Since Altair’s debut in 2007, we’ve stabbed men with hidden illuminati blades during the Third Crusade, the Renaissance, the Colonial era, the French Revolution, and even off the back of horse buggies in the Victorian Era. We’ve been chased over rooftops, eavesdropped from benches, and tailed targets through crowded market streets through the centuries, and whether you love or hate the series, it’s been getting old for a while now. Ubisoft knows it too, which is why after the annual rotation of leaks and rumors over their plans for the year, it was confirmed that 2016 would be their first no show for stabbing bad men from history in the neck.
So what will the next Assassin’s Creed game look like with the extra development time? Right now, it’s all speculation and hearsay, but based on the veracity of leaked details coming out of a leaked image on Reddit, Kotaku’s typically trustworthy sources, and how it all overlaps with an info dump on 4chan (compiled in this Neogaf thread) from a purported developer on the project, it’s likely there’s a hay bale at the bottom of this leap of faith. Again, Ubisoft hasn’t officially confirmed anything yet except that another game is coming, but we’ll update this post as information is confirmed or denied. For now, if the rumors are true, this is what you can expect the next Assassin’s Creed to look like.
It's called Assassin's Creed: Origins and will come out this fiscal year
According to information sourced by WWG and corroborated by three sources from Eurogamer, the game will be called Assassin's Creed: Origins and it'll be a prequel. It's also coming out later this year, though the exact date hasn't been locked down. Ubisoft did confirm the game's existence and that it will be out during the next fiscal year, though that could be anywhere between now and March 31, 2018. My bet is that it'll be a holiday release since Far Cry 5 has a confirmed release date of February 27, 2018 and it's unlikely Ubisoft would want much overlap.
It’s going to take place in Egypt (and boats are back, sort of)
Based on a Reddit leak that Eurogamer claims has been verified by three separate sources as the real deal, the above image is from the new Assassin's Creed game. It depicts a character steering a small sailboat up what is probably the Nile with the objective to "Assassinate the Crocodile". The player is directed to "follow Shadya to Khenut's Villa," which is likely a reference to an Egyptian Queen of the Fifth Dynasty. If you're not convinced yet, the rumors go way back.
According to Kotaku, five different sources corroborated the Egyptian setting. Rumors should always be treated as such, but the site’s record for reporting Assassin’s Creed leaks is reliable, having accurately leaked details on Unity and Syndicate prior to any official announcement. Egypt is an especially safe bet, considering it’s shown up as an answer for preferred locations of future Assassin’s Creed games in player surveys before, and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag creative director Ashraf Ismail expressed interest in the setting back in 2013.
The wide net of Assassin’s Creed lore also points towards Egypt as a potential setting. Way back in 2011, the ending of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations suggested that Darim, Altair’s son, was taking one of the pieces of Eden to Alexandria, the ancient capital of Egypt. The pyramids probably won’t make for the most exciting parkour course, but I’m determined to do some pull-ups on the Sphinx's proboscis. According to the 4chan leaker, we’ll be playing as “a slave or ex-slave” that “looks a lot like Altair.” He’s apparently not edgy or talkative either, which is proof that there is good in this world.
Historical accuracy is getting tossed out the window
Deep breath. There was no internet during the heyday of ancient Egypt. And thus, recording history was a bit difficult without the din of Twitter recording and commenting on every little gust of wind. It’s a hazy period for historians, largely left up to the educated interpretation of ruins and artifacts. Chances are Ubisoft’s interpretation will not be as anchored to reality as previous games were, leaving more room for narrative and architectural creativity. According to the message board leaker, that’s on purpose. “They want the least amount of historical documentation to get freedom.”
Maybe that means we’ll see more of the Assassin’s Creed sci-fi aesthetic running parallel to the historical sets. Spoilers, but since the first two Assassins were Adam and Eve, and the lore is predicated on advanced technological civilizations existing long, long before our time, I hope we’ll see more of that sci-fi weirdness take place in Egypt rather than through the framework of some ho hum Abstergo story.
The world will be much bigger than Black Flag’s
Not just bigger, but better, and more badass! OK, so I can’t 100% confirm the second two, but that’s definitely what the back of the box will say if they’re still doing those in 2017, and according to the leaker, the world size is “about 3 times Black Flag. Unlike BF, you don't have to load cities. Everything is seameless [sic].” If it runs well on the PC and looks nice, then I’m all for it.
Because I assume chunks of that map will be open desert, I’d wager that Ubisoft is aiming to make a more mysterious open world than previous Assassin’s Creed games. While the majority depict bustling, dense cities, Egypt will probably give way to its own form of dungeoneering. I imagine a huge open world that forgoes density in favor of creating a sense of scale and isolation, populated with detailed points of interest rather than a thin film of side missions draped over the top. I want to defile some tombs, stat.
It will play more like an open world RPG than before
Specifically, the quest design, map design, and character progression will look to one of our favorite RPGs for ideas. According to the message board leaks, ‘The game is going for a Witcher feel, with player progression, free-form combat system.” I’m assuming the leaker is referring to The Witcher 3, which we consider one of the best examples of modern open world RPG design.
With Ancient Egypt as a setting, there probably won’t be an abundance of huge buildings to climb or hide in. While Alexandria was a sprawl, ancient civilizations were still working out the whole skyscraper thing, so while it’s probably a safe bet the series’ trademark freerunning will show up, stealth may take a backseat to a more intricate, stat-leaning combat system.
Open world games where exploration is a driving force typically feature some kind of progress gating, through mob difficulty or equipment requirements. With a map “three times” the size of Black Flag’s, I imagine quite a few of the most intriguing tombs and missions will be hidden behind similar walls. It would be a better progression system than a purely linear mission-based system, so long as character stat growth and item allocation are diverse and deep. Then again, without interesting characters and great writing, the new systems won't have much to stand on.
The horse is back, and boats too
According to the leaks, at least. But hell yes. The classic Assassin’s Creed character Horse is back, along with their good pal Boats. All games could use a good horse. If done right, they serve as a convenient method of travel that distracts from a dependence on fast travel systems, and more importantly, they’re a shoulder to cry on.
Egypt isn’t all desert, as popular media might portray it. The Nile River nourishes healthy stretches of vegetation and empties out into the Mediterranean Sea, so travel by water was common at the time. Just don’t expect the boats to come stacked with cannons and legions of swashbuckling pirate pals. Like me, it took a long time for boats to get cool. But hey, as a method of travel and pursuit, they could still be fun.
With so many methods for traveling long distances and a huge world size, I’m hoping Assassin’s Egypt will be a curious and threatening setting. Vehicles and mounts are best as tools for stretching out into dangerous territories or making a last second getaway. As a tedious means of getting to the next blip on a crowded map, they’re wasted. Fingerblades crossed Ubisoft gets it right.
You might have an eagle friend that you can control
The leaker doesn’t elaborate on exactly how you would use the eagle, but if Far Cry Primal’s owl binoculars are any indication, it’ll be as a scouting and combat tool. It’s also a good look. I once judged a high school debate competition and some kid walked in with an eagle on his arm. I don’t remember a damn thing he said, but you better believe he won.