‘Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ Director Talks Egyptian Setting & Player Freedom

Tom Regan

For seven years, Assassin’s Creed was as regular a fixture in the gaming calendar as immovable mainstays COD and FIFA. With Ubisoft releasing a new entry in the series annually until 2016, for many gamers, it all just became a bit too much.

Now, after taking a well earned year off, the time-travelling assassins are back. But has Ubisoft used this time to make the decade-old series feel fresh?

Sitting down with the game’s Creative Director – Jean Guesdon – he reveals that it was the new Egyptian setting that inspired the team to take Assassin’s Creed in a different direction.

Ancient Egypt is the series' most expansive and mysterious setting yet.

“We started to work on Origins almost four years ago after delivering Black Flag. We thought ancient Egypt was… a setting that was full of potential for Assassin’s Creed.

As history buffs will know, Ancient Egypt was a civilisation that survived for thousands of years. With so much still unknown about these mysterious and prosperous people, the dev team felt that this sandy setting was the perfect opportunity to bring an element of the unknown to Assassin’s Creed.

“We felt that ancient Egypt at Cleopatra’s time was probably the best possible peak as it was already 3000 years old,” explains Jean.

Cleopatra's reign leaves Origins plenty of room for a sense of antiquity.

“There is more time between Cleopatra and the building of the pyramids than there is between Cleopatra and us today. [By Cleopatra’s reign] it was filled with locations that were already forgotten.”

“It’s a time period that is still fascinating today,” Jean elaborates. “[Even now] we keep hearing about new discoveries, new tombs [being] discovered.”

With the last two Assassin’s Creed games straddling the line between current and next gen, Jean explains that tech wise, this also meant that the team could now finally attempt a more ambitious and open-ended take on the beloved franchise. “We could do it now because the tech of the consoles were ready. We had a very strong engine that was at maturity. “For Bayek and for the player, it’s an entire country – a full playground – to explore. It’s the perfect setting for us to push exploration and discovery.”

Tom Regan
Having written for everyone from Trusted Reviews to The Guardian, Tom is a London based writer who can't stop talking about games. Now he's joined the team at FANDOM as gaming editor, we have to constantly remind ourselves that he's not actually Ed Sheeran.