I’ve had my ups and downs with the Assassin’s Creed series, but Assassin’s Creed: Origins (AC:O) has got me raring for another chance to don the white hood and hide in convenient piles of hay, or rather palm leaves this time around. Here are some of the biggest changes previewed so far.
(I don’t care it’s not smooth in real life. I’m going to slide down ALL THE PYRAMIDS)
1. Ancient History(?)
AC: O shifts the timeline back to Ancient Egypt. And Ubisoft is delivering more color than I’ve seen in this series every before—shining golds, deep reds, and vibrant greens as far as the eye can see! It’s a visual feast with tons of distinctive imagery, especially after the Syndicate muted palette. They’ve shown off pyramids, khopesh, and…giant enemy snakes?
One of these things may not be historically accurate, but I’ve always enjoyed the series best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. If I’m going to be super secret assassin who wears an incredibly distinctive outfit, then why not also fight monstrous creatures or the gods themselves? Now, I’m doubting AC: O will go that far, but I’ve got my hopes. It’s likely the giant snake is a mirage or some other figment of the mind, but whatever the case, I’m hoping this means that Ubisoft is switching up the formula and adding new combat challenges.
2. Animal Style
It’s not all giant snakes in AC:O. A huge range of creatures can be seen in the previews—camels, crocodiles, hippos, and of course your trusty eagle, Senu. From the gameplay that’s been revealed so far, it appears that animals will attack Bayek (AC:O assassin of choice), other NPCs, and even each other. The focus on fauna adds new dangers and fills the emptiness between cities. So far, I’m getting some serious Metal Gear Solid: Subsistence vibes from all the animals, and that’s good company to be in.
(One of these snakes will be in AC:O.)
Animals aren’t just enemies. With your eagle, you can scout ahead and plan your attacks. This makes tactical and sneaking gameplay much better. In previous games, you often learn through trial and error how to sneak through an environment, but with Senu you can quickly scan your target. Plus, the animation for the eagle is mesmerizing. It really shows off the tech in the game. I’m definitely going to spend more time than necessary gliding across the sky enjoying the views.
3. More Climbing
Finally, you can climb rocks! Don’t ask why your ancestors in the future lack this ability. Let’s just be glad that Ubisoft has included this much-needed feature. I love that this opens up gameplay outside of cities, and I’m hoping that AC:O really utilizes the desert environment. In previous games, it was just plain silly that you could climb huge buildings but not naturally rough and rocky surfaces. While this is one of the smaller updates, it opens up more design space and suggests we might visit all new environments between cities. Exploring islands in Black Flag was one of my favorite activities, and I’d love to see Ubisoft keep expanding these areas of the series.
4. New Weapons and New Moves
In the preview I watched, Bayek wielded a spear, shield, khopesh, shortbow, and longbow. Each offered a different gameplay style. With the shortbow, Bayek fired five arrows out Legolos-style. While this may not be historically accurate, having access to an ancient Egyptian shotgun is still awesome.In another clip, Bayek lights his arrows on fire from a nearby brazier.
(Bonus points if you can do this while sliding down stairs on a shield)
Overall, there is a major emphasis on allowing multiple play styles, especially with ranged weapons. I’m all for this, especially if each is balanced to excel in different combat scenarios. With the new pit fights that you can engage in, AC:O looks more focused on combat than previous iteration, and it’s shaping up to have more options than ever before.
5. More RPG Elements
The E3 previews showed off an all-new focus on leveling up. With an RPG-style skill tree, Bayek can choose to invest in Hunter, Warrior, or Seer abilities. The new skill tree looks way more robust than previous RPG elements in the AC series. From the looks of it, you’ll be able to focus on your archery, close combat, or something a little more nuanced with the Seer. I really want to get a better look at the Seer tree and see what kind of supernatural powers and fun gadgets you can unlock. The new skill trees combined with the deeper arsenal of weapons will make for a more distinctive playthroughs and more options than ever before. This is the most AC has ever looked like the Elder Scrolls.
Time will tell if Ubisoft can deliver on all the new features, but from what I’ve seen so far, Origins looks like it’ll be a highlight of the Assassin’s Creed series. It’s clear that the team isn’t relying on the old formulas, but will that be enough to keep a series with ten major titles and a dozen spinoffs fresh? We’ll see on October 27th.