As the tenth game in a long and extensive franchise, Assassin’s Creed Origins serves as a prequel from a story perspective and a reboot for fans when it comes to gameplay. That’s why Ubisoft, having taken a yearlong break from the series (Assassin’s Creed Syndicate released in 2015), is putting heavy emphasis on the lore and gameplay aspects as its main elements when presenting the massive open world of ancient Egypt.
The game launches in October for consoles and PC, with extra graphical enhancements for the Xbox One X and PlayStation Pro, and focuses on the character Bayek, the last of the Medjay—an elite paramilitary force that protected parts of Egypt for the pharaoh. He travels across Egypt during the Ptolemaic period, and his adventures will eventually lead to the formation of the Brotherhood of Assassins that fans are familiar with.
“It’s the root of all the lore, the organization, the rituals and how the tenents of the Creed all came to life,” Virginie Cinq-Mars, lead lighting artist for Assassin’s Creed Origins at Ubisoft, told AListDaily.
Not only does the game recount the start of the secret organization and its belief system, but it also features famous historical figures such as Julius Caesar and Cleopatra—along with ancient cities such as Memphis and Alexandria—while showing how the endless war against an Illuminati-like enemy called the Templar began.
Although it was preceded by months of ongoing speculation, Origins was officially announced at E3 in June with a trailer, a gameplay demonstration and an early demo for attendees to try on the show floor. The demo, which puts players into Bayek’s weathered sandals and lets them control his pet eagle Senu, has also been generating hype at Gamescom.
Cinq-Mars said that it has been Ubisoft’s longtime dream to bring the Assassin’s Creed franchise to Egypt, and it was the ideal setting to show the beginning of the Brotherhood, given its rich history that spans thousands of years. The location and time period also happens to be one that was heavily requested by fans.
“We try to recreate this pivotal moment in history, when the Egyptian Empire was at the height of its grandeur, but was also at the beginning of its demise,” said Cinq-Mars.
Although the story is fictional, the Assassin’s Creed franchise prides itself on maintaining a high degree of historical accuracy for its large open worlds. But Origins takes players back thousands of years, and much of the artifacts and landmarks have been destroyed through conflict, looting or neglect. Cinq-Mars explained how the development team had to rely heavily on historians to depict the massive setting as accurately as possible.
At the same time, Cinq-Mars emphasized how “the franchise needed modernization and we wanted to put our efforts into that. That’s why we switched to a quest system and revamped the combat system as well.”
With the new quest-based story system and revised combat, there is plenty for both new players and existing fans to enjoy.
“We’re having tons of positive feedback,” said Cinq-Mars, discussing the player reaction to the demo. “People are happy about the new setting, the new combat system and the hero Bayek. They’re excited to play as him and his eagle Senu.”
However, Assassin’s Creed is one of Ubisoft’s longest-running franchises, and that sets up a lot of expectations from fans. Cinq-Mars explained that the team worked to integrate the Assassin’s Creed DNA into Origins so that fans would still feel a sense of familiarity with the game, despite its all-new setting, characters and gameplay.
“People love our settings, the level of detail we can achieve, the diversity and the historical periods that we want to develop,” said Cinq-Mars, remarking on what keeps Assassin’s Creed fans coming back for more. “They can learn things from it too, not just fight.”
She also said that players like taking on the personas of the different assassins, donning their robes and following their rules.
“We try to stay true to the brand and all the important aspects of it.”