'Assassin's Creed Origins' adds history lessons in early 2018

Take a tour of the Pyramids without running into would-be Templars.

The Assassin's Creed games have always had an element of historical realism to them, but it's hard to appreciate that cultural authenticity when you're five seconds away from being stabbed by a Templar. Thankfully, Ubisoft will take the pressure off for Assassin's Creed Origins players. It's adding a Discovery Tour mode devoted solely to giving you history lessons. There are "dozens" of guided tours led by Egyptologists and historians, focusing on subjects like the Great Pyramids (naturally), Cleopatra and mummification. And importantly, you're free to explore on your own terms without combat or plot getting in the way.

The update doesn't arrive until early 2018, but it'll be a free update whether you're playing on a PC, PS4 or Xbox One. It's easy to see this as a slightly cynical ploy: it might get Assassin's Creed into school curriculums and spur students to pick up their own copies after class. Frankly, though, it's good to see a game series treat history as more than a convenient backdrop for the latest open world action blockbuster or real-time strategy game -- you might come out of Origins with a greater understanding of human civilization.