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Game Review

Assassin’s Creed Origins: Ubisoft’s Leap of Faith Equals a Masterstroke

Origins lays waste to the ghost of Syndicate

Assassin's Creed Origins ― PC/PS4/XBOX

Having been out for nearly three months it is safe to say that Assassin’s Creed has smoothly settled back into its position as one of the industry’s heavyweights. Few games manage to buck the trend and recover themselves from a deteriorating spiral of popularity however, Origins has been able to do just that.

Warning, spoilers ahead:

In the game you are Bayek, a husband, father and Medjay, a member of an ancient and noble guild sworn to protect the Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. In the beginning, following a few turbulent cutscenes, Bayek exits a sand swallowed temple and encounters his long term friend Hepzefa held up by thugs. After defeating their enemies, Hepzefa and Bayek journey to their hometown of Siwa where our protagonist is reunited with Senu, his faithful winged companion.

“The developers have managed to totally overhaul the hunting system. The process of gathering materials is now both fun and rewarding, whilst also maintaining a sense of realism.”

After much exploring and a few introductory missions around Siwa that help you ease back into the game and get a feel for the mechanics, you discover the reasons behind Bayek’s journey. Whilst still Medjay of Siwa, Bayek was beaten, tied and taken to a sacred temple in the heart of his town, one which played host to a first civilisation vault. With his son held hostage by a group of individuals bearing masks, Bayek is blackmailed to open the vault despite not knowing how to do so. Whilst the ominous group give Bayek time to ‘open’ the vault, his son Khemu steals a blade from one of the members to cut his father free. A fight breaks out and as Bayek attempts to kill one of the masked men, he uses Bayek’s force against him, causing him to fall and stab his son in the heart.

It is here we learn of Bayek’s mission, alongside his wife Aya (personal guard to Cleopatra) he vows to track down all members of the hidden order responsible for his son’s death and put an end to them, a mission that takes him all across Egypt, rubbing shoulders with some of the most powerful and infamous figures that history has ever seen. With the basic gist of the story aside it is fair to say that this latest addition to the franchise has been well worth the wait. The story has been well thought out, both on a practical, emotional and a historical basis. The player experiences the grief, loss and whirlwind of turbulent emotions felt by Bayek at the loss of his family.

“It is seamlessly possible to adopt a free-roam play style and complete side-quests ahead of the main storyline. Additionally, the quest level indicator works very effectively at giving players a realistic expectation of mission difficulty.”

Moving on to the progressive aspects of the game, it is seamlessly possible to adopt a free-roam play style and complete side-quests ahead of the main storyline. Additionally, the quest level indicator works very effectively at giving players a realistic expectation of mission difficulty. Ubisoft have clearly invested a great deal of effort into expanding the free-roam capabilities of Origins. With so much to do around the world, this is where Senu shows his true worth, Bayek’s eagle takes to the skies and can be used to scout out Roman supply shipments/convoys as well as wildlife whose leathers and pelts are essential in character improvement.

Now you’re probably thinking, “please tell me that the hunting isn’t awful like in Assassin’s Creed 3” well rest assured, it isn’t. In the two years since the last major release Syndicate, the developers have managed to totally overhaul the hunting system. The process of gathering materials is now both fun and rewarding, whilst also maintaining a sense of realism. As for the rewards, the materials Bayek gathers whilst exploring are essential in improving his offensive and defensive capabilities such as the hidden blade, bow power and armour strength, all of which help in the long-run.

This then raises the topic of the new combat system and frankly, it is excellent. As mentioned in a previous article, the system has been totally overhauled, gone are the days whereby guards will take it in gradual turns to attack the protagonist, given the opportunity, enemies will now strike at once. This system is much more punishing on the player, but actually spurs one to think strategically about how to approach an objective and as a result encourages you to actually adopt a stealth based role in both restricted and open play.

Additionally, the new drop system has opened up a great deal more options for players. Defeating an enemy offers the chance of their item being dropped. Furthermore, said weapons have varying rarities (common, rare and legendary) and with each tier of rarity an extra weapon perk is attributed to the item. Alongside the crafting system, players can now dismantle weapons to get essential crafting materials for other objects, with rarer items offering rarer materials. Alongside this, blacksmiths also offer the opportunity to sell them items and also upgrade weapons as you progress, meaning that those weapons that you’re faithful to won’t get left behind as you level up.

With so much to do in the open world, Assassin’s Creed Origins has well and truly outdone itself. The mixture of crafting, combat and hunting have been carefully constructed as a real labour of love, seamlessly intertwining with the gripping story of Bayek, Aya and the Origins of the Brotherhood.

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