As an avid fan of the Assassin's Creed series, last year left a void in my heart as we were without a new Assassin to take into the shadows and stab people in the heart with. We have had a new game ever since the debut back in 2007, so it was a hard pill to swallow knowing that 2016 was Assassin free. Ubisoft needed time to work on the latest game, which not only resembles a new direction for the series but by them going back to ancient Egypt during 300 BC, it also means they could rebuild the franchise from the ground up again. “Origins” not only means before every other Assassin game, but it represents a new and refreshing experience that originates with old-time fans in the series.
Assassin's Creed: Origins a stunning game right from the start. Egypt and all the small regions included are truly gorgeous to behold. Bayek, the main protagonist in the game, sets off on the path of vengeance as he hunts down the “Order of the Ancients” who did him wrong. For review spoiler purposes just know that his revenge route is pretty typical of today's gaming standards and delivered nothing new in the Assassin's Creed series. We have all experienced the Assassin in question seek revenge for his family or friend in some way or another, and Assassin's Creed: Origins feels like nothing new, but it is the way the story is told and the connection between Bayek, Aya, his wife, and the people you meet that gives it a new spin on an age-old tale.
The Order of The Ancients
While Bayek is on the search for these men, who act as ghosts behind the biggest leaders of that time like Cleopatra, and Julius Ceaser himself, they slowly manipulate some of the most tragic events we all know in history like the Siege of Alexander and the fall Cleopatra. Ubisoft was extremely smart in how they seamlessly blended the Templars into the classic history books of ancient Egypt. Basically, the Templars, I mean Order of the Ancients, were responsible for all those events in history and they are told so well in the game that sometimes I believed them to be so. The game works in chapters and each new chapter hosts a new set of masked men to hunt down as you try and make your way to the leader known as The Snake.
It is not only the beginning of the Assassin Brotherhood in Origins, but the Order of the Ancients and their ultimate birth into The Templar Order is also touched on brilliantly. The more I heard all these words like Medjay, Set, and Kush, the more I had Wikipedia open to research all these events and people so I could further bask in the glory of the game's lore. The amount of content there to learn and absorb can be overwhelming if you want it to be, but you can also just ignore it all and focus on the game.
The wildlife in Egypt are no pets
Simplified yet better
It feels as though everything in Origins has toned down in some way or another to create a more focused experience. Bayek is a Medjay, which if you are not a walking encyclopedia you would not know that Medjays are protectors of the region whose main focus is to help those in need and protect them from the evils of the land. With this role, Bayek spends his day taking on various quests, slaying the vast array of animals around Egypt for skins and crafting materials, and helping those in need. When I said that the game has been toned down I mean it. Parkour, quests, crafting, and even the lack of an Eagle Vision (yes, no Eagle Vision in an Assassin's Creed game – gasp), has been simplified to feel less complicated.
There is no clunky running up walls at a horizontal position, bombs to craft, and even the extensive list of tools has been reduced to a handful, and it works. As Bayek completes quests, kills enemies and discovers new landmarks and raids new tombs he earns XP that is used to level up. New levels reward him with ability points to unlock new skills, as well as let him use higher levelled gear such as stronger weapons, more defensive shields, and bows. The levelling system in hand with the gear system in Origins gives the game it's much-needed RPG element which finally gives you a reason to continue playing other than just the story.
Skills are divided into three trees being Warrior, Seer, and Hunter and the way you prefer to play is the way route you will go first. Hunter lets you wield two bows and at one stage lets, you even hold three arrows in your hard for faster shooting and ADS. Warrior favours the melee combat side of Bayek and increases your combos with different weapons and unlocks finishers. Seer is as you guessed it, as the tree promotes the sly side of Bayek and grants him new tools to use like a firebomb, the ability to poison a dead corpse that spreads when patrolling guards walk by and the infamous smoke bomb.
