Warning: Expect some major spoilers ahead
Assassins Creed Origins is the latest installment in the AC universe, and one that we have been waiting to get out hands on since it was first announced. If you’ve been playing AC since the very first game like me, you know just how excited and terrified we have been that this will either be a great success or a massive failure. For me personally, Unity disappointed me completely, while Syndicate was a step back in the right direction. Nothing could surpass my personal love for the Ezio series and Black Flag, the latter being my favourite throughout the whole series.
And so I put in the disc, let the game install the massive file, and started off on this epic adventure. Here is some initial gameplay showing you some of the features.
As a simple way of explaining what the overall story is about, let’s take the premise as provided on wikipedia:
The player takes on the role of a Medjay named Bayek as he works to protect the people of the Ptolemaic Kingdom during a time of widespread upheaval: the Pharaoh, Ptolemy XIII, struggles to maintain his rule whilst harbouring ambitions of expanding his kingdom; his sister, the recently deposed Cleopatra, begins marshalling loyalist forces to launch a counter-coup against Ptolemy; and frequent incursions into the Kingdom by the Roman Republic under the command of Julius Caesar lead to fears of an imminent invasion. Bayek’s role as a Medjay brings him into contact with the secretive forces manipulating these events and sees him become the first Assassin.
An easy enough premise to understand, but when you play the game you realise it is so much more than that. There are just finer details that personally affect Bayek that makes this story so touching. The death of his son, meeting his wife again after so long, the intricate missions that not only resolve the Pharaoh dilemma but helps Bayek deal with the circumstances surrounding his son’s death… it’s all so well woven together.
And then there are the classic side stories and quests. In AC: Origins, these are all rather closer tied to the main quests than ever before. What is a welcome change to the quest system is the recommended level that your character needs to be in order to take on that quest, much like we were introduced to in Witcher 3. Well, not much like, exactly like. If you are level 9 and you see the main quest is recommended at level 12, you can run around finding minor side quests that will aid you in gaining the required level. No more do you just run straight into quests; you have to be rather strategic about it now.
One thing is for sure while playing this game: this truly is the beginning of the Assassins Brotherhood.
When you start playing AC: Origins, it will feel like an AC you’ve never played before. Many of the buttons have changed functions so completely that you will have to relearn how to play. In my opinion, it has improved gameplay way beyond expectations. Looting has been refined to a simply press of the Triangle button on the PS4 controller, and some Prince of Persian sand wisps up from the loot into your hand (inventory). Some loot boxes still require the old hold-button-in-until-open function, but picking locks have by far disappeared.
One of the most impressive improvements is Eagle Vision. If you do a quick scan, you are brought back to the Tomb Raider style of scanning for lootable items and objects in your new vicinity. It does not keep you in that weird eagle vision dimension we grew so used to. However, if you press up quickly, you switch to your trusty eagle, Senu, who can do some more advanced scanning. You can tune its eyes to find treasure, quests, locations, and track quest objectives. You can also scout for any enemies in a camp or base area before infiltrating it.
And to show this feature, I have included another video for your enjoyment:
But wait, there’s more. Those of you who have played some Need for Speed will recall the cool feature where you can take a snapshot of your vehicle in whatever setting you’d like. Well, AC has that now too. You can go into photo mode and can manoeuvre the cam around as you like to take some great images. What’s more, it gets tagged on the world map for you and others playing AC to see. You can even like others’ pics, like Facebook.
Here are some images I took at the start to show off this feature.
Which brings me to the next new feature as you will see in one of those images. You can now tame wild animals to run and fight beside you. You unlock this ability with your ability points, and once you access the sleep dart, you can put animals to sleep before taming them to your side.
There are also a wide variety of mounts, mostly between different camels and horses, but if you have 500 Helix points you can unlock the unicorn. Which isn’t that strange, if you know Greek and Egyptian history. Not mythology, history. In my advance studies in cultures and historical civilisations, there is made mention that in many Greek and Egyptian records there was tell of large horse like creatures with a single horn in its head. They were treated like cattle, found as often as buffalo in the fields and definitely not as shocking or magical as we would think of them today. Alexander the Great wrote of these beautiful creatures a few times, which is why the setting of Origins is perfect for the unicorn.
