Ahead of its release later this month, Ubisoft took a moment to highlight the kind of diverse gameplay and player choice that will be present in Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Dynamic systems are in place to allow even the campaign missions to be approached from multiple perspectives, going so far as to utilize the day/night cycle to increase stealth opportunities and change AI behaviors.
I tried storming in and attacking the guards directly. That failed, so I took up a nearby perch and fired remotely guided predator arrows into their heads from hiding. On my next try, I smashed open the cages of captive lions, freeing them to attack the guards for me. The following run saw me hiding in the bushes and trying to stealth-kill my enemies – which, given that I hadn’t yet upgraded Bayek’s Hidden Blade, only wounded one guard before the rest spotted me.
All of these attempts were carried out in broad daylight, and they all ended with Bayek fleeing the area with next to zero health and getting stabbed by a pursuer. Then I tried a new tactic: I found a hiding spot, and with a button press, I passed time until nightfall and watched as the moon rose rapidly over the desert landscape. Then I crept through the underbrush and threw a couple of sleeping darts at the only two guards who had a clear line of sight to the cage. This only knocked them out for a few seconds, but that was more than enough time to open the door, sling the old man over Bayek’s shoulder, and flee into the night before anyone raised an alarm. It was only a small step in the journey that is Assassin’s Creed Origins, but it was as satisfying as any heist.
Notable too is how the RPG aspects will play into different approaches. In the scenario above, alternate tactics were required because the level of the hidden blade was not enough to do damage to higher level opponents–even on stealth attacks–so you can either choose to grind up levels or find a different, less direct solution to the problem.
Moments like these are a big part of what make the free-form gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Origins so compelling. Each mission gives you a set of objectives, and it’s up to you to decide which of your varied tools and tactics to use to achieve them. Sometimes, though, you’re going to encounter enemies that can cut you down with one swing of their axe – and while you’re free to put a mission on hold until you’ve leveled up enough to come back and tear through the opposition, sometimes it’s more fun to find a less-direct method.
They also shed some light on how the story and quests will all be dynamically connected to the open world. In many ways, the description offered feels similar to that of a game like The Witcher 3, which prided itself on an open world and series of quests that felt intrinsically like a part of the character’s story and the world around him.
Your path for quelling these threats isn’t as direct as it was in previous games, either. You’ll be directed to informants who will give you handfuls of quests related to the central story, but I also found plenty of new tasks by just wandering around the world. That was the case when I passed an old couple weeping by the side of the road, who asked me to retrieve the bodies of workers from a field overrun by murderous hippos. (This was also a good opportunity to practice pure stealth, as the field was full of high stalks and the hippos were tough.)
This turned out to be more than a single-objective task; after failing to find the body of the couple’s protector, Meketre, I tracked him to a hidden den of a bandit gang, who’d captured him while the hippos were running loose. Then, with Meketre’s help, I rode back to his village and fended off a nighttime raid by those same bandits. The mission was typical of the side quests scattered throughout the world, which tend to start with simple tasks and quickly spiral into something greater.
Ubisoft’s blog post does have a few more details from the preview, including a look at Letopolis, a lost city being reclaimed by the people in the area. Assassin’s Creed: Origins will release on October 27.