Why Cleopatra’s Ancient Egypt Became the Ideal Setting for Assassin’s Creed Origins

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IMAGE SOURCE: Flickr

The long-awaited release of Assassin’s Creed: Origins caused a real stir among the gaming community, resulting in 100% more launch sales than its predecessor, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Some time off from the gaming shelves appears to have done the world of good for this outstanding franchise, which has been revitalized by the early success of Origins to date.

According to the game’s director, Ashraf Ismail, the developers, Ubisoft, had already settled on using Ancient Egypt as a setting for Origins almost immediately after Black Flag.

Ismail told Critical Hit: “It took a bit more time to figure out when in Ancient Egypt. We wanted an Egypt that was filled with a lot of lore and mystery. We researched the building of the pyramids time. We went to different periods asking: ‘What kind of game could we have in this setting?’”

Creating Ubisoft’s largest open-world setting yet

Ubisoft drafted in the advice and insight from some of the world’s leading Egyptologists and historians in order to gain enough of a perspective to create a virtual world of Cleopatra’s Egypt. Ancient Egypt has long been a fascination in the arts and popular culture, with plenty of fine art inspired by the final war prior to the Romans’ arrival, as well as theatre productions and Hollywood blockbusters. However, Origins is potentially the most detailed recreation of Ancient Egypt yet; set in 49 BCE and creating a vast open world for the game’s protagonist, Bayek, to explore and help protect his community from the threat of Julius Caesar’s Roman invasion.

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IMAGE SOURCE: Flickr

It’s no secret that the most successful Assassin’s Creed titles have been modelled upon engaging, almost mythological historical periods; notably the Third Crusade, the American War of Independence, and the Italian Renaissance. Origins focuses firmly on the incompatible ideologies of empirical control and the free will of the people. In fact, this era of pharaoh rule was almost on its last legs in 49 BCE, with the Egyptians being forced to accept the dawn of the New World. The end of the 300-year-old Ptolemaic Kingdom was nigh, with the country heavily embroiled in Civil War.

Many gamers that pick up and play Assassin’s Creed: Origins for the first time will be immediately enchanted by the history lesson that’s available at their fingertips. Origins is the biggest open world setting created by Ubisoft yet, giving players the ability to travel across from the Nile Delta all the way down to the southernmost point of Ancient Egypt in Aswan. There’s a real sense that the developers have managed to perfectly recapture and revive the feeling of Ancient Egypt. Everywhere you look on the map, you get a genuine sense that this is exactly what life was like, with everything in perfect proportion – including the vast stretches of landscape that are simply begging to be explored in the most granular of detail.

How history and mythology just… works in the virtual world

Historical and mythological computer games are a very effective way to inspire and influence young people’s thinking about the past. Aside from the Assassin’s Creed franchise, there have been some hugely popular gaming titles that have excited and educated in equal measure, many of which even the most skilled film directors could only have dreamt of creating to recapture the spirit of a historic age.

The Call of Duty franchise is arguably the most successful exponent of this type of computer game genre, with the original released in 2003 modeled on the infantry and warfare of World War II. The first-person shooter style gameplay ensured players felt transported into the heart of trench warfare themselves; experiencing a mere fraction of the fear and tension the gentry would have felt on the front lines.

Many of the leading computer game titles in the 2000s were heavily influenced and inspired by the World War II theme. However, unlike many first-person shooter games such as Call of Duty, The Saboteur – released in 2009 – had a rather stealthier, reconnaissance feel as developers, Pandemic Studios sought to use protagonist, Sean Devlin to unravel the might of the German stronghold within occupied French territory.

Rockstar Games then took the bold move to develop a game based upon America’s Wild West. Following the studio’s immense success with the Grand Theft Auto franchise, Red Dead Redemption sought to recreate life as an outlaw and achieved much critical acclaim for their efforts. It remains the eighth-most-expensive video game ever produced, at a total cost of $110m, but the tale of John Marston and his quest to bring members of his former gang to justice is supremely hard-hitting and engaging; set within another expansive open-world during the breakdown of the American Frontier.

iGaming pioneers, Microgaming, have even been inspired to create their own exploration of Ancient Egyptian civilization in online slot game form, titled Throne of Egypt. Players are whisked into a virtual time machine where they come face-to-face with the princesses and pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, whilst attempting to retrieve the hidden treasures. It’s a 25-payline game too, which makes for particularly fruitful gaming, while some of the iGaming sites that feature the casino game offer up to £1,000 in Welcome Bonus money for players to use to attempt to unlock the Bonus Chamber.

Mythical civilizations are just as popular as accurate recreations

Ensemble Studios’ very own Age of Mythology is somewhat different to the above games, which factually recount historical events. Instead, Tony Goodman and his team were inspired by the legends and myths surrounding the age of the Norse, Greeks, and Egyptians, creating a real-time strategy game that enabled players to build and expand their own mythical civilizations and advance through the ‘Ages’. So successful was this franchise that it went platinum only four months after its release, selling more than 1,000,000 copies and not to mention thousands more of its expansion packs.

There’s no doubt that history and mythology make for a fun and exciting way of being taught about the history of our planet via the medium of games consoles and desktop PC screens. This range of games – which can accurately portray specific moments in history – is like gold dust, and far more enjoyable to learn from than any textbook!

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