They say that this franchise has been dead for far too long. Some might’ve prayed to be proven wrong. After listening to fans, Ubisoft has reneged and decided to add another year in the development cycle of Assassin’s Creed Origins. This is after the bug-ridden releases that have shaken the once great franchise. This time, the adventure takes players into the a time mostly left untouched in gaming: Ancient Egypt.
Review PC Specifications:
Processor: Intel Core i5-4670K @ 3.4Ghz
RAM: 8GB DDR3
VGA: Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB
*Played with a Sony DS4 Controller
How It All Started
Egypt is in turmoil. Two warring factions are gnawing each other for the throne and the divide between the natives and the conquerors, the Greeks, grows with each passing day. To add to the growing problems, the mighty Roman Empire has set its sights on the rich fertile lands of the Nile. In these trying times, Bayek a Medjay/Magi, together with his beloved wife, Aya, vow to achieve an almost impossible goal: avenge their fallen son. This quest of revenge would take them across the dunes of Egypt, getting embroiled into the politics of nations, and eventually starting the order of Assassins.
*DUN! DUN! DUN!
How many times have we seen the vengeance arc in an Assassin’s Creed game? Definitely more than twice. But here we are again following two Assassins hellbent on getting their sweet revenge. Story-wise, it’s not memorable. The flashbacks showing Bayek’s son was mostly cringy, to the point that I wanted to skip it, but opted not to due to making this review (we don’t skip). In Bayek’s family, things weren’t even normal from the start, and comparing it to Ezio’s (from AC2) quest for vengeance, getting into the mood and relating to the emotions shown are quite hard to do in Origins.
To add to the world building and contrasting the bland main storyline are the side quests. While they don’t have that much of an impact in the setting, these tidbits offer interesting, or otherwise mundane, views of Origin’s Egypt.
It’s an Assassin’s Creed game through and through. That’s what I would’ve said if things never did change. Assassin’s Creed Origins is a new game in a franchise characterized by free-running, climbing atop buildings and falling into a haystack, and sticking a shiv into victims’ necks. What more could be added, you say. Ubisoft actually made an unexpected twist. In a good way, of course.
AC: Origins is an RPG with free-running elements. There, that’s the simplest sentence I can manage to sum up this new game. I was actually surprised, or even downtrodden when I noticed numbers popping out of the opponents as you slash them with your schimitars (you can turn off the numbers), but was I so wrong. Having a hands-on experience with it, the game did remind me of a great game while rummaging through my loadout, parrying and dodging attacks: it reminded me of WITCHER 3!
Quests, looting, and an in-game economy further cements the similarities between the two. Combat also borrows a lot from the award-winning game. Now is this a bad thing? That’s a clear no. If you have combat mechanics like the Witcher 3 and free-running elements of Assassin’s Creed, then count me in. Anyhow, let’s dive into what makes Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed game.
Again, the player can climb through high structures like an ubermensch. Bayek and his wife, Aya, are both humans at their prime, incapable of being strained by climbing with just one hand, or being terrified of extreme heights. As this is ancient Egypt, expect no skyscrapers. Instead, we get monuments, the pyramids, and natural formations such as mountains and hills. All of which can be climbed without restrictions.
The world map is open from the get-go, however, the game restricts exploration by limiting player levels in certain regions. So if you’re level 30 and you enter a region with a minimum of level 33, expect impossible fights and attacks that wouldn’t even make a fly weep. I think this is a good implementation of a guiding hand in an open world game, as it deliberately guides the player onto a path, thereby making players see things that developers want them to see. Provided that these things are worth seeing, of course.
So with the Eagle vision gone, what then? We actually get a legit “eagle” and are able to view the field via his “vision”. Neat, eh? Using Bayek’s Eagle, Senu, the player can mark locations of interest, targets, and plan out approaches. Climbing atop viewpoints also provides an added bonus to Senu’s vision as it increases his range and spotting ability.
Dress to Kill!
Next, we go to combat. As stated before, it borrows much from Witcher 3, so much so that it is quite noticeable. To fulfill the wishes of the blood gods, Bayek can be armed with a number of weapons. Part of his arsenal are bows, spears, swords, and heavy clubs/axes. There are several types of bows and Bayek can equip up to two depending on the player’s chosen skill tree. Melee weapons have their own special characteristics, heavy weapons can overpower shielded opponents, while swords and blades seek out openings to strike. Bayek can deal critical strikes once enemies have been parried or dodged. Oh, and he can equip shields too, a first in the series. I find it strange, however, that some shields have the ability to cause poison on enemies when their attacks get blocked. Wait, what?
Aya on the otherhand, is akin to a special character, popping up during certain missions. Her loadout is fixed and unchangeable.
Bayek can also equip different outfits and mounts. Outfits provide no special advantages, just simple cosmetics. The player can also choose between camels and horses, both of which are simply for appearances sake despite their respective rarities. Weapons and shields come i three different rarities: common (blue), uncommon (purple), and rare (gold). The rarer the item, the more stats and effects it has. The weapons adhere to the player’s current level at the time they get picked up, usually. And if you feel that the weapon fits your style even after a couple of levels, one can simply visit the blacksmith to raise the weapon’s level.
