aims to give an insight into the development of the video game Assassin’s Creed: Origins, the tenth
major installment in the Assassin’s Creed
franchise, developed and published by Ubisoft Montreal (2017). After being released the game was met with
positive critical opinions and it was praised not only for its visuals but also
for the engaging gameplay, vast and diverse world and good storytelling.
paper, three major elements are analyzed, as to determine what is their
individual impact on the success that followed the game’s release and their
importance to the final product.
concludes that the game’s positive reception is due to the balanced and good
execution of gameplay features, visuals, and storytelling. The game is thus
deserving the praise it received.
1. Narrative. 4
1.1. Storyline. 4
1.2. Player character 5
2. Game Design. 6
2.1 Environment 6
2.2 Level Design. 7
3. Mechanics. 7
Assassin’s Creed: Origins is an open world action-RPG
game, which is also the tenth major installment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, developed and published by Ubisoft. It
was released worldwide on the 27th of October 2017, for PC, Xbox One
and PlayStation 4. The game takes place in ancient Egypt, 49BC, during the
Roman occupation and Cleopatra’s rule. Assassin’s
Creed: Origins follows the journey of Bayek of Siwa, Egypt’s last Medjay,
who is tasked with protecting citizens from local and foreign threats, and
later lays the foundation for the Assassin Brotherhood seen in previous titles.
Soon after it
was released, the game was met with critical praise, with an average score of
9/10. Assassin’s Creed: Origins was commended
for its excellent portrayal of Egypt, engaging new combat system and stunning
discusses whether the story, art direction and gameplay mechanics have
considerably contributed to the game’s positive reception. Firstly, the plot is
presented along with the main character, in order to discuss in detail his
importance to the overall narrative. Secondly, insight is given into both the art
direction and environmental design. In the end, the game mechanics and their
part in supporting the role-playing element of the game are discussed.
The story of Assassin’s Creed: Origins is one of the
defining elements of the game, according to the creative director of the game
Jean Guesdon (2017). In order to provide players with an engaging experience,
without interfering with core gameplay mechanics, Assassin’s Creed: Origins had to depart from its roots in the
franchise and fully embrace its new RPG elements. Instead of providing players
with missions tailored to a specific linear narrative, through which the player
would discover the storyline mission by mission, Ubisoft opted for a quest
structure. This was done so that the player can choose their own experience and
adapt the story to their playstyle, with a certain degree of constrained
The game explores the
origin and foundation of the Assassins as an organization, but it also touches
on their core ideology, philosophy and goals, all while offering the players a
very personal and touching story – that of Bayek and his wife, Aya.
From a marketing
perspective, Guesdon (2017) said that focusing on the origin of the Assassins
would provide them with a great opportunity to create a game that is easily
approachable by players unfamiliar with previous titles, while old Assassin’s Creed fans will feel at home
and recognize a lot of the elements that have been a huge part of the previous installments.
The game follows the
story of Bayek of Siwa, who embarks on a quest for vengeance after the tragic
death of his son, Khemu. The enemy that proves responsible for his heartbreak
is the mysterious Order of the Ancients, a secret society working in Egypt’s
shadows that manipulates the young emperor Ptolemy XIII. Working together with
his wife, Aya, who serves Cleopatra, the would-be Queen of Egypt, Bayek is
thrown in the midst of the Egyptian civil war, having to fight against forces
he does not truly understand.
Unlike many of the
previous installments, Origins does not follow the model of a “coming-of-age”
story. Instead, the players are introduced to Bayek, a mature, married man, who
is already established in the world as a Medjay, a sort of elite warrior,
before the beginning of the game itself. Guesdon (2017) explains that this
allowed the developers to tell a story that starts off with a deeply personal
experience but transcends that and, through trial and error, escalates to the
foundation of the Assassin Brotherhood. The story is a journey about an adult
having to adapt and change.
1.2. Player character
Instead of allowing
the players to create their own character,
Assassin’s Creed: Origins has an already established character in the game
universe. As previously mentioned, Bayek is the last of the Medjay. The Medjays
are a Nubian organization of warriors, tasked with protecting pharaohs, cities,
ordinary civilians and temples for hundreds of years. Bayek’s trusted friend
and companion is an eagle by the name of Senu, which helps him scout the
territory and choose his targets. Bayek is perceived very differently within
the world: in his hometown of Siwa, a traditional Egyptian village, he is seen
as a hero, but in the cities where the Greeks have a greater influence and
civilization is overflowing, he is seen as a relic of the past.
Due to Bayek’s past
including vast and various training as a warrior, the players have the freedom
of using multiple types of weapons, shields, bows, bombs, darts of different
kinds, each with a diverse set of qualities and looks. Thus, players can
approach missions in a multitude of ways, making use of any of the weapons at
their disposal. Bayek’s fighting style can be adapted for a stealthier type of
player as well as someone who prefers straightforward combat.
Along with the diverse
choice of artillery, the players can also change Bayek’s physical appearance
and clothes, although in a limited manner. This variety enables the players to connect
on a deeper level with the protagonist and become immersed more easily.
