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Assassin's Creed Origins Is The Series' Most Exciting Game In Years

We've got to go Bayek.

Assassin’s Creed Origins might look and feel like just another Assassin’s Creed game in a lot of ways, yet Ubisoft have actually redesigned a vast amount of the game and made it much more systemic. There’ve been sweeping changes made to the combat, to the way your character evolves – it’s more of an action RPG looter in both these regards – and how the world has been constructed. It might seem familiar, but go beyond the superficial similarities and Origins could surprise you. In fact, this might be the fresh start that the series has needed for the last few years.

Perhaps the most immediate difference that people will latch onto is with the combat. Straying away from the Batman-esque pugilism that came into the series in the last few entries, you now have light and heavy attacks on the right shoulder button and trigger, with the latter able to be used as a charged up shield breaker move, and stringing attacks together allows you to unleash a superpowered attack that will deal a lot of damage to whoever you’re attacking. Equipping different weapons, you can have a pair of ultra-fast but low damage short blades, through to a huge mace that’s slow but can pack a hilarious amount of damage while sending enemies flying

You might, however, find that you can’t simply wade into combat and expect to come out smelling like roses. The new action RPG underpinnings mean that you need to level up to match or better the levels of the enemies you’ll face. At level 12 you’ve got absolutely no hope of going up against a level 18 tax collector and his two enforcers, but get up to level 16 and you might have a chance in the fight, especially if you whittle them down from afar and make use of items like fire bombs. As you pick up quests from various characters – yes, they’re RPG-like quests as opposed to missions – you’ll sometimes find that you can’t really complete it yet until you’ve taken on a bunch of lower level quests to rank up. You can’t even perform a stealth kill on someone that’s too high a level for you

A sprawling upgrade tree accompanies your character progress, unlocking new abilities like being able to slow time while in the air and aiming with your bow and arrow. You can equip different armour pieces and weapons, with up to two melee and two bow weapons to quickly toggle between on the D-Pad, but as you level up you’ll want to scavenge, find, purchase or upgrade your existing weaponry to match so that you’re dealing as much damage as possible.

The world is full of life in a very different way to that which they attempted in Unity, aiming to recreate a huge open world of Egypt as opposed to the crowded hustle and bustle of Paris or London, and you’re encouraged to explore it more for yourself by the removal of the mini-map. As you take Senu up into the sky to look down on the world, she can spot and tag all manner of characters and animals for you, and even go deeper into revealing what they’re doing at that time. A resting hippo could be happily chilling out in the muddy waters of a river, only to be attacked by a crocodile that’s going on the hunt. It’s just one example of how AI now dictates behaviours instead of scripts and rote animations. That guy playing flute in the street can be bumped into, but won’t simply forget the existence of the flute and walk off and will come back to play some more if you give him a few moments to get over the shock, however he also has a daily routine so that he’ll go home and go to bed at night before coming back to play the next day.

Yet it’s perhaps not a revelation in the amount of tangible detail this provides. It’s neat to see these different elements and systems interact, but setting a lion free from a cage to savage the enemies in a camp that (for some bizarre reason) took it captive is a trick that we’ve seen in a bunch of games, some of which are right out of Ubisoft’s own stable. There’s also the obvious visual flaws of NPCs seeming to glide up and down stairs without making real contact, the kinds of clipping and odd behaviour that seem to crop up in every open world game, and so on.

However, they’re relatively minor flaws in my opinion that do little to detract from a fantastic looking game. Playing on Xbox One X, it’s truly stunning in 4K. Though you’ll instantly think of the pyramids and huge open deserts to get lost in, and you can obviously see these off in the distance and go to explore them – the pyramids offer up a taste of tomb raiding, for example – the rivers running through the country also provide a lot of verdant greenery, there’s rocky canyons that bandits hide in and of course the towns and cities to visit that are dotted across the landscape.

One blessing is that you no longer need to unlock the world by climbing up towers and synchronising the surrounding areas. You can still do this and it’s advised to synchronise in order to unlock locations as fast travel points, but it’s not strictly necessary. Senu is great in that she can not only fly off in any direction for as far as you want – returning back to Bayek is about as seamless as possible with this in mind  – but she will also spot and mark quests and points of interest for you.

