No doubt you would have read the positive press the latest Assassin’s Creed game has been getting since launch late last year. It should come as no surprise then that I think Assassin’s Creed Origins is a great new direction for the franchise and one of the best in the series to date.
Ubisoft took an extra year to polish this game together and it shows. Yes, you still get the odd glitch, but overall it is a completely positive experience. It is also designed to take advantage of the more powerful consoles, both the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro. Playing this game on the X is a sight to behold, and probably the best looking X game to date. The 4K and HDR is very impressive, particularly across the huge landscape and draw distances. Once you finish the introduction, you can effectively travel the entire world if you want to. There is a definite role playing edge to this latest AC game, as the new areas you discover give you a recommended level for exploring them.
The world is huge. I have been playing the game for almost fifty hours and I’ve still got countless exploration and side quests to do. It simply can’t be understated just how big this world is, even if you are travelling on chariot or horseback. What’s more there is plenty of interesting tombs to explore, and many different random events to encounter. Bayek, the main protagonist of the game, is the original tomb raider. Exploring tombs buried under pyramids or in deep caves is a hugely rewarding experience. There is also a sense of dread because it is quite easy to become lost in some of the larger labyrinths. This is part of what makes Assassin’s Creed Origins so great – you want to explore the land further.
To assist you with motivation for doing further exploration, you now have a proper gear system in place when you’ll find better equipment. It scales to your level too and can be further upgraded via a blacksmith. You love the look and stats of a particular sword? You can spend in game currency at the blacksmith to level it up to your equivalent level. You will spend plenty of time hunting and searching lost and buried places in search of materials to upgrade all your equipment. Equipment extends to clothing, shields, mounts (horses and camels), bows (four main types) and weapons (many different variants). Just like other rpg action games you’ll start will low quality loot and get better loot the more you explore.
The main story centres around the origins of the creed (funnily enough). You do spend minimal time in the present day and most of the time exploring as Bayek. Thankfully you do get to spend quite a few main missions also controlling Aya, a female warrior. Aya also gives you some missions involving naval combat, which are also very well done. The only downside is that if you are use to boarding the ships, like Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, then you will be disappointed. It is purely ship to ship combat this time around. Overall the main story is very well done, and superbly paced. If you ever needed a break from the main story the many side quests and exploring will keep you busy anyway. The quest log lets you know which missions are relating to the main story, which is helpful.
The combat system has been completely re-tweaked and refined as well. This takes some getting use to at first, but after a few hours it will feel a lot more natural. Those of you who are use to the Dark Souls style of combat will feel right at home in AC Origins. I absolutely love the combat now and it is so much more rewarding that the counters and button mashing that occurred previously in the series.
You can still assassinate the old fashioned way, once you obtain the hidden blade, but in this game an instant kill isn’t guaranteed. If you are too low level, or your hidden blade is not upgraded enough, then you’ll just perform a powerful attack that won’t kill outright. This keeps things interesting because Bayek can’t just go on a rampage. It is still pretty easy to be killed in this game, particularly if you up the difficulty level.
Other game mechanic refinements include a much better travelling system. If you are on a chariot, horse or camel you can have your mode of transport automatically follow a road, and also head to an objective. This is especially useful if you are trying to fend off enemies, but handy as well if you just want to take in the scenery while you travel to the destination for the first time (fast travel is available after this). You can also use Senu (Bayek’s eagle) to spot enemies and other points of interest. Senu can also be used just to fly to the next main section to help uncover the fog of war.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is an amazing game. I haven’t been this hooked on a game in ages. There is so much to do after the main story, that you will easily spend over a hundred hours on it. The main protagonist is great and you care about the other characters too. With additional features such as a Horde type mode, plus additional online events where you can fight some of the older gods in huge boss battles, this game just continues to shine. The Hidden Ones DLC is out now too but because there is so much in the base game I haven’t even touched that yet.
If I had played this game in 2017 I think it would have received my GOTY. Nicely done Ubisoft.
Here’s hoping Far Cry 5 is as good.
Reviewed on the Xbox One X. Also available on the PC and PS4.