Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt is Interactive Education Done Right

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I’ve been a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series ever since the first game released in 2007. The franchise’s focus on history is one of the biggest draws for me. I have spent countless hours reading through each of the game’s codexes. Because of this, I found the lack of codexes in Assassin’s Creed: Origins disappointing. I love the game, but it did feel lacking without that extra layer of information to sift through. Little did I know Ubisoft left codexes out to work on something far more ambitious – Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt.

As we reported last year, Discovery Tour takes players on a guided tour through various aspects of Ancient Egyptian life. It removes all instances of combat in order to deliver a learning experience free of mission constraints. The mode provides players with a deeper understanding of the world Assassin’s Creed: Origins takes place in. For all intents and purposes, it is an evolved version of codex entries.

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend an event for Discovery Tour. I got to try the mode for myself and saw an informative presentation about the mode’s development. Now that I am free to do so, I’d like to tell you exactly what you can expect when Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt launches next week.

Teachers played a huge part in influencing Discovery Tour. Educators have used Assassin’s Creed games to teach history to their students for years. Some found it difficult to teach a proper lesson due to the core game mechanics (story, combat, traversal, etc). Because of that, the Assassin’s Creed team felt it best to create a separate mode for those who want to focus solely on the historical aspect of the series.

Discovery Tour’s development went alongside that of Assassin’s Creed: Origins. The team decided on guided tours so players would not feel overwhelmed or lost when initiating one from the map. Historians and students alike helped the team bring the mode to life. The team found that students took to the mode quickly since they are already familiar with video games. On top of extensive notes in each tour, players can look at over 700 images which came from different libraries. The whole thing is a true labor of love, and one the team is proud to bring to life.

The new mode features five areas of focus, including Egyptian life, Alexandria, Romans, and the pyramids. Categories are broken down into several sub-categories. Discovery Tours appear on the map as blue icons. Selecting one transports players from the main game to the tour. Map-wise, nothing is different, only there is no combat or missions to worry about. Players are free to initiate any tour they wish. For example, if one is doing the Roman tour, they can stop halfway and fast-travel to the pyramid tour. The ability to freely go from tour is certainly appreciated.

Assassin's Creed - Alexandria Street

When starting a tour, you’ll see several points along a path overlayed on the ground before you. Interacting with one of these points initiates a fixed camera angle with text on the screen. An authoritative-sounding narrator reads the text to players. You are free to move the camera around slightly and you can click on a picture related to the subject you’re learning about. The game also shows when these subjects were first discovered. It pleased me to know that, even today, scientists are still discovering things about Ancient Egypt.

While you can freely jump between different tours, I found it best to complete a whole set before moving on. Why? Because each entry is listed in chronological order. If you’re on the pyramid tour, the entries begin with the construction of the first pyramid all the way to how the structures endure into the modern age. Going through each codex in chronological order provides a better understanding of each subject.

The tour offers 25 different characters to play as. These include characters like Bayek, Cleopatra, and Julius Caesar. You can even play as a number of non-playable characters. It doesn’t make much difference who you play as since they all have the same basic animations. Still, it’s good that players can choose between so many characters. It certainly makes Discovery Tour all the more interesting.

Assassin's Creed Origins - Hermopolis

As one walks through a tour, they’ll notice highlighted spots on the ground. Going to one of these white nodes makes characters interact with the environment. This mimics what NPCs do in the background. This feature isn’t exactly necessary, but it adds a nice bit of immersion. Also, it’s just plain fun to make a mighty emperor like Julius Caesar count grain stocks like a peasant.

I love the historical nature of Assassin’s Creed, so I’m glad it now has something like Discovery Tour. In all, there are 75 tours for players to enjoy. That’s over six hours of knowledge about Ancient Egyptian life for both adults and children to consume. Best of all, this mode is completely free for anyone that already owns the game. I realize the year has already overwhelmed us with a ton of titles to play. However, if you have Assassin’s Creed: Origins, I highly suggest making time to try out Discovery Tour. I hope you’ll find it as enlightening as I did.

Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt lands on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on February 20.

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