I went with a well-rounded route as I unlocked skills as I thought I needed them. Some in Seer, some in Warrior, and some in Hunter. When I felt that Bayek was getting boring, I mixed things up with a new tool that changed my next approach to killing a captain in a stronghold. When I caught them I had to fight my way out of the area and the combat system in Origins is also a strong point for me. Clear inspiration from previous games is seen in this new system as well as a touch of The Witcher. Locking onto an enemy and using R1 for a light attack and R2 for a heavy attack is basically all the combat is about. You can pull out your bow and shoot them in the head at any time too, and it makes for an exciting combination of attacks especially when you bait them towards a ladder and then shoot them as they climb up and then bash them off when they get to the top.
Combat Needs Spit and Polish
It does get clumsy, I won't deny it, and often I felt that I could easily corner a guard and just spam R2 to kill him. Later enemies in the game get tougher and counter your attacks and have shields and tools at their disposal, but Bayek always felt powerful for me and unless the enemies were a way higher level than I was I could easily take them on. Things do get tough in hordes though as four swordsmen, a dual wielding enemy, and a few Bowman on the side all shooting you can get dirty. I had a real issue with the bowmen in the game as they are extremely annoying. They can literally shoot you while they are running. I am not talking about stopping to shoot you, they can pull their bow back and fire at you while their legs are sprinting.
Other than the annoyance of those Bowman, the combat in the game is great and compliments the weapon system too. In Origins gear comes at different rarities from blue being common, to gold being legendary. These weapons all host special buffs and DOT effects for enemies when you hit them. I actually went through a long period in the game where I did not change my weapon from the Fury, a sabre that makes enemies bleed over time and they just die. This was a legendary weapon and with the ability to upgrade every weapon in the game, it meant that if you find an OP weapon, you could, in theory, hold onto it forever and just pay the Blacksmith to upgrade it whenever it started to feel weak.
Weapons and bows also come in different classes being fast-firing bows, dual wielding mallets, swords, pikes and more. This system is all about what you feel you would prefer to play with. I loved a sword but then I found this cool dragon-like mallet and I smashed some skulls with it for hours. In the end, it was all about the rarest weapon and how many debuffs it had on it. Not to mention that there is also a trader that comes once a day that will give an opportunity to buy a box that contains a random weapon, and he also gives you a high-levelled quest that you can take on that rewards you with another weapon. I can see myself going back daily to take these quests on.
Behold the Great Lands of Egypt
When I was not fighting I was exploring and Origins is one massive game to explore and there is so much to do that after Act V all I wanted to do was revisit those areas I did not explore as much as I wanted to. Each region feels different from the other and they all are beautifully crafted. Alexandria is the main city to some extent and the transition from the sandy desert into the bustling city with marble pillars and stunning architecture was something I have never experienced before. There was nothing better than going from the city to the pyramids of Giza to take a slide down them. The effort put into bringing the era to life has to be one of the best in the series so far. The side quests are also extremely entertaining and dark at the same time. Not one of them felt like a fetch and carry quest, rather they were all fully voiced and had Bayek going on errands, searching for someone who was normally always found dead, or even acting as a bodyguard for a snobbish Alexandrian teenager. They all offer variety and depth worth staying for the ride.
Bayek can get anywhere he wants thanks to his mount, which also comes in different rarities I might add. I have never been one for riding on
Bayek can get on a wooden boat to get across the water, and exploration, in general, is easy and seamless thanks to the zero load time in the game. Going from one point to the other can be possible without ever loading the game and that to me is pretty impressive. There is also a selection of things to do in the game while not on missions like exploring tombs, aligning stars in the sky, solving puzzles left by people that point you to a part of the map with a riddle, and discovering all the secrets the game has to offer. There were times I got so distracted by a rogue hippo that I made it my goal to hunt it down and kill it for material to craft upgrades to
Assassin's Creed Origins is a great comeback for the series. Everything feels so mastered and at the same time simplified. Egypt and its surrounding regions are simply marvellous and every corner is worth exploring. The story is strong too and while the characters and their drive to take down the Order of the Ancients has been seen and done before, they offer enough depth to care about. If this is the start of a new direction then count me in for the entire journey ahead.
This review is based on the PS4 Gold Edition of the game provided by Ubisoft with a code. HDR was not available during this review process.
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Played