After skipping a year, Assassin’s Creed returns to us on the next-gen platforms and PC. Assassin’s Creed Origins is the latest in the franchise and takes us to ancient Egypt, where we control Bayek a Medjay – a sort of elite police force. Does Origins deliver? Does it manage to topple the high standards that were set by the games like Rogue and Assassin’s Creed II ? or is it a forgettable mess like Unity?
Story & Gameplay
Now, let me start off by saying, Origins has improved on almost every gameplay element of the past Assassin’s Creed games. Origins has really benefitted from that extra year of development and you can really see that additional polish and care that went into making the game.
The combat has been completely redesigned, to be more realistic and challenging. Swinging an Axe feels like you’re swinging an Axe and not an inflated balloon, and every weapon has a semi-realistic feeling of weight to it. You can carry two weapons, and two bows but you will have to unlock the additional slots via skill points.
Speaking of skill points, Origins is a full-blown RPG when it comes to quest handling and XP. While previous games had some elements of an RPG, Origins introduces NPC levels and offers plenty of side activities. Bandits and wild animals roam Egypt and if you are unprepared while facing the challenges of Egypt, you may find yourself being overwhelmed by the brutal new combat system.
Bayek’s tale is one of revenge, but the game suffered from some pacing issues. The game starts out strong but like many RPG games, it’s easy to get sidetracked and forget about the main quest line. It’s not helped by the fact that you need to reach certain levels in order to tackle quests, as every quest has a recommended level, absolutely deviates from the seriousness and grim tone that the story tries to set. Since this game is set before the actual Assassin’s Brotherhood was formed, Bayek lacks some characteristics that we have come to expect from the previous protagonists of the series. Modern sequences return but thankfully are limited to a couple of minutes.
Aside from the main quest, there are side quests dotted around the world and you can take them on in any order you want. Some of these were genuinely unique missions that had me impressed, others were just simple fetch quests. But I was never bored while traveling from point A to point B, because the world that Ubisoft has crafted is absolutely gorgeous and immersive. Even after I cleared by 10th Fort, I was still willing to travel and explore the world because it felt so well done. Ubisoft has always created really well-developed ecosystems and Origins is no exception, flocks of Flamingoes can be found near water and scatter when you ride past them in colorful displays, Crocodiles stalk their prey, Vultures sweep down to devour carcasses. And it’s not just limited to the wildlife, NPC’s have their own schedules and can be seen in the fields or praying to their gods, caravans riding across deserts and resting during the night. Assassin’s Creed Origins blew my mind away with its world, and it is without a doubt one of the best worlds I have seen in video games.
Bayek is accompanied by Senu, his trusty Eagle who replaces the iconic Eagle vision with actual eagle vision, allowing you to remotely scout outdoor locations and items can be detected by using the animus pulse.
Traversing the wide world of Egypt is done with the help of your other trusty animal companions – a camel or horse, whichever suits your fancy. You can also control chariots but I found them to be unruly and preferred by trusty steed.
Now, while the new combat does breath some life into the stale combat of the previous games, it does have some minor quirks, especially when taking on multiple enemies. The camera often rebelled in tight spaces and often cost me my life as I was cornered and bludgeoned to death, horseback combat which is featured in this game also suffers from hit detection issues and bad physics and it got frustrating sometimes trying to hit someone while I was on a mount.
While the trademark collectibles we have come to expect from Ubisoft are surprisingly gone, the game does become too distracting with the way it handles side quests and activities. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and I think I took it a bit too literally because I spent hours after hours doing everything but the main quests. It’s really easy to get sidetracked in the densely packed world that is presented here. Origins has gladiator challenged, chariot races, infinite quests, arenas and the post-release Trials of the Gods patch will introduce large-scale boss fights, so there’s plenty of content to go around and it’s definitely worth that price tag.
Before I end my words on gameplay, I would like to mention that Origins features an in-game shop, where you can buy mounts, costumes and “time savers” with Helix points. Thankfully during my 40 or so hours with the game, I did not face any issues that I could not overcome in-game, nor was the grind for resources unbearable. You can still earn costumes, mounts and mostly everything featured in the shop ingame and they do give you 200 credits to get you started.
While I had some complaints in the gameplay department, the graphical prowess displayed in this game had me blown away. Assassin’s Creed Origins is absolutely stunning in every way possible. The landscape is varied with miles and miles of deserts dotted with Oasis, the Nile flowing down with trees and lush grasslands, huge cities, villages, mountains, and the famous Pyramids – which you can climb. The texture work, lighting and effects in this game are flawless and often resulted in some photorealistic scenes that had me awestruck.
Animals and NPC’s are beautifully detailed and buildings have minor details to them that really add to the overall immersion in this game.