Of course, there’s still the elements of the downright ridiculous that don’t work thematically but do make Origins quite a bit more fun to play. Just the way that Senu can spot an animal, immediately interpret its motivations and desires and relay this to Bayek is probably a bit over the top. Then there’s being able to remote control an arrow fired from a Predator bow as an upgradable ability, which is just downright ridiculous… though admittedly quite amusing.

First impressions can be everything, and the first impressions of Assassin’s Creed Origins were that it wasn’t too far removed from the last few games. However this similarity is only skin deep, with Ubisoft taking a surprising and intriguing new direction with much of the actual gameplay and the systems that lie behind it. This is easily the most exciting Assassin’s Creed since the dawn of the current generation.

  1. MrYd
    Since: Mar 2011

    Surely anything ridiculous (such as remote controlled arrows) is down to it not being real? Not because it’s a game, but because the whole thing is a simulation inside a game. So any silliness can always be excused.

    You’ve not sold me on it yet though. A big open world ARPG isn’t an AC game. It’s supposed to have crowded streets and running around on roof tops.

    I’m guessing it’s another Black Flag situation then? A decent enough game they’ve slapped some AC branding on.

    Comment posted on 04/10/2017 at 17:36.
  2. Nate
    Since: Apr 2010

    This sounds like AC meets Far Cry Primal. Not overly convinced these changes were what AC needed to refresh the series.

    Comment posted on 04/10/2017 at 17:47.
  3. JR.
    Since: Apr 2013

    I wonder if in the future, ALL games will be open world action RPG’s?

    It does look great. Although to be fair, I would have been just as excited to play another entry in the old style games (some of us never grew tired of them believe it or not).

    I think I’m more interested in the game because it’s set in Egypt than I am because of the revised gameplay elements.

    Comment posted on 04/10/2017 at 18:43.
    • doomsday619
      Since: Nov 2008

      Snap same comments I was about to make myself.
      Huge fan of the old style and missed not having a new Assassins game to play last year.
      Although I’m excited to play a game set in Ancient Egypt.

      Comment posted on 04/10/2017 at 21:37.
      • tactical20
        Since: May 2010

        And snap here too! Hope it still plays like AC. Egypt setting is a dream!

        Comment posted on 04/10/2017 at 21:58.
  4. Ade
    Since: Jul 2017

    Take my money Ubisoft. Again.

    Comment posted on 04/10/2017 at 20:29.
  5. TSBonyman
    Since: Dec 2009

    I said i wasn’t interested – could you please stop making it sound so appealing. ;-)

    Comment posted on 04/10/2017 at 22:08.
  6. stigdu
    Since: Apr 2010

    First you had my interest.

    Now you have my attention.

    Comment posted on 05/10/2017 at 08:40.
  7. bunimomike
    Since: Jul 2009

    Can you expand on this, fella? Doesn’t make any sense to me.

    “…Ubisoft have actually redesigned a vast amount of the game and made it much more systemic.”

    Comment posted on 05/10/2017 at 12:00.
  8. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    I’m not keen on the upgrade system as it really doesn’t sound like it fits into AC but i supose, Animus reasons. But if it encourages variety in combat(didn’t Unity try that?), it could be a welcome edition. I will state that it is not an RPG. It’s just uses a few elements. Don’t know why people are claiming it’s an RPG but i’m a bit ol’fashioned so could be that my definiton of a RPG is outdated.

    Origins could another Black Flag. Excellent game but a bit naff as an assassain game. I do hope that Bayek is morally grey and that we see a fair amount of romans using proper tactics. E.g. Shield Walls.

    And I disagree with the levelgates. It may be ill advised but i think people will be able to beat a level 18 enforcer. I mean, look at Black Flag. It’s techincally a bad idea to attack a Man O War without being upgraded up to a point but it’s doable. That and ranged attacks may bypass all levels.

    I really hope there is proper side content. The last AC game i purchased was Rogue and well, it’s in short supply there.

    But i do hope that the Modern day stuff is fecking fun to play. The nameless boring minigames are crap and whilst Desmond was a bit meh, they dropped the ball with him. I mean, a modern day AC game or modern day segments that are fun to play with as a fully fledged assassain?

    But the big question is, will Ubisoft force in Loot boxes, microtransactions and force many people to roll their eyes and go “Oh, Ubisoft.” you utter fecking….

    Comment posted on 05/10/2017 at 12:29.