Assassin’s Creed Origins is the comeback title that the franchise needed and fans have been begging for. The overall story is compelling, dark, and gut wrenching; with an intriguing look inside the Brotherhood’s beginnings with a vast open world to explore within ancient Egypt. It has everything Assassin’s Creed fans want: wide-spread freedom, an impactful narrative, and characters that we care about.
Players find themselves in the shoes of the newest protagonist: Bayek of Siwa. Bayek is a multifaceted character with a level of dualism that many have not felt since the days of Ezio in previous installments. What makes Bayek an intriguing character to get to know is that he is kind, protective, wise – yet twisted with his want of revenge and desire to shake Egypt to its core. Players find themselves strung along helplessly through violent instances concerning the leaders of Bayek’s time while experiencing a heart-wrenching tale of loss and hidden strength.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is the largest game in the franchise. That expansiveness was evident by the sheer size of the map and all of the various quests and areas to explore. Just looking at the tackling the main campaign and leaving some of the lesser side quests until a later time, that only let me discover about half of what the game had to offer. The team did a phenomenal job with recreating the beauty that continues to enrapture history lovers. The architecture, the ever fluid environmentals, the dynamic subtlies that make you feel lost in a real world; everything about this entry into open-world was done right.
Arguably, one of the best parts about the expansive world Ubisoft has created is that they have made it to where players will want to explore it. Instead of forced menial quests that begin to feel like a chore more than anything else, the way the gameplay is set up allows for a more organic drive to search and uncover every secret Origins holds. To make this map desirable was imperative to Origins’ success. As mentioned before, the latest installment in the franchise is the largest fans have seen to date making an emphasis on meaningful quests something that needed to be a priority; and it was.
The flow of the narrative between actual gameplay and cutscenes was flawless. Traversing through the different landscapes was made all the more immersive by the lack of loading screens, and the cut scenes offered in-game were woven in expertly. For a story-driven game, that one mechanic can make or break the rhythm of a narrative and the Ubisoft team executed this perfectly. In addition to the smooth travel means, the team did a fantastic job of making sure that in-game movement was plausible. Whether it be the utilization of the fast travel mechanics, or calling up various mounts with a quick button assignment; with such a large world it wasn’t a chore to explore everything it had to offer.
As someone that enjoys a thorough game experience, and an avid lover of intricate RPGs, the side quests offered were nothing to scoff at either. Each mission, each “menial” quest felt like it had purpose and drove me as the player to see Bayek complete everything thrown his way; to become a champion of the people. There is a wide variety of side missions available including puzzle solving, crafting, side storylines, and even naval combat. There were so many tie-in little stories that could be overlooked if a player found themselves pressed for time but when done, offered an incredibly memorable experience. Without spoiling what the game itself has to offer, I can name 10 side quests off of the top of my head that I will carry with me in fond remembrance for a long time to come. That makes an RPG memorable and a thrilling experience. Pair that with the varying level of “background” noise that changes with the time of the day and the environment the player is in, there is not only a lot to love, but a lot to cherish as well.
The inclusion of the present-day story was also unobtrusive and felt natural. Tying in to additional mission types, there are several hidden temples that Bayek can discover that offer a special insight to the franchise’s overall secondary story. Origins also did a phenomenal job at ensuring that even though there was a complete overhaul of content to bring a “fresh” take to the series, it still had plenty of throwback elements to the entire franchise. This much is evident in the character interaction, quest alignment, and even the challenging puzzles littered throughout Egypt.
One thing that immediately made me squeal with delight as a player was the mechanics and the obvious attention to detail the team had to make it as flawless as possible. As much as I love previous installments, the mechanics were incredibly broken at times. Scaling walls became tedious, making exploration a chore. That was definitely not the case with Origins. The movement from sand to cliffside, from mount to boots on ground, from boat to water; the fluidity seen in even the most complex of movements was apparent and very much appreciated. There was nothing Bayek couldn’t do, it felt like, and it made me laugh fondly back at the days where Altair from the first game couldn’t even touch water.
What made Origins inevitably addictive is that it doesn’t punish players for their choice style. Whereas previous installments implemented an auto-fail system regarding stealth-centric missions, Origins allows the freedom to go about the story at whatever pace feels more comfortable. The option to perform reconnaissance via Bayek’s feathered companion Senu offered a unique way to go about strategizing stealth movement. Or, you can just do what I did and go ham every chance you get. No matter which playstyle you choose, the game lets you do just that which is more than previous games in the series offered.
The skill tree set to level up Bayek as a character was interesting; nothing overly complicated but different in the choices of what the player wants to choose from. The overall tree heads include the Hunter, the Seer, and the Warrior. Each characteristic summarizes the different playstyles Assassin’s Creed fans can choose. As someone who literally just said “go ham every chance you get,” I clearly chose the Warrior route, with a few Seer choices thrown in there. Each path ties in with how the story plays out and helps certain side quests achieve more meaning.
The only downside to the abilities and level system in-game was that there were a few times during my experience where I would look at my available quests and notice that there was nothing within my skill range. I’d look at quests that were either much too high to be achievable, or much too low to offer any significant rewards. Luckily, this wasn’t too terribly common, but it did make the act of “the grind” to level to the next available main quest line a bit of a journey. For those that might not dig the “completionist” game style, or for those that might fight the vast open-world a bit overwhelming, the jumpy leveling system could be frustrating at times, which is understandable. This aspect of the game, however, is nothing that puts a profound negative connotation to the title itself.
Like many games in recent years, there are the options to purchase in-game items. Whether it be a sweet new look for Bayek, nifty new mounts, or simple crafting supplies when the grind becomes too much; there are ways to go about getting these. One option, and the one I chose, was simply to earn it through the game and unlocking certain items with the in-game currency. There are a few cosmetic items that are exclusive to Helix credits, which after the initial stipend runs out needs to be purchased with in-game money. Unless you really have your heart set on a particular cosmetic item, it’s really not necessary to spend this; most everything available to buy is also available to earn simply by playing the game. For those that really, really want to spend the additional cash – there are bundles offered in exchange for Helix credits ranging from 500 HC to 7,400 HC. Notate that this is not mandatory for an enjoyable experience, the items that help gameplay can all be earned.
Speaking of secondary items, there aren’t a whole lot to choose from. Unlike a game like AC Unity or Syndicate, the character customization feature was lacking which was a bit of a shame. Because of the small amount of options available, I could see how it might be frustrating for a few being stuck behind the Helix wall.
- Pharaoh Armor
- Scarab Soldier
A plethora of gear options are available such as shields, swords, and other weaponry. What I used my 200 Helix stipends on given at the beginning of the game however belonged to the “Time Savers” category. I used mine for additional help with crafting simply because I am a huge wimp and I hated having to kill animals … even if they were fake.
Unlike Assassin's Creed Unity, there weren’t really any game breaking glitches. At all. There were a few humorous ones … especially when my horse and I fell off of the cliff once or twice (seven times), but nothing like some of the issues reported in previous games in the AC series. Luckily, it seems that the chariot issue that I, and other reviewers, have noticed where the mounts take a special kind of liking to a wall seemed to have been all patched up with the notable day one update. Overall, though – the game was fluid and mostly glitch free.
All in all, Assassin’s Creed Origins offers a truly stunning game experience that is unique, yet familiar at the same time. Origins is the comeback title that many veterans of this long-standing franchise have been begging for and we’ve finally got it. A thrilling story, immersive and dynamic environments, characters you truly can’t help but to admire and care for – Origins is it. It’s the game that Assassin’s Creed fans deserve as well as a truly charming experience for those gamers just coming in.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5