With the enormous success of Assassin’s Creed II, Ubisoft quickly transferred the series to an annual one. Years later, the company has taken a step back, and given their newest entry time to breathe and develop with Assassin’s Creed Origins. With Origins, Ubisoft is looking to redefine a lot of things about Assassin’s Creed and get a fresh start. Going back to the roots of the actual Assassins themselves is probably the best thing the series could have done for itself, letting Ubisoft redefine what the world, lore, and story of the series will truly be.
Assassin’s Creed has been all over history at this point, but ancient Egypt is by far the furthest back it’s gone. This presents a unique opportunity for Ubisoft to rebrand the way that we think about the series. A fresh setting like Egypt wipes away many of the historical elements we think Assassin’s Creed usually has to have. On top of just a change in setting, though, Ubisoft has completely overhauled the way missions, exploration, and combat work in Origins.
Over the years, Assassin’s Creed has become more and more diluted, opting for familiar and well-known experiences instead of daring to try new things. Even the well-received Syndicate didn’t deviate too far out of the series’ norm, and it starts to show. While Assassin’s Creed games still sell well, they did take a significant dip after the troubled development and release of Assassin’s Creed Unity. Combine this with the the negative reception to the recent Hollywood film and you’ve got a series that, while still important and prevalent, is starting to run into some issues.
Because of all this, it was incredibly important for Ubisoft to consolidate where they are on the series and focus on what it’s going to be moving into the future. For this, they chose a new hero, Bayek, who just so happens to be one of the very first Assassins.
It’s abundantly clear that the series’ overall timeline and story is a bit of a mess at this point, and there’s really no way you can figure things out without some kind of wiki or guide. Hopefully, Ubisoft sees Origins as a way to kickstart this problem, launching a brand new story and leaving behind the baggage of the old games. There’s no need to dwell on past events with Desmond or the handful of games after him, as Origins can pick up with something fresh, the perfect entry point for new fans and longtime veterans.
Recent entries in the series has cast the altruism and goodness of the Assassin Order into question, something that Origins might be able to embellish on by focusing on the first Assassin. Despite how story heavy the games usually are, there’s a surprising amount of lore and backstory on the order that just seems unknown. Setting things so far back in history also allows Bayek and his story to breathe, as it won’t need to be weighed down by the need to face Templars as villains. It’d really be best if Origins takes a moral grey area with its story, making fans really think about how both the Assassins and Templars were founded, as well as how they’ve changed throughout history.
The way you fight and explore also changes through ancient Egypt, and Ubisoft detailed some of the more substantial changes coming to Origins in a new post on the UbiBlog. Chief among these is combat, which has largely remained the same for the entirely of the series. Ubisoft is changing things up this time, and almost looks to be taking cues from games like Dark Souls in terms of a more methodical, timing based combat system. Here’s what the post on the Ubiblog has to say about combat:
Able to lock on and quickly switch focus between enemies, Bayek can unleash flurries of light attacks that are enough to take down most weaker enemies, and his slower, heavier strikes can knock aside shields and stagger foes. Bayek also has an adrenaline gauge at the bottom of the screen that builds up during combat; depending on your weapon, filling it will let you unleash either a devastating, defense-smashing Overpower attack that’s more than enough to kill most enemies, or a frenzy that briefly makes Bayek stronger, faster, and more resistant to damage.
Again, this is an example of how Origins can build a strong foundation for the future of the franchise, using Bayek as the new shining example of what an Assassin can be, just like Ezio was at the release of Assassin’s Creed II. Perhaps the most important change, however, comes with how Origins is completely doing away with Eagle Vision, a mechanic that’s become incredibly overused not only by the Assassin’s Creed series, but by other games as well.
While Eagle Vision was initially an engaging idea, over the years it’s been boiled down into nothing but a way to spot objectives or items, which only helps break your immersion even more when combined with the hundreds of icons you have in your vision. Instead, Assassin’s Creed Origins is opting to do something much more conducive to player exploration and freedom. Now, Bayek will use his hawk to explore the environment and find areas of interest. Things like viewpoints will still appear in the game, however, they merely unlock fast travel points instead of a myriad of icons on your map. In fact, Assassin’s Creed Origins has chosen to take out the minimap from your HUD entirely, and here’s why according to Creative Director Jean Guesdon:
We didn’t want to hold players’ hands. This is why we decided to remove the minimap. We want you to enjoy and to actually experience the beautiful world we’re bringing to you.
This is all part of the new vision that Origins wants to bring to the series, and why exploring its roots is so important. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3 have shown how key player freedom can be to an open world experience. This is clearly something that Ubisoft is trying to hone in on as well, as opting for a time period like ancient Egypt allows the development team a ton of freedom in how they want to approach things. History from that time, of course, isn’t as known as it is from Industrial Era London, letting the team take creative liberties with characters, events, locations, equipment, and more.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is bound to be quite a different experience for fans of the series, but that’s not a bad thing. In order for the franchise to stay relevant and on top of its game, it needs to change. After all, Assassin’s Creed is a young series with tons of untapped potential, and what way to get a fresh start than by exploring the history of the world you’ve created?