The rumored Ancient Egyptian setting of the up and coming Assassin’s Creed opens a lot of possibilities for the series. Some good for the series and others, not so much. Regardless of the pros and cons, the new setting may be what gives the series a much needed breath of fresh air. It is quite the drastic jump from the last entry, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, taking place in 1868.
A relatively undocumented time period: Unlike Assassin’s Creeds other time periods, our interpretation of Ancient Egypt is left almost entirely to archaeological evidence gathered and guesses by professionals. Ubisoft was never entirely constrained by historical accuracy, mostly just loosely basing characters and events off real people and occurrences, but with a setting as unexplored as Ancient Egypt, the game has more room to run about (probably stabbing people as usual). Characters, events, and even architecture could be invented by the designers freely.
Different Challenges: Now I may be mistaken, but I do not believe firearms existed in 3100 – 320 B.C. Since their introduction in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, guns have allowed players to soften up groups of enemies before engaging in the flashy sword fighting we all know and love. With the absence of them players will have to adapt in order to effectively fight larger groups of enemies. On a similar note, the Ancient Egyptian Military used mostly spears and shields, though for swords they had the undeniably cool Khopesh. Having to deal with opponents using shields would be a new challenge for the series requiring the players to think in creative ways.
Maritime Focus: Maintaining a powerful navy was very important in Ancient Egypt, and the game would be missing a major opportunity if they didn’t bring sea fairing back from Assassin’s Creed 3 and Black Flag. It would need a bit of a rework as Egyptian ship to ship combat revolved around archers and boarding and less barrages of cannons from Black Flag. Even if it is just used as a method of transportation, it’s inclusion would be important to the time period.
Archaic Technology: The series is quite used to pushing players suspension of disbelief when it comes to technology. Wrist mounted guns and dart launchers existed in the Renaissance era games in addition to the iconic, and surprisingly reliable for the time periods, wrist mounted stabby-gauntlet. Unfortunately the big difference here is the primitive technology is much more difficult to ignore. Most spears and arrows of the era were made out of copper, stone, or obsidian. Tools and gadgets are going to have to be very simplistic, and while that could create fun never before seen items, it could just as easily make the game’s inventory barren, devoid of interesting options.
Economy: Assassin’s Creed II added money to the series, allowing players to unlock new weapons, tools, upgrades, and clothes they wanted over the progression based automatic unlocks of the original game. However, Egypt didn’t get a currency until 500 B.C. instead relying on barter and trade. Unless the game can make up some sort of system so that we aren’t back to the first one all over again, the game will be taking a massive step back.
If Ubisoft can pull this setting off, it could be what shakes up the formula of the series in a big way. Not many games take place in Ancient Egypt, and even fewer from the ground level, so this is a big chance for something new and exciting.