Assassin’s Creed Origins is set in ancient Egypt, as the name suggests the story revolves around the origins of the conflict between the Brotherhood and the Templars. Origins also introduces new gameplay elements to the series some of which have taken obvious influence from other games, namely Ubisoft’s other successful series, Far Cry. You play as Bayek, at least through the mind of Abstergo employee Layla, who is using an animus that she has designed and built herself to access his memories. After witnessing his son’s death at the hands of The Order of Ancients, Bayek sets out on a path of revenge, and the adventure begins.
Origins is a pretty much what you would expect from an Assassin’s Creed game, a large open world with lots of things to see and do. Ubisoft has introduced some new elements in the form of a new combat system with which you have a light and heavy attack, bound to RB and RT respectively You can also block using RB and dodge/roll with X. I did struggle to get used to this new control layout, but after a little perseverance I got used to it and found it a little better than the legacy controls. You can switch to the legacy controls in the options menu if you prefer them.
You’ll also find a new RPG style of weapon system, incorporating the rarity system with weapons also having levels and additional attributes such as elemental damage and bleed out, usually in games like this, weapons only stay useful within two to three levels of themselves until they become under-powered. However, in Origins you are able to visit Blacksmiths who in exchange for a hefty price will upgrade your weapon, meaning that favourite sword you’ve found can stay with you for the entire game. You can also craft weapons at the blacksmith as well as finding them out in the world in boxes, and often as rewards for missions. You can also find Reda a travelling merchant who sells weapons of Rare and Legendary status, He also has a mission that can be completed each real-world day that grants a mystery weapon, these missions can be failed and if they are cannot be restarted.
As stated earlier, there’s influences to be found from Far Cry, the crafting systems bears some similarities as you have to kill wild animals to get the required pelts/skins for crafting. there’s also an ability that can be acquired enabling Bayek to tame animals just like in Far Cry Primal. Eagle vision has also been made more literal, you are now able to switch to Bayek’s pet Eagle Senu, who flies within a certain range of Bayek and can highlight mission objectives, mark enemies and highlight loot boxes (No not the ones you spend real money on). Again seemingly taking influence from the owl in Far Cry Primal.
Just to touch on the Microtransactions, They are present within Assassin’s Creed Origins, however I found after they’re mentioned one time near the beginning of the game, and you are given 200 Helix Credits to spend, they’re never mentioned again, and are only visible if you make the conscious decision to press right on the d-pad in the pause menu. There’s some things in there that are only available if you spend the extra money. Skins weapons etc. but overall I found they weren’t intrusive on my playthrough.
The story is pretty solid, with varying missions as you progress through the main quest line, however, the NPC levels always seem to be just one or two higher making them either a real challenge or sometimes nigh on impossible to beat unless you come back after levelling up via side quests. This does feel a little forced at times, stringing out the game’s length. Luckily some of the side quests are more than a forgettable one-mission-wonder and are fairly interesting little stories in their own rights, stinging out over four or five missions in length.
Of course if you fancy a change from the quests, why not go and give the Gladiator arena or Hippodrome races a try. You’ll be rewarded with Drachmas and Weapons in the Gladiator Arena and Drachmas in the Hippodrome. Both become accessible after reaching certain parts in the story, and if your friends have the game you can take on their times in friend challenges. You can, if you feel like it just go for a wander around the world, you can lose hours doing this as you take in the beauty of the world, made more alluring with the new photo mode added to the game, I’ve spent a fair bit of time snapping pics. Another great little time waster I’ve found, Once you have the ability to tame wild animals, go get yourself a predatory animal, lead it to the middle of a highly populated area then un-tame it. Sit back and watch the ensuing carnage. Evil, but fun.
There are some bugs and glitches present. I encountered on a number of occasions Bayek getting stuck while moving around, be it while passing through a window, or attempting to move between a pillar and a pot that seemed a big enough gap to fit through, but sadly set Bayek off in a constant loop of trying to climb over something that wasn’t there. A couple of times some NPCs would be in places they were not supposed to be, one being to meet a certain character in a cave at night, upon arrival the character was floating at the top of the cave and badly rendered forcing me to fast travel away and return to fix the problem, another occasion involved a character I had to escort falling through some stairs becoming stuck and forcing me to re load the game to continue. Thankfully it loaded from a checkpoint so I didn’t have to start the mission from the beginning.
Those small issues aside, I found AC Origins to be highly enjoyable. The visuals are stunning and surprisingly diverse, it’s not all sand and pyramids with bustling cities and lush Oases teeming with wildlife to encounter and explore as you play. I played on an Xbox One S and found the visuals to be up there with the best this year, and can only imagine what it will look like on an Xbox One X. The audio is a tale of two halves, While the music that comes in and out while you play is fantastic, along with the ambient sounds of whatever location you are currently in. It’s let down by the terrible generic voices of NPCs, you’ll often hear the same voice saying the same sentence or two throughout the world. General story dialogue though is spot on.