It’s been nearly a year since Assassin’s Creed Origins came out and oddly enough it was the game to break the constant pattern of annual releases, an act made infamous by Ubisoft’s A.C. and Activision’s Call of Duty. Despite the fact that it was set in an amazing epoch it wasn’t appealing enough for many. The largest changes included a system and gameplay overhaul that’s driven from RPGs like Witcher and a small portion of their own previous games: A.C. Revelations, Syndicate and Unity, represented in the enemy types and their fighting styles. The game appears to have abandoned its core mechanics and thrown itself towards a more open world RPG, feeling less like a typical A.C.. Yet amidst all the complaints, the game has aspired to be its own amongst its predecessors and did not fall short. It has developed it’s own game, and will be remembered as one of the greats in the franchise.
In this entry to the franchise you play as Geralt of Siwa, Bayek of Rivia. Oh sorry, I meant Bayek of Siwa. Bayek is a guardian and protector of Egypt, also known as Medjay, set during the end of the Ptolemy Dynasty. To those who are not sure when that takes place in history – I would say most of us – it’s during the Roman Empire presence in Egypt with Caesar, Pompey and Cleopatra being key figures in the story and timeline. It is also known the last age of the pharaohs. After the loss of his child, Bayek goes on a hunt of those who ravaged his family and his homeland Siwa.
Speaking of homeland, the game managed to nail down the locations and historical aspects of ancient Egypt perfectly, with places like Giza and Memphis being designed to mirror the way they are described in ancient telling. Another point is the landmarks around the country, not just ancient Egyptian, they were so well done as seen with the perfect Greek presence in Alexandria. Everything about that place was done majestically to the letter. The downside of making each of these locations was portraying them as very close to one another, where realistically it takes days to travel between them. It’s understandably convenient to make them appear close. That joke of “you can see Alexandria from Giza” is the simplest explanation of that.
As you venture through Egypt, you’ll find yourself hunting animals to craft materials and easily obtain gold selling their hides and furs. Convoys carrying money or resources that you can raid are another way of earning money and items. Those are often accompanied by high-level enemies protecting them, but the rewards are usually worth it. The game doesn’t hold back in terms of treasures to hunt, secrets areas to explore in ancient monuments, enemy camps to assault, and bosses akin to the boss ships in Blackflag. Without a doubt these will give you a run for your money.
What also makes exploring entertaining is the addition of Senu, your eye in the sky. The traditional eagle vision is now replaced with an actual eagle scouting the environment for you. Its control is fully manual, so you can ride your horse to an object while flying the eagle for an astonishing cinematic experience. The addition of authentic desert experiences like exhaustion and hallucinations that you see after long journeys in the desert in the burning sun, gives the exploration a more serious touch and something for you to always keep an eye on. Other activities allow you to explore the pyramids from the inside to it’s very summit, fight in roman colosseums, race in Greek competitions, naval battles and more.
The combat is slightly like the previous game but it has received a massive overhaul with its weapons, such as the bow and arrow, and fighting style. There are fast, light attacks and a slow, heavy attacks. To fight, the player must rely on blocking or dodging arrows and normal attacks from enemies. The player can also parry in a style similar Dark Souls’ fashion. While hitting enemies, the player is building up the combo meter which can be used to do faster, more devastating attacks or one critical attacks, like the Arkham Games. There are many different enemy types from the normal soldier and brute tanks to the commando and the sharpshooters, who always keep fighting intense.
One detail that always adds to the excitement and general satisfaction is the execution animations. The bow play on the other hand feels as fluid as ever, you’ll find yourself in situations where you’d prefer the bow over fighting the hordes of enemies, sneaking up close to each of them. The new perk system and weapon quality will always drive you to try out different play styles and techniques as well as give you an incetive to hunt new ones containing perks like poison or bleed or fire, or upgrade ones you already have.
Questing in Origins seems awfully similar to The Witcher, minus the dialogue options and different approaches. Even the UI used in both games is almost identical. They still keep the whole generic approach of ‘go there, kill or carry something’ then it’s over before you know it. Some of these have quest chains that, when combined together, deliver very interesting stories, whilst others actually fall short. The main quest has followed the same path of the first two games in the series where you have a list of targets and your main goal is to hunt them in different parts of the regions and kill them, each having their own story and quest chain that leads up to the assassination. Eventually, when you’re done with them all, the game ends on a high note with a final assassination that is second to none in terms of historical accuracy and execution. One key feature the game lacked unfortunately was the secret assassination that each target had in his environment that would have offered a unique opportunity in each final mission. Even the hidden blade kill now wouldn’t instantly kill an enemy whose level is higher than yours, instead it will take a large portion of his health down.
A.C. Origins left original fans confused and unsatisfied with it’s changes, and yet deep down it still uses the root elements from the original games that people loved. For newcomers, Origins seems like the perfect entry into the franchise. Sadly for anyone who’s still attached to Ezio and Altair, who can’t embrace the new styles of the series, you must acknowledge the fact that Origins is the first A.C. that doesn’t completely feel like an A.C. game and it seems the upcoming Odyssey will likely follows in its footsteps.