AC Origins Has “Thousands” of “Virtualized” NPCs; Gameplay Experience Can Change, Game Director Says

Aernout van de Velde
Assassin's Creed Origins

The upcoming Assassin's Creed Origins will feature thousands of living NPCs, thanks to a new AI framework, and the gameplay will much more open-ended.

That’s what game director, Ashraf Ismail, said in the latest issue of gaming magazine Play (issue 285). For Origins, the development team has opened up all of the franchise’s fundamentals, and one aspect that has been reworked is the game’s AI framework, which now allows the NPCs to have actual life in the game’s world.

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“We created a new AI framework that actually allows us to have thousands of persistent people living in this world,” Ismail explains, noting that all of the AI – all of the human and animal NPCs that inhabit the sprawling Egyptian space – are “virtualised”. That is to say, they function away from the immediate gaze of the player. “NPCs actually have a life out in the world,” which, we’re assured, will mean that players will no longer be forced into a reload if an objective goes awry. That’s because Origins will generate new scenarios and gameplay opportunities as you move and interact with the environments and its inhabitants; it will react to your successes and failures in real-time, without punishing you for being creative or stumbling. “It means that all of those constraints are gone, completely gone. These were,” he tells us, “frustrations that we wanted to remove.”

To make the gameplay more open-ended, a player has a choice in what kind of experience he or she wants to have. Ismail added that the gameplay experience is subject to change even while chasing a certain target.

“The point is this, we give this information to the player, that this AI is really living out in the world, doing whatever it is that they are doing, and as a player you get to make the choice of ‘what kind of experience do I want to have?’ When we ask you to do something in the game, the objective is now far more open ended… So yes, you do still have assassination targets but, technically, you can do whatever you want to get to your target.

“We have a target in the game who has decoys in one of the cities. You have to learn about him and his schedule. You actually have to pay attention to him, and the decoys – the ways they are living their lives – to figure out which one he really is, because the decoys are innocent people,” we’re told, though the open-ended play doesn’t end there. “The gameplay experience can change, even as you’re in the flow of chasing him down,” Ismail teases, explaining that how you approach the target once you’ve figured this puzzle out can drastically change depending on a number of factors.

Truth be told, it will be quite interesting to see how these changes in Origins will effect gameplay.

Assassin’s Creed Origins is slated for a release on Xbox One (enhanced for Xbox One X), PS4 (and PS4 Pro), and PC on October 27.

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