Assassin's Creed Origins is a 2017 action role-playing video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the tenth major installment in the Assassin's Creed series, following 2015's Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Principally set in
Egypt, near the end of the Ptolemaic period from 49 to 43 BC, the story follows a Medjay named Bayek of Siwa and his wife Aya as they seek revenge for the murder of their son, and explores the origins of the millennia-long conflict between the Hidden Ones—forerunners to the Assassin Brotherhood, and the Order of the
Ancients - forerunners to the Templar Order. The framing story, set in the 21st century, follows a new character, Layla Hassan, who relives Bayek and Aya's memories using a modified Animus device.
The game's development began following the release of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag in 2013. Ubisoft Montreal led its four-year development with help from a team of nearly 700 people from other Ubisoft studios around the world. The team consulted Egyptologists and historians extensively to ensure the setting was authentically represented in the game. In response to the common criticism that the gameplay of the series was getting stale and overly familiar, Ubisoft decided to reinvent the Assassin's Creed formula with Origins. Whereas previous entries were mainly stealth-action games, Origins introduces many elements found in role-playing games and an overhauled "hitbox-based" combat system. While Assassin's Creed had been an annual franchise since Assassin's Creed II (2009), an extra year of development time allowed the team to polish the game further. This was largely a response to the tepid sales of Syndicate, and the troubled launch of Assassin's Creed Unity, which was plagued with technical issues when it was released in 2014.
Announced at E3 2017, Origins was released on October 27, 2017, for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and for Stadia on December 15, 2020. It received positive reviews from critics, with many calling it an improvement over previous entries and praising the story, characters, voice acting, reworked gameplay systems, world design, historical accuracy, and the visuals. However, the game also drew criticism for its pacing, quest design, and technical issues. The game has sold over ten million units worldwide and was nominated for several end-of-year accolades. Ubisoft supported Origins extensively following its launch, releasing two story expansions - The Hidden Ones and Curse of the Pharaohs - and a free Discovery Tour mode, which removes all combat from the game and allows players to learn about the history and culture of
Ptolemaic Egypt through a series of guided tours. Its successor, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which is set in Classical Greece during the Peloponnesian War, was released in October 2018.
Assassin's Creed Origins is an action role-playing game played from a third-person perspective. Players complete quests
- linear scenarios with set objectives - to progress through the story, and can freely roam the open world environment on foot, horseback, camel-back, horse-drawn vehicles or boat. The open world includes all of Ancient Egypt, featuring vast deserts, oasis, lakes and ancient cities such as Alexandria and
Memphis. The game's main character, Bayek, can dive underwater and explore the lakes and the rivers, the first instance of underwater exploration in the series since 2013's Black Flag. As the players explore the world, they encounter different non-playable characters who need assistance from Bayek. These side missions, which typically involve rescuing prisoners, defeating enemies, collecting items or investigating items of interest, often take Bayek to locations of interest, where the player can find treasures. Throughout the game, players can explore tombs and
pyramids, raid bandit hideouts, solve riddle puzzles to find rare loot, and discover synchronization points, which then unlock additional locations of interest and serve as fast travel points. Other side activities players can undertake include competing in a gladiatorial arena where the player fights waves of increasingly difficult combinations of enemies culminating in a boss fight, participating in chariot racing, and solving stone circle puzzles.
Players earn experience points by performing acts like completing campaign missions and side missions, discovering new locations, and defeating enemies. As the players earn sufficient experience points, they can level up and earn skill points, which can unlock new abilities. The skill tree has three unique branches: Hunter, Warrior, and Seer. Hunter improves Bayek's ranged abilities; Warrior makes Bayek a more capable melee fighter; Seer turns Bayek into a more lethal and efficient assassin. Missions and areas have a level recommendation. Players need to reach a certain level before completing them, or else the game's enemies can easily overpower them. To further enhance combat efficiency, Bayek's hidden blade, quiver, stabilizer glove, bracer, breastplate and tool pouch can be crafted using the resources collected from hunting wildlife, dismantling gear, and attacking convoys carrying supplies. Bayek needs to earn coins by looting and completing locations of interest. Coins can then be spent on purchasing or upgrading weapons, outfits and mounts. Gears and crafting materials can be purchased from a special vendor through loot boxes, though these boxes can only be purchased through the in-game currency. Despite this, some cosmetic items can only be purchased via Helix coins, which must be purchased with real-world currency.
