Assassin’s Creed: Origins Review - Read Before You Buy

Assassin’s Creed: Origins Review
Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a fresh rebranding of the Assassin’s Creed gameplay offering new combat moves like the one featured above.

Ever since the first Assassin’s Creed game was released in 2007, the series has been flying off the shelves of game stores everywhere. We have followed the series through the Crusades, the Italian Renaissance, the Colonial Era, the French Revolution, and the Victorian Era. In this article about Ubisoft’s newest venture into the Ancient Era with their release of Assassin’s Creed: Origins, we will be going in-depth into the game mechanics and covering its pros and cons in an unbiased manner.

About Assassin’s Creed: Origins

The tenth main installment of the Assassin’s Creed series by Ubisoft is an action-adventure game that allows players to explore an open world environment during the end of Egypt’s Ptolemaic Era. Released on October 27th, 2017, the game garnered quite a bit of interest and hype for a few months. As it was played more, however, mixed reviews began to spring up online. Many long-time Assassin’s Creed fans disliked the way it departed from several core elements of the game, such as the revamped combat system. However, others enjoyed the huge open world that Origins has to offer. Ubisoft is venturing into new territory with this game that some will enjoy and others will despise.

According to Ubisoft, the game sold incredibly well during their holiday quarter, garnering approximately $889.4 million in sales by December 31st, surpassing Ubisoft’s quarterly goal of $858.8 million. The game was the third best-selling game in Europe and the Middle-East and doubled both the sales and the player time of the previous game, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.

Ubisoft Montreal began development on Origins in 2015, prior to the release of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. The development team had previously worked on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which had been favorably received by the gaming community.

Assassin’s Creed Origins Story

Bayek meets with Queen Cleopatra, who convinces him to assassinate the members of the Order of the Ancients.

 

In Origins, the player takes on the roles of Bayek, the last great medjay, or protector of Egypt, and his wife Aya as they strive to protect the people of Ptolemaic Era Egypt. After his son Khemu is killed by five mysterious masked men, Bayek swears vengeance on them, leaving his post as medjay of Siwa and traveling across Egypt to gain more information on them.

This is when he discovers the men that killed his son are, in fact, part of a mysterious order called The Order of the Ancients, a precursor to the Templar Order. Bayek and Aya begin their quest to assassinate the members of the Order of the Ancients, becoming the very first Assassins.

Overall, the main storyline of Origins is intriguing. For many fans, it is interesting to see the origins of the Templar Order and the Brotherhood of Assassins, two mysterious groups that have been the driving force in every game of Assassin’s Creed. The game will be interesting for ancient history buffs as well, as it features notable political leaders of the time, such as Ptolemy XIII, Cleopatra, and Julius Caesar.

Assassin’s Creed Origins Gameplay

Players have the ability to upgrade weapons in Origins, which lets them play any combat style they want.

In Assassin’s Creed: Origins, players will play mostly as Bayek, a medjay, or protector, of Egypt. However, there will be certain scenes where they can play as his wife Aya, who, like her husband, is intent on getting vengeance for her son’s murder. The two points of view really do help reflect the chaotic political nature of the time, putting into contrast the different factions that are trying to take over Egypt.

Origins boast one of the biggest open world environments in the Assassin’s Creed series to date, being twice the size of Havana from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The map consists of two main cities, Alexandria and Memphis, as well as smaller villages that are dotted around the landscape. Ubisoft Montreal said they wanted to give an idea of the cultural differences that were at large within Ptolemaic Egypt. This becomes very obvious when you speak to the NPC’s. Each has their own different opinion on the political situations at hand and each will react in different ways.

As far as the gameplay goes, players can expect to be occupied by lots of side-quests. Many main story quests have a level cap on them that are near impossible to complete unless you are a certain level or above. This makes it absolutely crucial to do side quests to acquire more XP. This could be an annoying feature for players who do not enjoy level grinding, or it could be a rewarding feature for others who do enjoy the sense of accomplishment it brings.

Another gameplay feature that may annoy some players is that they must upgrade their weapons by collecting pelts and materials such as iron or cedar. This is often done by ambushing supply carts or triremes to gain access to those supplies, which can, in turn, be another grind-heavy experience that could get on some players’ nerves while other players will enjoy the experience of leveling up their gear themselves.

A big part of the gameplay is the player’s ability to take control of Bayek’s eagle Senu, who can scout out treasures, locations, and enemies. This is a  handy feature when a player is going on a stealth mission or when they need to find certain materials to upgrade their gear.

Another important feature of Origins are the Targets. These function as a kind of hit list for Bayek, portraying all of the masked men who he swears vengeance on (and later on in the game, the Order of the Ancients). These act as the bosses of the main storyline of the game. As Bayek discovers their identity, the mask on their icon will be removed, showing their faces, and a list of information known about them will feature below their icon. This is an interesting feature,  sort of reminiscent of Shadow of Mordor, where all the bosses that the player needs to defeat are shown in a menu screen.

