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How Assassin's Creed: Origins achieved amazing historical accuracy — and why that's key

Ubisoft's latest entry into its hit franchise Assassin's Creed was the incredibly well-received Assassin's Creed: Origins. Completely reworking combat and the movement mechanism, and offering the biggest open world the series has seen, Origins has done nothing but impress. But one aspect of its design that doesn't get praised as much as it should is the way it remains faithful to ancient Egypt.

This is how Ubisoft pulled that off, and why that design philosophy benefits the Origins experience.

Assassin's Creed: Origins review: This is how you revive a franchise

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How Ubisoft maintained historical accuracy in Origins

Ubisoft managed to faithfully bring recorded history to life.

Being set in the oldest time period of the entire Assassin's Creed series, Ubisoft faced a problem with Origins: How can ancient Egypt be accurately recreated in a video game?

Speaking with The Guardian about this subject, game director Ashraf Ismail explained how his team tackled this monumental hurdle:

We spent years researching. We had Egyptologists on the team, and we have historians embedded with us on the floor. Sometimes it's researching online, finding the people who know the time period well and just contacting them, asking them to help join us or help feed us information. A lot of the time it's actually securing deals with universities. We try to grab as much information as possible.

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Both Ismail and the franchise's historian Maxime Durand go on to explain how everything from the plants and wildlife to the structures and even the language spoken by the people in the game were all based on information learned from studying.

Is the game perfectly accurate? No, but ...

No video game (or any re-creation) can be perfect, especially due to the fact that this an extremely old time in history. Not nearly as many records of events or the setting exist as, say, Renaissance Italy, which is where Assassin's Creed II took place. Despite this, though, the developers behind Origins made the game "with a foundation of research and credible history", according to Ismail.

It was always a priority for Ubisoft, and when accuracy could be achieved, it definitely was. The fact that it predicted the discovery of a secret room in the pyramid of Giza certainly proves that much.

Very few other games based on past events reach the levels of faithful recreation that Origins does. Even recent titles like Battlefield 1 or Call of Duty: World War II, while similar to their respective time periods, fail to be quite as authentic as Ubisoft's latest hit.

Accuracy boosts immersion

The fact that the game world is a realistic depiction of Egypt makes it a more interesting place to explore.

While all of the ways Ubisoft is successful in this department seem minor on the surface, I believe that it adds up in the end to make the experience immersive on a whole other level. The fact that there's a strong chance that the rivers, cities, and more, are exactly in-game where they were thousands of years ago is pretty amazing. It draws you in further and makes you really want to see what life was like a hundred lifetimes before your own.

By shedding light on one of the most unknown eras of human history, Origins becomes one of a kind. You can't go to this place in many other games, and none of the games in which you can even come close to Origins' level of authenticity. Thus, Origins offers you a completely unique experience in exploring and interacting with ancient Egypt.

In a day and age where unique gaming experiences have become increasingly rare, Assassin's Creed: Origins manages to deliver an authentic, immersive, and engaging ride that puts what is one of the oldest civilizations in history on center stage.

Your thoughts

What do you think about Assassin's Creed: Origins' thorough effort to be historically accurate? Do you think it's on par with, better, or worse than the other Assassin's Creed games?

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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

