Assassin’s Creed Origins is a game that seeks to reinvent a longstanding series whose ways were becoming too routine, and in many ways, it has succeeded.
One thing that the Assassin’s Creed series is known for is its beautiful worlds that you can get lost in for hours exploring. Origins is no different in that sense as it takes place in Ancient Egypt in 49 B.C. during Cleopatra’s absence from the throne while her younger brother Ptolemy XIII rules. There is a new organization called the Order of the Ancients, who has an evil agenda, which supports Ptolemy and with the help of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, you must take them down.
You play as Bayek, the last Medjay, as he hunts all over Egypt for this Order, starting in his homeland of Siwa. The map of Egypt is very different from previous entries in the series. It is not one big city or multiple cities to travel between, instead in Origins, it is one huge map for the player to explore. From the Pyramids of Giza, to the vast desert, to Pharaoh’s palace, this is probably the largest single map in an Assassin’s Creed game yet.
Furthermore, the way in which you play the game and traverse the map has been changed in many ways as well.
First of all, gone are the days of going to a mission and once starting it, you absolutely have to finish it or you’ll be “desynchronized.” Now you can start a mission and if you get bored with it or just decide to do something else then that’s completely up to you. The way you choose your missions now is similar to games like GTA V or Middle Earth: Shadow of War, and with that comes side quests that have little to nothing to do with the main story but that takes on a small story of their own. These side missions come in very handy when you are in need of leveling up in Origins.
That brings me to my next point: leveling up. This is where Origins has transitioned the series into the RPG arena in a big way. One of the biggest changes is that Bayek will start the game at level one and as you earn XP (experience points) he will level up from there. As he earns XP, Bayek will also earn ability points which can be spent in the ability tree.
The various abilities that are in the ability tree include things like improving melee combat, adding new stealth skills, purchasing ranged abilities (for the bow and arrow) and more. No more can you just assassinate any enemy that you want. Now enemies have a small indicator above their head that tells you what their level is, and if it is higher than your current level an assassination attempt will not work on them. If you do try and assassinate them, they will counter, and before you know it they have turned around to fight and possibly draw attention which brings other guards.
Gone also is the stapled feature of ‘eagle vision,’ which allowed players to see through walls to help maneuver around guards and sneak up on their prey, instead it has been replaced with a literal eagle named Senu. For anyone who played another recent title by Ubisoft, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Senu works very similarly to the drone in Wildlands. The player can press a button and basically become Senu, controlling the eagle’s movements and marking enemies overhead for Bayek.
All missions come with a “suggested level,” meaning the game suggests you at least be at that level before trying it, so this is where those side missions help a lot. There is no shortage of side missions throughout the game, many of them are quite fun, and when you come across a story mission that is way above your level, you can simply go out and do different side quests until you reach that level. Bayek isn’t the only thing you can upgrade; you can also upgrade your weapons, shield, mount (camel or horse) and more. The addition of the ability to upgrade your character gives you a feeling of seeing Bayek progress and get stronger which is part of what makes RPG’s so satisfying.
The combat system has completely changed as well. The old Assassin’s Creed games had you waiting for an enemy to strike and then countering for the kill. Even though these counters were pretty flashy at times, it was also a slightly boring way of doing combat. Now you have to go on the offensive, defending with your shield, but if you want to win a fight you will have to be the aggressor now. The flashy attacks now come in the final sequence as Bayek takes his foe down for good.
Overall I like this game. For people who are longtime fans of the Assassin’s Creed series and have lost interest because of the continuous cycle of ‘same old same old,’ I think they will thoroughly enjoy Origins. There is enough of the good parts of what make Assassin’s Creed what it is still in Origins: the parkour, the action, but it looks like developer Ubisoft has really listened to their fans here. They took a year off (much needed) and made a solid game instead of recycling out the same thing just set in a different location.
For people who have never been interested in the series, I do not necessarily think this will win you over. There is still the blueprint of Assassin’s Creed here, just a revamped and much improved version. But for those interested in seeing how Ubisoft has improved Assassin’s Creed, I strongly encourage you to don the hood and hidden blade once more and explore the vast land of Egypt.
(Pacer Photo/Matthew Herod)