New Assassin’s Creed Discovery mode offers an in-game stab-free history lesson

After taking a year off to find itself, the Assassin’s Creed franchise returns this October with a brand new title called Origins. Set in ancient Egypt, Origins takes players further back in time than any previous game AC title, with the game’s developers promising it’s a complete reinvention of the series.

In Assassin's Creed Origins players can expect overhauled combat, a completely open world and quest structure, and brand new RPG elements that give more freedom than we’ve seen before. What remains the same, however, is the extensive historical research that underpins everything.

In fact, Origins will actually take the historical aspect of the franchise one step further with a brand new Discovery Mode. 

Live and learn

Across the Assassin’s Creed series we’ve visited various points in history. Though the games’ stories naturally take some creative license with that history, there has always been a convenient and educational in-game encyclopedia that allows interested players to learn a little more about the people, locations and events of the time and place they’re exploring. 

Discovery Mode in Assassin’s Creed Origins will go beyond the pictures and large blocks of text we’ve had the option to access before. 

Instead, it’ll offer a kind of in-game guided tour. Stripping combat and narrative out of the equation, players will be able to explore the game world and indulge their desire to learn about the era. 

Starting up Discovery Mode will give the option to select one of a range of characters that will apparently include men, women and children, after which it’ll be possible to jump into the game’s open world and roam to learn rather than assassinate.

When in the game world and exploring, different areas or people will appear as interactive stations where the player will be able approach, press a button and listen to a guided explanation of what’s happening. 

It’ll still be possible to explore the world as you would in the main game – using horses, chariots and scouting with your eagle Senu – there just won’t be the pressure of quests or restricted areas filled with enemies. 

A virtual museum

It appears to be a virtual and far more immersive version of walking around a museum with an audio tour that you start up when in the relevant section of the room. 

Each tour section will give players an estimated length so that they don’t end up in the gaming equivalent of a Wikipedia black hole. For those interested in delving further, there will still be encyclopedia-style images and text sections to dig into. 

All of the information and imagery you can access in discovery mode is sourced from genuine academic experts and museums across the world.

We got a very short glimpse of the mode for ourselves at a recent presentation. In what we saw, the player was able to approach a table in the game where an NPC was performing a mummification. 

Approaching this table, which in the main game would simply be a background event for environmental authenticity, players are able to listen to an expert explain the process of mummification in detail and the ritualistic significance of it. 

According to the game’s developers, parents and teachers alike have said that children are more engaged with and interested in history as a result of playing and reading the in-game encyclopedia. After 10 years, the team felt it would be time to take this feature further and offer something more to the players genuinely interested in the history behind the game’s world.

A lot of research goes into the Assassin’s Creed series to create an immersive and authentic game world. As a result, much of the research gathered is almost hidden in the environment and the actions of NPCs or not used visibly at all so this offers a way to push the interesting background details of the game to the front. 

Discovery Mode won’t be a part of Assassin’s Creed Origins when it’s released in October. Instead, it’ll come to everyone as a free update in early 2018. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.