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  • Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.

  • A creed with origins in Ancient Egypt; a game that looks at many firsts. The First Civilisation,

  • the first Hidden Blade, the first Assassins.

  • While Bayek is not the first protagonist in the series to make use of a bow, he is by

  • far the most adept bowman in the series yet, with the greatest arsenal of deadly ranged

  • weaponry.

  • Whether with one arrow, or many; against man, beast, and even gods.

  • We look at how Assassin's Creed Origins brings archery into the Assassin's Creed universe.

  • The Egypt we see in Origins is modern compared to the early Dynastic eras. Egypt was ruled

  • by the Ptolemies, descendants of Ptolemy, general of Alexander the Great of Macedon.

  • The world we explore is a melting pot of Egyptian and Greek culture, soon to be joined by the

  • Romans.

  • In the early Dynastic period of Egyptian history, the most dominant style of bow was the wooden

  • self-bow, a single-curvature design made from a piece of wood 1 to 2 metres in length, narrowed at the ends.

  • While Egypt was a thriving kingdom, it was their warring neighbours that brought technological

  • advancement to Egypt's armies. The Hyksos used composite bows, layering wood, bone and

  • sinew to create a bow that was stronger than the wooden self-bows used by the Egyptians.

  • Composite bows were often imported to Egypt, and found their way into the ranks of chariot

  • riders, who needed the power of the composite bow to penetrate armour.

  • In contrast, the wooden bows were still used by the rank and file soldiers, being much

  • easier to manufacture, but more difficult to use.

  • This smorgasbord of innovation and progress is seen in Bayek's wide variety of options

  • for his weaponry, not only in his swords and pole arms, but also his bows.

  • A hugely popular gameplay element, archery in Origins is easy to adapt to any combat

  • situation, and it would not be unusual for a player to specialise only in archery.

  • Rather unusual for a game, Origins doesn't limit the bow to a simple single-shot ranged

  • weapon. Instead, it offers the player a selection of four different kinds of bows, each with

  • their own unique play style.

  • Bayek starts with the Hunter Bow, a mid-range weapon that can be held for more power by

  • drawing the string further back.

  • The Warrior Bow loads multiple arrows, which disperse much like a modern shotgun, being

  • effective at bringing down enemies at close range.

  • The Light Bow serves as the assault weapon, being a weak short-range rapid-fire option,

  • fed by multiple arrows held in the string hand with "reloads" every few shots.

  • Eschewing stealth for aggression, the player can easily clear out a garrison with this

  • bow alone.

  • Perhaps the most well-known and popular bow is the Predator Bow.

  • Intended as the long-range one-shot sniper weapon, the Predator certainly functions as such.

  • However, with a small skill investment, the player is able to control the flight of the

  • arrow, turning it into an anachronistic remote-control guided missile.

  • Effective, perhaps too much. A good position overlooking an enemy camp allows the player

  • to eliminate all enemies without getting their hands dirty, and considering the number of

  • fortified positions the player has to clear, this is probably the easiest way of doing things.

  • Admittedly, it doesn't get old.

  • Of course, the game takes many liberties in portraying archery in this way. In real life,

  • bows were less intricate in design and weren't classified into predators and warriors. A

  • bow was a bow. One didn't need a special kind of bow to be accurate or fast.

  • The observant player will notice a few anomalies that casual players may overlook.

  • Bayek's skill as a speed-shooter is achieved by removing frames from the shooting animation,

  • achieving speeds far beyond human capability.

  • The Warrior Bow's arrows converge into a single point on the string, a physical impossibility.

  • And of course, arrows can't be steered the way the Predator bow does. While it is possible

  • to bend an arrow to a small extent, Bayek bends reality.

  • None of this detracts from the gameplay. Smooth transitions between melee and ranged fighting,

  • unique play styles punctuated with enough plausibility to not distract the player from the fun.

  • This fluidity is also seen in mounted combat.

  • Easy to overlook, all mounted archers, including Bayek, overcome a physical limitation of horseback

  • archery: being able to shoot in a 360 degree full circle.

  • In real life, horse archers could cover just over 180 degrees. A right-handed archer could

  • not cover their right side unless they changed direction or switched hands.

  • The soldiers in Origins actually change their sitting position, riding side-saddle or even

  • sitting backwards in order to go through the full 360 arc.

  • This would obviously require great skill, and likely was not done in real life given

  • the high risk, but a nice subtle way to make the game more immersive while maintaining

  • gameplay fluidity.

  • Those who look into the minutiae of the game may want to learn more about Bayek's shooting technique.

  • Ancient depictions of Egyptian archers offer a very stylised illustration, with what appears

  • to be a pinch-draw using the thumb and index finger.

  • In Origins, Bayek predominantly uses a two-finger draw, which was used at some points in history

  • in various regions in Europe.

  • He also places the arrow on the left side of the bow, a preference that is seen in target

  • accuracy-focused styles, and likely included to give players a familiar feel of where the arrow will go.

  • The exception is the Light Bow. Bayek carries several arrows in his drawing hand – a method

  • that is illustrated in primary sources and can be replicated in real lifewith a lot of practice.

  • The arrow is placed over the thumb, as it would have to be to necessitate faster loading

  • and shooting.

  • This is not consistent, however, as some scripted scenes use the other side, making it more impractical.

  • The main fault of the game is its guilty use of a common trope: armour is paper.

  • Apart from shields, armour is purely cosmetic. A tunic is the same as scale armour. A helmet

  • is the same as a bald head.

  • A simple gameplay choice, one that clearly rewards the more skilful headshot.

  • With all that said, Assassin's Creed Origins presents an engaging portrayal of archery.

  • It embeds archery as a strong part of the game, making it not just useful, but viable

  • in the general open world.

  • While most games make the bow a situational weapon, in Origins, it is the norm. Most soldiers,

  • friend and foe, can swap to a bow for ranged combat at any time.

  • And while some of the bow's capabilities are exaggerated or fabricated, it's done

  • to make the gameplay smoother, and to make Bayek look like a badass.

  • Overall, Assassin's Creed Origins is a great instalment to the long series. A vibrant playground

  • with a likeable character.

  • And for us toxophiles, a game that makes archery look fun and fascinating.

  • Perhaps the smoothest use of the bow in an action game.

  • Until next time, shoot straight and aim for your best.

Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.

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Archery Popshots | Assassin's Creed: Origins

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