Assassin’s Creed Origins Review
Assassin’s Creed Origins is a fantastic experience from start to finish, and very few things made my cringe in my current 40 hour play through. Full disclosure: I haven’t done everything you can do in this game yet, but am planning to do so. What I have done though, is experience all the new mechanics Ubisoft has included in the title, as well as completed what I consider a pretty good story, at least when compared to other Assassin’s Creed titles! How does it rank against all the other big games this year? Read our thoughts below!
As an origin story, Assassin’s Creed Origins has the pleasure of not being tied to anything in the Assassin’s Creed franchise lore, at least when it comes to Bayek and Ancient Egypt. There is no pre-established storylines that the developers need to attach to, or pre-existing events that they need to reference, or at the least, not become in conflict with. Origins is the origin of the assassin’s, and playing as the main character has never been as fun as it is now. I don’t begin the game as an assassin, and I have no concept of the Templars. You play as an Egyptian Medjay, and dying breed of individuals sworn to protect the people of Egypt.
I want to tread lightly here, as to not spoil some pretty important scenes that you will experience early on; safe to say, what you will experience during the first few hours of the game – depending on how much you choose to explore Bayek’s hometown of Siwa – will set up how your character will interact with the world around him for the next 50+ hours. In past Assassin’s Creed titles, I never felt the story had much to do with what I was actually doing. The franchise story telling did pick up a bit with Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, but suffered again in Unity and Syndicate. Perhaps it was the city specific worlds of London and Paris, or perhaps I was tired of the same old mechanics. Either way, I never felt drawn into those titles, and the characters, which possessed some real potential, never really did click.
In Origins, I think Ubisoft rectifies a lot of that lackluster story telling. Sure, you ultimately will still assassinate a ton of people in order, to avenge….something….but yet I’m drawn into this more than previous games. May be it was the year off that the franchise took, or perhaps some other reason; what I want to believe – and what I believe to be true – is that Ubisoft took the story telling to the next level, and with that, made Bayek a very real, living character you will definitely care about. The inclusion of Bayek’s wife Aya only makes the story better; watching the two of them interact is almost like something out of a movie.
The game does pop in and out of the modern day, and I know that these segments are loved by some and hated by others. For the most part, I was fine with how they came and went, never taking you away from Ancient Egypt for too long. Ubisoft did include some ‘collectibles’ in way of pages of notes to collect, but that never made me want to stay in the modern game longer than I had too. Again, these moments play into the entire story of Assassin’s Creed well, and shouldn’t be passed off or skipped.
New Mechanics Around Every Corner
The tried and tested Assassin’s Creed gameplay mechanics are back in Origins, like almost nothing has changed. You still use a single button to climb up, and a single button to climb down; you will use a specific button to crouch into stealth, whether out in the open or within bushes; and of course, a single button to assassinate an enemy. But after that, things change.
We’ve touched on a number of the new mechanics in Assassin’s Creed Origins in past articles, but will relay some of those thoughts here again. Assassin’s Creed Origins introduces players to the largest Assassin’s Creed world ever created, and the development team is touting this as a “go wherever you want” and “do whatever you want” experience, which is more so synonymous with RPG titles rather than Assassin’s Creed games. Unlike in previous Assassin’s games where a well timed jump would air assassinate any NPC in the game, you won’t find the same simplicity in Egypt.
The first big change to the combat system is the concept of levelled enemies and a levelled character. If you explore enough and stumble on a camp with level 20 enemies, while you are an eager level 15 or 16, don’t expect to assassinate your way through the camp. While your assassination attempt is likely to inflict a good amount of stealth damage, you won’t actually be able to remove an opponent with that one quick flick of a blade. A quick battle might ensue, allowing enemies to flock to your position.
Knowing your level, and the levels of your opponents will help you stay on track in Assassin’s Creed Origins, almost like a subtle nudge that perhaps the area you are in shouldn’t be on your list of places to explore, just yet. That isn’t to say you can’t win here, as master of combat could take out a camp of NPCs several levels better than him or herself. Leveling up, and improving your skill tree will be paramount in finding constant success throughout your journey.
Having quality armour and weapons will also aid in your attempt to take down enemies who, in theory, are more powerful and better than you. Throughout the world, there are a number of caves, tombs, and ruins to explore that, even if they are not part of a larger quest, will hold treasures that make the exploration and puzzle solving completely worth it. Assassin’s Creed Director Ahsraf Ismail noted that you’ll never waste your time exploring a random location, as each and every hidden cavern had treasures inside that will be a huge benefit to whoever is playing.
No Lack of Content
At over 50 hours myself, there is no lack of content in Assassin’s Creed Origins, and for my part, I’ve been doing my best to focus on the main story exclusively, veering off only to level up a bit before taking on the next, required challenge. But getting lost in the world of Ancient Egypt is very easy to do, thanks to the plethora of icons on your map to pull you away from any objective you are tracking at any given time. Synchronization locations, for example, are not a requirement for unveiling the map like in previous games, but do provide you with numerous fast travel locations that are invaluable for more travel.
Other locations will also be visible, including animal dens, restricted zones, and stone circles. Uncompleted, these icons will have a deep colour that is very visible when you scan the map; once you’ve completed all the objectives – loot the boxes, complete the stone circles, or kill captains and commanders – the icon will fade into the background, letting you the player know that it has been completed.
Doing all these side objectives is important for the loot and resources you will accumulate, which are vital in upgrading your weapons, damage, and health. As noted earlier in this review, exploration in new areas will ALWAYS reward you, so never feel like you are wasting time by taking the long way to your next objective!
A Few Minor Infractions
Origins is not without it’s faults, and because of the wide scope they developers took with this development – and the new mechanics they brought into the franchise – there are a few hiccups along the way. Having the ability to autopilot your mount in Origins is a nice feature, especially when you remove yourself from Bayek and travel above with Senu. However, so often, I found my mount wasn’t really sure where the heck it wanted to go, leading to confusion, and the odd time, death at the hands of angry hippos and crocs because my horse thought running into a lake was the best idea.
I experienced a few graphical glitches along the way as well, and at times, I felt the camera was working against me, especially if a fight happened to move indoors. Trying to maneuver the camera while taking on three burly dudes, inside a tiny house was never my idea of a good time. And generally, it didn’t end well.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is in a world of its own when compared to other titles in the franchise, and despite my love for Black Flag, I found more enjoyment and more hours of entertainment here than I ever did playing that title. Both are great for sure, but Origins is a step above in terms of story telling, game and character progression, and RPG elements. This is a very different Assassin’s Creed experience, one that perhaps not all fans of the franchise will enjoy. On it’s own, separate from the franchise, however, this game will really shine if people give it a chance. Forget what you know about Assassin’s Creed titles if you are on the fence about this one: this is so completely different, in the best possible way.