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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 life – with 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.
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Archery Popshots | Assassin's Creed: Origins

127 Folder Collection
綠豆譯人 published on December 10, 2018    羅世康 translated    Evangeline reviewed
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