By stepping in the shoes of Bayek of Siwa, the
player does not have to establish their place in the world, which enables
immersion. Easily recognizable, Bayek wears the famous Medjay badge on his arm
at all times. This often draws positive remarks from friendly NPC and in turn,
negative ones from NPC that resent or fear his presence.
After working on Assassin’s Creed
IV: Black Flag, the game director Ashraf Ismail and his team used the
previously gained knowledge for building the vast and exotic Egypt we are
introduced to in Origins.
Geographically, Egypt has much more to offer than just plain desert, as
shown in Figure 1. The Nile Delta, for example, home to one of the very first
civilizations, charms the players with its luxurious vegetation and diverse
Figure 1. Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Reprinted from Assassin’s Creed website, by Ubisoft, 2017, retrieved
Ismail (2017) explains how the Nile River, its delta and the multitude
of oases make Egypt “the perfect playground” for level designers and players
alike. Because of the advances in technology, the team was able to push the
boundaries further than was ever done in the franchise, as far as the
environment is concerned. The map of Origins traverses the Mediterranean in the
North, down to the Faiyum Oasis in the South.
One of the reasons Ubisoft decided on this particular timeline during
Cleopatra’s reign is that it is one of the most diverse periods in Egyptian
history. For instance, Alexandria had to convey a more contemporary part of
Egypt, showing the Greek influence, whereas the South of Egypt has remained
very focused on tradition. Memphis, for instance, is an old city dominated by enormous
monuments, rituals and mysticism, compared to a very orderly and organized
Alexandria. This contrast can also be felt in the various temples and tombs
In order to make Egypt feel alive, the developers gave every NPC,
whether it is a person or an animal, different schedules during both day and
night (Ismail, 2017). Just like real-life people, the NPCs sleep, work,
socialize, farmers farm, priests pray and bandits rob traveling merchants. All
of this is based on their own day and night cycles, which often offers
different possibilities for player interaction with the world.
2.2 Level Design
The key to exploring the diverse places Assassin’s Creed: Origins has to offer is Bayek’s eagle companion –
Senu. Players can use her in order to get a bird’s eye view of the landscape,
to scout areas ahead or mark objectives. The use of Senu becomes vital to
exploration since the mini map, previously found in every Assassin’s Creed title, has been replaced by a compass, thus reinforcing
exploration and discovery.
According to Guesdon (2017), another reason for introducing these new
elements is so that players can place their own markers on the map, allowing
for more freedom and creativity in completing missions. It also adds a level of
realism to the game, as it would be difficult for Bayek to know the exact
location of a small item in an area he has never visited before. However, Senu
is able to travel large distances much faster, and thus provide its master with
Moving away from a mini map cluttered with objectives allowed Ubisoft to
introduce a quest system. This further enables the player to explore freely, as
quests can be picked up and completed at any point. Although the main quest has
a set order, side quests can be completed at any point throughout the game. Players
can also pick up new quests while they are on their way to completing another.
This flexibility allows any type of player to progress through the world and
story at their own pace. It is especially valuable to the explorer and achiever
type of players, who might want to fully explore an area before moving on to
Origins’ producer Julien Laferriere (2017) says that the franchise has had RPG
elements since Assassin’s Creed:
Brotherhood, but in Origins they are fully embracing the action-RPG nature
of the game. This is done in order to give the players the freedom to create
their own experience and adapt the game to their personal playstyle.
This is the reason for including a skill tree, with three main branches
– Hunter, Warrior and Seer. More stealth oriented players can focus on the
Hunter path, which allows them to silently approach objectives and eliminating
their enemies from a distance, using different bows. On the other hand, the
Warrior branch concentrates on direct combat abilities, granting Bayek the
ability to last longer in battles. Lastly, there is the Seer route, letting
Bayek negotiate better deals with traders and interact with nature and animals.
Another interesting mechanic is the new hitbox combat system, which
means that the distance between Bayek and his enemies matter. Instead of
immediately colliding with a foe, like in previous titles, Bayek will now miss
and expose himself to damage. This gives a huge importance to weapon type and
speed, as well as, player positioning and enemy number.
This report has analyzed three of the main parts that Assassin’s Creed: Origins was praised on
and explored their implementation into the Assassin’s
It is apparent that Ubisoft aimed to deliver new gameplay features,
without compromising on creating a vast and living world, with a diverse
population and landmarks to explore, straightened by an engaging story and a
Focusing on Bayek, instead of a fully customizable character, enabled a
more realistic portrayal not only of the protagonist, but also the game world
itself. This also made it easy for players to relate to the character and get
immersed within the game world. Players
can easily slip into Bayek’s shoes and use him as a vessel and experience the
changing Egypt through his eyes.
Egypt is the element that contributes a lot to the diversity and variety
the game offers; it is full of contrasting areas, tombs waiting to be
discovered and mysteries surrounding the world. It is clear that Ubisoft used
the interesting Egyptian mythology in order to invoke curiosity and therefore
create an engaging experience.
In conclusion, the game manages to excel in all departments, as it
offers the player a beautiful environment, engaging gameplay and a relatable