DFTG Inside Look at Assassin’s Creed Origins – “The Birth of the Brotherhood”
Don’t Feed the Gamers had the pleasure of seeing up close and personal the first gameplay footage inside Assassin’s Creed Origins during E3 2017. Though the franchise has had a rough go with the past few installments and fan reaction becoming increasingly negative, Ubisoft made a smart decision to take some time off of their annual releases and really hone in on their strengths into a title. After seeing the gameplay footage up close, Assassin’s Creed Origins has the opportunity to be the perfect comeback game for the franchise. The gameplay demonstration was approximately 40 minutes of live gameplay footage, taking us into the heart of Faiyum, an exploreable region in the game, through the eyes of Bayek – the main character and protagonist.
In the appropriately titled Origins, Ubisoft Montréal headed the project, utilizing the same team that worked on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Ashraf Ismail, the game director of both before-mentioned titles, emphasized how the team wanted to “reinvent” the series for fans. So, why not do so by going back to the “birth of the brotherhood”? Not only does the creative team want to revitalize the series with a bang, they’re taking fans to the beginning of it all with Egypt in 49 BCE. There is an improved, yet more challenging combat system, but a lot of work and effort was placed into showing off the lush and beautiful countryside back then as well. Outfitted with the task to bring players that far with limited written history and architectural blueprints, a knowledgeable historian worked with Montreal to remain as accurate as possible.
The live gameplay featured a section of the main story and quest narrative since the game itself is so large. Players get to assume the role of Bayek, a medjay of Egypt as Cleopatra ascends the throne. Medjay were essentially the “police officers of the old kingdom” to keep the peace and protect the community. During the demonstration, Bayek made his way through enemies with the task of finding an informant named Hotephres. As seen in the storyline, Apollodorus, their employer, hopes to take down a group that is trying to “destroy Egypt” and it starts with identifying a man who goes by the pseudonym “The Crocodile”.
Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems. A ledger that Hotephres stole from a Greek magistrate may wield evidence to unveil who the mysterious Crocodile is, but others are after it as well. Corruption has weaved its way through the different factions and authoritative powers in Egypt, resulting in the Ptolemaic authorities siding with the enemies. In order for Bayek to recover the ledger, he must seek the help of Hotephres’ wife Khenut and daughter Shadya before the enemies get their hands on it.
We’ve worked very hard on the combat element, the stealth element. Combat has been built from the ground up. We wanted to go with a different paradigm.”
Though it is a beloved franchise, one of the biggest problems lied within the combat system and the inability to seamlessly switch between weapons. Origins does away with that issue and the shift between long-range and melee is flawless and implemented with a simple tap or click of a button. Overall, the combat system has been improved because steps and swings flow smoothly, but the removal of auto hit makes it more challenging. This means there is no longer an automatic hit system during battles, which ultimately allows players to actually miss a swing of the sword or dagger.
If, for example, a weapon does not make contact with the enemy’s hit box, then the player has effectively swung at the air leaving themselves open for a counter attack. On the other hand, weapons play a very large role in the effectiveness of fighting and skill implementation. While there is no aspect of destructibility to worry about, looting, upgrading, and refining are crucial to a continuously evolving game. There is, however, varying levels of rarity. All these aspects are especially important to consider as Bayek levels up and faces off against stronger opponents.
Players can use the environment around them to their advantage as well. During the panel, an area called the Gladiator Arena was showcased (seen toward the end of the E3 Coliseum video above) which can be accessed by Bayek through the main storyline. Players can participate in waves of skirmishes to test their skills and earn useful rewards. After the initial entrance into the arena and finishing off two rounds of gladiators, Bayek encounters one of the first bosses called “The Slaver”. In this instance, there were rotating pillars covered in sharp metal spikes everywhere and they can be used to impale enemies. Similar environmental factors such as that can be found throughout the world of Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Which brings on the next point – bosses. According to Ismail, bosses were “one of the biggest things we wanted to push”. There are plenty of them to fight against when following the campaign, but there are just as many when traveling and discovering Egypt – from “military locations”, forts, and tombs, to wayfarers. Each of them adapt to the player’s style, making them more difficult to defeat. All of these features are part of Origins huge focus on bringing RPG elements to the franchise. That also includes skill trees which can be viewed in the gallery below:
Another interesting dynamic inside Assassin’s Creed Origins is the water and the available interactions. Believe it or not, underwater combat, swimming, and sailing are all available and none are exclusive to a small area or instance. The entire body of water showcased during the E3 Coliseum panel can be explored, as explained by Ubisoft Singapore’s Karl von der Luehe. There are even sunken treasures, temples, and ships to discover. The Singapore team worked on all aspects of the surrounding area including the before-mentioned activities and various elements that make up the environment. In fact, the water is swarming with crocodiles. If one is killed, the blood from its corpse will attract more of them.
The bottomline? Even though footage and gameplay shown at the E3 Coliseum panel with Ismail and von der Luehe were all in the alpha stage of development, the graphics and mechanics looked fantastic. They are complete upgrades in comparison to previous installments. As a person who has enjoyed previous titles in the series, this is the first time such a level of excitement for another release in the series has overwhelmed me. Even dedicated fans on the DFTG team believe that Origins has the makings to become the best game for a comeback inside the Assassin’s Creed franchise. There’s obviously some polishing that needs to be done in regards to facial animations and textures, but given how refined it already is with still 4 months left until its launch? I believe that the team at Ubisoft Montréal will do a fine job at taking players back to where it all started – to the “birth of the brotherhood”.
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Hoi Duong2131 Posts
Hoi is an elusive figure at DFTG, whose favorite past-times include chillin' in the Fade, reading manga, watching anime, collecting novelty items, and gaming.