The villains of the game, The Order of the Ancients, are an extremely interesting group that is the predecessor of the Templar Order. They control the political environment behind the scenes, often manipulating leaders against their will and sometimes against the betterment of humanity. Overall, it is extraordinarily satisfying to assassinate a member of this group and then uncover another juicy detail about the secret of the organization and their plot to control the entirety of Egypt.

Bayek and Aya are a perfect balance to this. Their son’s death gives them a thirst for vengeance that leads to them uncovering these secrets and landing them right into the middle of a civil war within Egypt. Both protagonists are incredibly benevolent, helping the citizens of Egypt whenever they can.

Overall, the gameplay can be fun and rewarding. However, the material and level grinding are so prevalent that it can sometimes take away from the enjoyment of the storyline. Once players have finished the main quest and side quests, there is not much replayability to the game.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins Combat

Combat has been completely been overhauled in this newest installment of the Assassin’s Creed series. Similar to the Dark Souls series, players now have a light attack and a heavy attacked that are mapped to the R1 and R2 buttons respectively. A big part of combat is to lock onto enemies using the L1 button. This ensures that players can successfully dodge or parry an enemy’s attack.

Another new feature that has been introduced into the game is the special move. While fighting, players will have a meter at the bottom of their screen that fills up with each successful hit, parry, or block they make on the enemy. Once completely filled up, players can push the L1 and R1 buttons to unleash a devastating attack on their enemy. Players can also dodge and block with a shield, as well as unlock a parrying move once they progress further in the game.

According to Assassin’s Creed: Origins director, Ashraf Ismail, the max level cap for the game is level 40. This means that players can run into enemies that range from level 1 to level 40. In order to successfully combat these high-level opponents, players must level up their character. To do this, players will receive a skill point with each level they gain. They can choose to save them up or spend them on the different perks in either the Hunter, Warrior, or Seer ability categories. The Hunter abilities focus mainly on upgrading Bayek’s archery abilities, as well as upgrading stealth-related combat. The Warrior abilities focus mainly on upgrading Bayek’s melee combat skills, and the Seer abilities allow Bayek to upgrade tools and manipulate his environment.

Another big part of combat is the various weapon types that Bayek and enemies can use. There are fast weapon types, such as the dual blades, that can deal damage quickly, however, your character cannot block with shields while using these, so it is imperative to dodge often. There are regular weapons, such as the sword or the sickle, which are easy to use and very accessible. The heavy weapons that have been introduced into the game come in two forms: heavy blunts and heavy blades. Heavy blunt weapons are weapons like war hammers, which deal a lot of damage but are very slow when swinging. Heavy blade weapons, such as battle axes, are faster than war hammers but slower than regular blades and deal a considerable amount of damage.

Another thing that Origins has introduced are different types of bows. The Hunter bow is a bow with average speed and damage and will be very useful in most types of situations. Warrior bows can be compared to shotguns. They allow you to fire multiple arrows at once, which is devastating to an enemy that is getting a little too close for comfort. Light bows are basically the SMG’s of archery. They allow you to fire off arrows at a rapid pace. Although they do not have great range, they allow you to harass an enemy. Predator bows, the final category of bows that have been introduced in this game, are the sniper rifles of archery. They allow you to shoot targets from a long range and are absolutely devastating when you land headshots.

As for the combat animations, Ubisoft has added some new kill moves that look fantastic. The kill move animation usually begins when the player makes the killing blow to an enemy. It varies depending on what weapon you are using and what your stance is, but many of them depict stabbing an enemy through the heart, the head, or twisting the enemy’s neck. The variation of the kill moves, just as the variation of weapons, are vast in Origins.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins Quest/Mission System

The quest system in Origins is fairly similar to the way it was in previous Assassin’s Creed games, such as Black Flag. Both main and side quests are given out by NPC’s who need the player’s help to accomplish something. However, the NPC’S in Origins have their own schedules. They all have programmed places to go to work and sleep, as well as various animations that depict them eating and performing other daily activities which ties into the quest system. For example, Bayek receives a quest to assassinate a very public figure and needs to learn his schedule to figure out the best time to assassinate him. He learns that he stays in his chambers by day, surrounded by a vast amount of guards. In the evenings, however, he relaxes in the bathhouse and is sparsely guarded. It is quests like these that keep the game interesting and immersive, giving the player a new side of the game we have not seen in previous Assassin’s Creed games.

Side quests are often similar in nature. They usually consist of being tasked with retrieving an item for a townsperson, assassinating the guards who have taken the said object, then looting the treasure chest or enemy corpse that carries that item. There are several interesting side quests that do further the story along, but most of them will be similar in nature and are mainly there for providing XP for a player’s level grind.

