Towards the end of one of the missions I was playing, I found out that my assassination target got hold of one of his enemy’s family. The wife and the daughter. My mission is to find and save them before something bad happens to them, so I immediately dropped everything and immediately ran towards the destination point. As soon as I arrived, I knew I was too late. I hear a woman crying. At the dock, I find the mother, looking by the sea. She asked me to find her daughter, so I swam towards the sea and dived til I find the kid. And then I found one of the most horrible sights I’ve seen in video games ever. Bodies, their feet tied to a rock that kept them underwater. The child was one of them. Even if she’s lifeless, she was still clutching a doll her father gave her. The doll meant to be a protector of her and their village. That’s when I knew, I’m in love with Assassin’s Creed Origins.
After a year away, Ubisoft has come back and presented us with an Assassin’s Creed game that is totally different from the games that came before. Origin has learned from its mistakes and from other open world games that made similar games. While mature themes have been always been present in this series, Assassin’s Creed Origins has this air of maturity only seen in games like The Witcher 3.
Bayek is the main protagonist of Origins, he is a father fueled with revenge and caught in the middle of feuding rulers Cleopatra and Ptolemy. Aya, his wife is another very likable protagonist that you get to play as in the game. They have a very mature relationship rarely seen in video games. It’s so refreshing.
The game is gorgeous. Egypt is beautiful. Standing atop one of the Great Pyramids, I just imagined I was there for real. I’m playing the game on a PS4 Pro on a 1080p tv, and damn was it amazing. I could just imagine it running on a 4k screen, it must look more beautiful! Ubisoft is no slouch in terms of graphics, but past games for me did not really feel current gen. This game though, I felt like I’m looking at a next gen title. The landscape. The underwater areas. They all look fully detailed and every bush, house, fort and even inside the tombs, it’s like they’re all carefully placed and possibly looks like their real life counterparts back in their glory days.
Assassin’s Creed Origins overhauled the series in a good way. Yes, there are still the tropes of an AC game, but most of the features that stayed are now more meaningful. One of the biggest change to the game is the combat. R1 and R2 (for PS4) are now the buttons to mash to attack enemies. There’s no longer a button to run, which I felt made running a bit slow. I don’t remember if there’s a block button or parry button in previous titles from this series, but they’re here now, which makes fighting more tactical.
It is also now a looting game. In the past, killing enemies earn you money, trinkets, ammunition and generally useless things, now defeating them earn you weapons, shields and crafting materials. Everything you get has a purpose, has meaning. Every kill you make, either provides you with your most needed materials or a more powerful melee weapon or bow. If not, you can either sell the items or dismantle the weapon for crafting parts.
And Egypt is massive. The open world is so big, that 40 plus hours in, and I haven’t cleared all the fog in the entire map. Yes, it is littered with question marks and sidequests and synchronization points, all staples of the AC series, but fortunately, I didn’t feel like it’s all repetitive. Yes side quests may sometimes be fetch quests or escort quests, but they mostly have interesting fully fleshed out back stories to it. If there are grindy quests, it’s mostly the capture forts quests which require you to loot the gold and kill the Captain of the multiple forts/hideouts littered in the game.
The tweaks in the combat has its own pros and cons. I love that you can basically use any and all weapons in the game. They have their own animations, and you can really feel the crunch when metal hits bone. That is so satisfying. However, I never used the parry button in my entire gameplay. I would rather use the roll and hit style when fighting my enemies. It is pretty much effective rather than timing when to hit the parry. Either way, I don’t really get into much brawling as I played the game stealthily.
If there’s one thing I adored playing Assassin’s Creed Origins, is its attention to detail. While I was walking around the desert trying to figure out one of the papyrus puzzle, I saw a fish flopping around the sand. Shit, I thought this game was buggy as hell. Then I started hearing voices. Apparently, being in the heat for that long period, I actually started hallucinating. Brilliant! When you crouch when cats come to you, you will be able to pet them. And I loved that if by accident you complete a sidequest before you trigger the story, by the time you get to the NPC, Bayek will tell them that he finished the quest already. It’s those little things that I remember and appreciate in my time in Egypt.
Oh, and I also loved the photo mode of this game. It’s not as robust as let’s say Horizon Zero Dawn, but it gets the job done. The photo on this post is a screenshot I made from the photo mode. Games as gorgeous as this, deserve to have this mode on. Also, sometimes, your screenshots get to be shared in other people’s world map, meaning people from across the globe can potentially see your creation. They are able to like it too.
Of course, as it is a Ubisoft game, it’s not necessarily perfect. I had to restart my game twice because I fell off the world or I got stuck trying to enter a narrow hole. Like other AC games, the enemies lack variety. I feel apart from the named villains, there are only about ten kinds of enemies. I also did not like, that the moment I get into a fight, the number of enemies that will surround me doubles or sometimes triple in number. I mean, where did they come from?! There was this one time, it took me twenty minutes to just intercept a supply convoy because there were maybe more than 10 soldiers fighting me at the same time. And then there’s the case of the microtransactions. Helix coins can be bought with real world money, which in turn lets you buy costumes, weapons and steed. Good thing is, you can get them all in the game without ever spending real money. Heck, I’ve been playing a lot of Ubisoft games, I have several coins/points I can use to buy other weapons and accessories.
The game is grindy though. Main quests are locked until you reached it’s minimum required level. That means, you can’t just blow through the main campaign. You have to do the menial tasks as a Medjay, fetch this, protect that, kill it, collect that. And that’s fine. Ubisoft wants you to experience the game, the setting, just as they intended. I wouldn’t have experienced that dessert hallucination had I not tried to decipher those papyrus puzzles. But I can understand if some will feel overwhelmed with everything the player can do in such a huge open world game. That’s how I felt with the previous titles (*cough*ACUnity*cough*)
Overall, the positives outweigh my criticism of the game. This is a great title, worthy of putting the Assassin’s Creed franchise back in its place at the top with the other Cream of the Crops games. 2017 is a great year for video games, what with Zelda, Mario, Horizon, Persona all turning out some masterfully crafted games, Assassin’s Creed Origins feels like a game that can stand among these great titles this year.