Walk like an Egyptian.
“Another year another Assassins Creed” is the phrase a lot of players might re-iterate upon each yearly release. I mean it was true, we saw very little innovation between the majority of titles and it was starting to wear a bit thin. So Ubisoft decided to take an additional year off to revamp the series, and with that comes Assassins Creed Origins, a huge step in the right direction as far as I’m concerned.
Bayak the Medjay
Here players play the role of Bayak, a warrior stricken with grief and vengeance as he aims to kill the ones responsible ruining his family. The scene only provided me with enough reason to want to see the enemies slaughtered, and felt powerful enough to convey. Bayak immediately came off as a strong and determined character with a story ark that gave birth to his determination and revealing in the “Origins” of the Creed. Between moments of controlling Bayak, players will also control his wife Aya for key moments. I’m also happy to see a more prominent return to the modern day storyline again with third person control, where players control Layla who is doing rogue research into the Egyptian timeline for unknown reasons at the start.
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
How long to beat: 25+ hours
Gameplay in Origins still feels very reminiscent of the original Assassins Creed games. Players still take on missions, assassinations, and gain new weapons and equipment over the course of the game. Here we see some changes and improvements overall that make the experience feel a bit more advanced and streamlined in ways. Gone is the mini map, replaced with a points of interest compass at the top of the screen. Those that played Witcher 3 or Horizon will feel right at home. Combat has also seen change in execution and feel. Before it felt like a game of countering and attacking. This no longer applies, as guarding, strong attacks and weak attacks all play a major roll, as does dodging. It truly feels like more effort is needed to finish some of the stronger bad guys this time, and it’s mostly a success.
The camera at times can be a bit problematic. Not using the lock on feature can lead to some huge frustrations. The ability to pull from two different melee weapons and bow and arrows types gives players an easier incentive to mix and match their combat style on the go. Quests and enemies are labeled with level stats, so attempting to fight or complete a mission higher than the the players currency level can be almost impossible. Bayak can also use his friendly bird to scout out areas from high above for mission objectives, materials for crafting and other points of interest. A new system is in place, similar to Destiny, where weapons can be dismantled for material and everything is color coded for rarity and new statistic bonuses.
Climbing seems to feel similar to past games, there is much more Bayak can climb than ever before, with players able to forge their own path up mountains and cliffs. While the majority of Assassin’s Creed games opt to keep players in huge vast cities, Egypt is absolutely the right setting to allow exploration and adventure, otherwise it would feel like a missed opportunity. The horses or camels players can ride can also be toggled to auto ride to checkpoint players put on maps, making traveling to new locations easier than before, and of course once reaching a synchronization point of interest, fast travel is enabled.
It’s appreciated, as the world itself is absolutely huge and breathtaking. Having never visited Egypt myself but having always wanted to, this is the next best thing. Shimmering sand dunes, huge Pyramids, and marshy swamps are just a taste of everything to see in Origins. Walking into Alexandria, the city is vast in size and grandeur. Ubisoft has absolutely nailed the atmosphere and aesthetics of ancient Egypt, and every time I boot the title up, I’m in awe. Having played the game on Xbox One and then the X, there is a huge jump in visual clarity and performance. The art style alone is enough to enjoy what’s here from a base level, but the X really pushes the beauty of the game higher and clearer bringing an even sharper visual showcase.
Return to form
I could go on and on about how much I’ve fallen in love with the setting, the improvements to the core gameplay, and the way it feels like Ubisoft have breathed new life into the franchise. The year off and restructure of the game has done wonders for it, almost bringing Assassin’s Creed into the RPG territory rather than just being and action adventure game. While I can see some being disappointed in that aspect, I love role playing games, loot, and exploration, and Assassin’s Creed nails these new elements while still feeling like an Assassin’s Creed game at its core. Combat is the biggest hurdle getting used to, and when the camera doesn’t work in tandem, feels a bit messy. Otherwise, aside from some odd visual glitches that randomly occurred in my game, or some rather typical AI follies, I have little issues with Origins. It’s one of the best Assassin’s Creeds games I’ve played, and probably one of my all-time favorites right after Black Flag and the controversial AC III. This one was worth the wait. Now time to get back to exploring another ancient tomb!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.