Assassin’s Creed Origins has a lot of anticipation fuelling its release – it’s the first time the main series has taken a break from its yearly release schedule since 2013, and will mark the first entry after the middling debut of the Assassin’s Creed film. That Ubisoft has chosen to visit one of the most popular location requests from Assassin’s Creed fans doesn’t seem to be an accident, either, as Assassin’s Creed Origins game director Ashraf Ismail told Game Rant during an interview:
“By picking a setting where it’s the downfall of Egypt, it’s the end of an era…knowing that we were coming up to the tenth anniversary, we kept telling ourselves – the word we used – was we need to make a milestone game. So there’s a thousand years between Assassin’s Creed 1 and our game, so for us it felt natural, it felt like it made sense, that during this epic crucible of history something really powerful [the birth of the Brotherhood of Assassins] comes out of it.”
The intent that Ismail consistently went back to during the interview was the idea that Assassin’s Creed Origins had to be a game that reinvented the series while remaining accessible to fans who had already fallen in love with the franchise’s current formula – no easy task. Yet, during Game Rant’s hands-on play through of a pre-Gamescom build of Assassin’s Creed Origins, one thing became abundantly clear. Ismail’s team at Ubisoft has, without a doubt, captured the mysticism and importance of an Egypt on the brink of political and cultural collapse.
Nowhere was this more clear than in our exploration of the open world of Assassin’s Creed Origins, away from the main storyline of the game. While our demo limited us to the city of Memphis, it was brimming with life and content. Citizens mulled about the city in traditional Assassin’s Creed fare, wandering aimlessly or hawking wares, while the city itself was breathtakingly beautiful in the way it realized Egyptian architecture. As is always the case with Assassin’s Creed, the environmental design in Origins is painstakingly detailed.
As viewers can see in Game Rant’s video coverage of Assassin’s Creed Origins‘ open world, though, the appeal of the environmental design in the title extends beyond just aesthetics. The open world is also vibrant and varied. Bayek has the opportunity to explore various predatory lairs made by Egyptian wildlife, while roaming bands of criminals represent challenges and the chance at some extra loot or experience as well.
The most impressive thing by far, however, was the exploration of one of the pyramids. Players will be able to enter the pyramid and explore its secrets, solving puzzles along the way to a massive treasure hoard and some cryptic, presumably plot-relevant writing as well. It wouldn’t be an Egyptian take on Assassin’s Creed without the inclusion of the country’s most iconic landmarks, and they’re implemented in a way that isn’t just superfluous – they feel genuinely compelling, like there’s a real reason for those playing to go and see them beyond just seeing how they look in video game form.
Assassin’s Creed Origins‘ open world also benefits from the game’s decision to lean more heavily on RPG elements as well. Assassin’s Creed Origins will feature experience gathering and skill points, letting players customize the way they play as Bayek. While this alone would be a decent incentive for exploration, however, it’s the frankly amazing inclusion of a simple feature – a loot system. We were immediately compelled to go out of the way to explore the open world just a little bit more in the hopes of some rare loot, which, among other things, has a hierarchy on top of unique names for the more difficult to find weapons and equipment.
With a place like ancient Egypt, there was always a small danger that the areas of desert in between cities and other areas populated by characters could have been dull or skippable. Yet, in practice, that doesn’t appear to be a concern. Instead, the team at Ubisoft has built a world that is teeming with content, whether it be story-related or tied to character progression, and the result is an Assassin’s Creed title that gives way more incentive to players who want to explore it than any iteration has before it.
Assassin’s Creed Origins will release for PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 27, 2017.