Other than looting, the game has a limited crafting system. See, while the outfits provide no gameplay benefits, Bayek’s bracers, bags, and other equipment can be upgraded. Hunting down convoys for metals, or wild animals for their fur and leather, allows the player to improve them, thereby increasing capacity, defense, or offense.
While the weapons are more than enough for the culling, the gadgets Bayek brings into the fray can be useful at times. Bayek can make an enemy go berserk, dart them to sleep, or even call animals to his aid.
Into the Sands of Egypt
Egypt, compared to other worlds in previous Assassin’s Creed games, can be counted as one of the best worlds in the franchise, up there with Black Flag’s tropical archipelago. As an open-world game, Assassin’s Creed Origins pretty much unbars the region for exploration. Though not 1:1 in size (which would’ve been mind-blowingly tedious and probably unenjoyable), the game makes it up for good pacing and its wonderful sights. Together with graphics, Ubisoft really did make this world believable compared to other games in the franchise.
The game even boasts a day and night cycle, thus giving a “breathing effect” into the game, a far-cry from the animatronics featured in the past games. Come morning and you can see villages and towns getting about into their various trade and industries. Farmers line up to go to the fields to toil, while the market bustles with peddlers and buyers. At night, everyone goes back to their respective huts, waiting for another sunrise. Or if you’re a bad soldier or guarding a treasure, this might probably be your last night.
The land is also ripe for hunting. Hunting down hungry hippos and crocodiles provide Bayek with necessary resources. Lions and hyenas prowl the landscape, constantly running amok, finding prey. From time to time, Senu the eagle can assist Bayek in hunting down these faunas.
That being said, this won’t be a Ubisoft game without the collectibles and the various clutter found in the world map. As a completionist’s nightmare or wonderland, Assassin’s Creed Origins is still dotted with such, but noticeably to a lesser extent. Treasures and camps are located here and there, ripe for the taking for would be challengers. Tombs of old pharaohs are can be looted (or venerated, depending on what you wish to call it), in exchange for gold or experience. With the disappearance of the mini-map, and in turn the introduction of a compass, the game doesn’t seem to be overloading the player with too much information.
AC Origins still uses Ubisoft’s proprietary AnvilNext 2.0 Engine, the one they used since Assassin’s Creed Unity. The game also features a Photo Mode, a standard brought upon by recent titles. Here’re some of the shots I took in-game:
Photo mode basically allows the player to take momentary shots by simply pressing a button/combination of buttons. Color and lighting can be edited, as well as the angles and distance. Though not as complex as Horizon Zero Dawn’s similar mode, it does fair well in capturing digital Egypt’s grandeur.
Also, photos are uploaded on Ubisoft’s servers, so players can view some good shots taken by other players. Submitted photos can be spotted across the map and they can either be given a thumbs-up or down.
Is it something you should buy? Of course! Given that if you love open-world games and Assassin’s Creed, this is one you should add to you gaming library. It improved upon the basics, not reinventing the wheel but rather, making it more efficient and keeping it up to the times. Also, the developers have listened to what players were always clamoring for: an Assassin’s Creed game that feels alive. This time, instead of the world simply made to act as a setting, the world in Origins seems like it moves, a stage that revolves. It in turn, makes the world building better, ways away from its animatronic predecessors.
The quests, combat, and exploration, all come together to make up a great game. But it isn’t without faults. Assassin’s Creed Origins suffers from repetition, though not the worse kind. It might have new features and new distractions but most are not that far apart from the game’s combat and free-running. Think of GTA V’s golf and stuff, and Witcher 3’s Gwent. Those are good examples of games within games that provide breaks from main attraction. AC Origins only has chariot racing for that.
Now for the bugs and other minor disturbances. No game-breaking ones were encountered while playing the PC version of this Assassin’s Creed Origins. I did find some minor ones such as just-spawned biremes getting catapulted to the sun. I also had some trouble in climbing some walls and as the game doesn’t seem to recognize where to go to next. At one time, I jumped to from a height of about a meter, but the game recognized this as Bayek jumping into the very depths of Hades, so yeah, I had to retry during that part. Again, no bugs or serious game breaking glitches here. Whew!
While the game offers micro-transactions, they don’t have that much of an impact in the game as good ‘ol grinding can actually get you somewhere. There are some premium cosmetic items in the game’s shop and resources can be bought with real money, but it’s quite pointless since the items themselves aren’t impossible to grind. This is one game where-in micro-transactions are actually OPTIONAL.
In a nutshell, Assassin’s Creed Origins is one of the best games in Ubisoft’s AC franchise. It breathes new life into a franchise that needs it the most. Climbing the pyramids, toiling across the sands, and winning against impossible odds, is what I remember when playing this game. Possibly, you would to.
If you’re after a game that would require dozens of hours to finish, this is one. I clocked at about 37 hours in finishing the main quest, and that’s with some regions left unexplored and some side quests left untouched. While not a perfect game, it was enough to satisfy and made me think, “this is really worth every penny”.
Just something to add, as with all Ubi games, this one provides plug-and-play support for the Sony DS4. Thereby enabling Sony PS4 users, those without Xbox Controllers, to enjoy the game with console inputs without having to download 3rd-party programs to do so. Also, I did have trouble with my Logitech Headset while playing this game, which is likely to driver conflict. Simply plugging it onto my on-board audio fixed the problem.