assassin’s creed origins
Ubisoft is taking Assassin’s Creed back to its roots after a two-year break, but can RPG elements help origins birth a new kind of AC game, or is the series having an identity crisis?
imply put, no game can do what Assassin’s
Creed does. It plunges you into history, and you bathe in it, floating in a sea of culture, architecture and famous historical figures. Every now and then you get soap in your eye, which in this odd metaphor is probably because of glitchy parkour physics. Your fingers start to get a bit wrinkly after you complete the same mission styles repeatedly, but you come out feeling refreshed. So, after two years without a mainline Assassin’sCreed title, you’re probably starting to smell a bit. You need a good wash, and the fresh water of Origins is here to help (we’re really starting to regret our metaphor choice now). This time around, though, it might actually be doing something to mix up the formula, because this Creed is an RPG.
Of course, there have been RPG elements in previous ACs, most notably in 2015’s
Syndicate, which added a skills tree and basic levelling for each character. It was okay, but it felt like a half-arsed effort to appease fans without really committing. With Origins, it seems that Ubisoft is finally going all-out.
“There were changes we wanted to make to combat, to stealth, to the action-RPG elements of the game,” says executive producer of Origins, Ashraf Ismail. “We wanted boss fights – there were a lot of intentions early on that just demanded that we give time to this project. By the time we ship it’ll have been [in development for] four years, and it’s allowed us to meet those intentions of reinventing the series.”
Ismail was the lead on another AC title that you may have heard of – a little fan-favourite called BlackFlag. Once that game was finished, Ismail and his team moved focus to
Origins, and immediately began rethinking what the game could be. “I think when you play you’ll see that Assassin’sCreed has changed but, on a macro level, still feels like
AC,” he explains. “You have the sense that you’re an Assassin in an ancient world, but the experience of it is drastically different.”
When we get our hands on Origins for the first time, we initially struggle to see what Ismail means. Ignoring the beautiful world conjured up by the Xbox One X (more on that later), it immediately feels like classic AC. We’re running up a wall. We’re silently slitting throats. We’re setting lions free to attack guards. We’re collecting legendary weapons with increased damage stats. We’re choosing a new loadout to incorporate a stealth bow. We’re upgrading our sword to deal poison damage. Hold on… we’re doing what?!
Date with Destiny
It’s only when you start digging into Origins that you start to realise it: the changes Ubisoft has made affect everything. Yes, the fundamentals of the series are still present and correct – a hooded figure with a hidden blade and some sneaky skills – but beyond that, things have evolved. There are over 150 unique weapons in the game, in three rarities: common, rare and legendary. Rarer weapons have attributes, like the ability to poison enemies on impact, and they also increase in levels, all of which affect their damage. So far, so RPG.
On the Gear screen you can see your current loadout, which can include two ranged weapons and two melee weapons, along with your hidden blade, shield, outfit, and so on. New weapons are everywhere, but you can also upgrade your current weapon – for those times where you and your shiny shiv have a special connection and you just can’t bear to dismantle it for parts. But there are limits, as Ismail explains: “When you upgrade, it upgrades it to your current level, it
“There are six different weapon styles, and each one presents a totally different way to fight”
Left NPCs will react to you as you pass – as the last Medjay, Bayek is a respected figure in his local area of Siwa.
Right Origins is set in 49 BCE. Cleopatra has only recently taken the throne, and Egypt has been a power for 3,000 years, so the map will be full of famous landmarks.