Assassin’s Creed: Origins is ancient history.
Like many fans of the series, I’ve played the Assassin games for a long time and have looked forward to each new edition, including Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Until now, we’ve known relatively little about the characters’ true origins, and now it looks like we’ll be given much more of the story. What makes the series truly unique is its ability to constantly surprise. With every game, players learn more about the Brotherhood and the Templars. For example, when I played as Haytham Kenway in AC3, the reveal at the start of the game gave me one of the biggest surprises ever.
Using real-world events from a historical fiction perspective, the Assassin’s Creed game focuses on a centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace, and the Templars, who desire peace only through complete control. And now it would seem it’s not just centuries old…it’s millennia.
History of the Brotherhood
Assassin’s Creed begins in 1191 during the Third Crusade in the Holy Land around the Secret Order of Assassins, who were based on the real-world Hashshashin sect. All this is set essentially in a virtual world, and in the “real” world in the year 2012 a man named Desmond Miles is placed within his genetic timeline of an ancestor’s memories using a machine created by the corporation that Abstergo called the Animus. The ancestor through whom he experiences all this is Altair Ibn-La’Ahad, a member of the Assassins who seeks an artifact known as the Apple of Eden, which is used to control minds. Abstergo wants to control all and seeks out these artifacts, while the Assassins oppose them even in this day and age.
Assassin’s Creed II is set during the Italian Renaissance, 1476, and features the Assassin character Ezio Auditore. His father and brothers were betrayed and executed by a family friend who is revealed to be a Templar. Ezio finds and follows Rodrigo Borgia, who eventually becomes Pope Alexander VI, a truly godly man (insert sarcasm). But this gains Ezio access to the ancient Vault housed under the Vatican, whereupon he finds a holographic projection of a woman named Minerva. She reveals to Ezio the history of an ancient civilization that existed before recorded history but was wiped out by a cataclysmic event, and that humans were created to act as slave labor. These humans eventually rebelled and became engaged in a war with their creators. The imagery revealed here alludes to an ancient Egyptian period.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood follows suit with AC2 and is also set during the Italian Renaissance in the year 1506. This time Ezio is tasked with rebuilding the Assassin order within Rome while still beating back the powerful Templar family of the Borgias. It’s within this game that we also catch a glimpse of more history of Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Once Ezio has gained entry into a subterranean tomb within the Basilica Di San Marco to retrieve a seal from the sarcophagus of a once-respected Assassin, Amunet. It is rumored here that she assassinated Cleopatra VII with the venom of an asp (although in true history she committed suicide with said asp).
The New Origins
It’s important to note that Assassin’s Creed: Origins will tell the story of the genesis of AC: Brotherhood, which will provide background on the basic values and rites of the Creed. This extends to all the other games, films and novels that now have roots in the story line of Origins. With Origins, the developers have also taken the game from an adventure-style to an action-RPG experience.
“It’s been our dream to explore ancient Egypt for a while now. This is the birthplace of modern civilization, and it was home to a society and culture that still trigger fantasies and mysticism today.”
We will be introduced to Cleopatra, because Assassin’s Creed: Origins starts at 49 BCE, so it stands to reason that we may see Amunet, especially if there’s any recruitment in this game. Playing as the character Bayek, last of the Nubian order of warriors, the Medjay, we’ll experience new fighting techniques as well as all-new weapons indigenous to the Egyptian region. We’ll also witness the birth of the Eagle Vision we’ve all become so familiar with through Bayek’s eagle, Send. It seems as though we’ll be able to take control of Send through some Game of Thrones Bran Stark–like technique to see enemies and crafting resources and map the terrain. Bayek’s wife, Aya will also play a significant role in the game as well.
Ubisoft Montreal relied on many historians and Egyptian experts to achieve accurate details within the game. They’ve re-created not only ancient cities and villages but also wilderness landscapes and native wildlife. I have little doubt we’ll have to battle a few crocodiles along the way, as we fought the sharks in Black Flag. Assassin’s Creed: Origins will also feature some of the same sailing game mechanics as in Black Flag and Rogue, as well as underwater exploration, where we’ll discover a hidden Sobek temple. Perhaps Bayek will be able to sail Cleopatra to Rome and meet up with Mark Anthony and start something with Octavian. Either way, sailing across the Mediterranean Sea could be exciting.
The fact that we’ll explore other temples, including the Sobek temple, is a good indication we may be finding the very first of powerful artifacts sought by what will become the Templars. Remember the quotes from Minerva: “Find temples built by those who know to turn away from war,” and also “Guard against the cross, for there are many who will stand in your way.” Perhaps we haven’t seen the last of Minerva yet…and the first artifact we find may be an ankh. That’s just speculation and wishful thinking at this point, mind you.
If you wish to keep true historical facts in order, though, here’s a list of key moments during this period:
- 49 BCE: Civil war starts in Rome against Caesar
- 47 BCE: Cleopatra VII becomes sole ruler of Egypt as the goddess Isis
- 44 BCE: Caesar is assassinated by members of the senate
- 44 BCE: Cleopatra flees Rome to Alexandria with her (and Caesar’s) son, Caesarion
- 41 BCE: Cleopatra returns to Rome and becomes Mark Anthony’s lover
- 31 BCE: War between Octavian and Mark Anthony begins and ends
- 30 BCE: Egypt becomes a province of the Roman Empire
- 30 BCE: Death of Cleopatra VII and end of the Ptolemaic line in Egypt
Players familiar with other action RPGs like Horizon Zero Dawn will immediately take to this game, as it now uses a custom-made hitbox system, making your attacks far more reactive and versatile. The weapons will not only vary in size and speed but also have their own stats, attributes and rarity levels, from Common to Legendary. For example, a Legendary Bow will give the player a higher chance of a critical hit. While a khopesh sword may have a longer reach, it may do less damage than a heavy blunt mace, so we’ll be able to swap weapons seamlessly from ranged to melee, giving Bayek every advantage he’ll need. Take a look at this video on the new combat system and exciting arena fighting:
Ancient Egypt inspires questions about the Creed. We’ll explore the tombs beneath the pyramids and learn about the men with animal heads and the various gods — and how all this leads to the birth of the Brotherhood. I look forward to discovering all the new secrets and surprises this game holds! Now, all that said, it would be cool to see the Ankh of Isis used to resurrect one of the franchise’s best-loved characters, Desmond. Who’s with me on this one?