Assassin’s Creed Origins Interview; “Connected Features” Are Leading Online Functionality

With the release of Assassin’s Creed Origins only two months away, excitement is at an all time high. After a year long break, the long-running franchise is making comeback this year. The game is set in Egypt with Bayek at the helm of all Assassin’s activities.

To know more about Assassin’s Creed Origins, we had a chat with game director Ashraf Ismail. We discussed the game’s lead character, Bayak, online functionality, and more.

SegmentNext: It is very interesting that your team went back to the origins of the Brotherhood. But tell me, is the animus involved this time or are we seeing the story completely from Bayek’s perspective?

Ashraf Ismail: At this stage, we don’t have further details to share. Stay tuned!

SegmentNext: Tombs are coming back to Assassin’s Creed; are there physical puzzles within the tomb this time (similar to Tomb Raider) or will it just be parkour/climbing your way to the objective?

Ashraf Ismail: There are many tombs that Bayek can explore in the game, not only inside pyramids but also in other locations such as temples or underground tunnels. We wanted those tombs to offer a strong contrast compared to the outside world, to have a kind of claustrophobic ambiance opposite to the sense of freedom players can feel when they’re in open air. To create that atmosphere we play a lot with the lighting, in most tombs Bayek needs to use his torch and does not really know what awaits him at the next corner. The ceilings are low, reinforcing this feeling of oppression. Of course, tombs in Assassin’s Creed Origins are full of surprises. They’re a great place to find good loot, but they also include traps and other hazards, such as snakes. Some of the tombs also include puzzles that players will need to solve so they can access secret rooms.

SegmentNext: Are there any choices (Story wise) in the game? Multiple endings? If so, how many?

Ashraf Ismail: We chose to focus our efforts on bringing Egypt to life through the many stories that Bayek will encounter. Bayek is a Medjay, a sort of police officer of the time. In our world he is known and famed for that status, meaning many characters will come to him to ask for help. Rather than going for dialogues with multiple choices or multiple endings, we chose to ensure that all the available stories, main or side quests, actually tell the player something about Ancient Egypt and/or about Bayek as a character. With the new quest-based structure of the narrative experience, players can now make their choice amongst a large variety of meaningful main and side quests that they can approach when and how they want. So while there is one main story, the way that players tackle it and how they move from the main storyline to the side quests will directly impact their global experience. Players that delve deep into the quest system will experience intersecting stories, letting them explore deeper relationships and ties with in-game characters.

SegmentNext: How improved is the enemy AI compared to previous games? It seems the AI is smarter and more aware of its surroundings.

Ashraf Ismail: Very early on we knew that to fill a world of this size and scope with a meaningful life, narratively and in terms of gameplay, we had to approach the challenge from a new perspective. We endeavored to develop a new AI framework that allows human and animal AI to live their lives in the world. Most NPCs have full day cycles where they work, socialize, eat, go to the bathroom, sleep and so on based on their role in the world. Bandits ambush and steal, Ptolemaic soldiers collect taxes and protect their military locations, priests manage their temples, farmers farm, lions hunt, gazelles roam and sleep etc. Most NPCs are ever persistent and will live their life even if the player is kilometers away. Through the Eagle Senu, players are able to see these events from very far away to determine where the action is and where they want to go next. These changes create the world that is constantly moving, living and dynamic.

SegmentNext: Let’s go back a little to Assassin’s Creed Unity. To me personally, the multiplayer was an exciting feature and I spend hours playing co-op missions with friends and random folks I met online. And seeing the sheer size of Origins I keep thinking of the possibilities for cooperative online play this game. Why isn’t multiplayer a feature is Assassin’s Creed anymore? Is that something you guys at least discussed for Origins?

Ashraf Ismail: First, thanks for your feedback! While Assassin’s Creed Origins is primarily a single player experience, it will also contain some connected features designed to enrich players’ sessions – we will detail them later in the campaign.

SegmentNext: What made Assassin’s Creed great is a strong storyline but somewhere down the line the focus shifted on gameplay, graphics, and adding layers of different features. Will there be a proper focus on the story?

Ashraf Ismail: While the story has always been a major component of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, it’s, even more, the case in Assassin’s Creed Origins as we’re telling the story of how the Brotherhood came to be. In Origins players will discover the roots of many of Assassin’s Creed tenets and rites, such as the story behind the cut finger and the birth of its associated ritual. On top of that, the time period we chose – Cleopatra’s ascension to the throne of Egypt – is an incredible historical background, with bigger than life figures such as Cleopatra, Julius Caesar or Ptolemy the Boy King facing each other in the context of a global clash of civilizations

SegmentNext: There hasn’t been a handheld version of Assassin’s Creed for a while. Not since Liberation? Any possibility of seeing something tailor made for Nintendo Switch in the future?

Ashraf Ismail: We chose to focus on delivering the best experience possible on Xbox One X, Xbox One, PS4, PS4 Pro and PC.

SegmentNext: It ‘s not hard to tell how massive Origins is with its main campaign and side missions, tombs etc. How long will it take to achieve 100 completion in Origins? Just a ballpark figure?

Ashraf Ismail: It’s not a question we can really answer, as playtime to achieve a certain goal drastically varies from one player to another. What I can ensure you is that Assassin’s Creed Origins is the richest AC game to date in terms of playable content and it will keep players busy for dozens and dozens of hours.

Assassin’s Creed Origins is releasing on October 27 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox One X, and PS4 Pro.

Sarmad is our Senior Editor, and is also one of the more refined and cultured among us. He's 25, a finance major, and having the time of his life writing about videogames.