Posted June 22, 2017 by Joseph Rositano in Feature

E3 2017: Assassin’s Creed Origins Hands-On Preview

Ancient Egypt has been one of the most requested locales for the Assassin’s Creed series since the first game (sorry feudal Japan fans!), and with Assassin’s Creed Origins Ubisoft has finally delivered that setting. Following leaks throughout the past few years, Ubisoft finally raised the curtains on what has been thought of as a soft reboot for the franchise.

Stepping back to what is being boasted as “the beginning” of the Assassin order, Origins introduces protagonist Bayek, a poor peasant and member of the Medjay. In real world history, the Medjay were desert scouts for the Egyptian military, so it will be interesting to see what influence this has over the game’s story.

On the E3 showfloor, Adam was treated to a demo played in 4K on an Xbox One X console. The demo began with an introduction to horse-riding and required him to traverse the desert to reach a small town. Horses can be auto-piloted to ride along roads, similar to The Witcher games. After reaching the town, Bayek sees a priest accusing a man of stealing golden statues of the god Sobek. Bayek promises to locate the statutes to determine if the man is innocent or not.

Assassin's Creed Origins 5

The statues were located in a dock area, which introduced a key component of the game and real world Ancient Egypt itself – water. It’s actually a visually impressive part of the game, and there seems to be a bit more strategy in using it than in past games like Blag Flag, as players can swim underwater for cover and to search the sea floor, as well as climb around vessels. Bayek also has a pet eagle that he can send out to fly above and mark enemy targets. In most Assassin’s Creed titles you could activate Eagle Vision without targets realising you were marking them, but now you must be more mindful about when and where you send out your feathered friend as enemies may catch on.

After retrieving the statues Bayek concludes that the accused man is innocent, but that doesn’t stop the priest from beating the poor man, forcing Bayek to intervene, killing the priest and two of his men. Combat has evolved since past games, now not feeling as simple and repetitive, nor relying as much on quick counter attacks like Origins’ predecessors. Players must now focus more on moving around opponents and look for an opening to strike.

After the mission ended, the demo allowed Adam some free time to better explore the world. Only a small area of the much larger map was available for exploration, so he chose to do a nearby side mission for a woman working near a farm. This is where some jankiness began to creep in, whether it was due to this being an early demo, or an area of the game that hadn’t quite been finalised yet, as many of the animations in the dialogue scenes here were quite stiff, which was disappointing compared to the relative high quality of the rest of the presentation. What’s probably not so easy to fix is some of the cringeworthy dialogue, as the woman actually says, no joke, “The land here is rich and fertile, and worth fighting for, like me.” Eep.

Adam’s final take from the demo was that Ubisoft have definitely tried to evolve the Assassin’s Creed concept following on from Unity and Syndicate. By jumping to the series’ earliest time point things have been brought back to basics, which has breathed life into a tiring franchise. While Adam didn’t undertake any assassinations as such, the combat felt fine and the general exploration and adventure were interesting – the map itself is huge, and stretches from Memphis to the borders of neighbouring countries! Assassin’s Creed Origins is scheduled for release on 27 October this year on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Joseph Rositano

While Joseph's main hobby has always centered around video games, he's also taken an interest in movies, musicals and traveling around the world. No one quite knows what Joseph's true motivations are, but rest assured he is always planning his next grand adventure!


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