In 49 BC, Bayek, a Medjay charged with protecting the Siwa Oasis, is abducted along with his son Khemu by a group of masked men and taken to an underground vault in the Temple of
Amun. They give Bayek a dormant Piece of Eden and demand that he use it to open a secret vault. Khemu helps Bayek escape. While struggling with one of the masked men, Bayek inadvertently kills Khemu. One year later, in 48 BC, Bayek has exiled himself to track down the five masked men to take his revenge. After eliminating two targets, Bayek heads for
Alexandria to meet his wife Aya. Aya reveals that there is only one target left. Bayek identifies the Royal Scribe Eudoros as the last target, but he is disturbed by Eudoros' last words, which imply there are more masked men. Aya directs Bayek to her friend Apollodorus for more information. Apollodorus introduces him to
Cleopatra, who confirms that the masked men are members of the Order of the Ancients, which ousted her from the throne and seeks to control Egypt using Ptolemy as their puppet.
Cleopatra gives Bayek four new targets. He tracks them down and kills them while Aya convinces Pompey the Great to ally with Cleopatra. Bayek receives a letter from Aya explaining there are more members of the Order at large, including members of Ptolemy's royal guard. Bayek begins to believe that Cleopatra is using him to kill her rivals. Pompey is killed by Lucius Septimius, forcing Bayek and Aya to sneak Cleopatra into the palace to meet
Caesar. Cleopatra impresses Caesar and secures his support. Bayek kills Pothinus, "The Scorpion", but is stopped from killing Septimius by Caesar. Aya watches Ptolemy be eaten by crocodiles when he tries to flee across the
Cleopatra takes the throne as Pharaoh. Septimius becomes an advisor to Caesar, and Cleopatra cuts ties with Bayek and Aya. Bayek realizes that Cleopatra and Caesar have now allied themselves with the Order, and gathers his allies to form a brotherhood to counter the Order and defend the people's free will. Bayek and Aya realize the Order showed interest in the tomb of Alexander the Great, where they find a mortally wounded Apollodorus. He warns them Caesar's lieutenant Flavius is the leader of the Order. He and Septimius had taken the Orb and a Staff from the tomb and are going to Siwa to open the Vault.
Bayek tracks Flavius to Cyrene, where he has used the activated Apple of Eden to enthrall the population. He kills Flavius, avenging Khemu's death and returns to Aya. Aya recruits Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger and Gaius Cassius Longinus to their cause and heads to Rome to assassinate Caesar and Septimius. Bayek and Aya part ways but form the Hidden Ones, the foundation of the Assassin Brotherhood, swearing to protect the world from the shadows. In Rome, Aya confronts and kills Septimius, who wields the Staff of Eden. She infiltrates the Roman Senate and assassinates Caesar. Later, she meets Cleopatra and warns her to be a fair ruler, or she will return to assassinate her. Afterward, Bayek and Aya, now calling herself Amunet, begin recruiting and training other Hidden Ones as they build the Brotherhood in Egypt and Rome, respectively.
In 2017, Layla Hassan, a researcher for Abstergo Industries, is tasked with retrieving an artifact in Egypt on their behalf. Instead, she finds a tomb containing the
mummified bodies of Bayek and Aya. Hoping to find information that would secure her a position in the company's Animus Project, Layla covertly relives both Bayek and Aya's memories using a modified Animus. When Layla fails to report in, Abstergo sends a team to kill her, but their plan fails. Layla returns to the Animus but is later awoken by William Miles, an Assassin Mentor and the father of the deceased Desmond Miles. She accepts his offer to work with the Assassins, but does not join them. The two depart for modern-day Alexandria. In experiencing Bayek's memories, Layla may encounter a series of ancient structures built by the First Civilization. Each contains a message that alludes to Layla playing a pivotal role in an upcoming apocalyptic event.
Ubisoft Montreal led the game's development, with assistance provided by other Ubisoft studios in different parts of the world. The team in Montreal previously worked on Assassin's Creed Revelations and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Development began after Black Flag's completion and lasted approximately four years. Ubisoft Sofia and Ubisoft Singapore played prominent roles in designing the game's map and quests. Sofia worked on the game's tomb and
pyramids, while Singapore crafted the naval combat. Jean Guesdon and Ashraf Ismail, who both worked on Black Flag, returned as the game's directors. Nearly 1,000 people worked on the game; only 300 came from the Montreal studio. Ubisoft described this model of development as "co-development" where, unlike previous installments in the series, the support studios had more freedom and their work was more integral to the whole. According to Ismail, the co-development model allows each area in the game's world to be unique. Despite this, the Montreal studio set some guidelines that all studios needed to follow. For instance, the distance that a quest requires the players to travel is limited. For the quests in a hub area, there can only be one "funny" mission and one eradication mission. Ubisoft's goal was to modernize the series.
