From the Beginning
From the release of the first Assassin’s Creed game back in 2007 until now, the series has taken us through some of the most exciting periods in history. The incorporation of action and strategy allowed us to truly experience and feel we were a part of these historical settings. Such an original experience is what helped the series make a name for itself. After popping games out annually for almost a decade Ubisoft took a much-needed break to re-invent the experience. Thus, Assassin’s Creed Origins was born.
As the tenth installment in the main series, Origins successfully takes the series in a new direction while staying true to its roots. We are introduced to some new characters in a new world, but, at its core, it is still the Assassin’s Creed we are used to. While this review was not paid for in any way, huge thanks to Ubisoft for providing a copy of the game for reviewing.
Welcome to Egypt
This time around, we follow the story of Bayek, the Medjay (protector) of Siwa in the events leading up to the founding of the creed itself. It is a story long past-due and, thankfully, it is done very well. You essentially hit the ground running in the campaign with Bayek already in the middle of a “hunt.” It wasn’t until after about an hour of play that I actually found out what I was doing and why.
Once through the confusion of the initial stages of the game, the story is very well crafted. It is very detail-oriented and it is clear that a lot of thought went into the characters, gameplay, and overall theme of the game. It doesn’t take long to realize that Assassin’s Creed Origins has many more RPG elements than its predecessors. Where previous games in the franchise have often felt a bit more “arcadey” and linear, this one allows for a lot more freedom in its progression.
There was also a lot more emphasis placed on the story outside of the animus this time around as well. The first few games had us following Desmond outside of the animus and his ancestors within. However, after the first few games, the story outside of the animus seemed to dwindle a bit, to the point you almost forgot there even was an ‘outside.’ After years of trekking through Abstergo as an anonymous individual, we are finally introduced to the new face behind the animus, Layla. This character plays a vital role in the modern world and the outcome of the Assassin vs. Templar conflict. Without spoiling anything, the game does a fantastic job of not only connecting the story in Origins to previous titles but even making connections to the Assassin’s Creed movie released at the end of 2016.
The Origins Experience
As I mentioned before, Assassin’s Creed Origins allows for a lot more choice in its progression systems, both in how you approach the story and choose to develop your character. In fact, the game certainly encourages great levels of exploration. You can try to rush through the story, but it will not be long before you run into missions and enemies that are far beyond your level. For some, this may be a bit of a deterrent, but I found the world so vast and full of things to do that finding extra ways to get experience was never an issue. There are dozens of side missions and events and hundreds of discoverable locations, each with their own tasks to complete for experience and gear. Even after hours of playing, I wouldn’t find myself wondering what to do next or even find things getting repetitive.
Origins also brought a new loot system to the table. Loot seems to be the new trend among modern games and sometimes it can seem out of place, but I actually found it to be a welcome addition to the game. Games like Unity and Syndicate had a variety of weapons to use, but they were mostly cosmetic with some minor stat differences. This time around, rather than simply having a list of weapons to unlock you find new gear on defeated enemies, from completing quests, or looting chests in tombs and outposts. Each weapon has noticeable differences in stats and even functionality. It is a great incentive to go out of your way to complete that extra difficult mission to earn some legendary gear, like a bow that sets things on fire.
There is a large skill tree with plenty of skills to learn as well. While there were plenty of skills to learn, I did feel that a lot of them seemed underwhelming. There were some cool skills that allowed you to add new tools to your arsenal, but there were also many that had little effect on the way you played, like getting extra experience for landing a killing blow with a headshot, etc. The most practical skills were quite obvious, making upgrading too simple.
The combat system was more similar to that of Syndicate, but with far more primitive gear and weapons, it made for much more of a challenge. Without things like guns or ziplines at your disposal, you have to play much more strategically and enemies aren’t guaranteed to go down with a single well-placed blow, meaning you can’t act as recklessly as you have been able to in previous games. It seems much more focused on realism, which is not necessarily a bad direction to go; it’s just different.
Assassin’s Creed Origins definitely mixes things up as far as gameplay is concerned. I actually find it more similar to the gameplay found in The Witcher 3 than anything. While different, I also find it to be a nice change of pace. There is plenty to busy yourself with in one of the most beautiful open-worlds we have yet seen in an Assassin’s Creed game and a nice story to rejuvenate the once stagnant plot. There is a much greater focus on micromanaging your character and the tools he uses, but it is not distracting enough to detract from the amazing game that it is. Of all the games being released this season, this is certainly one to pick up.