Assassin’s Creed Origins: Emergent Vs Narrative Storytelling

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

In an interview with Player.One, Assassin’s Creed Origins Creative Director and Franchise Brand Manager Jean Guesdon talked about the challenge of crafting an Assassin’s Creed story that was accessible to first-timers while still satisfying long-time fans.

The Origins team sees story as one of the defining pillars of the game, along with combat and open world. “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. For people that have maybe stopped playing for several years, they don't need to remember anything, but it's the Assassin’s Creed universe in all its layers,” said Guesdon.

Guesdon compared Assassin’s Creed Origins to Black Flag when it comes to satisfying various types of fans. “We found the sweet spot between being a true Assassin’s Creed game fans recognize as such, but also a true pirate game where people who came for the pirate experience had their fun,” he said.

”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 group, of the Brotherhood — how all these came together. So they will be, I hope, delighted by that,” Guesdon added.

For Origins , one of those layers involved an increased level of player freedom, not only in combat and exploration, but in emergent storytelling. By filling their vast open world with tremendous detail and as much historical accuracy as possible, players have a sturdy backdrop for the stories that grow out of Egypt. “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,” said Guesdon.

The world of Egypt is teeming with life of every kind, from merchants and soldiers to hyenas and vultures. The team has redone AI framework to help enable emergent storytelling outside of the context of story arcs or even quests, giving players small unique narratives they can choose to simply watch or to be a part of. In this way, players feel like they’re part of a living world full of its own little stories. “For example, you target a convoy that is transporting a material that you want to upgrade yourself. You tag it with Senu because it's far away from Bayek. Now I've tagged it, I've seen it in the compass, I need to reach it,” said Guesdon.

“By the time you actually reach it, many things could have happened for real, even far away from you. So these guys could have been attacked by crocodiles, by people, by bandits that could have started the work for you. That's a really cool thing. You can be a witness - just stay here, enjoy watching the world living - or decide to engage, or actually benefit from the result of a fight.”

As for the the story of Origins itself, that’s led by Bayek, a new kind of hero for the franchise. He’s older, married, with a life before the opening of the game. “With this angle, we felt that we could tell different types of stories and find a really interesting story that goes from very personal at the beginning to something that will lead to the foundation, this movement, this Brotherhood that is still alive today,” said Guesdon. “It's not the typical journey story of one young kid finding himself. It's more about an adult having to change.”

Bayek’s personal story is woven into the larger historical picture of Origins to create a different, more trenchant theme, one that resounds both within Origins and within the Assassin’s Creed franchise. “Bayek is really representing this old Egypt that is soon going to die. It will need to evolve, to change,” said Guesdon. “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?”  

Now that Assassin’s Creed Origins is out, Guesdon is most looking forward to players discovering the mystery and emotion of Bayek’s story. “I think we have a lot of mysteries within the world, in the game, that I cannot talk about because I want them to remain mysteries. But I will be really looking to see when people will start to find that and discuss that… I think they will slowly realize that it's not only the world, characters do matter, and that there are some very emotional moments too,” he said.

As for those mysteries, Guesdon notes that some of them have not been publicized at all, even within the game. “Especially for fans, these things will trigger emotions, memories, yeah, maybe,” he said with a laugh. “Memories but also questions.”

Are they Easter eggs, or mysteries laid in consideration of the next game? Guesdon wouldn’t say. “Questions,” he said with another laugh.

 

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