Ancient Egypt was one of the most popular choices requested by fans of the series, but Ubisoft had declined the idea. Alex Hutchinson, the creative director of Assassin's Creed III, called Ancient Egypt — along with the other two chosen settings, Feudal Japan and
World War II — "the worst choices" for a setting. In a later interview, however, Ismail said Egypt was a setting the team wanted to explore and acknowledged fans' requests. He believed Ubisoft had not chosen Egypt for previous installments because of technological constraints. 49 BCE was chosen as the game's setting because it reflected an "impressive clash of civilizations". Egyptian culture was thriving but nearing its decline, while the Romans and the Greeks exerted a strong influence over Egypt, culminating in its annexation by the Roman Empire following the game's events. Ismail called this setting "epic" because it showed the "death of one world, and the birth of a new one". Initially, the team started with the world map from Black Flag and turned all its water bodies into landmasses. With such a large map, they needed to fill it with meaningful content, so they incorporated elements from role-playing video games and quests into the game. Puzzles, hunting, and military outposts were added to facilitate the player's exploration of the game's world. The game's combat was completely overhauled, as the developer wanted to give players more freedom of choice. For the first time, difficulty settings were introduced to the series to ensure the combat would be accessible.
The studio consulted Egyptologists and historians, and secured deals with universities to ensure that experts on the subject could provide the team with information and research. In addition to recruiting in-house historians, they also consulted academics like Jean-Claude Golvin to place landmarks in the game's world and recreate ancient paintings. The historians were involved in the game's creative process. For instance, Evelyne Ferron, one of the game's consultants, convinced Ubisoft to modify a scene featuring public mummification in a temple because the scene went against the "Egyptian mentality" at that time. Alan Gardiner's Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs served as the foundation for the language spoken by the NPCs, though the team also drew from the works of James Allen and Raymond Faulkner. The goal was not to create a historically accurate version of Egypt but to make Egypt an authentic setting. The team watched films and TV series to see how ancient Egypt was portrayed in pop culture, and adjusted the game when they felt the focus on history had impeded gameplay and entertainment. Some cities featured in the game were larger than they were initially as the developer "wanted to create this sense of pharaonic scale in places like Alexandria and Memphis". Ismail added that if an event is well documented, the artists followed the historian's consensus. However, for parts that were not well-researched, they would design and recreate them on their own.
The team also endeavored to make the game world more immersive. To this end, the studio added sandstorms to the game, and players would experience a mirage if they remained in the heat too long. Cities have distinct designs which reflect their origins. While designing Alexandria, inspirations were taken from Pergamon, Turkey, whose design resembled that of ancient Alexandria. While most locations were handcrafted, artists and programmers made use of procedural generation to fill vast, open areas with rocks, grass and trees. Mini-map from the head-up display (HUD) were replaced with a
compass, as they believed this made the HUD less obstructive and encouraged players to explore. To make the world more dynamic, the team invested a lot of time into designing the artificial intelligence of the non-playable characters, ensuring they would have a routine every day such as working during daytime and sleeping at night. Quest givers travel and do not stay in a fixed position, and players can choose the time of day to assassinate their targets. Factions also respond differently to players.
Alain Mercieca was invited to serve as the game's narrative director after a cinematic director saw one of his "punk plays" called Squeegee Nights. The lead character, Bayek, was more experienced and mature than other protagonists in the series. Ismail described Bayek as a "reactive" protagonist, who could express various emotions. Bayek, as a Medjay from Siwa Oasis, a traditional village in Egypt, embodies an older way of life and Egyptian traditions. As Egypt is about to be annexed by the Roman Empire in the game, Bayek must find out "what he needs to do, what he needs to become". His personal quest would lead ultimately to the formation of the Assassin Brotherhood. Abubakar Salim, who was initially told that he was auditioning for an animated TV series that required motion capture, voiced Bayek. In 2020, a report from Bloomberg alleged that Ubisoft, in particular the marketing department and Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët, had tried to minimize the role of female assassins in a number of Assassin's Creed games. Initially, Bayek was expected to be killed off early in the game, and the player character would assume the role of Aya instead. Actress Alix Wilton Regan voiced Aya.
