Assassin’s Creed Origins E3 Showcase and Hands-On Experience
Assassin’s Creed Origins E3 Showcase and Hands-On Experience: A look at Ubisoft’s return to the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
With E3 2017 in the rear view, we’re diving deeper into what was shown during the Assassin’s Creed Origins E3 showcase, as well as some hands-on details. On Tuesday, the Game Director from Ubisoft Montreal, Ashram Ismail, and a Producer from Ubisoft Singapore, Karl von der Luehe, showed off some new gameplay from Assassin’s Creed Origins and talked about all the brand new, exciting things this installment is bringing to the franchise.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the setting. Assassin’s Creed Origins will be taking place in Ancient Egypt, circa 45 B.C.E. This puts it as the farthest in history an Assassin’s Creed game has gone. You play as Bayek of Siwa, one of Egypt’s last Medjay, or Egyptian police. Furthermore, unlike previous AC’s, the developers didn’t really have any blueprints of Ancient Egypt to go off of. Normally when making these games, the developers would visit the location and get access to old blueprints, so they could make their worlds as historically accurate as possible, but since it takes place so long ago, they don’t have access to those resources. This tasked the team with basically creating Ancient Egypt from scratch and with what little information that was available.
So, why does this game take place so long ago? Well as the title of the game suggests, it will be telling the story of the formation of the Assassin’s Brotherhood. As Ismail stated during the E3 coliseum showcase, “We’ve had the conflict between Assassins and Templars… but to show how the Brotherhood came to be from AC1, this was the story we wanted to tell. Now how do you tell that important story in an important setting? And we naturally went into Ancient Egypt. And it’s been a dream project for many of us to do Egypt and to be able to have the tech to build this country. So it was a very quick succession to say we’re doing Ancient Egypt, it’s going to be the birth of the Brotherhood, and uh let’s reinvent Assassin’s Creed.”
And reinvent they did. Many sections of Assassin’s Creed‘s mechanics have changed, but none more than its own combat system. In previous AC games, you open up combat by locking onto enemies around you, and from there, there is a paired animation system so that when you attack, you are attacking the enemy that was chosen. In Assassin’s Creed Origins, there is a new hitbox system. This means that while you can still lock onto enemies (only one at a time now), you have the chance to not hit them. This means that things such as the length of a spear or how close you are to the enemy are extremely important. This system also gives the player increased mobility and more options. Dodging lets you maneuver far enough away for a quick escape or a counter, parrying also allows opens up the enemy’s defense so you can counter, and switching between targets helps you plan your attacks accordingly. Obviously because of the new combat system, a new set of controls that will take some getting used to comes along too.
Also returning to the franchise is the use of a bow. The bow hasn’t been seen since Assassin’s Creed III, and was dearly missed by yours truly. Not only that, but there are different bow types in the game as well. On the topic of different types of equipment, Assassin’s Creed Origins is introducing a new rarity system to gear. Now, when you kill an enemy, they have the chance to drop weapons that have different levels as well as rarity and attributes. An example of this would be picking up an Epic sword with a poison attribute, and so forth.
Another element of the game shown off was the skill tree. Leveling up allows you to progress in three different ways; there’s the Master Hunter, Master Warrior, and Master Seer paths. Master Hunter focuses on the use of the bow as well as stealth play style, Master Warrior focuses on open combat, and Master Seer handles the manipulation of enemies, animals, etc. This allows you to promote whichever style of play is more important to you.
Something brand new to the franchise will be the seamless transition between being above/below the water. Before, if you were swimming, you could also swim right below the surface to hide from enemies. There were other missions in different games that actually took place below water, but it was only for the dive and then in the open world it would be back to normal. Now though, you can go from swimming above water to diving down deep and exploring, all in a seamless transition.
The last thing to go over would be the use of Senu. Senu is your female eagle companion, replacing Eagle Vision from previous games. You can use Senu to tag enemies and explore as well. If you are familiar with the latest Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon video games, Senu pretty much acts as the aerial drone would. To display the technological advancements that this game is bringing, you can actually fly as Senu all the way across the map from Bayek, and you will discover that the AI NPC characters will be living out their lives and locations will render normally. There is no distance tether between Bayek and Senu.
Now let’s talk about the NPC’s. The AI in Origins will feature a whole living cycle for the NPC’s. From what I gather, this means you can follow around one of the AI characters for a day and will see that they live normally; they eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, and do whatever else you would expect. Believe me when I say it, this game is massive, but this part still remains a bit unbelievable. Also featured in Origins will be boss fights. In the gladiator arena, you will fight wave after wave of enemies, until you reach the boss fight. These will be high-level characters that you can take down for the chance to get some pretty cool gear.
On the E3 show floor at the Ubisoft booth, I actually had the chance to sit down and play 15 minutes of Assassin’s Creed Origins.
I have never been more excited for the launch of an Assassin’s Creed game than I am for Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Maybe it was because there wasn’t a release last year, maybe it’s the return of the bow, or maybe it’s the new story. This game is set to impress fans and non-fans alike. It looks absolutely gorgeous, boasting 4k graphics while running at 30 frames per second on the new Xbox One X. I hadn’t noticed any frame rate issues, which is good/surprising coming from an alpha build of the game. The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been plagued with frame rate issues in years past, so hopefully going forward those issues are behind it.
The E3 demo allowed players to play the game for 15 minutes, either following along with the set missions or just doing your own thing. I spent my time just trying to get a feel for all the new systems and controls this game introduces. Just from those 15 minutes, I know it’s going to take some getting used to the new controls. Gone are the days of RT/R2 to switch into High-Profile mode to run around and free-run. Pushing forward on the left stick will automatically have you run. The triggers and bumper buttons are a lot more involved in combat now.
All in all, Assassin’s Creed Origins is looking like another success for Ubisoft. Let’s hope the four years in development will be exactly what the team needed to perfect this game. Assassin’s Creed Origins is set to release on October 27, 2017 on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC.