Let's take a look at Origins and see how what we know so far compares to CDPR's magnum opus.
The assignment structureThe Assassin's Creed game made us used to a certain flow of gameplay. Specifically: we're free to roam the world (or as much of it as we have unlocked), but when we start a mission, we are confined to the setpiece until we fail, succeed, or simply quit. Moving too far from the designated objective is punished, often the locations are separate from the world.
Being limited in this way had its uses, but clearly it was time to change something about it.
Perhaps inspired by the success of The Witcher 3, AC: Origins is going to have more of a quest-based design, rather than a mission-based one. What it mean is that for the most part Bayek, the protagonist, will be able to collect quests from NPCs scattered around the region and complete them whenever he feels like. Or ignore them mid-way and enjoy a bit of exploration instead.
Another reported similarity to TW3 are the small stories forming the basis of the quests. While there's no reason to assume we're going to be free of Ubisoft towers and collectibles any time soon, the quests are allegedly going to be the kind of small narratives we know from the Polish RPG, instead of a throw-away "go there, kill this, bring that" type of quest.
Dynamic combatIf you've played previous Assassin's Creed games, you are probably intimately familiar with their combat system, which could well be boiled down to "wait for an enemy to attack and counter-attack. Repeat until no more enemies remain". It wasn't one bit demanding, since enemies would attack one-by-one, but watching the choreographed animations play out was pleasant enough to tide most players over. Ranged weapons themselves were based on automatic lock-on, taking aiming out of the picture. Origins takes conflict in a very different direction, one that may bring life back to the series.
First of all, the animation-based system is switched in favour of an actually responsive, hitbox-based combat. The weapons will have assigned animations, but the enemies won't start to follow a dance routine when you hit them. Instead you'll need to alternate between light and heavy attacks, parries using your shield, and quick dodges.
Crowd control is also going to matter much more, because the concept of honour in combat is silly anyway, and doesn't apply to fighting against a guy who can kill three men in just under ten seconds. As a result you'll need to manage enemy soldiers trying to use their numbers against you, and with different types of weapons and armour it may prove to be something of an interesting challenge.
Killer equipmentUnlike the previous instalments, AC: Origins is going to have inventory management and swathes of loot coming your way throughout the gameplay. Significantly: the gear is going to be more substantial to your survival than indistinct weapons we've had in the series so far, conferring little information other than "this weapons has four dots of damage and this has five". Much like in most action RPGs, the gear will have special traits (their number depending on the tier of quality), numerical statistics, all that jazz. It's also important to note, that you'll need to change weapons around a bit, because your khopesh won't do very well against armour, for instance. Although it may smell of The Witcher 3's necessity to switch between steel and silver swords, it seems more akin to the usual RPG loadout juggling.
A change for the best?Gap years are supposed to be a time to breathe a little more freely, take a look at oneself, and regain strength before jumping back into the trials and tribulations. And it seems that it really did pay off for Assassin's Creed: Origins, because the changes shown so far, coupled with an exciting new setting makes it look like it's going to be the highlight of early Q4.
AC: Origins launches on October 27 this year, leaving just under a month to get your preorders in order, if the selection of changes and a new setting are something you find interesting enough.
Let's crack the Sphinx's nose, shall we?