Ubisoft is home to some of the biggest brands in gaming today. Whether it’s one of their new IPs or an existing series, Ubisoft is one of the most prolific publishers in video games. Widely regarded as their biggest franchise, Assassin’s Creed is making its return in a few months.
After taking a year off from its yearly releases, Assassin’s Creed Origins is going to launch this Oct. 27. The game takes a lot of feedback from players as well as inspiration from previous iterations. When I take a step back and look at Assassin’s Creed Origins, it is clear this game is the sum of everything the series has accomplished over the past decade.
Egypt is the new location for this year’s Assassin’s Creed installment. With it comes a massive, new country that is overflowing with secrets and rewards for those who adventure. Bayek is the man on the task for gamers in the new game. Mission structure, progression, combat and so much more are different now than ever before.
As is the case with many AAA games these days, Assassin’s Creed Origins has been under development for nearly four years. Gamers will remember Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and the team behind that game is the one behind Origins. In an exclusive interview with We Write Things, producer Julien Laferriere talked about the massive new game.
“We started development right after Black Flag, about three and a half years ago. What’s great about that is we knew we had a lot of time in front of us. Doing ancient Egypt is a major undertaking. It’s a big world we’re creating, we’re doing the whole country. There’s a lot of different biomes, NPCs feel alive with their own agenda.
“With the time we had, we decided to rework all of the major systems. The new fight system is a good example, and it has been reworked from the ground up. It feels really different from how it was in the past. There’s a new progression system so you can customize your own Assassin’s Creed experience depending on your playstyle,” Laferriere said.
For a number of previous iterations now, the series is clearly moving toward a more RPG-like progression. This is going to be more true in Origins than any previous iteration. Progression will be an essential element to how you engage in combat as well as customize your assassin.
How you improve your assassin isn’t the only thing that’s changing for Assassin’s Creed Origins. The game’s story is being done in a way that is brand-new to the series. It will feature an open-ended narrative system, and as Laferriere tells it, this enables you to play and experience the game as you wish.
“Because the world is so big, we decided to go with an open-ended narrative system. Basically, the NPCs you meet will give you quests and will get into their personal stories. You get to do this at your own pace, by choosing many quests at the same time. It’s a really big world and is a result of what we did with the time we had. It’ll be four years this October, and there’s a lot of love and effort in the game,” Laferriere said.
For a game that’s been in development for four years, it’s incredible to think about how far along this game is. The amount of changes coming to Assassin’s Creed Origins all seem to be greatly varying up the experience. An open-ended narrative will grant you the freedom to progress through the story as you wish. This is something Ubisoft has done with other games like Ghost Recon Wildlands.
Fatigue doesn’t seem to be a term that can be associated with Assassin’s Creed any longer. Fans are starving for their next helping of the series, and Origins is setting up to be something special. Laferriere spoke about the passionate community that is the Assassin’s Creed fanbase.
“For me it’s funny because I’ve been on the franchise for eight years. It’s my fourth Assassin’s Creed game. Whenever we do events, especially since fans are at E3, we feel the love, it’s incredible. I was chatting with a guy from the team and he said that he had never received so many hugs from fans before. They were thanking him for the game. That really energizes us to make the game and for me I feel we have a very, very strong community,” Laferriere said.
Ubisoft has the reputation of creating some of the biggest game worlds ever. Take a look at experiences like Ghost Recon Wildlands or Watch Dogs 2. Size and depth within it is a specialty of Ubisoft’s. Assassin’s Creed franchise historian Maxime Durand spoke to We Write Things about creating the diverse, yet gigantic country of Egypt.
“From the start we knew we wanted to cover the whole country. We knew we wanted to change the navigation system by adding Senu the eagle. Egypt is vast, we have a lot of biomes and they’re all very different. New cities like Memphis and Alexandria each have their own unique flavors by mixing Egyptian and Greek flavors.
“For us it was about trying to find the whole story of Egypt, which is [difficult]. It’s already 2,000 years old at the time of our game. Trying to understand who were the main characters is a must for this world. Finding ways to craft unique quests around this helps create interesting experiences,” Durand said.
