Hyenas! War elephants! Boat battles and scary masked faces! We’ve got six or so weeks to go until Assassin’s Creed Origins - no, you’re counting - so it was about time we found out a little more about what we’ll be doing in Ancient Egypt. Thankfully, the new trailer doesn’t disappoint. The word Origins kind of gives it away but, as the beginning of the franchise, this is where it all starts. Every bladed air assassination stems from new hero Bayek’s antics so there better be some seriously good justification for all the hood wearing and leaps of faith. Speaking to Origins’ narrative director Matthew Zagurak, it quickly becomes apparent that Ancient Egypt has been hiding some secrets until now. A dangerous power is hiding behind the scenes with a distinctly familiar agenda…
1. Hello, Order of the Ancients
Of course it was never going to be as simple as jumping in the Animus and raiding a few Mummy-filled tombs, Assassin’s Creed Origins is the birth of the Brotherhood as we know it, and that’s going to need a serious catalyst. Step in the masked Order of the Ancients who it turns out are just as sinister as they look. So what’s with all the creepy horror movie face hiding?
“Basically the Order of the Ancients is a secret society in Ancient Egypt that is comprised of a lot of powerful men and women at kind of the top echelons of society,” explains Zagurak. “The people who have high positions of power and, for the most part, are involved in politics, involved in religion, involved in economics, military etcetera. Essentially their goal is that they want to bring back a sort of strong dynastic tower that was kind of the glory days of former Egypt.”
2. Of course they’re basically Templars
Not only does the Order of the Ancients want to hold onto power and crush those who get in their way, they’ve got the added bonus of controlling the young king Ptolemy to do their bidding. If that doesn’t sound like Templar activity, I’ll eat two of my very realistic looking hidden blades.
“So when the story starts, Bayek and the other characters are not Assassins,” Zagurak confirms. “So it’s correct in saying that the Order of the Ancients are not Templars, but similarly to how the Assassins are formed through the story - you could say that Bayek through the story is sort of a Proto-Assassin - it would also be fair to say that the Order of Ancients are sort of Proto-Templars. In the sense that the organisation and the ideals that they have and the beliefs that they have are conceptually very similar to the Templars as we know them throughout the rest of the series and kind of lead into a group that might end up being called that one day.” Yes. Might.
3. War is coming
In a surprise to absolutely no one, the Order is willing to go as far as it takes to return to their Egypt of old and that means bloodshed. The civil war raging across Egypt is a bitter one. As glimpsed in the trailer, naval battles of a sort appear to be back as boats smash together on intimidating dark waves, and we catch a glimpse of Bayek shooting an arrow at a giant armoured Babar. Zagurak is keeping schtum on everything story related, only relenting that the pachyderms exist - “there will be battles against these War Elephants” - but it’s no spoilers to say that Bayek’s new combat style and range of weaponry are going to come in exceptionally handy.
4. You’ll meet the Order one by one
The members of the Order are scattered across Egypt and while Zugarak won’t confirm exactly how Bayek will be tackling them, he reveals that they’re everywhere.
“You have Ptolemy XIII as the puppet at the top, and then you have all these powerful people who are influencing all of the main levers of power in the country,” he explains. “So each member of the Order is responsible for their own – I don’t want to say it like “part” of the country because that makes it sound like they’re governors or something, but they have a sphere of influence that is their own, and in their own sector. So these people – it’s not like they’re all crowded together and you can go in and find them all in a room chugging beers together, they’re in contact but they’re spread out.”
Given that Origins is set across all of Egypt, it might not be too out of the question to assume that we’ll be chopping off the heads of the snake one at a time. Ancient Egyptian assassination missions anyone? And finally, speaking of snakes…
5. The Order will do anything for control
That giant snake from the first trailer might have an explanation after all. One picture of the order reveals a priest holding what looks distinctly like an Apple of Eden - one of the many magical control devices that the Assassins and Templars have been warring over for centuries since - which means mummification rituals might be the least of Bayek’s problems.
“I don’t want to get into exactly the nature of any of the First Civ or the Piece of Eden stuff, because a lot of the stuff is intentionally part of the mystery of the story that has to unfold so I don’t want to blurt out too much of it,” Zugarak relents. “What we can say is that the Order of Ancients is looking for a means of control, and they’re looking for a means of control of their country and possibly extending that to other countries, but really what the focus is on Egypt, and they have people in positions of influence and positions of knowledge who are going to be tapping into some of the secrets and some of the hidden layers that might exist in that society.”
Interesting times indeed. We don’t have long before we get to uncover these mysteries on our own.