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AC Origins - Reveal Reactions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsBt3xeouec
[Adapted for front-page. -stabguy]

I recently upped my thoughts on AC Origins in vid-form. I only realized at the very end, after uploading, that I didn't end up talking about Combat at all even though it's one of the things I intended to touch upon. Sucks. I'll have to make another one talking just about fighting, but I guess it kind of slipped my mind among all the other cool stuff I saw. If people don't want to watch, here's a transcript:

After around a week of not being able to make and upload anything, I am finally back. I’m supposed to talk about my thoughts on AC Origins, but I should probably start this off with a lengthy intro explaining my-

[DEFICIO EGYPTICA, STEALTH KILLS CUTS]

I didn’t expect being as impressed with AC Origins as I am. It feels like they’re taking AC in a new direction, a better fit for the kind of experience Ashraf and his teams wanted to make. My thoughts on this won’t follow any particular order or reason, I’ll just talk about observations I made and how I feel about Origins as the thoughts arrive in my head.

First, the HUD is a big deal. No more Minimap, no more Eagle Vision. We’ve got a Horizon-style compass at the top of the screen, and Senu, Bayek’s pet Eagle. Senu is this game’s variant of both a Minimap and special vision-mode at the same time. This mechanical unification is strong because it makes the game tighter and easier to balance. I’ll talk about that later.

Senu works on a hot and cold system, which is interesting. She can also mark or tag guards and animals for Bayek, from the sky, but Bayek can do this himself as well, which we see when he points his bow at two high-level guards.

While she’s, on a surface level, similar to the Drone from Watch_Dogs or the Owl from Far Cry, differences exist that make her feel distinct. Also, both Watch_Dogs 2 and Far Cry Primal use their bird and drone mechanics as a supplement to the existing NetHack and Hunter Vision modes, and to the minimaps that these games have by default. Assassin’s Creed Origins’ Senu is a replacement and unification of these systems, which dramatically changes her usefulness and lets devs focus on building the game with only one major knowledge-gathering system in place, rather than having to balance between two. To say that another way, it’s easier to design and balance a game around only one knowledge-gathering mechanic that you know the player will either use or won’t use, than it is to balance a game around two or three. Now Senu is our only knowledge-gathering mechanic. This removes the problem of being overpowered by flipping between maps, visions, and drones, and it removes the problem of having incomplete knowledge if you only use one of them without flipping between them. I’m satisfied with this change and I find it very smart. Senu also provides an intense “Plan and Execute” flavor to the Stealth gameplay, which reminds me more of Metal Gear Solid V than it reminds me of any Assassin’s Creed that came before.

Whether you’re in a Restricted Area is visible by seeing if the compass at the top of the screen turns red, which is a cool way of communicating this without a minimap. You also get the “you are in a Restricted Area” message, which is good in case players don’t notice the top of the screen.

One of the things they’ve changed is that climbing is a lot faster now, and it also does not require explicitly-visible handholds. Bayek can climb just about anything that he’s pointed towards, which means the level of freedom we’re given as far as movement has never been greater. This means that our environment itself will only provide challenges that correspond with the enemies that populate it, which can be a good and bad thing. They have mentioned, however, that the Secret Locations or Tombs from the classic AC games are returning, and that when you walk into one, I quote, “You KNOW you’re in a tomb, everything’s different.” With a parkour system in place that lets you climb anything you can see, I should certainly hope they’re doing something creative with the tombs, but it’s worth noting that even with the ability to climb whatever we want, Bayek is not superhuman. He still has to make his jumps and leaps the way other Assassins do, so it’s likely still possible to screw up and fall down in the middle of a long parkour-chain.

I have to talk about Stealth since it’s kind of my thing. I know people are worried about the RPG System that Origins has embraced, but I’m not as worried. Going No Upgrades on this game will actually be easier than Syndicate, because Main Missions will now scale to your level. In instances or special areas where that’s not the case, like the two High Level Guards Bayek notices, it provides an organic reason to Ghost through a short section of the level instead of just going full Reaper on everyone. And for the first time that I’ve seen since The Last of Us, this player-decision is made with regard to gameplay, not with regard to narrative. There’s a difference between Dishonored having you abstain from killing for the sake of a lighter ending, and AC Origins having you abstain from killing because at this point it would be too dangerous to try. The reason I mentioned The Last of Us is because in certain sections of that game it’s much safer to just sneak by enemies instead of trying to kill them, especially on Survivor or Grounded difficulties. And I haven’t seen that kind of impetus for Ghosting very much in games.

So the RPG elements don’t seem to impede Stealth and player progression through the Main Quest path, which is perfectly fine by me, because players pursuing Side Content are going to be the players who are willing to grow. level up and get better weapons anyway. It’s only if you want to explore and go out into the world that you’ll need to upgrade yourself, which also how Black Flag worked, and not something I had issues with. The feeling of progression Origins will give players is something I look forward to.

