The last time I was properly keen to play an Assassin’s Creed game, it was around the time that the third game in the series was announced. And well know how that one turned out. Since then, I’ve been wary of the series. The games have still been solid in the last few years, but annualisation burnout and Desmond’s devolving face had me ducking the series for a while.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder however, as I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about Assassin’s Creed Origins. It’s not just another Assassin’s Creed game that features the usual leap-of-faith shenanigans, but rather the fact that it looks and feels far like Ubisoft has managed to fine-tune the series to evolve in a more dynamic direction. That’s all I’ve really wanted, as the games became horrendously bloated over the years with actions and inputs that required the thumb skills of a triple-jointed contortionist.
It’s not just the gameplay that has been massively tweaked, but also the world around you inside of the animus. “We wanted to do Egypt for a very long time, we know also that it’s a fan-favourite,” Assassin’s Creed Origins producer Julien Laferriere said to Game Informer of the more dynamic landscape that players can explore.
To do Egypt right, we had to do the whole country. And doing the whole country means a lot of big cities, a lot of villages and towns and deserts and oasises so that you can picture a very big world. The question was, how do we fill that world? How do we make sure that it makes sense for the player?
And we wanted to give this time around a lot of freedom to the player. How do we do that? Basically we started by giving the NPCs their own agenda. They need to rest, they need to work, they need to eat. So they will travel the world and try to fill those needs by engaging in a restarant or in their house by having dinner with their families or sleeping on the roof of their house.
And obviously that layer also applies to guards and enemies in the game. So a fort might be less busy during night-time because everybody is sleeping but you’ve got some veterans patrolling around the fort. It might be busier during the daytime, so that’s how we make sure that the world is really alive and really makes sense.
People with lives of their own can only add so much to a game set in ancient Egypt. To really drive home the idea of exploring a slice of Africa that has been lost to the sands of time, Ubisoft had to also examine the other natives of that land: Animals. “What’s great about Egypt is that there is a lot of animals and we really embrace that, we wanted to give the Egyptian experience but in terms of fauna to the player,” Laferriere explained.
There are crocodiles, you can’t do a game about Egypt without crocodiles, we’ve got hippos, pink flamingos, Hyenas, snakes. All sorts of wildlife that also have different levels of difficulty obviously where you are in the game, all based on the actual animal behaviour. We studied a lot of videos on that one to be as accurate as we could.
I think the beauty of Assassin’s Creed games has always been the historical attention to detail. Say what you like about the games as a whole, but you can’t deny that Ubisoft knows how to make history come alive in those sandboxes. It’s pretty much the closest I’ll ever get to time-travelling, beyond that time I got blackout drunk, locked myself in a phone booth and demanded that everyone refer to me as the Doctor.
Last Updated: June 30, 2017