Assassin’s Creed Origins Review
Assassin’s Creed: Origins is the story of Bayek as he seeks vengeance for the loss of his son at the hands of a mysterious organisation. Bayek’s need for vengeance quickly leads him down a very long and dangerous path.
The game beings with a short cutscene of a pharaoh walking the streets, suddenly ‘1 year later’ finds protagonist Bayek in an ancient tomb, fighting an unknown figure. Once victorious and out of the tomb, you travel to the oasis town of Siwa where you can begin, as is standard, taking quests and interacting with various characters.
We quickly learn that the Pharaoh of Egypt Ptolemy and a strange group of men named the ‘Masked Ones’ have taken control of the country by force from the former Pharaoh Cleopatra. These are the same men responsible for the death of Bayek’s son. Through his desire for vengeance Bayek assists Cleopatra in fighting back against Ptolemy’s reign of terror in the hopes of freeing Egypt from its oppressors and begins a movement that takes place over the course of history, the Assassin’s Creed.
I’ll be honest; I was a bit confused while exploring Siwa. I had no idea what was going on, who I was or what I was doing. Being thrown into the deep end honestly did not work. It felt like I had somehow skipped ahead of the story and was somewhere I wasn’t meant to be yet. While the game does begin to reveal more about Bayek and the world, games are all about first impressions. If I have no clue what is happening for the first few hours it’s not an enjoyable user experience at all. I don’t need to have my hand held, but at least start… well, at the start.
Putting this aside, Origins does bring something new to the franchise and has brought a much needed change of pace. If you’re like me, then you may be of the opinion that Ubisoft began churning Assassin’s Creed games out like the world was ending, resulting in awful games such as Unity, which was an trainwreck. Origins appears to be much more refined, with a completely new location, set further back in time than any of the others, and full of beautifully reworked mechanics.
Egypt is a fantastic setting From giant desert sand dunes to lush forested cities along the River Nile, one of the things that really stood out for me is the maps. I found myself constantly in awe at the environments Ubisoft had crafted.
They really are like nothing seen in this series before, and truly draws the player in further. Exploring ancient tombs and hidden settlements is very rewarding, both visually and from a gameplay standpoint, as exploration provides experience and loot that helps you level up.
The perk tree and leveling system is something we’ve all seen, many times, in other games. Although new to the Assassin’s Creed franchise,this system really fits with this game Bayek is not the most experienced assassin, and this system visually captures him training and improving over time. No one becomes a master assassin over night; grinding through a leveling system helped visualize Bayek as a better fighter, hunter and negotiator, through experience gained through side quests, exploration and more.
Exploration is a vital aspect of the game, exploring Egypt will lead you to side quests which help improve Bayek’s skills
Friends, family and even strangers all have problems that need solving, and Bayek, as a Medjay, is duty-bound to help and protect the people of Egypt in their time of need. Upon completing these side quests you are rewarded with new weapons, tools, experience and sometimes gold. These quests are vital for increasing your level to ensure the main campaign is less punishing.
In terms of visuals, Assassin’s Creed: Origins is gorgeously lush and rich with detail.
Bayek had fantastic animations. He really interacts with the world, from metal moving and clanging beneath his feet, to the fluid parkouring around the cities of Egypt, to just simply limping from a risky jump. Bayek’s animations were smooth and well-rendered.
The same can’t be said for the many many, many citizens around you, however.
They seem so unaware of their surroundings, almost lifeless. You could kill a guard literally feet from a NPC and he would continue to look onwards. The stealth is very hit and miss; on occasions a guard has found me stupidly fast in a way that seems quite unfair, on others they’re so oblivious it’s laughable. This problem isn’t just in the guards; bad AI afflicts many of the citizens living in Egypt. For example, as you’re riding your horse down the street, you’re rammed, blocked and thrown all over the place by AI that seems not to know to swerve to avoid oncoming traffic. Infuriating when you’re trying to chase a target I found myself cursing as the AI caused my downfall time and time again.
The biggest improvement in terms of animation is the complete change in the combat system, since the very first Assassin’s Creed all the way to the previous release, syndicate; we have encountered the same system that relies heavily on countering every move and killing an entire town’s guard population simply by standing in the corner of a room. Taking enemies out one by one used to be a cinch No more! The combat in Origins actually feels like a challenge.
There is a focus on blocking and attacking when the time is right. With many weapons to choose from, you can still get the upper hand against a guard quite easily. However you’re no longer able to counter on a superhuman level. If someone is sneaking up behind you, you had better re-adjust your strategy or else you’re going to become outmatched very quickly. Planning and tactics are key aspects to the new combat system – for example, taking out the archers and elite guard stealthily is usually a good idea, otherwise you may find it a lot more difficult to complete your objective.
The beautiful visuals in Origins does come at a cost. You are going to need a high end PC to get the most out of Assassin’s Creed: Origins My graphics card is a Nvidia GTX 970 and I usually have no issues with other more extensive graphics. However, for this game I was met with stuttering and lag while not even on the highest settings. I had to turn down some of the more demanding graphical features, which resulted in some immersion-breaking features such as AI only loading at small range and render distance being quite poor. Despite these things the game still looked attractive; the visual style while not unique is certainly nice Just don’t expect the best performance while playing and do expect to encounter FPS drops here and there. The cities are large, vibrant places with lots of different people and animals all moving at once, and if your PC is not ready you’re going to encounter some problems.
The story will take you at least 30 hours to complete, although this is including all of the side quests in the game. There is a lot to see and more to explore in Origins and the longer you take the more you will get out of the game. Origins features a range of collectables that will have you searching the desert and cities for complex puzzles that lead to treasure, stone circles that map out the stars and rare or exotic weapons that can give you the upper hand in combat.
Overall Origins is a great game, it has a compelling story with attractive graphics and impressive environments; however this comes at a cost due to the high graphical demand of the game. Ubisoft has clearly tried to expand into new territories with Origins and it works in their favour. I fully recommend the game but at its current price tag of $59.99 it may be worth waiting for the game to devalue first.
- Series feels like new again
- Lush environments and rich in detail
- Levelling system
- Tons of content
- Poor animations for minor NPCs
- Issues with stealth mechanics
- Poorly optimized