Now as far as raw Stealth is concerned, they showed that it does indeed exist, and that a few things are different. We still have Assassinations, Ledge Assassinations, and Air Assassinations. Now, though, Double Assassinate has been removed in favor of Chain Assassinate, which is Bayek’s equivalent. While this is ripped straight out of Far Cry, it seems to work well here. If I had to guess why, it’d be for two reasons. First, it makes a Rogue have to go into an encounter with two Guards much more intelligently, maybe distracting them and getting them into position for the Chainkill. Second, it’s so that this doesn’t happen. [GUARDS JUST SLIDING INTO PLACE FOR THE PLAYER] Yeah, you know what I mean. Let’s see that in slow-motion. Yikes. This is something a few AC players complained about, but with the old Double Assassination system there was simply no way around it. Enemies would just slide into position for you. With Chain Assassinate, this is something both players and devs just don’t need to worry about. Stab one guy, throw a weapon at the other guy. Fluid and easy. Chain Assassinate also lets you Double Kill targets that aren’t right next to each other, which is strategically powerful.

One of the things not shown is whether we can distract enemies with a ranged action, like the Bricks and Bottles in The Last of Us, Rocks in Far Cry and Horizon, Magazines in Metal Gear, or any number of items in the Splinter Cells. My ideal method of implementing this would be through Bayek’s arrows, by shooting them into walls around guards. Arrows are plentiful, you always have them, and it’s a way to consolidate two mechanics into one (ranged attacks and AI Distractions). This type of “one mechanic can do many different things” is a hallmark of systemic, emergent games like the Dishonoreds, like the Deus Exes, like MGSV, and something I’ve been begging for Assassin’s Creed to become for a very long time. Origins, to its credit, seems to be genuinely wanting to be a systemic/emergent game, even with its intense RPG elements. That makes me happy.

Speaking of Bayek’s arrows, he’ll always have his Bow with him, and the player will always be able to engage in Ranged Stealth or Ranged Combat. Ashraf Ismail, Game* Director of Origins mentioned that if you really wanted to, you could conceivably play this game as a Third-Person Shooter, which I’m sure will appeal to a huge number of players into that style of play, or people who are just huge nerds for bows and arrows.

We see Bayek loot a Bow off of a slain enemy in the five minute gameplay reveal, and before that we see him Loot some Metal and re-loot his Arrows back from a guard that he killed with a headshot. One of the coolest things I’ve noticed about Looting in AC Origins is that it’s now instant for everything other than Chests, which are also crazy fast. No more holding down the button and having your Assassin waste entire minutes or hours of your cumulative playtime.

Walk up to something, blinggg, done. No bullshit. I love it.

This is especially relevant in a game that’s going to feature lots of looting a wide variety of weapons, resources, and crafting materials. In a game where Loot is such a central part of the intended experience, having it be lightning-fast is much appreciated and borderline necessary. The animation and sound effect for looting things is also super satisfying on a primal level, and that’s something I’m also really grateful for. I freaking love that blinggg~!

Something else I noticed is that Bayek can Poison corpses, Ashraf mentioned that enemies who investigate the dead body will be poisoned as well. I believe the Skill is called Flesh Decay and it’s part of the Seer area of the skill screen. The skill screen itself is basically split into the standard RPG classes of Rogue, Ranger, Warrior and Mage, but since this is AC, they’re all subclasses under the broad Assassin class that Bayek firmly occupies. Hunter corresponds to Rogue and Ranger, Warrior corresponds to Warrior, and Seer is basically Mage. Real magic doesn’t exist, but you get what I mean, the Seer tree is about elements, poisons, fire, the environment, etcetera.

So yeah, honestly, I’m pretty excited for AC Origins. I can’t wait to play it, make content for it as well because I think a lot can be done with it. I’m curious to talk about its systems, to think about what it did right and wrong. And, as always, I’m still hoping that I can eventually name a video “Assassin’s Creed Something, Present Day Mission 1 - Stealth Reaper” or “Present Day Mission 1 - Ghost”. We still wait for the day. In the meantime, I’ll finally be able to make more vids now that I’m fully set up.

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Using stealth+arrows sounds good. I've already been doing that in Skyrim, especially in caves.

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A playtester I talked to mentioned you can always set arrows on fire. It's a systemic action that's just something you can do whenever you want. You don't need to do anything special for it aside from finding a fire to dip your arrow in.

That's a great idea! Laughing out loud I could probably do something like, put the video name in the corner whenever one is being shown, and link to each video in the Description. That would be a pretty easy way to do it for everyone, I think.

The only videos I used were;

The 5 Minute Reveal Gameplay (Ubisoft)

The 3 Minute Prison Gameplay (GameSpot)

The 20 Minute Open World Gameplay (IGN)

You can YouTube all of those and you'll get them pretty fast.

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DarkAlphabetZoup wrote:

That's a great idea! Laughing out loud I could probably do something like, put the video name in the corner whenever one is being shown, and link to each video in the Description. That would be a pretty easy way to do it for everyone, I think.

Perfect.

"Victorian values meant brutalizing people who were often poor." - Charles Palliser

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My comments:

1 - I noticed for the first time watching your video that Bayek can catch his arrows on fire (around the 8:30 mark). This is cool, assuming he doesn't need to craft special flame carrying arrows. Maybe he can increase their flame carrying capabilities, but it would be cool if he could catch ANY arrow on fire before shooting it.

2 - This video is really well made. One thing is missing that I think would take it over the top. Somewhere on scree, put the source of the video with the name of the game on screen. I know you mention it as you go, but it would really take the quality over the top to watermark it in such a way. For example, I don't know what video showed all the underwater stuff. If I knew the game/source of the video, I could search for it.

"Victorian values meant brutalizing people who were often poor." - Charles Palliser