I was a big fan of the early Assassins Creed games. I played from the first one up to Revelations. After that the series started to let me down. No matter how much I tried I just couldn’t get into the rest of the games. I stopped buying the games and decided to wait but still the series didn’t appeal to me. I felt the game had entered a state of series fatigue and got fed up of it’s yearly releases riddled with bugs. Then out of the blue Ubisoft announced that they were taking a year off to rethink and refresh the series. The end result of that is Assassins Creed Origins. I decided to wait a little bit until after release to see what became of the game and also whether or not it was worth the £50 price tag. I decided to take the plunge, give it a try and give it a review.
A Huge Open World to Explore
Ubisoft have stepped things up a bit with Assassins Creed Origins. They have recreated the whole country of Ancient Egypt and not just one small part of it. None of this is locked away. It can all be accessed right from the start of the game giving you a huge open world to explore. The Only thing to keep in mind here is that each region is determined by level so you might want to level up a bit before taking on quests in those regions. In this open world you’ll find plenty of things to do and lots of places to explore. Tombs have made a proper return in this instance. These are fun to explore but they weren’t what I was expecting. I was Expecting booby traps and puzzles. Instead you get climbing exercises, exploration, treasure and an ability point at the end.
As well as the Tombs there are outposts of varying difficulty to complete, which often have prisoners to free and treasure to loot. With these outposts you can use a “run and gun” technique or you can choose a stealthy approach. They cater for both. I usually take a stealthy approach and rigging their alarms to explode when triggered in the event that I’m discovered before picking off the guards one by one. There are lots of places to explore which again contain treasure to loot or reward you with an ability point for completing the area objectives such as finding a place to rest. There are also side quests to complete and viewpoints to synchronise with. Synchronising with these viewpoints unlock a fast travel point and also improve the perception of Senu, Bayeks eagle. This in turn allows him to locate enemies, objectives and hidden points of interest much more efficiently.
The story itself felt like it started a little bit slow but once you get into the swing of things it quickly picks up pace. The main characters, Bayek and Aya are a deadly couple and their relationship and story is believable. Bayek is on a quest of revenge and Aya is on a quest to restore Egypt to it’s overthrown ruler, Cleopatra. The main issue I had with the primary quests is that to start of with they were very repetitive but I quickly became used to this as the variation set it. It was great to see the relationship between Bayek and Aya and also glimpse into their past. The side quests I am not much of a fan of. Most of them are the same thing. You get to a new area, the people are being oppressed by a harsh ruler and you have to take care of things, track down missing people, free prisoners that have been taken. It all becomes really predictable and a bit samey. As for the present day, out of animus scenes with Layla, these didn’t really do anything for me.
Gameplay & Controls
This instalment looks and feels completely different to the previous Assassins Creed games. The controls and the combat system have been overhauled and it seems to work well. As is always the case the game is best played with a controller. The only improvement that could be made is how you navigate the game’s menus. Ubisoft have improved upon the parkour aspect of the games. They have implemented a “climb anything” mechanic which literally means that if you can see it, you can most likely climb it. I’ve been waiting a long time for this as it does add a lot of freedom and variety. This new system isn’t perfect though as this sometimes means that you might end up climbing down something instead of jumping straight down. I’ve had a couple of instances of this, in particular when I’ve been on fire. I’ve tried to jump into the nearby water to save myself and instead I found Bayek automatically latching onto a nearby ship. Resulting in burning alive…
Origins ships with a revamped combat system. Light attack & strong attack for melee weapons as well as blocking, dodging and parrying. This is very similar to The Witcher 3. There are also ranged attacks via bow & arrows which can be used to quickly take down enemies. Finally you have your standard hidden blade which you can no longer be used in fights.These moves and weapons can be upgraded to be more effective in the ability tree. You can equip 2 melee weapons and 2 bows at a time as well as make use of sleeper darts and fire bombs. I am on the fence when it comes to the combat in this game as it did take a little bit of getting used to. On the controller the attack buttons are on the bumper and triggers and sometimes I found enemies landing hits on me even though it looked like I dodged them or I was out of their range. I also had some situations where enemies could strafe away from me much faster than I could run at them so the only way to land hits was to switch to ranged. This can sometimes be a little bit annoying.
On top of this, Bayek also has his trusty Eagle, Senu. Senu is controlled by the player and gives you a birds eye view. He is used to locate your mission objectives, loot or to highlight points of interest and explore more of the world. Senu is a brilliant tool when planning to take out an outpost and planning on where to go. There’s no limitation to how far you can go with Senu either. I’ve flown him around 1000m away from me before returning to Bayek. Senu is also useful in combat, he can kill surrounding birds and when you have unlocked the correct abilities he can help you further in combat by distracting enemies. It’s a great addition to the game and there are a lot more uses for him than can be listed here.
Beautiful Graphics. Disappointing soundtrack
Now there is no doubting that Assassins Creed Origins is a graphically stunning game. Ubisoft have built the full country of Ancient Egypt for you to explore and it is beautiful. I remember first starting the game inside a tomb, the treasure glistening in the light of the dimly lit tombs. Then you are lead outside into the Siwa Oasis and the beauty of the game really shines. The sand, sky, ruins and trees have all been shown really well. All of this looks even more impressive when you enter a night cycle and see the villages lit up by torch light and moon light. Exploring tombs with your torch to light the way also helps pull you into Egypt and make you feel like you’re really in a tomb.
To achieve all this the game demands a lot from your PC. I’m running a GTX970m 6GB Edition with an i7 processor that is a couple of years old now. I’m able to run the game on High settings and get an FPS range of 35-50. I have had no issues with performance and very rarely have I had any major dips in frame rate. The game has always run smoothly on my system. There has been some controversy over the high CPU usage of this game as it has been an issue for some users. However, I have not seen any major rise in CPU usage on my system compared to other games I play.
The sound on this game is one of the things that I feel let it down. It does have some good sound effects and the voice acting is good. My main issue is that there is hardly any background music when you are out exploring and it seems to only play during cutscenes or when you discover a new location. I kind of get this, it helps add to the immersion, you’re out in the middle of nowhere and all you can hear is the weather or wildlife nearby. It does however feel a bit weird mainly because I’m used to games that have music playing almost constantly. I also had issues with some of the volume levels when it came to music. The music when it did play was far too loud and the dialogue was quite hard to hear. I had to lower the music and increase the Dialogue which is something I never usually need to do with a game.
So Is Assassins Creed Origins A Good Game?
Ubisoft have made a solid attempt at revamping and pushing the series in a new direction. As someone who skipped the last few iterations of the series but followed along with the news; I was sceptical when it came to Origins. However, I feel that a lot has been done to make things right and Assassins Creed Origins is a refreshing change from the previous few instalments. It has beautiful graphics, a good story and the move to fully open world RPG was definitely a good move. There are some aspects of the game that do let it down and that is the lack of ingame music, high system requirements and the repetitive side quests. There are some seemingly pointless abilities in the skill tree, such as unlocking certain items in the shops but apart from the most of the skills you unlock are useful. All in all Assassins Creed Origins is one of the best games in it’s franchise. I’m looking forward to seeing what the free and paid DLC bring and where the franchise goes next.