Having taken a year out from the series in order to make some fundamental changes, not to mention the release of the movie last year, Ubisoft have brought a new chapter in the historic timey-wimey series with Assassin’s Creed Origins, this time going back to where it all started, but how does it compare to previous entrants in the series?
This time, the focus is on Bayek of Siwa, the last of the Medjay’s; those sworn to protect the Pharaoh of Egypt as he struggles to come to terms with the loss of his son and hell-bent on avenging those that are responsible. It’s a grim story, told in true Assassin’s Creed fashion, with the story unfolding over time, as we see how the Brotherhood of Assassin’s is formed. This is the origins of the assassins, and unfortunately the Templars too.
Once upon a time, I would say that the Assassin’s Creed series was an open-world action-stealth game set around specific points in history. Now, I’m thrilled to say that Assassin’s Creed has reinvented itself and can now be classed as an open world RPG. “Assassin’s Creed is an RPG?!” I hear you cry. Fear not, as this is the direction the series needed, after milking the series for so long with the same old format. This RPG is made remarkably well.
Some of the fundamental changes include a new XP-based system, levelling up and partaking in the new quest system. Gone are the days where you follow the main storyline and stray away slightly picking up loot boxes or odd side-missions. You can now add plenty of quests to your quest log and do undergo them as you please. It’s this system that I found diverting through the main storyline at a much slower pace.
You’ll do a main quest, and then some side quests will unlock – all granting you various rewards and XP so it feels right to undergo side quests as soon as possible so you become a much beefier assassin for the main quests. Before you know it, you’ll have spent a good couple of hours just levelling up in order to make sure you’re at the recommended level to take on the next main quest. And believe you me, if you try a quest under-levelled, you’ll find yourself struggling an awful lot. But that’s the power of RPG – you’ll be grinding your way up.
Enemies now have levels above their heads meaning that should you attempt to attack him in a one-on-one combat scenario, you’ll probably be wiped out before you know it, or at least it’ll take some time before you knock him out. This is another major change for the series – the combat system.
Combat is now more involved. Instead of aimlessly bashing the same button over and over in order to take a good few swipes at your enemies, you now have a various set of moves you can perform. You can do a heavy attack or light attack. You can dodge and even rally an attack. All of which can be upgraded through the new skill tree system – again, a new direction for the series and an awesome one at that.
The skill tree is huge, with various paths that head in different directions, giving you the freedom to choose what to unlock first. Every time you level up, you’ll earn some ability points. Some abilities cost a single ability point, where others may cost more. This new system gives you the power to play it your way, which is a must in modern RPG titles, and Assassin’s Creed Origins doesn’t disappoint in this aspect.
The inventory has had a major overhaul too, allowing you to equip many different weapons and bows, not to mention the crafting that’s involved. There’s weapons of rarity ranging from blue to yellow, with yellow being legendary and the rarest of all items. Weapons are now equippable depending on the level, with all weapons having a damage rating. If the arrow is green it’s stronger, if it’s red you’ll be losing strength. The crafting side of things in Origins is a little on the unique side, but not a bad thing to say the least. Crafting allows you to boost up your health and armour but in order to do so, you’ll need to hunt down some materials.
In order to hunt for said materials, you’ll need to bring out Senu; Bayek’s Eagle – which is something of significance considering the assassin’s that follow Bayek all have the ‘eagle vision’ ability, but in Bayek’s case, it’s a literal eagle vision. As Senu, you’ll see where your materials are in the area, amongst other things, and from there you can tag it and return to Bayek and go hunt down your materials. The more you craft, the more materials you’ll need to beef yourself up, which isn’t necessarily a problem as there are a tonne of stuff you can loot throughout Egypt.
Egypt is huge. It is massive. Once you complete the Prologue, the whole of Egypt is at your oyster and your main quest begins. You can travel to the pyramids of Giza and take in the sights straight away if you so wish, I mean I’ve always wanted to climb a pyramid since the early days of Assassin’s Creed – which looks absolutely stunning if you’re playing on an Xbox One X. The light shining off the pyramid as you’re climbing your way to the top is remarkable and as you reach the top, just perching yourself for a little while and enter photo mode is incredible. It almost seems too realistic, but that’s not a complaint. It’s a sense of awe. I thought Black Flag was beautiful in its surroundings but Origins is a whole new level of inspiration.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed Origins was a bold move to make, turning an oversaturated format into a completely new genre for the series – and Ubisoft have somehow pulled it off quite well. It’s astounding. For once in the Assassin’s Creed series, I am less interested in the present timeline than the historic one. That’s not to say the present timeline isn’t interesting. It just slows down the fun your having with Bayek. This is a great leap forward for the series and let us hope that they stick to this new formula and aren’t afraid of trying new things with future entries into the series.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is available to purchase from retailers or can be downloaded from the Xbox Store, priced at £54.99.
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Assassin’s Creed has become repetitive in recent years, but Origins changes everything you know about the series, and for the better. Now classed as an RPG, the beautiful setting of Egypt is perfect for the origins behind the brotherhood, with plenty to do where you never feel like you’re doing the same old thing over and over again, this is the best Assassin’s Creed title to date.