I’ve been excited for Assassin’s Creed: Origin’s Discovery Tour mode since it was first announced. Origin’s sprawling map of Ptolemaic Egypt is gorgeous, and exploring it while learning about its real world equivalent is just as good as I expected.

discovery tour
The best part of Origins was already its photo mode

Launching Discovery Tour drops you, as Aya, in Alexandria. The tour beings with information about the city’s founding. Granted, it’s not the most interesting tour on offer, but it’s short at about six minutes. The tour has you walking through the streets, pausing at details like statues and market stalls. All while a voice-over relays how and why Alexander the Great situated himself there. It also introduces the game’s controls (accessible via the menu) for those who might not be familiar with them.

Walking Tours

Each of the tours capture the feeling of a guided walk through a real city. Though there is a key difference – Discovery Tour’s cities are modeled after the time. NPCs and locations are as they were, bringing each story to life through the surrounding detail. This includes all the little things that might have been overlooked by players during the main game – boats heavy with fruit for market, labourers working waist deep in water, the teeming wildlife.

discovery tour
No combat means making friends with crocs

Most tours run from under ten minutes to up to twenty for weighty subjects like the siege of Alexandria. The explanations walk a delicate line between simplicity and detail; honing in on the most interesting facts while stressing the nuance and unknowability of many parts of the story. Each stop comes with an image – everything from contemporary mosaics to Ubisoft’s concept art.

The tours cover the map, and expand on military, political, and social history. Players can walk through Cleopatra’s life, with key moments staged in front of them like live theater, or the daily lives of ordinary Egyptians – which opens with adescription of the many rights that Egyptian women had before the introduction of Greco-Roman culture.

discovery tour
This is just a very good pigeon

Exploration and Education

You can experience Discovery Tour through many avatars; from Aya and Cleopatra to unnamed NPCs. Of course, protagonist Bayek is also included along with several outfits to choose from. You’re given the opportunity to fast travel directly to a specific tour from a list, or just to wander around the map on your own. There is no combat or quests as distractions, just tours to stumble upon. Playing like this, each informative tour does feel like an exciting discovery.

Assassin’s Creed has previously included real world history for those willing to dig through codexes to read it, but Discovery Tour brings it to life in a way that situates it in a more digestible context. It also gives the player an opportunity to really engage with the history through exploration and play.

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Jay Castello

Jay is a freelance games writer specialising in intersectional feminist critique, how to improve games and use them to improve the world, and cute dogs. She loves inhabiting digital spaces in all their forms, and being constantly surprised by just how weird and wonderful games can be.