The Assassin’s Creed franchise is known for inserting history into each instalment, from assisting Leonardo Da Vinci with testing his new inventions in Rome to helping Napoleon gain power in France. This helps create an engaging story where history is being retold, but in a different way…a way that we can also stab.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is no different, presenting the beginning of the burgeoning Brotherhood in one of the most culturally prevalent settings in all of history: Egypt. Being the lover of history that I am, I thought I’d discuss some of the awesome history that is predominant in Assassin’s Creed Origins.
In an interview as part of the E3 Coliseum, Ashraf Ismail, Game Director for Assassin’s Creed Origins, revealed that the game will be set around the year 49 BCE, which is the period in which Cleopatra ascends to the throne of Egypt. The Cleopatra’s were a fairly long line of queens but Assassin’s Creed Origins will focus Cleopatra VII Philopator, who is known as the last Egyptian Queen.
Cleopatra VII is known, at this time, for her romantic interactions with Julius Caesar, who had tremendous influence and power in Rome. Her ascension to the throne and title of Pharaoh was due to her ingenuity and the death of her brother, Ptolemy XIII who was Pharaoh before her. Caesar arrived in Egypt chasing his enemy Pompey the Great and as a consequence of the young Pharaoh killing the latter, it is alleged that Caesar was engaged in the Siege of Alexandria that was eventually broken by the arrival of Roman reinforcements. This would explain the presence of Roman soldiers clearly seen in the Origins gameplay trailer as well as the Roman elements and activities throughout the game.
We also see Bayek battling with Egyptian soldiers of many calibres meaning that Origins will not solely feature one faction fighting the other, which is nice.
More Roman influence is shown with regards to gladiatorial combat. As many would know, Rome held Gladiator fights in order to placate the masses of Roman Citizens, where men would battle against each other or against vicious animals in deadly contests of skill, endurance and luck. More often than not these fights ended in death. It appears that Assassin’s Creed Origins will have Gladiator battles at certain points in the game. It is not confirmed as yet if the arena style battles will be replayable, with their own rewards, or just part of the immersive story. Even the statue in the background of the above photo betrays decidedly Roman elements in its design.
The Great City Of Alexandria
Most people, even those who are not huge fans of ancient history, would have heard of Alexander the Great, who conquered much of the known world until he succumbed to illness in 323BCE. Well, his most trusted generals, known as the Diadochoi, fought over and divided his empire amongst themselves. During his campaign, he founded the port city of Alexandria, which was ruled over by Ptolemy, after Alexander’s death.
Alexandria, it seems, will play a prominent role in Assassin’s Creed Origins, being the seat of power of the Ptolemaic kings (and therefore Cleopatra) as well as housing some of the most intriguing ancient structures of the period, like the above Lighthouse of Alexandria. It is confirmed that this city will be explorable based on this recent Tweet from the official Assassin’s Creed Twitter page.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria was approximately between 120m and 137m tall, marking it as the largest man-made structure of the time, and casting it as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. You just know we are going to be able to climb it, jump off it and most importantly get some amazing views of the massive open world.
Speaking of ancient wonders, Alexandria also housed the Library of Alexandria, which at its height was rumoured to have held up to 400,000 scrolls, containing all sorts of academic and entertaining works. The Library of Alexandria was said to have been burned down during the Siege of Alexandria. While there has been no official word or even a glimpse of this library, I still doubt that it would be excluded. The destruction of this great structure could be a prominent part of Bayek’s story.
What Lies Below…The Great Pyramid
In a Eurogamer interview, Ashraf Ismail, answered a series of questions about Assassin’s Creed Origins, and he briefly mentioned that as part of the campaign we will discover what lies below the Great Pyramid. The Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh Khufu is believed to have been buried below the Great Pyramid, along with a horde of culturally significant items as well as an abundance of treasure. It is there that we may encounter some form of boss/adversary battle, uncover hidden knowledge, weaponry or even engage in a Hallucination of some kind.
The Gods See All
Egypt is well known for its pantheon of powerful and diverse deities, like the above god of mummification and embalming – Anubis. In the same Eurogamer interview as above, Ashraf mentions that they wished to play with the mysticisms that surround the Egyptian culture and present them to players. This suggests quite obviously that we may encounter some of the more prominent gods and goddesses of the time. At the very least we will encounter the cults of these gods and that will most likely lead us on some interesting adventures.
In the above image, we can see Bayek talking to members of the cult of Sobek, a crocodile-headed god, who was associated with Pharaonic prowess, military strength and fertility. While Sobek is not an obscure god, neither is he one of the more powerful ones so it is highly likely that we may be able to directly deal with the larger-than-life deities that populated Ancient Egypt. (By the way Krokodilopolis was a real place – it was in Faiyum).
No discussion of the Egyptian gods in Assassin’s Creed Origins can be complete without mentioning the giant snake. This seems a little out of the regular scope for Assassin’s Creed but if you recall I mentioned Hallucinations earlier in this article. Hallucinations were confirmed in a response to a Twitter question by Ashraf, and so it is very likely that the engaging battle with the large snake is part of one of those Hallucinations.
I believe that the large serpent, which is both a good and bad omen in ancient Egypt could represent the light-eating snake deity, Apophis, who attempts to defeat Re and swallow the sun, as the latter’s Solar Boat travels through the underworld. It is also worth noting that the surrounding area appears to be Egyptian construction and is very tombish. Could the snake be hiding within the Great Pyramid?
Cleopatra, Rome, Alexandria and godly encounters are only the tip of the spear when it comes to Assassins Creed Origins. The amount of depth and care that has gone into recreating the rich history of this amazing culture is staggering and is definitely a reason to get excited.