Assassin’s Creed Origins has a new DLC – The Discovery Tour.
In the Discovery Tour, Ubisoft has stripped away the ‘heavy narrative’ and ‘fight control’ of the Assassin’s Creed Origins gameplay, instead providing 75+ themed tours for the player to traverse. The tours explain the game’s development, the underlying archeological evidence of the world’s construction, and the mythology surrounding Ancient Egyptian life which inspired the team. By fully focusing on exploring Ancient Egypt, the player can truly appreciate the level of detail which makes up the game’s iconic world. From the types of sand in the deserts to the varieties of fish in the Nile, the Discovery Tour illustrates how each element of Assassin’s Creed Origins is based on extensive research by historians, architects, and artists.
Here are our Top 25 Moments from the Discovery Tour.
25: Free University
The Mouseion of Alexandria was world-famous for its live-in scholars, who were fed and housed at the government’s expense. This institution, which forms the legacy of the modern museum, allowed scholarship to flourish in Alexandria, as the academics were free to study to their hearts’ content – without worrying about funding. How times have changed.
24: Portable Executions
Crucifixion was the most popular form of state execution during the 1st Century BCE, namely because it could take place anywhere – unlike throwing somebody to the lions, which required an arena, some lions, organising a crowd… Usually reserved for the executions of lower-class people and slaves, military deserters were also at risk of crucifixion, as their behaviour defied the state-centric social obligations of the age.
23: Valley of Whales
The Farafra Desert was named the ‘White Desert’ for its mix of limestone outcrops and yellow sand – a landscape beautifully captured by the game designers. The area contains naturally formed stone ‘mushrooms’, silica glass, and even an area called the ‘Valley of the Whales’ – which is filled with evidence of ancient marine life.
22: The Armour Makes the Man
A Roman soldier’s rank was easily identifiable by the quality of his armour – the better the weapon, shield, and armour, the more skilled the soldier. Roman soldiers were infamous for stealing, or ‘adapting’, enemy technology to enhance their techniques and equipment – including everything from boats, to shield design, to techniques in forgery.
21: Poetry over Gold
Victors in the Hippodrome were publicly crowned with olive wreaths, and given outlandish amounts of prize money – but their real goal was to be immortalized in poetry. World-famous (and highly admired to this day) poets such as Pindar and Callimachus penned verses on the triumphs, and physical virtues, of the Alexandrian Hippodrome victors.
20: It Wasn’t Napoleon’s Fault
While acknowledging the popular theory that Napoleon’s troops, while passing through Egypt, used the Sphinx as target practise and hit its nose with a cannonball – the researchers behind Assassin’s Creed Origins put more weight in an alternative theory. In 1378, a devout muslim by the name of Mohammed Sa’im al-Dahr, grew extremely offended by the local custom of making offerings to the Sphinx, in the hope of producing a favourable flood cycle. Filled with rage, he destroyed the Sphinx’s nose. Mohammed was executed for his crime – possibly at the very foot of the (somewhat mutilated) monument.
19: Revenge of the Mummies
The Hollywood trope of a vengeful mummy, trailing its linen bandages, seeking out those who desecrated its tomb, is a direct result of Victorian strip parties. Get your mind out of the gutter – these kind of strip parties involved the meticulous stripping of a mummy’s bandages, in order to reveal the ancient corpse within. A dramatic realisation of this prevalent fear was deemed ‘too perfect to pass up’ by filmmakers.
In the Theatre of Alexandria, you can witness a performance of Menander’s Dyskolos, an Ancient Greek comedy about the goat-God Pan, marriages, and some unfortunate incidents involving a well. It is the only surviving Menander play in complete form, and is often nicknamed ‘The Grouch’, for its grumpy protagonist.
17: Pyramid = Bread
The word pyramid is derived from the greek word ‘puramis’ – a type of conical bread. The similar shape provides us with this (literally) classic pun.
16: Descend into the Pit
In the underground chamber of the Great Pyramid of Giza lies an 11 metre pit. The purpose of the subterranean chamber, and its pit, both remain a mystery to modern Egyptologists. Clearly not the sort to waste an opportunity, the designers of Assassin’s Creed Origins decided to transform the pit into an entrance to… well, spoilers.
Pyramidia is the term for the capstone of a pyramid – the pointed stone at the apex of the structure. Ancient pyramidia, engraved and embellished to commemorate the Pharaohs within – have all been lost to time. Unsatisfied with leaving the pyramids without their crowning points, the Assassin’s Creed Origins team created their own pyramidia. This one is adorned with golden inscriptions relevant to Pharaoh Khufu, who is entombed within the Great Pyramid.
14: King of Beasts
For the Ancient Egyptians, Lions represented power and royalty – they were so prized as hunting trophies that they were driven to extinction within Egypt’s borders.
