Assassin’s Creed Origins Redesigns Three Franchise Pillars: Combat, Story & World

assassin's creed origins ubisoft
8.5
  • Playstation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Open World

In a new interview, Player.One spoke to Assassin’s Creed Origins Creative Director and Franchise Brand Manager Jean Guesdon about how the new Assassin’s Creed game reinvigorates the three foundational pillars of the franchise: combat, narrative and exploration.

Assassin's Creed Origins has been in development for almost four years, since the launch of Black Flag . “Since the beginning, the mandate was clear,” said Guesdon. “We wanted to refresh the franchise, to make it more dynamic, more fluid and more reactive, and to give a lot of freedom to the player so they can really be in charge of their own experience.”

Accomplishing this directive while also doing justice to the game’s ancient Egyptian setting required lengthier development time than previous entries in the Assassin’s Creed series, but the trade-off of time versus quality was one the team was willing to take in order to “bring the franchise to the next level.”

That meant a merciless examination of the franchise’s existing systems. “The combat system, from scratch. The narrative, we moved from mission structure to quest structure once again, to give the ability to players to play the stories they want to play, and adapt their play style. And in the world, pushing the ability to do stuff, pushing the capacity to explore the world, so this is why we have a massive world,” said Guesdon.

Combat was completely redone to feel “faster, more reactive, more dynamic and have more depth.” There are hundreds of weapons available, each with specific attributes; some have attributes tuned to particular playstyles. There is no longer a stark separation between exploration and combat, and controls are unified across the board. Players can freely switch between melee and long-range weapons on the fly.

The AI has also been revamped to add depth, with a variety of different archetypes ranging from a sad little grunt soldier to unique bosses that roam the world. “This huge variety of behavior, stats, make the combat very varied and I think well suited for a lot of different type of players,” said Guesdon.

In terms of narrative, Assassin’s Creed Origins is a prequel. While it’s still a part of the franchise’s storied lore, its ancient setting made it “really a blank page for us,” said Guesdon. “This is the beauty of telling origin stories: you can stay true to what has been said before, but bring new stuff to the table without actually carrying the overload. For people that have stopped playing for several years, they don't need to remember anything, but it's the Assassin’s Creed universe in all its layers.”

Origins aims to appeal to both long-time fans and newcomers. “We are finding this sweet spot where long-time fans will feel at home, will understand a lot, and will understand how these iconic elements of the franchise — the feather ritual, the importance of the eagle, the cat finger with the eden blade — with the tenets and the value of the Brotherhood — how all these came together. So they will be, I hope, delighted by that,” said Guesdon.

As for Bayek, he’s a different kind of hero: in his thirties, married, with a life. “It's not the typical journey story of one young kid finding himself. It's more about an adult having to change,” said Guesdon. “Bayek is really representing this old Egypt that is soon going to die. It will need to evolve, to change. Romans are here, it's controlled by Greeks already for 300 years, so Bayek representing this old way of life and beliefs will at some point have to choose: do I adapt? Do I disappear?”

Finally, there’s the open world and exploration aspects of Assassin’s Creed. The team has removed the mini-map to eliminate chasing after icons, replacing it with a compass system. “We want the players to be responsible for their own experience… We give you what is needed so that you can find the locations, you can find the quest start, but we give you a little direction and you will need to look at the world and engage yourself within this world to craft your own experience,” said Guesdon.

These changes give rise to new ways to engage with the world of Origins. Players can climb rocks and cliffs now as well as manmade buildings, turning bandit caves into whole new realms of possibility. Underwater environments are accessible everywhere, and a slew of vehicles — from little boats to horses and camels to war chariots — enable players to get around Egypt exactly as they please. The world is massive, but players have more ways to interact with it than ever before. Even your eagle helps you understand your actions on a bigger scale, letting you tag animals for upgrade materials and enemies for loot or XP.

The world itself is also crammed with “meaningful content,” said Guesdon. There are “animals, bandit camps, military camps, with literally hundreds of quests and things to do.” In addition, the AI framework has been reworked to give the world a feeling of life: “People have agendas, they go to sleep, they do their stuff during the day, I think you can really feel it.” Even the animals have their own distinct behavior patterns, and through the use of Bayek’s eagle Senu, “you can fly wherever you want, the world is fully open, there is no limitation and so you realize that animals even far away from Bayek are still living.”

Assassin's Creed Origins is due for an Oct. 27 release date on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC. Will you be taking an eagle-eye’s view of this ancient new world? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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