18 Comments
  • Waiting for someone to complain about the Anubis DLC.
  • Well I wouldn't call any game in this iterative series a "unique experience", but that said, it looks really good, and it's always nice that a lot of research went into it. But in the end I feel that this whole blockbuster, multi million production is overkill and that it doesn't add that much to the gameplay experience. And if having that kind of budget ends up justifying awful industry practices like micropayments and loot crate and whatnot, definitely I support any alternative to it. Through videogame history, the memorable, lasting and genre defining experiences haven't been about production values, but about ideas. Look at the 8-bit era, the classics, then from the dawn of FPS games nothing has changed much, it's just iterations of tried, comfortable formulas. So here's hoping that the industry becomes less like hollow Hollywood and more about exploration and experimentation, which in any case is what videogames should be about instead of going through the motions in the Nth sequel of a safe game.
  • fruid, today's beer is just an iteration of beer made decades ago. So what, I love beer. :)
    Don't forget, when 8 bit machines were out, they were the technology pinnacle _then_ of their time. You may or may not remember how amazed we were at "Elite" being 3D ships in space, it was about the value - but from a different era. You can't compare then with now.
    Yes, this is still an Assassins Creed game underneath. But the environments/settings do matter to many, or least excite people or they derive pleasure from it.
    Then you go on some rant about paying for your hobby. I think the free market works that out. If people don't like paying and the value isn't there, then they won't pay and those games don't survive. Other games are good enough to encourage you to pay, so I've probably spent an embarrassing amount on opening loot crates in Rocket League for e.g.. But value wise the numbers of hours I have played versus what I paid compared to other forms of entertainment is probably good. (I base it on about 5 quid an hour for a movie. So if I have spend 60 quid on Rocket League, if I have played it for more than 12 hours then great. And I have, waaay more :) ) Don't also forget, if someone hasn't played an AC game before - then this will blow their mind. Especially on Xbox One X.
    I've just been re-loving Elder Scrolls Online which looks a-m-a-zing now its in 4k/HDR. Trust me it looks great.
  • No, you got me wrong, I'm all for paying for my hobbies, I've always been. What I can't stand is justifying millions of budget in a game as a compensation for lack of originality, and as a result having the publishers alter the game with schemes created to recover the production investment. A ls I stated, I'd rather have a game be fun or interesting mechanically than to be cosmetically impressive. But this also applies to movies where they have a budget of hundreds of millions when in the end the story is shallow. Or the latest trend of making extra money with 3d movies, a gimmick. They are different forms of entertaining. For games it turns to be an element that disrupts gameplay, that creates a visible layer in mechanics. And yeah, I've been playing games since the 8-bit era, I played Elite when it came out for the Spectrum, do to me it's d sad to see my hobby turn into a shameless money grab. Time change but sometimes its for worse. Technically the game development allows for any idea you could have, unlike back then. So it's a shame.
  • "Then you go on some rant about paying for your hobby. I think the free market works that out."
    Free market is not a system without it's flaws. Or it's not a perfect system. The major companies have been investing a whole lot to market their game and make it popular. Spending much more on marketing vs development cost.
    Monopolizing the industry with their games and implementing microtransactions, loot boxes and other anti-gaming systems and trying to make it an indursty standard for EVERYONE to follow. And the problem is that these major company with most of the budget are helping each other implement this. There are not enough companies like CD Projekt Red or Devolver. These will probably eaten up by these major companies and their investment into marketing. There are some gamers who care about gaming more than any of these companies. They fight against these practices. The major companies care about profit even if means "killing" the industry as we know it. They aren't thinking about a sustainable business but immidiate profit for investors.
    They certainly don't need any help. But it's sad to see fellow-consumers helping these companies fight their war. It's sad that some consumer care more about "companies" than gaming. Instead of playing the free market card tell us the benefits of loot box and mobile phone games style microtransaction in full price games? Tell us how making games a grind fest and having gameplay that is made to frustrate players just so we can pay to (maybe) end this frustration, something great for gaming?
  • @Guest_aotf, I'm completely with you on loot boxes sucking and ruining games (I truly hate them), but not on using that to criticize the free market. If most people agreed with you and me (and probably most of us here), then those games would bomb because few gamers would want them. That would be the free market effectively forcing game developers to leave out loot crates. Unfortunately, there are a lot of gamers out there who seem happy to use them. The free market doesn't necessarily mean that you or I win, it means that the majority wishes of the market win. Hard to argue that's unfair. Of course, because not all gamers are the same, the fact that some developers are moving more and more toward loot crates, means that gamers like you and I who are willing to pay a bit more and focus our purchases on those games that aren't ruined (from our perspective) by microtransactions. That creates market support and opportunity for the "pure" developers. This is the free market helping those like CD Projekt Red, and I'd include Bethasda in there, to survive and prosper. Ultimately, maybe there's room for both. That's the free market at its best. :-)
  • @GraniteStateColin You know I'm not against a free market. I'm certainly not criticising it, in fact I am in a favour of it in general. 
    The thing is we cannot hide behind it and say everything will be fine or everything will regulate itself... When it comes to this, it's not the majority of gamers that will win. It looks like it's the major company that will win because they are making it an industry standard even though most gamers probably don't want microtransactions, loot boxes... Just like the free 2 play economy, I thing there is a very small percentage of players who actually spend regularly on these things. When we look at forums and such there are VERY few who are saying it is great for the industry and they use it. Most are saying they are either against it or "don't mind it".
    These companies are maketing this like an option to gamers but they are not really. For 5-15% who want them, everyone (all 100% of us) has to deal with the grinding and frustrating gameplay. The problem is that the way things are heading, it looks like this will be a market standard. It'll only be a matter of time before Nintendo and other companies change to get similar profit. ofc we can still fight against this but it becomes very difficult with all the marketing power of these companies and the company "fans" who prefer supporting companies over gaming...
  • Historically accurate LOL. The entire franchise is historically INACCURATE. Another fantasy for nerds who can't lift themselves off their couches.
  • I think you are confusing what is a fictional work that is based loosely on historical events as piece of non-fiction that is telling the story of something that actually happened. =P
  • Dude, who pooped in your cereal....
  • He poops on his own cereal
  • Says the redcoat who got his ass kicked in and thrown out of the USA LOL...
  • umm, I've never been "thrown out of the USA LOL", and I don't have a red coat. I take it you're not top of your class debating team...
  • Most of AC III events were really happened in history.
  • Oh yes. Historical accuracy!!
    They reproduced perfectly the microtreansactions and gambling loot boxes system of that time.
    Brilliant work!!!
     
  • Now that was a good one.
  • I am not a historian (my wife is) but no, this is not nowhere near accuracy. Only total lack of ANY historical games make this look almost as a good effort. When I played older AC titles I told my wife about how accurate they are - and she proven to me that they are just as fictinal as a holywood blockbusster depiction of the same era. Historians are consulting only when the developers ask - and in a lot of cases the developers just think they know and they dont need to ask. And they do it all wrong. Only a game where the scientist have the opportunity to actively change the contents of the final product - review and request a rework - could be historicaly accurate.
  • Is that a triple negative?