Tom: There’s lots for new or lapsed players then, but what about hardcore Assassin’s Creed fans? Will there be answers to overarching questions from the series so far? It seems like you’re soft rebooting the historical story, at least.
Ismail: So to be clear – it’s not a reboot.
Tom: No?
Ismail: It’s all in line with the lore! We’re telling the Origins of the Brotherhood as we knew it in AC1. The symbols, the rituals.
Tom: Fingers being cut off.
Ismail: Indeed. And the mentor structure. The symbol of the eagle. How did this all come to be, and what journey did our hero Bayek go on to form the Brotherhood. We kept the viewpoints even though they don’t do what they used to. They don’t unfog the map. You do get question marks, but you have to go to a place to explore. And yes we do tell the tale of the cut finger…

As reported by Tom Philips of EuroGamer.net on a recent interview with Ashraf Ismail – video game director of Assassins Creed: Origins, at E3 2017.

The new upgraded logo animation of Ubisoft that transitions from a hieroglyphic stone inscription. (Source : Ubisoft)

Assassin Creed fans have been waiting for more than a year for a new, revamped release of the highly anticipated and much rumoured Ancient Egyptian setting, after tolerating a 5.9 IMDb and 18% Rotten Tomatoes – Assassin’s Creed : The Movie, in December 2016, that didn’t quite land right with their “leap of faith”.

Four years since the release of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag – the best game in the franchise NOT featuring Ezio, Ashraf Ismail had been buried away within the bowels of Ubisoft Montreal, unable to talk about the game he’s been helming since. But the internet has known about Origins for quite a while now, besides the demo gameplays and the pre-alpha footage that was released at E3, there were many images leaked before the game even had an official title. Along with the seemingly breath of fresh air that Origins delivers, the new footages incites more questions than it answered.

So here are some Pros and Cons of the much controversial AC prequel that has been highly anticipated since 2014, by fans and gamers worldwide –


 

PROS

1. Freedom of undocumented history: From deserts to lush oasis, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Tombs of Giza, Origins’ game map is as huge as three times that of Black Flag and Rogue. Since the game’s story takes place before 300 B.C. and that our interpretation of Ancient Egypt is left almost entirely to archaeological evidence gathered and guesses by professionals, Ubisoft will have more playground than ever, although them ever being constrained by historical accuracy, exploring Ancient Egyptian setting, with creative teams designing and restoring prehistoric architectures, weapons, cultures and even flora and fauna that have been extinct for a long time.

Assassin’s Creed Origin’s first teaser poster launched at E3 2017 gave us a sneak-peak as to how massively magnificent the new open-world of Ancient Egypt will be portrayed. (Source : Ubisoft)

2. Challenging combat: As promised, Ubisoft did a major breakthrough by introducing RPG elements in Origins, among which the prominent change is in the combat mechanics. Taking ideas from Dark Souls and Darksider 2, Origins’ close combats have become way more difficult than its previous forefathers. No more enemies waiting for their turn to fight, no more one-shot-kills during open battles, no more easy chained takedowns (unless you’re levelled up enough) and more block-and-dodge strategy. Since the weapon inventory hardly consists of any gunpowder based ammunition, combat with multiple enemies has become more challenging than ever. Enemies attack altogether and each strike deals a heavy damage, unless you’re equipped with a sustainable shield and armour. Origins also introduces a brand new “Arena Battle” mode where players will be faced with waves of skilled combatants in a gladiatorial pit-fight until the final Boss is defeated.

The highly anticipated renewed combat mechanics lets you dodge, defend and barrel-roll against strong, skilled and agile enemies. (Source : Assassin’s Creed Origins : Pre-Alpha Footage from PVPLive.net)

3. Immersive Skill Graph: Assassin’s Creed Origins introduces a brand new interconnected Skill Graph that lets player choose and become the perfect master assassin by either dedicating themselves to upgrading a specific skill set or choose through an intertwined range of abilities. The Master Warrior ability lets the player become skilled in combat and fighting techniques; The Master Seer ability lets the player manipulate the environment, animals and NPCs to his benefit; The Master Hunter ability lets the player become more stealthy and precise in its approach during assassinations. Due to a systematic levelling up system with XP points earned in each task, the ability points earned can be spent on purchasing specific skills, which was previously included in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. 

New Skill Tree lets players unlock helpful abilities for stealth, combat and environment manipulation at the expense of Ability Points that are gained by Leveling Up. (Source : Assassin’s Creed Origins : Alpha Gameplay from Gamespot)

4. Enhanced Looting system for better Crafting: The upgraded looting system is less time consuming and gives out more resources and tools to use and craft than providing useless garbage. Since, hunting animals is back, looting dead carcasses gives out more craftable and sellable items than useless bones and hides, like in the Far Cry franchise or as it was in Assassin’s Creed 3 or Black Flag. Looting higher level Commanders or Captains in military settlements gives out unique weapons, armour or shields that can be easily equipped and modified. Furthermore, like in RPG games like Skyrim and Witcher 3, the player might find rare sellable trinkets, letters or books from loots that might provide further insight into the character, the quest in play or the history of that age.

Hunting animals provide useful loots that can be crafted into tools, weapons or can be sold for a price. (Source : Assassin’s Creed Origins International Gameplay preview at E3 2017)

5. Eagle Scouting: The classic, endless, negative-film like Eagle vision is done and dusted for good (or bad? Controversial!). Instead, Origins­ ­has introduced scoping, scouting locations and tagging enemies from an aerial view-point via an Eagle called Senu. This type of strategic scoping was previously introduced in games like Far Cry: Primal and Watch Dogs 2, which were projects under the same umbrella. The player, lets out an Eagle to soar high in the sky and tag enemies to reveal their identity, level and location. The Eagle is seen to hover mid-air while scoping (which is impossible for an Eagle to do so) and zoom in or zoom out to know more about a certain area. Inspite of its limitations to the proximity between Senu and the player, the Eagle can cover much ground and can reveal more about an area than it used to with the previous Eagle Vision.

