeing it all is enjoyable and relatively easy.
Sure, there aren’t as many high buildings to scale like there are in titles like Unity or Syndicate but pretty much everything in Origins is climbable, including cliff edges so you never feel limited. Plus, if you absolutely have to climb up all the high man-made structures the Lighthouse of Alexandria is there for the scaling and that thing is pretty big.
The demo we played threw us into the game at level 12, around 15 hours into the main story but if we’re honest we barely played the main story in the time we had.
This wasn’t because it was uninteresting (though it was kind of hard to care or feel invested enough to pursue the thread when you’re dropping into it at such a late stage) it was largely because we had so much more that we wanted to see and do.
When we were moving from one place to another, for example, we encountered a farmer whose family and workers had been set upon by wild hippos. We didn’t have to stop and help him. It was an entirely optional mission. But it was hard to refuse a man asking us to recover the bodies of his relatives so that he could lay them to rest, even if it did mean sneaking around hippos ready to rampage in order to do so.
What we really liked is that even though he was a random NPC who could easily be ignored, this character felt like he had some depth and motivation. He was, quite clearly, a coward and not willing to put himself in any danger even for those he loved but he was clearly also ashamed of this fact. It made helping him make us feel a mix of pity and distaste but it also unpicked a larger story thread that turned what had been a small task into something larger to follow.
This is a narrative involvement we’ve not experienced in an Assassin’s Creed game for a long time and the fact that we weren’t even experiencing it in the game’s main story made us excited for what else is to come in terms of story.
Something that did detract slightly from some of the side missions was moments of poor voice acting and dead-behind-the-eyes animation. We were thankful there were no horrific facial glitches like we’ve seen in previous titles but there were occasions when NPC faces and voices lacked the life that Bayek’s did and because Bayek is always there the difference is stark.
There were also random optional encounters between main story missions that had less narrative but fit organically into the game world so that they didn’t feel shoehorned.
Largely they involved the option to save helpless NPCs from attacking animals or bandits but we also came across lost tombs in the desert which we were able to explore to find treasure or new story threads.
The fact that you’re able to skip around all of these different activities all while still following the main story thread at your own pace without experiencing any ‘you’re now leaving the mission area’ alerts is a welcome change Assassin’s Creed makes.
Bored of following one thread? Simply pick up another and follow that to the other end of the map. You’re not abandoning any missions, simply postponing them until later and this is a kind of freedom the Assassin’s Creed franchise has been sorely missing.
We also got the chance to experience the game’s more free-flowing combat mechanics. There’s less wait-and-parry and more think-and-dodge in Assassin’s Creed Origins and we were impressed by how quick and easy it was to switch between melee weapons and bow and arrow.
When we felt at a disadvantage in a crowd of enemies we were even able to whistle our horse in, jump on its back and start swinging our weapon from on high to to level the playing field slightly.
Your horse isn’t your only animal ally in battle; wild animals can also be tamed to fight with you.
This is an ability that must be unlocked by progressing in the ‘Seer’ section of the skill tree but if players are so inclined, they’ll be able to use a sleep dart on creatures that range from lions to hippos and tame them in order to turn them from enemies to allies.
This is a feature extremely reminiscent of Far Cry Primal but it’s certainly an addition that works in this new more open Assassin’s Creed world as it opens up new ways to complete missions.
When we were rescuing a character from a barbarian camp, for example, there were cages containing wild lions. It was possible, then, to tame these lions and set them free to essentially clear the camp and cause chaos while you ran to free your target.
The fluidity of the combat is at its best when on horses or boats, though. When we were sailing a boat down the Nile and spotted a fisherman in need of assistance we simply had to let go of the help and quickly pull out or bow and arrow to start taking on the hungry hippo attacking him. All of this speed and adaptability makes combat feel far more fluid and less of a chore.
Speaking of speed and sailing, given that this game is from the studio behind black flag, the sailing mechanics in Origins appear to be excellent though our experience at this stage is admittedly limited.
Controls were easy and intuitive and to keep things from getting too frustrating you can make your boat go ridiculously fast across the water. While this does slightly detract from the realism, it’s a necessary sacrifice to keep moving across large bodies of water fun rather than laborious.
Overall, after hours with Assassin’s Creed Origins we felt like we still had so much more to explore and do. It says a lot for how large this game is likely to be and how much it’s going to contain that Ubisoft is willing to throw journalists into it so far in and leave them with it for so many hours.
Though Bayek doesn’t have the swagger of previous assassins like Ezio he seems engaging and we have the feeling his story will be engaging and his desire to save those enslaved in Egypt will be rousing and enjoyable to be a part of.