For the past decade, Assassin’s Creed has been Ubisoft’s golden goose, and just like the greedy farmer Ubisoft had been hell-bent, trying to get all the eggs at once. The result? Assassin’s Creed Unity and Syndicate failed to reach the targeted sale figures. So in an attempt to save the franchise, Ubisoft decided to give it’s precious goose a two year break. The end-product was Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Set in the last few decades of the BCEs in Ptolemic Egypt, Assassin’s Creed Origins follows, Bayek, one of the last Medjay, as he hunts down his son’s murderers. Bayek is aided by his wife, Aya, in addition to their friends and family. Before we start, let me make this clear, Origins doesn’t feel like an AC game, and for good reason. The timeline in which the game is set, back then the Creed hadn’t been formed, it only comes up by the end.
Ubisoft has incorporated some of the best elements from all it’s major franchises and has also taken notes from CD Projekt Red’s hit RPG, The Witcher 3. This becomes apparent as soon as you start exploring Ubisoft’s version of 60 BCE Egypt.
The most welcome improvement in Assassin’s Origins is the introduction of improved side quests and activities that are actually more than fetch quests. Most of these quests have their own distinct storyline and voiced characters that more often than not culminate into a mini-boss fight/assassination. These side plotlines reward the player with rare and even legendary items at times.
The world of Assassin’s Creed Origins is littered with explorable tombs, ancient structures, among other locations you can loot for a variety of equipment. These locations are very similar to the side locations (marked by ?) in The Witcher 3. The quests and activities aren’t the only noteworthy features of this game. Origins also has a new revamped combat system, involving a shield and a bow, in addition to a melee weapon and the trusty old hidden blade. These new mechanics make you feel like you’re not just mashing one button repeatedly. You can block, parry, evade, deflect and use an end-move as well to finish off your opponents.
The main story is somewhat lacking just like the recent Assassin’s Creed titles, but given all the other improvements I suppose that can be overlooked. The most memorable part of AC’s Egypt will always be scaling the mighty pyramids and admiring the fiery sunset from the golden tips of these ancient wonders. Sliding down the pyramids is also quite satisfying.
To enhance the realism, Ubisoft has included some interesting mirages that you get to see if you linger in the open desert for too long. Flowers, enemies, zombies, raining insects are just some of the few things that the blazing heat of the desert will make you witness.
I’d also like to point out that like every other Assassin’s Creed, the story of the game is quite distorted compared to the real historical events, but there are many aspects that are correct. Ubisoft seems to have paid attention to some subtle details as well as major ones, like the character of Cleopatra. As per most modern historians, she seduced Caesar to cement her own position as the Pharaoh of Egypt, this is neatly portrayed in the game. Secondly, there were often conflicts between the ruling Greeks and the native Egyptians due to the two civilizations being so different from one another, such as having different gods. This is again nicely presented in Assassin’s Creed Origins. A lot of ancient marvels like the tomb of Alexander, the pyramids and the Pharaohs’ tombs are also well re-constructed. The ancient Egyption culture like the mummification process, how the people believed in the afterlife and revered various deities is noteworthy as well. There are a lot of subtle tid-bits hidden in the game that most people probably won’t get, like for example, Caesar’s last words align with what historians have actually reported. Lastly, I also liked how Ubisoft connected Origins with Assassin’s Creed II in the latter half of the game. It didn’t feel forced and explains why Egypt was the ideal location for the Origin story of this diverse franchise.
The Far Cry series is one of the other major IPs the French developer owns at the moment and some core features of those games have been incorporated in Assassin’s Creed Origins, the most prominent one being crafting. Far Cry 3 introduced conquerable outposts, a feature that every other game henceforth retained. Those outposts have also made their way into the AC franchise now. Some skills like the chained takedown also show up in the skills menu in Origins.
Let’s talk about the visuals. Assassin’s Creed Origins isn’t a manufacturer partnered title. As such it doesn’t feature any proprietary graphics options, although on the PC ambient occlusion is quite sub-standard. I was expecting the inclusion of HBAO+ which runs well on all hardware, and has a much superior AO coverage. The rest is mostly in order. With high resolution character models and textures, the NPCs looks more livelier than ever and the landscape too is gorgeous. There is a bit of clipping here and there which is unfortunate but nothing game-breaking.
Assassin’s Creed Origins took us around 20 hours to complete the main story and 70+ hours including every side quest and activity. We suggest doing at least some of the side-quests, as Ubisoft has put in a lot of effort there and they contain some precious moments. We had a lot of fun with this game, and Ubisoft has successfully redeemed both the AC franchise as well as our trust. With tons of entertaining side quests, a more mature combat, in addition to a dozen eerie tombs, Assassin’s Creed Origins is a must for every fan of the franchise and the genre.