At this year's Gamescom, I was lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the latest iteration of Ubisoft's long-running Assassin's Creed franchise, Assassin's Creed Origins. As with our developer session for The Crew 2, I was able to capture all of the gameplay footage. The hour long experience with Assassin's Creed Origins began with some minimal instructions. He suggested that I complete the main story mission first before moving on to explore Memphis in more detail afterwards.
The mission in question was "The Lizard's Mask", which is taken from around the midpoint of the game's story. Here I was tasked with investigating a temple where the High Priest's wife had been poisoned and the Apis Bull was close to death. To get to the bottom of the mystery I needed to use Bayek's Animus Pulse, which is activated by pressing up on the D-pad and acts as a radar to highlight items of interest that can then be investigated in more detail. Once enough clues had been found, the real cause of the poisoning could be discovered and we were free to hunt down the perpetrator.
Up until this point in the demo, the only noticeable changes from the previous games in the series were cosmetic, such as the usual minimap being replaced by a compass on the HUD, but once I began pursuit of Bayek's target, some of the core new mechanics became much more apparent. Firstly, when locating my target, eagle vision was quite literally that thanks to Senu, who was controlled similarly to a drone to search areas from a distance. Once my target was discovered, the biggest change came with the new combat system that my guide described to me as more like Dark Souls than the normal basic mechanic of countering with which players will be familiar.
Jumping straight into the combat midway through the game and without the luxury of a tutorial meant that I had to learn quickly. After some early moments when running away seemed like the most sensible option, I slowly began to get used to, and indeed enjoy, the more sophisticated dance of blocking, dodging, countering and timing both the quick light attacks on the right bumper and the heavy attacks on the right trigger. Thankfully, I made it through the demo without dying, but I'm confident that I barely scratched the surface of how to take on enemies properly, and it's something I'm looking forward to trying more when the game releases.
After completing the story mission I was free to explore the beautifully detailed world of Origins however I wished. With around 20-minutes of gameplay left, I opted to explore one of the game's pyramids, which are similar to the tombs found in some of the earlier Assassin's Creed games. As with the combat, jumping into the pyramid without any earlier instruction meant that lots of trial and error was needed to work through the puzzles, but thankfully, Bayek's Animus Pulse came to the rescue to highlight objects that could be moved around to lower and raise the tomb's various platforms to progress.
I went to Gamescom with high hopes for Origins after seeing the various demos and trailers from this year's E3, and I didn't come away disappointed. The extra year of development time the game has been afforded looks like it has been put to good use with some major gameplay changes that should appease the franchise fatigue that many players have been feeling over the past few releases. Of course, it remains to be seen if the full release looks and feels as good as the demo did, but that's something I'm looking forward to finding out later this year. Assassin's Creed Origins is scheduled for release on October 27th.
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