One of the most endearing elements of every Assassin’s Creed game is how real the world feels. Authenticity is important in any game, but it’s particularly crucial for a game dealing with history. Durand went onto explain what they considered most when creating the enormous world of Egypt.
“The player’s experience is always the first thing we have in mind. This being said, we tried to represent Egypt as much as possible so we have white desert, black desert, mountains and other regions. We tried to [fit] the whole country of Egypt into the game. It’s the biggest game we’ve ever created.
“We have the pyramids in the game, which were a must. The pharaohs in Alexandria were a must. You can dive under water and find different activities. There are animals with their own agenda. It’s funny to say the crocodiles have their own agenda, but this is the same system we use for NPCs in the world,” Durand said.
The pyramids are certainly a staple landmark for Assassin’s Creed Origins. Surely they’ll play a significant role in the upcoming game. Perhaps there will even be secret armor, weapons or gear inside of the pyramids? Seems like a great candidate for Ubisoft to hide something valuable there.
With a location such as ancient Egypt, secrets and mysteries feel synonymous with the time. Capturing the same sort of mysteriousness will only add to the game’s already intriguing aura. Laferriere talked about striking the balance between mysticism and spirituality.
“Egypt is full of mysteries. When you think of Egypt, it’s known for its mysticism and spirituality, so for us it was important to toe the line between real mystery and what is the fantasy of the time. We sort of blur the line a little bit. It’s a dreamier version of the game, which is important to the spirituality,” Laferriere said.
From discovering the unknown to the many avenues of traversal gamers will have access to, Ubisoft is bringing its best. Gamers who experienced Black Flag will surely remember the epic naval combat in the game. It seems as though naval gameplay will be in the new game, however, to what extent is unknown.
“The whole world is seamless. You can use any mode of transportation from a horse, to a camel or a boat and travel seamlessly throughout the world. We’re lucky enough to still be working with our friends at Ubisoft Singapore. The water is so beautiful and what’s cool is everything is explorable underwater. Anytime, just leave your boat, dive and explore to find those ruins or lost treasure. There are some moments of naval combat as well, but that’s as much as we can say today,” Laferriere said.
Naval combat is one of the most talked about features that I see brought up from fans. While it is important for developers to push the game forward, bringing back previously used features isn’t a bad thing. This is especially true when you think about how epic Black Flag‘s naval systems are.
As many of you know by now, Microsoft is preparing to launch the Xbox One X this coming Nov. 7. The new system is the most powerful system to date, and Ubisoft is pairing up with Microsoft. Laferriere spoke about what the Xbox One X allows Ubisoft to do and how the game looks.
“We always like to have new toys to play with. Our friends at Microsoft were kind enough to build the Xbox One X. It’s a really cool machine. What it enables for us is we built a dynamic resolution system. What that does on Xbox One X is it enables us to render the game in full 4K. The world we crafted on 4K is amazing. That’s just one of the things we can now do on Xbox One X,” Laferriere said.
I have seen the game running on Xbox One X and it is looking magnificent. From all I saw at E3 2017, it is one of the best looking games running on the new system. Perhaps Forza Motorsport 7 is the only game that runs a bit better than Origins. However, you’d expect a racer to look better than an open-world game. The fact that both are comparatively gorgeous, it is a testament to what Ubisoft is doing with Origins.
2015 is the last time we saw a new Assassin’s Creed game launched and finally the wait will be over this Oct. 27. Fans are eagerly awaiting the series’ return and its developers are no different. Durand talked about what it means to have Assassin’s Creed back once again.
“We’re so excited to bring this game to the fans. After three and a half years of working on it, we’re so eager to share the game. The reaction has been super positive so far, so we’re really happy with that,” Durand said.
Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Origins really does seem like a reflection of all the series has accomplished up until this point. Whether you look at its systems or setting, this feels like vintage Assassin’s Creed with some new bells and whistles. Laferriere gave his thoughts on the return of the series.
“Our goal was to deliver a modern approach to the franchise and reinvent our core gameplay with the fight system and progression. It really gives as much freedom to players as possible, and we’re really happy with the the reception so far,” Laferriere said.
Assassin’s Creed Origins will launch on Oct. 27. The game is going to be available for Xbox One X, Xbox One, PS4 Pro, PS4 and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Assassin’s Creed.