ASSASSIN’S CREED ORIGINS [Review]: One Man Army of the Pharaohs.
I know what your thinking, “Another Assassin’s Creed game.. it’s probably going to suck.. the series died after Black Flag.” Typically i wouldn’t blame you for that line of thinking, but, this time.. you’re wrong. Dead wrong! As a longtime fan of this series, I was just as skeptical with Assassin’s Creed Origins; with mediocre releases (and terrible ones *cough* Unity *cough*) having plagued one of my favorite series in all of gaming time, I was praying that Ubisoft would finally get their crap together and release another blockbuster. They did.
A few years ago I wrote an article titled, “Assassins Creed: The Holdover.” In an otherwise nothing/DLC review, I prophesized that AC would take us to revolutionary France (they did, albeit in the shittiest game of this series). Your Templar also predicted that Ubi would take us to ancient Egypt, and boy, oh boy did they deliver. Yeah, I’m just as shocked as you. Our protagonist is Bayek the Medjay, protector of the people of Egypt — a title held over from the Old Kingdom when Medjays were the protectors of the Pharaohs; you are basically the sheriff of your little province called Siwa.
Life is great for you. You have a beautiful wife and a son,and you live in a tropical oasis away from the violence and debauchery of the big cities of this era. All that changes — of course — when this group called the order decides to defend on your little slice of heaven in search of an ancient artifact. Long story short, they screw up your life and send you on a mission of vengeance that will paint the sands of Egypt red with the blood of your enemies.
Ubisoft does an amazing job with the map and settings in this game. Anything and everything about ancient Egypt is present and waiting to be explored, from the lighthouse of Alexandria to the Great Library; the Sphinx to the great pyramids; Memphis, to the burial sites of historical Pharaohs and rulers — all in one incredibly-sized map. Ranging from cities and deserts, oasis’ and suburban towns, the land is not only massive, it’s a wonder on the eyes as well; no wonder Microsoft decided to show off this title on its (out in 3 days!) 4K dream machine at E3 2017.
Origins takes place about 50 years before the birth of Christ during the Egyptian civil war between Cleopatra and her baby brother Ptolemy. During this time, Egypt was not a good place to “walk like an Egyptian”. Greece and Rome both had their grubby mitts in this once great empire, and things have not been for the better. Your people are hurting, and it’s up to you to try and make everything right–and get sweet, sweet revenge in the process.
I spent over fifty hours exploring Egypt and finished the campaign. If you think that’s quite the load, I still have yet so much to complete. In fact, the game can feel overwhelming at times with how much there is to do. Here’s a list of some of my favorite moments, without any story spoilers. You’re good:
- Explore ancient sites like the tomb of Alexander the Great.
- Take over strongholds. Duh.
- Find exotic gear using Papyrus clues. Hi, Destiny.
- Side quests that actually tell stories of their own and aren’t just “fetch quests”; remember Witcher 3?
- Command a Trireme in naval combat.
- Search the ocean floor, river beds and lake bottoms for hidden treasures and.. temples.
- Fight in the Arena for coin and glory.
- Uncover secrets of the Assassins Creed series.
- Race in the Hippodrome for the same.
- Hunt lions, cheetahs, crocodiles and of, course, bad people.
- This list could keep on going, but you get the idea.
Combat has also completely evolved in this series. You have access to multiple heavy and light weapon types, each with their own advantage against certain enemies. You do find a favorite, and, for me, that was the standard sword and shield. While not as damaging as the heavy weapons and not as fast as the light, the two offered me the ability to take on any enemy without having to switch between weapons during combat. Combat is fluid and, at first, tough. Once you level up enough and get it down though, your enemies fall before you like frogs from the sky (see what I did there?).
Speaking of weapons, let’s talk gear. As you progress through the game, you’ll find different weapons everywhere — drom light and heavy bows to multiple-shot bows; swords to clubs to battle axes to daggers. Armor is a different story. The only way to get better armor is to upgrade using materials gathered from hunting and breaking down unneeded weapons. Your chest piece increases health. One bracer increases melee damage, the other ranged. Even your hidden blade needs to be upgraded, or it will be useless against higher level enemies. Farming: required.
If you’re a fan of Assassins Creed, this game is a must buy. Even if you’re not a fan of the series, buy it anyway and you’ll become one. I’m still in awe at how much fun I’ve had, and continue to have exploring Egypt. And so many questions are answered from the past games (a female assassin you met in AC2; learning the origins of the AC symbol; how the brotherhood began, etc.). Free content is on the way–including battles against ancient Egyptian gods–as well as two massive DLC’s for 2018. It’s rare for me (or anyone, really) to say this, but good job, Ubisoft, you finally listened to your customers and gave us a game worthy of the title “Assassins Creed.”