And this is why I love Origins so much. The research that went into my favourite ancient civilisation of all time, namely Egyptian, together with the mythology, all the hieroglyphs and studies I’ve done on their culture from back then, was well brought out in Origins.
Some of the other new features are also borrowed from other games I have loved. This includes the Rare and Legendary weapons and armour that you can now collect, much like Diablo 3. I’ve already mentioned the quest level similarity to Witcher 3, but the inventory feels very much the same. There is also a quick weapon selection where you can press right to access your two choices melee weapons and left for your ranged weapons. Holding in left allows you to quickly access a tool, like sleep dart, and holding right another like a torch.
As if all this wasn’t enough, you can level your weapons and armour, a feature I would have loved in Diablo 3. If you find a wonderful fan axe you love at level 3, each time you level up you can go to the blacksmith and pay to have it upgraded to your level. In this way, if you get a Legendary sword at a low level, you can keep levelling it with some coin as you level up, even through the Rare and Legendary weapons might cost you your whole purse for that upgrade. In this way, you don’t have to suffer the heartache of parting with your wonderful mace just to replace it with a boring weapon of superior quality. You also get various types of ranged weapons, such as hunter bows, predatory bows and warrior bows, all depending on what you want to use them on. The same with the melee, from maces, swords, axes and so much more, each with their own situational qualities.
Finally, there is the world map itself. If you paid attention in the video, you will see each area of the huge, huge, huge, map has a shield with two numbers in the centre. This indicates the level you should be when playing in that area. Be warned: if you are not in this level, you will die with one whack of a sword. I’d even over exaggerate by saying that one stare on your direction is enough to kill you if you are level 5 and you enter a region in which you should be level 30. This is a great way to establish proper progression in Origins… albeit, it didn’t stop me from climbing the Pyramids of Giza as quickly as I could in the beginning stages of level 5 just to stand on top of those glorious monuments.
All I can say is, if the AC Origins team came together with the Blizzard team for Diablo 3, we’d have one hell of a remaster of Diablo 3 RPG to enjoy in third person view.
GRAPHICS, SOUND AND ATMOSPHERE
If you’ve watched any of my videos in this article, then I should not even have to write up this section. The graphics are gorgeous. The world map is vast and more open than any AC game I’ve ever played, and when you ride through the desert lands and rise up a hill and suddenly see vistas of civilisation before you… I had major goosebumps.
I cannot express in words how beautiful this game is. The Egyptian music and sounds, the fantastic acting and dialogue, the lakes and skies and sunrises and sunsets… all pure visual poetry. No other AC game compares to this, and this is by far their greatest masterpiece.
One specific quality I want to mention is the stone circles mini quests. In each area you can try and find stones in the desert lands where you can align the stars to constellations. This has such a beautiful quality to it that, when the night sky is above while running around, I wish you could see the constellations you had already solved. However, you can only see them when stargazing at these stones, and as an avid star gazer here at home this is really something I appreciated.
It all adds to that ancient Egyptian atmosphere that you will not find in any other game.
WHAT I DEARLY MISS
You’re probably going to read this a lot, on threads, forums and reviews, but there is one aspect I wished we could have had: base building. You have a home, but there is no ability to add armour sets, weapons and all the mounts you collect in some kind of ranch.
I don’t blame the developers though. This game is massive, and that is by no means any form of overstatement. There is such a massive range of weapons and armor, it would be impossible to have them all in one house. The best means would be to take over the Great Pyramid of Giza and kit that out with all your goods. It would have been neat if they could have taken the Skyrim model of placing any armour on mannequins or weapons in weapon racks to keep your favourite weapons, but once again, this game is already too big to incorporate that.
What don’t I miss? The online multiplayer modes. Thank you so much for removing that completely. I hated them.
I’m not going to mince words here. Assassins Creed Origins is the AC we’ve been waiting for. The game that takes us back to the beginning of the Assassins Order is the one that breaks the mold. I can fault nothing in this game, and it is by far better than ANY AC game I have ever played. And that is why I am giving this the perfect score.
If they make another AC after this, they have a major undertaking to beat this. I don’t think any will for a long time to come.
Disclaimer: AIR Entertainment obtained a physical paid PS4 copy from a local store for reviewing purpose, and this review is the author’s own opinion and not influenced by the developer in any way, as per our reviewing Code of Ethics.