as­sas­sin’s creed ori­gins

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Stephen ashby

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.

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