Hands-on review: Assassin's Creed Origins takes us to Egypt
FYI, this story is more than a year old
It's been ten years since Ubisoft introduced us to the first Assassin's Creed. The series has mainly been set in Europe, but now Assassin's Creed Origins is set in Ancient Egypt for the very first time.
The Assassin's Creed franchise has always been popular, but the series started to feel a little stale coming out each and every year. Assassin's Creed Origins however had a longer development time and feels far fresher thanks to the new setting.
I don't want to talk about the story too much to avoid spoilers. However, I will say you assume the role of Bayek who is some sort of a police enforcer in Egypt known as a Medjay. Something really bad happens to his family so he and his wife go out for revenge for those responsible.
There's more to the story than that, but it's worth playing until the very end. The game is great to play if you love the Assassin's Creed lore. Bayek and his wife Aya are important to the series' storyline history.
The previous games I played in the franchise were Unity and Syndicate in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Even though both games had their moments, they felt too similar being set in Europe. Egypt has a nicer vibe to it and is something we haven't seen before. The cool thing I like about this game are the diverse environments. Origins allows you to search ancient tombs, swim in the sea, view the legendary pyramids and even see some wildlife. I'm quite surprised since I assumed the game will have just been full of sandy deserts.
The environments also help make Origins to be the most graphically pleasing looking game in the entire series. Ubisoft has managed to master the game engine to make everything brighter and more vibrant compared to other games in the series.
Origins is also the biggest game in the franchise. There are many ways you can explore Egypt as you can ride on horses, camels, or even ride on a boat across the water. You can literally spend hours just seeing the whole landscape as it's huge in scope and scale.
What I also admire about the game is that it's not linear. You can choose to follow the main quests, or you can easily get sidetracked and do all of the side missions that are littered throughout the entire map.
The mission variety is commendable in this game as it doesn't feel repetitive. Ubisoft has listened to the feedback and cut down on boring tasks such as tailing targets or doing chase missions all of the time. Stealth still plays a huge role in being successful, and the enemy variety is also a welcome change. Aside from killing human soldiers, the Egyptian wildlife also tries to kill you. Hyenas and the big crocodiles proved to be really persistant when I faced them in the game.
The combat has also been revamped and feels much better compared to Unity and Syndicate. Bayek feels more brutish as he can wield heavier weaponry such as clubs and hammers. You can also choose to do things quietly with a bow and arrow too.
My favourite new feature though is how Bayek is able to search targets and locations with his trusty eagle friend. The eagle is really helpful at scoping enemy bases and assessing where you need to go to next. I even used the eagle to fly around the whole map just to see how big the game is!
There is a double edged sword when it comes to the game's size and this is where the flaws come in. Sometimes I feel the game's missions are too far apart as most of the time you're just running to your next location.
I normally don't have a problem travelling long distances in open world games, but Assassin's Creed Origins sadly does not play any background music very often. It gets quite boring sometimes travelling several metres at a time in silence. Another issue I have is with the game's waypoints. Sometimes the waypoints are unclear and I'm not sure where to go. It's hard to see where your next location is when it's inside of a cave hidden behind the bushes!
Even though this game isn't as loot box heavy as Shadow of War, levelling up in Origins does feel a little slower than I'd like it to be. Even though I tried to complete as many missions as I could, I always found myself to be underlevelled.
The game reminds me a little bit of Final Fantasy XV where you have to grind for hours before you can go on to tackle the main quests. If you try and do missions without levelling up, you will have a tough time playing this game. It's not a difficult game, but it's not a walk in the park either.
Despite those flaws, I am glad to say the game does not have any major glitches. I played the game for several hours on the Xbox One and the game only froze on me once. It's not as buggy as Unity was when it launched back in 2014...
Assassin's Creed Origins as a whole is a great game and takes the series into a new direction. It feels like a fresh experience thanks to the Egyptian setting and has an exciting story for you to follow. The game can feel like a grindfest at times, but it's worth perservering through as there's lots to explore and see here.