Assassin's Creed Origins received "generally favorable" reviews from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic.
Louise Blain of GamesRadar praised the varied map design writing that each region felt unique. IGN's Alanah Pearce agreed, adding each city had its own unique culture and architecture. She added the game offered a "delightful sense of discovery" as it allowed players to come upon locations of interest organically. Chris Carter of Destructoid wrote that "at no point did Origins feel inauthentic", and applauded Egypt as a unique setting for a video game. Like Pearce, he explored the game's world more than previous Assassin's Creed games. VentureBeat's Stephanie Chan described Egypt as "a spectacle to behold", praising its varied map design and the puzzles inside tombs and temples. Alessandro Fillari of GameSpot also liked Egypt as a setting, calling it "vibrant and lush". He believed it had a "strong sense of life", though he noted some regions are too sparse. He praised the dense towns and cities in the world, and commended Ubisoft's attention to detail. Writing for PC Gamer, Christopher Livingston noted the recommended level of an area made Origins similar to a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) and remarked it created "a feeling of artificial difficulty".
Blain praised the game's design and applauded the team for ditching the franchise's staple gameplay features such as paired animation combat, tailing missions, and an excessive amount of collectibles. Pearce liked the elimination of forced stealth missions and the implementation of a redesigned parkour system, which removed the frustration she had with earlier installments. She also applauded the new progression system, which gave players more choices than previous games, and the action-focused combat, which she described as "tense". Suriel Vasquez of Game Informer praised the game's openness, since it gave players freedom to approach objectives in their own way. He described the combat as being more active and involving. Chan described the combat as "flawed" but "generally solid", though she disliked segments featuring Aya and Layla as she felt they interrupted the gameplay. Christian Donlan, writing for Eurogamer, believed that the combat was a significant improvement over its predecessors and felt it reflected the franchise's new direction. He believed that the combat was more engaging, commenting it required players to use strategy, especially when they were facing different enemy archetypes together. However, he felt that the combat and the gameplay were unoriginal, and added that "everywhere you look in Origins you'll find things that you have done in other games". Both Pearce and Fillari complained the lock-on system did not work properly. Fillari added it turned "battles that could be tactical and fierce into disorienting and clumsy encounters". Fillari also noted that the control for stealth was less responsive than the previous games and considered it one of Origins' weakest aspects.
Blain liked the game's quests noting that starting one side quest might initiate a chain of additional narrative side missions that players can complete. Pearce called the story "delightfully mystical" and "elaborate", while Fillari applauded the narrative for successfully balancing "moments of heartbreak and earnestness". Pearce also praised the side-quests for being memorable and featuring "multi-faceted, interesting characters with believable motives". While Carter noted that the game had a rough start, the tale involving the cult and the Order of the Ancients slowly became more intriguing and interesting. Chan criticised some campaign missions, especially those involving assassinating members of the cult, for being anti-climactic. She praised the side-quests for reflecting the everyday life of Egypt, but she lamented they were repetitive. She compared completing locations of interest to running errands. Andy Kelly, also from PC Gamer, added that the game was "guilty of a particularly egregious example of padding", and wrote that during his 28 hours play time to finish Origins, at least eight hours were spent on completing side content "against his will". Livingston remarked the player was often forced to grind for experience points before they could complete the main campaign missions, which broke the flow of the main campaign. Bayek is generally well-liked by critics. Donlan called him "charming", while Polygon's Colin Campbell described him as "kind" and "devout".
Chris Naunton of Southampton University created Playing in the Past, a T.tv series, using Origins to teach the history of ancient Egypt. He and other
Egyptologists described the game's depiction of the era as "the best visualization of Ancient Egypt ... amazing".
amongst the pyramids and political turmoil in an Egypt
beleaguered by Rome, just like the real goings on at that
In November 2017, Ubisoft announced sales of Assassin's Creed Origins during its first 10 days were double those of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, while player engagement increased. 35% of the sales were digital download, compared to just 12% for Syndicate. It was the best-selling retail game in the UK in its first week of release, beating competitors including Super Mario Odyssey and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, which were released on the same day as Origins. It was the second best-selling retail game in the US in October 2017, behind Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and the third best-selling game in November, behind Call of Duty:
WWII and Star Wars Battlefront II. The game sold more than 10 million copies during life of eighth generation of video game consoles.
protector of the dead.