I am a bit late in reviewing this game as I only started it over Christmas. Having been a longtime fan of the series I fell off the wagon after Unity, Syndicate was purchased but never finished. Origins is a completely different proposition. From the setting to the combat and sheer scale, this is the first true Assassins Creed since the Ezio trilogy.
I could spend ages trying to guide you as to the best way to play this game but the truth is Origins should be played with a sense of freedom, you can do as much or as little as you feel happy with and still have a very fulfilling experience.
The main questline will take around 30 hours to complete with a smattering of side quests necessary for levelling up. I only ‘finished‘ the game yesterday with a level of 35 out of 40 and have done the bare minimum of side quests. The game is absolutely huge and only the Witcher 3 with all its expansion packs comes close. You begin with a small number of targets to kill and suddenly you are thrust into the full struggle for power between Cleopatra and Ptolemy with the distraction of the Roman Empire thrown in as well. It is a wide sweeping but simple story that lends itself well to this game as you feel it is possible to break from the main story to do some levelling and crafting without losing the main thread. This is particularly important as it removes the need to prioritise quests for story purposes. Everything you are doing is important for the whole region it is just some things are important to you as Bayek the main character who is out for revenge.
This approach is a stark contrast from other games in the genre and makes the enjoyable grind of going through quest after quest and levelling up more enjoyable. Fallout 4 is the best example of the opposite. You exit the vault and have a clear objective to find your son. Then you have all the distractions of the other side quests. In Origins you immediately are told that your quest will take a long time and it is your duty as Medjay to help others you meet along the way.
Mechanically the game is superb. The old fighting style of the Assassins Creed games has revolved around counter strikes. So in the old games, you would stand in the middle of a circle of enemies and counter them as they attacked one by one. Origins are much tougher. Enemies attack in groups and the levelling system needs to be adhered to. If you see an enemy or an animal with a red number above their head then they are of a higher level than you and you are likely to die. To show this one enemy who was 38 when I was level 32 took about 30 arrows to various body parts to die. Had there been a group I would have easily been killed.
The physics and real world mechanics are a lot more impressive than in other games especially fire and oil. You will see red oil containers lying in camps or dropped at sea. If you smash one with your sword the black oil coats the vicinity and even your body leaving you and enemies open to a flaming arrow. Unlike other games you can’t just select ‘fire arrow’ you have to find a fire source then hold your bow to it to light your arrow on fire. Luckily there are plenty of braziers and fires placed in good ambush positions. When the fire does catch light it spreads like real fire until the oil burns out. Blood is particularly gruesome as it stains your clothes and enemies and leaves a red stain in water. Some puzzles even require fire to burn through wooden doors especially in the pyramids of Giza when you add excellent lighting and particle effects into the mix you have something special.
Indeed the star of the game is the scale and presentation of ancient Egypt itself. With vast deserts, thriving ancient cities and of course the Pyramids and Sphinx in the Giza region all forming a brilliant and dynamic ecosystem that you are free to interfere with or marvel at. The pyramids are the equivalent of the ancient tombs from other Assassins games and will yield decent loot for the intrepid adventurer. There are also scrolls, which remind you of the treasure maps from Red Dead Redemption. Then you have a fully functioning chariot racing section which is better than the recent attempts to remake Ben Hur and Two different Gladiator Arenas which barely need to be touched to complete the main story. In fact, the world of Ancient Egypt is perhaps a little too big for the average gamer. Between hunting animals to upgrade your kit, deciphering the constellations as a memory to your son or even spending hours unlocking every region on the map, you may just be overwhelmed from the get-go.
My only advice for this game is to stick to what you enjoy doing. For me, it was the core Assassins Creed gameplay of sneaking and unlocking viewpoints. The chariot racing and Gladiator Arenas were brilliant distractions but at the end of the day, that’s exactly what they were. I have left them unfinished and can go back to them at any time as the ending of the main story is nicely open leaving all these activities free to attempt when you are in the mood for them. It is a fine game to leave in your collection to lose yourself in, much like a Skyrim or Fallout. Yet compared to the Witcher it is still lacking a certain X-Factor for want of a better term. In many ways, it is the superior game yet the adventures in The Witcher feel more natural and less forced. For me, it remains the king of the third person adventure games but for many people Assassins, Creed Origins will be their favourite.
You can get it here
Assassin’s Creed Origins (PS4)