Left : Senu, Bayek’s Eagle companion. Right : Eagle eye view of the military installment using the upgraded Eagle Vision. (Source : Ubisoft Alpha Gameplay Footage)

 


 

CONS

1. Archaic weapons and technology: Being a drastic jump from 1868 Victorian England setting in the last entry Assassin’s Creed Syndicate to a primitive ancient Egypt in Origins, technology of this era becomes far more challenging but less efficient. Transportation options are limited to horse, camel, boat or freewalking. With the mini map gone, players will have a difficult time to reach and locate a certain quest location in this gigantic open-world. Weapon inventory consists of bows and arrows, maces, swords, daggers, spears, polearms and Khopesh (curved swords). AC fans who were accustomed with having smoke bombs and pistols hidden up their vambrace to deal with pack of enemies will have troubles getting used to a dodging, barrel-rolling and shield deflecting combat against massively stronger Bosses.

Entire Weapon Inventory of Elite weapons and armaments that will be available for combat in Assassin’s Creed Origins. (Omni Universal Gaming’s cover on Assassin’s Creed Origins)

2. Mysticism more than realism: Besides the lore of First Civilization that has been pretty deep woven from the Ezio Trilogy but somehow was lost midway after Black Flag, Origins ups the game by taking the time so back in order to gain the freedom of an era where possibly humans met and interacted with the Gods. In order to narrate the origin of the Assassin Brotherhood, Origins might take this mystic charm further than expected, as is seen in a scene clearly in the Official Trailer, which says “We are the First. The First to see the Gods…” The trailer also goes on to reveal a Giant Snake against the protagonist, Bayek, which is speculated to be a dream or hallucinatic sequence more than a real fight. Being entirely based on real world parkour, the previous franchises did pretty well since some forms of free running, obstacle climbing and martial arts were indeed used by warriors from Renaissance to Victorian era. But at least not some 3000 years ago.

Bayek vs Giant Snake, revealed at the end of the World Premiere Trailer. (Source : Assassin’s Creed Origins International Trailer)

3. Removal of Synchronise Towers: The world map being such gigantically big, it is nearly impossible and seemingly time consuming to visit every part of the world, physically, in order to unfog or unveil it. Although monotonous, but synchronising from watch towers or long outposts in earlier franchises saved a lot of time to actually visit a place in order to reveal its geographical terrain. Since Ubisoft has have used this mechanic into plenty of its other games too, but it was actually pretty fun to scale those tricky towers to find trinkets and loot up above, only to unfog the location and then to jump right off performing a “Leap of Faith”. At least, it was pretty tolerable to have that on this franchise. However, in the recent demo gameplays, it has been noted that Ubisoft has added small synchronise points that are just a couple of meters from ground and a “conveniently placed” haystack down below for the player to perform a “Leap of Faith”, all as a nod to its earlier predecessors.

Eagle eye view of Evie Frye in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate synchronising from a viewpoint. (Source : Assassin’s Creed Syndicate gameplay screenshot from VGProfessional.com)

4. Maritime Focus: Inspite of the game being set up over the framework of Black Flag (from the black, dark lit loading menu transitions to the underwater and surface hunting and killing animals, that looks and feels exactly as its predecessor), it is already missing out the major portion with the exclusion of naval battles and sea fairing. Boats and small ships are just used for transportation to cross lakes or rivers and are hardly used for intense battles, which was actually the winning point of Assassin’s Creed 3, Black Flag and even Rogue. But in Ancient Egypt, maintaining a powerful navy was very important, although naval battles hardly comprised of archers and ship boarding instead of canon shots or barrages.

Boats and ships are just used for transportation instead of naval warfare. (Source : Assassin’s Creed origins Demo Gameplay screenshot)

5. Economy: Assassin’s Creed II added money to the series, allowing players to unlock new weapons, tools, upgrades, and clothes they wanted over the progression based automatic unlocks of the original game. However, Ancient Egypt of the Ptolemaics (that began its dynasty around 300 B.C.) didn’t get a currency until 500 B.C. and instead relied on barter and trade. Although barter and trade systems have been previously featured in games like Skyrim and Fallout : New Vegas, every game nowadays has their own monetary system that allows the player to earn (or loot) them and spend them for unlockables, weapons, armour etc. Unless the game can make up some sort of system so that we aren’t back to the first one all over again, the game will be taking a massive step back.

Barter and Trade system in Ancient Egypt, as depicted by an old wall painting. (Source : Alarmy Stock Photo)

However, it is too early to comment on anything about the game that has just showed just a glimpse of a small location – Siwa, in a vast open-world map that are left to be explored. But if Ubisoft can pull this setting off, it could be what shakes up the formula of the series in a big way. Not many games take place in Ancient Egypt, and even fewer from the ground level, so this is a big chance for something new and exciting.

PLOT: The story is set in a fictional history of real-world events and will act as a prequel for the series, displaying the origins of the struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with liberty, and the Templars, who desire peace through order. The story is set in Ptolemaic Egypt and follows Bayek, a Medjay, as he works to protect his people from threats. The open world design lets players freely roam Egypt. The game is played from a third-person perspective and its world can be navigated on foot, horseback, camel-back or boat. Like its predecessor, Origins will not feature any multiplayer gameplay.

Assassin’s Creed Origins is the tenth major installment in the Assassin’s Creed series and the successor to 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. It is set to be released worldwide on October 27, 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

 

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