Assassins Creed Origins marks the 10th Anniversary for the Assassins Creed franchise, of which Origins is the 10th game in the main body of the series. On top of this, there have been many other titles – around 18, including main games including mobile.
‘Origins’, as you may tell from the name, is taking the series back to its roots and is set before the events of the very first game. You play as Bayek ,who is a Medjay in Egypt (essentially they are a mercenary Police force and town protectors). His son ends up getting killed and the masked perpetrators involved become your initial targets for revenge. This takes you on a journey across Egypt during the Ptolemaic Kingdom era (305BC to 30BC) and ultimately forming the Assassins Guild.
The gameplay is the biggest change with this new game. Taking a year out, after Assassins Creed Syndicate, has REALLY given the development team time to get things right and change things up in a great new way. First off, the combat has changed completely – the prior games in the series felt like a chaotic ballet of destruction, countering an attack and then return strike, while well-timed button presses got you through most encounters. The combat now, though, is more in line with For Honor; you still lock onto your target, but there is no single-button counter; you can parry attacks and dive out the way, but you have to be on your toes, especially when fighting a few enemies.
Archers will stand back, taking pot shots while melee enemies will surround you. You no longer hop a larger distance when attacking, and have to be close enough to make contact. Weapons are varied and there are pole arms and swords, alongside a few different bow types, including one which allows you to fire five arrows at once. Each weapon type does have its advantages – for example, dual small swords which are fast but do smaller damage. Polearms are slower, with greater range and you aso have your normal sword and shield combo.
The whole dynamic has changed and you need to be aware of your environment as well as your attackers. A few times, I have got into a large scale battle, only to get caught in a doorway or arch making things tricky! The map screen sees you looking at correct scenery again, like in the prior few games instead of the blue digital type map from the earlier games. A gripe here, however, is that occasionally, the white icons can be a bit hard to see with everything being a yellow colour, since Egypt is rather sandy. An addition to the gameplay sees you using your Eagle Senu. Much like the Owl in Far Cry Primal, you can scope out and tag enemies, find hidden treasure and pinpoint objectives which is handy, given that you no longer have the Eagle Vision from the earlier games. Your character levels-up like an RPG, with points to spend them on a large skill tree, and apply into your preferred play style as either Hunter (bow skills), Warrior (melee combat) or Seer (darts and firebo -mbs etc). You can also upgrade your weapons and armour, either at a blacksmith for weapons, or via hunting and gathering for your armour and tool pouches.
You still have the towers where you Synchronise, but it doesn’t just add icons to your map, it upgrades Senu’s vision, meaning that you can spot enemies and tag treasure etc from a further distance. One thing I have noticed, though, is that from some towers, you can’t leap off them; you have to climb down the same way you got up. I am pleased that there aren’t too many icons on the map. I remember playing Assasins Creed Unity and Batman: Arkham City a few year ago. The sheer volume of icons and things to do felt quite intimidating and you didn’t know where to start. Assassins Creed Origins still has plenty to do, but it has been presented in a different way – less is more, here.
As always, there are side missions, which involve helping out normal everyday people, but they’re usually collect something, find someone or retrieve something from guards. Your story missions are shown in the pause menu status screens and from here, you can also track your mission of choice. There are also aligning stars when you find the stones associated, which present you with a constellation, requiring you to locate and align it in the night sky. Each one has a bit of back-story about your character’s son prior to his death. The mission types don’t feel like pointless fetch-type missions. They have depth and character and are enjoyable to do (unlike all the Riddler trophies in the Batman games).
The stealth works in the same was as the past few games – you creep around stalking enemies and hiding bodies in long grass. There is usually a sequence if the guards aren’t alert, but just make sure you take an enemy out which is behind another facing the opposite way. Patrolling guards can be quite perceptive, so you have to be ready in case you get spotted. Make sure you use the environment to your advantage like hiding behind rocks etc. Outposts and encampments have a few enemies plus a Captain as you progress further in the. Later, you’ll see additional commanders and reinforcements arriving if you set an alarm off (even if you don’t set an alarm off at times more soldiers arrive which can be quite irksome).
I have to say that the main character in Origins is great. He has charisma and is a normal kind of person caught up in something much bigger. His hand has been forced and he takes action to right the wrongs. Alongside Jacob & Evie Frye, Ezio Auditore and Edward Kenway, Bayek is one of my favourite characters in the series. Thankfully, nothing like the miserable Connor from Assassins Creed III!
There is an online component to the game and, thankfully, no multiplayer. I felt that, in Unity and other games that have had it included, the game became too chaotic with players just running around to find the target instead of the slow and steady blending in with the scenery. You get a blue icon with a black skull in places on the map, which is where another player has fallen. Interact with their corpse and you can then get revenge by taking out the enemies who downed a fellow assassin. It is a great element and makes you feel a bigger part of an unseen community. You’ll also see pictures which other players have taken, using photo mode dotted about the map which you can rate up. Again, this gives a sense of community. My only gripe with the pictures is that if they are close to an objective icon, it makes putting a marker there difficult. I am guilty of it, myself, taking scenery snapshots when up a tower so nothing overly big.
Assassins Creed Origins is a worthwhile prequel to the now long-running series. They have got everything right and it is working just as it should. Great characterisation, excellent choice of location, stunning visuals and superb sound make this a must have title this year. I can honestly say, with everything I have reviewed and played so far this year, this game has been my favourite!
Also check out my Facebook album of fantastic screenshots.
Thanks to the Youtube channels featured for the gaming footage.
- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Players: Single player only with online component
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!