The main storyline is intriguing and it would have been nice to see the side quests somehow tie into that rather than just being unrelated objectives.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins Graphics

The world of Assassin’s Creed: Origins is hyper-realistic, boasting the best graphics in the series to date.

The graphics of Origins are incredibly vivid and colorful. It is clear Ubisoft put a lot of time and energy into this area of the game development because the world looks absolutely gorgeous. Even the smallest objects, such as the wickerwork of a basket, have such clear attention to detail. Origins’ graphics are especially excellent at highlighting the facial expressions of characters. NPC’s will react to their environment in a realistic way. For example, if Bayek plows through a crowd on his mount, NPC’s will become angry and yell obscenities.

The graphics of the flora and fauna in this game are incredibly detailed as well. The water of the Nile River moves realistically, ebbing and flowing accordingly as the player moves through it. The sun glints off the water. The plants that are dotted throughout the landscape are true to the region, with papyrus plants near the river and scraggly shrubs in the middle of the desert. The wildlife is incredibly detailed as well. There are times when you can see the individual strands of a wolf’s fur or the small ridges on a crocodile’s skin. Ubisoft has definitely spared no expense when it comes to this area.

The combat animations are also well done. Protagonist and NPC’s will move realistically as they respond to the enemy’s attacks. If they get hurt, they will clutch their wound, shout obscenities, or cry out in pain. Overall, the graphics of this world are incredibly realistic.  

Assassin’s Creed: Origins Developer

Assassin’s Creed: Origins was made by Ubisoft Montreal, the same team that worked on Black Flag. Development for the game started in early 2014, just after the completion of Black Flag. The company had been following a yearly release cycle, but after the launch of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate in 2015, Ubisoft decided to delay the release for Origins until 2017. Their reason for this was the poor sales on Syndicate and a desire to focus on the content of each individual game

At its release, the game had several bugs. One notable bug was a ship that would appear to float in the sky as its soldiers fell down into the water. Players took notice of this bug and reported it to Ubisoft, who immediately patched it out. In general, Ubisoft is great at communicating with their fans in this way. When fans reach out to them on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media, they reply almost immediately. The relationship between the company and its audience is crucial since companies often rely on the fans and the gaming community, in general, to catch bugs or review the game in its early stages.

Nearly ten months later, Ubisoft is still releasing patches and DLC for Assassin’s Creed: Origins. The first DLC, The Hidden Ones, sheds more light on the rise of the Assassin Brotherhood. It takes place four years after the main storyline, bringing the player to the Sinai Peninsula Region, where they will undertake a quest to investigate a clash between a rebel faction and Roman forces. In addition to a new storyline, the DLC adds several new items for the player to acquire, which are a brand new outfit, two legendary weapon sets, a pair of mounts, and other weapons. The DLC also raises the game’s level cap to 45 instead of 40.

A standalone DLC is Discovery Tour, which is an educational mode that allows players to wander around Ubisoft’s recreation of Ancient Egypt without combat to learn more about its history and daily life. The DLC also includes guided tours by the historians and Egyptologists that worked on the game. Discovery Tour was released on February 20, 2018.

The second DLC, called The Curse of the Pharaohs, is set in the city of Thebes and revolves around an ancient curse that is plaguing the land due to grave robbers ransacking pharaoh’s tombs and therefore angering the gods. This DLC focuses on Egyptian mythology, setting players against famous pharaohs and Egyptian beasts as they uncover the curse that has brought several pharaohs back from the dead. The Curse of the Pharaohs raises the game’s level cap all the way up to level 55 and also includes some new items for the player to use, including new outfits, gear, and weapons, all themed around Egyptian mythology. The DLC was released on March 13, 2018.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins Price

When it was released, Origins ranged from the standard $59.99 edition of the game to the Gold edition of the game, which cost $99.99 and included the season pass and the legendary edition. Now, after nearly ten months after its release, you can find Origins in most stores for around $35.99 to $59.99, depending on where you buy it. The game is currently available on PC, Xbox 1, and PlayStation 4. The game does include some microtransactions that the player can buy with real money if they do not feel like grinding to upgrade their gear.

FINAL VERDICT: 7/10

Pros

  • Great graphics
  • Great story
  • Good combat mechanics
  • Interesting characters

Cons

  • Lots of level grinding
  • Monotonous and similar side-quests

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Hailing from the heavily wooded biome of the Pacific Northwest, native Washingtonian Riley Hess fancies the simpler things. Hiking, good conversation, and a PB and J sandwich always makes him smile.
Gamer Since: 2000
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Currently Playing: Rocket League, Fortnite, Destiny 2
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