13: Natural Design
The mortuary complex beneath the Pyramid of Djoser blended nature with architecture. The supporting columns were etched with vertical lines and painted red to resemble bundles of reeds. Against the contrast of black walls, the columns gave an illusion of free standing bundles of reeds – an ordinary object seen in everyday Egyptian life. Such commonplace imagery was designed to make the afterlife feel more like home for Pharaoh Djoser.
12: Isn’t it Wonderful
The Great Pyramid is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing. The polished stone of its sides gave it the nickname ‘The Horizon Of Khufu’, as it created the illusion of a second horizon in the brilliance of reflected sunlight.
11: Children are the Future
Although only boys were admitted to school in the 1st Century BCE, both girls and boys are shown studying in an open-air class in the Alexandria in world of Assassin’s Creed Origins. The team ‘felt it was not necessary to prioritize historical sexism over inclusive gameplay’ – and we wholeheartedly agree.
10: Who Needs Chalk
When marking out the plans for the city wall of Alexandria, the architects could not find any chalk – resourcefully, they used flour. Equally resourceful, a flock of migrating birds took advantage of the free meal and devoured the floury plans. Alexander was so freaked out by this interruption to the building of his city, he asked an Oracle whether to continue with the construction – lucky for him, they prophesied that Alexandria was destined to feed a large population.
9: Siwan Predictions
The Siwan Oracle was considered just as prestigious as those at Delphi and Dodoni – the foremost in the art of reading the future. The Siwan Oracle validated the claim of Alexander to the throne of Egypt, as the Greek oracles had validated the legendary kingship of Heroes like Hercules and Perseus.
8: Immortal Mummy
The process of mummification was based, step-by-step, on mythology. After her husband Osiris is murdered, and dismembered, by his brother, Isis and her sister set out to save him. Having manage to reassemble the body, the sisters bind it in linen cloths, and Isis performs magic rituals to restore life to her husband. Echoing this myth, the mummification process acted as a re-enactment of this myth of resurrection – and culminated in the ‘opening of the mouth’ ritual, which was supposed to restore the ‘breath of life’. While this worked for Osiris, it was less successful with its Pharoahic recipients.
7: Watercolour World
Jean-Claude Golvin (architect, archeologist, former researcher) specialises in the artistic reconstruction of ancient cities and monuments. His work, found in books and museums around the world, is beautifully detailed – creating stunning (and historically accurate) watercolour paintings of the ancient world. He collaborated with Assassin’s Creed Origins to produce 19 exclusive watercolours, which were used as references in the construction of the game’s world.
6: Secrets of the Pyramids
The Pyramids are notorious for their unique security systems, including blind passages, concealed trap doors, and enormous stone slabs which slid into place at the end of construction, blocking passages to treasure. To further safeguard the tombs, their builders included hidden statues of the Pharaohs to watch over the pyramids – both in reality, and in the game world.
5: Treasure Chambers
In order to enhance ‘the game experience’ of exploring the internal workings of the pyramids, the game designers decided to actualize the theories of Egyptologist Jean-Pierre Houdin. Thus, the player can walk through his vision of The Great Pyramid’s treasure rooms.
4: The Great(est) Library
Once containing all human knowledge, the Great Library of Alexandria was tragically lost to fire. Its 700,000 parchments were said to include all of books known to the ancient world – the library’s trick to attaining all of these works was to seize all books carried by travellers into Alexandria – their contents would be copied, and the copies returned to the owner. The library kept the original documents. The loss of the Great Library is still felt by classistics, historians, and literary buffs the world over.
3: Cleo’s Brother(s)
The Ptolemaic Pharaoh Cleopatra is famous for her Roman lovers – Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony. Lesser known is the fact that at the age of 17 she married her 10 year old brother, and later after his murder (potentially at her hands), when she was 22 she married her, other, 13 year old brother. While marriages between royal siblings to cement their power was traditional in Ancient Egypt, when you consider her substantial power base with Rome, these marriages hold up as, at the very least, a little odd.
2: Tears of Wine
According to Egyptian mythology, when Horus, God of Kingship and the Sky, lost his eye in a war with Set, God of Storms, Disorder and Violence. When the eye struck the ground, it turned into a vine, which began to weep tears made of wine. The holy origins of wine made it an appropriate libation to the Gods – and brought its drinkers closer to their deities. A fantastic excuse for indulging in a fine vintage.
1: Magic Eyeliner
Egyptians believed that kohl had magical powers, and wore it as black eyeliner in order to protect their eyes from the sun, and to prevent eye infections. A special green kohl, made from ground machalite, was also worn for ceremonies and religious rituals. The magical powers of eyeliner are still in evidence today (it’s the real reason we wear it).
What were your favourite moments of the Discovery Tour? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @GreenManGaming!