Ismail said that Origins will still have missions that advance the game’s main story, and it still has a big story to tell about our protagonist assassin Bayek the origins of the assassin’s brotherhood. He was proud at E3, though, to talk about the richness of the game’s myriad sidequests, all triggerable in the world and tied to shorter narrative loops. “We did a lot of research on Egypt and what we found was there were a ton of stories, hundreds of stories that [involved] super-cool characters, people, real-life people who did really interesting things,” he said. “We wanted to be able to propose these stories to players, so that’s why we went with a quest structure.”


Here are other things Ismail shared about Assassin’s Creed Origins:

It draws some unexpected inspirations from the previous Ismail-helmed Assassin’s Creed, the Caribbean pirate adventure Black Flag (and, whoops, might have had a different name before, one you may have heard about):

Ismail: “One thing we took from Black Flag is we wanted the wilderness element. We wanted the fact that it’s more than cities. It’s a countryside. That you can be lost in a forest or lost in a desert. This was important in the world.


“In terms of game systems, we had the naval combat and the progression system from that and this is something we took away from that and said, ‘Okay, can we blow that up and make the game really about that and that’s where the action-RPG element really came in for Empire... [laughs] for Assassin’s Creed Origins.

“Why did we want to go that route? We wanted the gameplay depth, the rewards mechanism that comes from that. We wanted to be able to put tons of rewards in the world, from quests, activities, meeting characters in the world, going to locations ... we wanted to make sure the world made sense, that it wasn’t just a collectible but had a gameplay value.”


They’ve removed the mini-map for good reasons...

Ismail: “The world is really beautiful. Our artists, our tech engineers, our level designers, they put so much love and effort into the world that we wanted players to keep their eye in the world. We felt we didn’t need it.”


And you can de-clutter the game’s interface at will is nice, but, please, game designers, you don’t have to do every single thing that Kirk Hamilton is always banging on about:

“You have options to turn off the HUD, have a light HUD or heavy HUD.”


The combat system is no longer “paired,” meaning the player and the enemies no longer pull toward each other for each attack, instead working in a way that’ll make player skill and differences among weapons matter more:

“We went with a hitbox system. In layman’s terms, you swing your weapon, if somebody’s there, they’re getting hit. If they’re not, well, you swung at open air and maybe opened yourself up to attack.


“The reason we wanted this is because of the gameplay depth that we wanted to have. We wanted to make sure combat had a long curve of talent, of depth. We wanted the player to care about the weapon they have. How does this weapon attack? Its length, its speed, my position, the number of enemies around me and where they are. So, fighting with a spear is very different than fighting with a khopesh or dual swords.”

There will be boss battles, a rarity for this series, if you don’t count that one fight with the pope:

Ismail: “We wanted boss fights in the game. We really wanted an AC with boss fights. So we’ve littered the world with tons of optional content to fight bosses, but also in the main questline.”


There is some naval stuff in the game. Ismail says it’s too early to be talking about that, even though there’s a pre-order incentive that promises access to the “Ambush at Sea naval mission”:

Ismail: “There is the simple kind of boat combat between the little boats you’ve seen in the demo. In terms of the bigger ships… There is naval combat to a certain degree, but it’s in select missions and I think at this point in the campaign we’re not talking about it too much. There is an element of it but it’s not in the caliber of the size of Black Flag.”


There may or may not be modern day elements, but Ismail says it’s too early to be talking about that, either:

Ismail: “We’re not talking about modern day at this point in the campaign.”

As our interview wrapped, I asked Ismail about that comment he made about “hundreds” of stories his team had learned about ancient Egypt. In a livestream earlier that day, he’d mentioned that they’d put that many in the game. He assured me there was a lot and, perhaps catering to my affinity for the series, told me he was excited about a lot of the things they’d hidden in remote parts of the game. There would be treats for long-time fans, he said, that would make exploring the game’s vast world worth it. I thanked him for his time and went off to wait my turn to play.