Time. It just doesn’t seem to be on my side these days.
As much as I wanted to have a post up talking about all the things I really like about Assassin’s Creed: Origins, from its loot system, stronger RPG mechanics, and how wonderful Bayek is written and performed, it’s just not in the cards for right now.
While we all continue to wait for the day when I finally can put something like that together, I did want to take a moment to talk about an element of the game that took me by surprise.
Coming into Assassin’s Creed: Origins, I was excited to experience a game that had obviously been created with refreshing, if not resetting the entire experience. I mean, Ubisoft felt compelled to remove the franchise from its annual release cycle to give the development team enough time to really get this game right. I was aware of all of the major changes and I had read a number of reviews before being able to dive in myself.
Needless to say, I like to think I was prepared. As I played, I found myself completely oblivious to the fact that a major component had been almost entirely diminished.
As many longtime fans of the franchise know, the entire series revolves around this conflict between two groups: Assassins and Templars. In this game world, the Assassins are seen as the good guys who fight for freedom, liberty and the little guys of the world. Thier longtime rivals are the Templars, who favor a world that is under their control.
This conflict is an element that is pretty much in the player’s face from the start whether it be in the modern era segments, or even during the historical portions of the game. Everything always boils down to assassins vs Templars.
That is, until Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Considering game is considered to be the start of the modern day order, the terms Assassins and Templars are used sparingly, and not at all during the Egyptian segments. Yes, that means Origins does have modern-day gameplay, but I’ve found these to be limited and pretty minor, almost as if the game would rather have you stay in Egypt.
As a longtime fan of the franchise, I found this pretty massive change to be a breath of fresh air. I didn’t care that I wasn’t fighting Templars or creating a Brotherhood of assassins, meeting with Assassin leaders, or doing anything that really involved the normal activities of the previous games. It feels different from a gameplay perspective.
Note: Before I go on, yes, the “bad guys” of Origins call themselves the Order of the Ancients, which is essentially a precursor to the Templar Order. Still, the game rarely uses the term Templars, and for the most part, they don’t act like the traditional group we’ve seen before.
What’s even more shocking is the behavior of protagonist Bayek of Siwa. After experiencing a personal tragedy, he and his badass wife Aya decide to take matters into their own hands and make the people responsible pay for what they’ve done. Bayek is purely driven by revenge, but his wife uses her anger to join up with Cleopatra who has similar goals to remove those people from power in Egypt. Even with their goals aligned, Bayek isn’t interested in joining the cause and instead continues to express his longing to return to a normal life once they’ve taken care of business against those who wronged them.
For a series that features protagonists who go all in for the ideals of the Assassin Brotherhood, and concentrates on doing tasks for the good of the group, seeing a character who doesn’t really care about that side of things really stands out. Dare I say, refreshing?
I’m also a realist with these sort of things so I’m sure this mindset will likely change towards the end of the game. For now, however, I’m absolutely enjoying the fact that Bayek is more interested in being a Medjay and seeing justice done than becoming enraptured with the Brotherhood’s age-old conflict.