Superb voice acting and a brilliant soundtrack, which to be fair, is usually par for the course in any Assassin's Creed game.
Utterly gorgeous, Ancient Egypt is rendered in startling detail, while the scope of the game is quite something to behold. Just wait until you play it on Xbox One X.
The new combat system is excellent – though not entirely perfect – and the world is never anything but a pleasure to traverse. While Origins heralds major changes for the series, the essence of Assassin's Creed is still strong.
An incredibly ambitious and gargantuan game, boasting a world that feels like a living, breathing place. The few minor bugs and glitches take nothing away from that. The size of the game's world can seem initially daunting, but is never off-putting.
Origins' achievement list is great. In fact any list that tasks you with taming a lion and then escorting it to a crocodile or feeding a corpse to a predator, is all good in our book. This is how it's done.
November 01, 2017
Assassin's Creed has been away for two whole years, and in that time, Ubisoft Montreal has come back with what might just be the most ambitious entry in the series to date. It's certainly the largest. Actually, Assassin's Creed Origins seems almost too big, its rendition of Ancient Egypt circa 48 BCE proving insanely expansive. A huge and daunting land mass, there are areas you won't even visit during the game's main storyline, but they're always places you can venture to later on. And chances are, you'll want to make the journey.
Ten hours will go by and you'll have barely made a dent in what the latest AC has to offer, but there's more to Origins than masses of content and surface area. It's a complete overhaul for the franchise and an enormously successful one at that. More of an open-world RPG than the series has ever been, Assassin's Creed almost shares more DNA with something like The Witcher 3 than the other AC games. There are Common, Rare and Legendary (blue, purple, and gold, respectively) tiers of loot to unearth (a little bit like Destiny), all with their own unique stats and properties, and you'll soon have a favourite weapon set that you'll constantly want maintain, upgrading it to ensure it remains an effective part of your arsenal.
He might have fancy moves, but this guy is going down.
Origins tells the story of Bayek, the last Medjay and protector of the people of Egypt. He's a badass on a personal quest for vengeance, stopping at nothing to wipe out the malevolent Order of Ancients. A secretive legion of powerful masked men pulling the strings from the shadows, the Order of Ancients comprises several members, each named after an animal, and each more dangerous than the last. The order's stranglehold spreads far and wide across Origins' Egypt, making it a treacherous place to navigate. That's before you even take the wildlife into consideration.
Sporting a variety of Far Cry influences, Origins enables you to craft and upgrade items using pelts, wood and other materials, while enemy outposts can be cleared and raided for treasures. Like the rest of the game's map, these outposts are patrolled by foes packing swords, spears, shields and bows, while each region has its own suggested level requirement for Bayek. Dare to venture into an area where you're out-levelled, and it's unlikely that you'll last too long. Being under-levelled by even two or three levels can see the challenge you'll face a significant one, as you can be vanquished in just a few hits.
Then there's the Phylakes; elite bounty hunters with the express purpose of killing you dead. Cause too much of a ruckus and they'll come for you, each one a unique warrior with their own armour, weapon and ominous name like 'The Outsider' or 'The Hill' (not quite The Mountain, then). This is where the new combat system really comes into its own, eschewing the old mechanics that have been a part of the series for the past decade, in favour of a hitbox-based system more akin to something like Dark Souls. That means timing your strikes, evading at the correct moment, and as you unlock further skills, parrying too, is all key. Mashing buttons simply isn't an option any more. It's a more nuanced, challenging approach to combat that's more than welcome, if not without its issues.
Locking on to enemies can be somewhat messy, especially in the heat of a frantic battle against multiple aggressive opponents. When you're outnumbered, you're often better off turning heel and running away, rather than attempting to take them all on in one go. Or there's the stealthy option, which is more viable than ever, although assassinating an enemy now requires that you match your target's level or craft upgrades for your secreted weapon, otherwise you'll only damage them with your hidden blade before being thrown aside.
Creeping through tall grass and bushes is good fun, though, while using Senu, your ever-faithful eagle drone, to scope out and mark enemies, objects or interest and waypoints, proves constantly invaluable. And as ever, Origins is as packed with activity markers as any of the other Assassin's Creed games, although mercifully, the collectibles appear to have been dialled down. Instead, you'll be seeking out the best weapons you can find in a bid to make Bayek as formidable as he can possibly be.
Weapons can also be upgraded at your local blacksmith's, for a price, of course, and the rarer the blade, spear, mace, bow or whatever, the more drachmas it'll cost you to bring it up to your current level. Alternatively, you can seek out new weaponry, and Origins constantly showers you with loot, be it from fallen enemies, chests or urns. Anything you don't want can be sold or dismantled for resources too, so while you'll quickly be bristling with useless weapons, you always can put them to good use.
With so much going on, Assassin's Creed Origins' story is but the tip of the iceberg: the majority of content is to be found in side missions and instances of emergent, unexpected occurrences, whether it's stumbling into the midst of a hippo and a crocodile having a fight, finding a woman threatening to leap from a cliff edge to her death or a sandstorm rolling in across the land. Any concerns I initially had about Origins being too massive a world soon dissolved away the more I played; the world simply feels alive, whether its the animal ecosystem or the people of Egypt just going about their daily lives, you get a keen sense that everything would tick along without you there. Yet, as a Medjay, you also feel like you're making a difference, even if some tasks merely involve helping a farmer with his grain shortages or killing a tax collector extorting the villagers.
Alexandria: a place to go and unwind. Or not.
Bayek himself and his wife Aya also prove to be charismatic leads, their involvement in the formation of the Assassin's Brotherhood's tenets (and yes, its Creed) proving brilliantly compelling. If you've been with the Assassin's Creed series from the very beginning, seeing how and where it all began is very cool. That it all slots into a wonderfully crafted world just makes it all the better. If you're like me, this will be the kind of game that you're thinking about playing whenever you're not playing it. I wish I was playing it right now instead of writing this.
Given the dizzying scale of the game, everything works remarkably well too, with very few real bugs or glitches, the standard of the visuals remaining fairly consistent throughout, barring a few slightly dodgy NPC models. To truly grasp the ambition of Ubisoft's game, you need only see it from the viewpoint of Bayek's eagle, Senu - the vistas stretching far and wide for miles in every direction - or climb one of the game's numerous towers (it's not Assassin's Creed without towers), which now serve as fast travel points. Unfogging an area and discovering activities means actually having to go there now.
We haven't even got around to mentioning the chariot races at the Hippodrome, gladiatorial arena bouts, tombs bearing long lost treasures, scaling the pyramids of Giza and some of the brief sojourns you'll take into the present day, fleshing out the ongoing saga of Abstergo and the Animus. Origins always has a capacity to surprise. Yes, the pacing of the story is a bit all over the place, and the combat system brings with it minor tics, like lock-on and camera issues – especially in confined spaces – but all in all, Assassin's Creed Origins marks an incredible rebirth for the series.