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Assassin's Creed Origins Review


| Score: 7/10 | Release Date: 2017/10/27  |
| Developer: Ubisoft Montreal | Publisher: Ubisoft | Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Win  |
| Links: Steam | Official website |

Assassin's Creed is back with an origin story focused on the creation of the assassins. but has the extra development time paid off? 
The story revolves around the Egyptian Medjay Bayek and his wife Aya. They embark on a quest to eliminate a shadowy group that attacked their family. Along the trek through vast deserts, wonderous pyramids, and dark crypts. Legendary historical figures like Cleopatra and Julius Caesar intersect with the plot to combine fictional history with real-world events. The story is a highlight of Assassin's Creed origins as it tells a personal familial tale, while also shedding light on the never-ending war between Assassin's and Templar's. The world of Ptolemaic Egypt is massive and divided into distinct zones, each with its own recommended level of challenge.

Horses and camels are the best modes of transportation and discovering a new city or viewpoint unlock fast travel. There are also small boats that can be used to cross bodies of water. Many of the zones look like each other, including several interiors which can make certain stretches of the game feel less special. Yet, there are stunning locations like the sprawling cities of Memphis and Alexandria, as well as Giza which features the legendary pyramids and sphinx. Exploration is encouraged and it always feels like a rewarding secret is within reach. Optional tombs are especially satisfying and offer further insight into the franchise's more alluring mysteries.


Nearly everything you accomplished in origins grants XP which is used to level up and unlock additional abilities. The skill tree is divided into three sections. Hunter which favors the bow, warrior which favors melee weapons and seer which favors tools. Each ability manages to feel useful, especially considering that a 1 or 2 level difference between Bayek and an opponent is considerable. It's much harder to exploit enemies than in previous games. As sneak attack isn't always an instant kill and higher level foes will relentlessly pursue you before killing you in one hit.

Combat has received a large overhaul. Bayek can use a variety of weapons, including swords spears and sickles that all have varying strengths and weaknesses. Each weapon has a light attack a heavy attack and an overpower move that can be unleashed as Bayek's adrenaline gauge fills. He can also dodge and use tools like firebombs and bows. While the amount of variety of weapons is appreciated. The most direct approach is enough to get you through every situation. It's possible to button mash and brute force your way through and even forget you have a shield, but there are more satisfying and varied approaches than in the past.
Stealth is equally viable especially when trying to take out large swathes of soldiers slightly above your current level. Attacks from bushes or elevated vantage points remain the ideal approach for silently dispatching enemies.

Eagle vision has received a dramatic change as Bayek's eagle Senu can be controlled to target enemies and important objects in the world. In previous games, eagle vision tends to be overpowered with the ability to see enemies through walls at nearly all times. While using Senu to target enemies can allow for this, you must manually find each target instead of pushing a button. Every synced viewpoint levels up her perception making it easier to target enemies. As you naturally progress, further encouraging exploration. Simply gliding through the air with Senu is soothing and it's a great way to take in the scenery of Egypt.

Throughout the 30-hour journey, the majority of quests involve scouting a location to retrieve an item, rescuing people or killing targets. The main story missions have more variety and bigger payoffs, but side quests greatly outnumber them. While the objectives can be mundane, they do a great job of building the world and providing insights into the social and political climate of the era. Certain side characters also have multiple quest lines that make it easier to invest in their struggles. Completing quests and looting chests and corpses often yield loot and each item is ranked and rarity from common to legendary. In addition to weapons, Bayek can earn special outfits and mounts that add an extra touch of personalization. There's a nice balance of rewards and they never feel bombarding. Each time you find a piece of exceedingly rare gear it feels valuable. Hunting is the primary way to upgrade weapons and armor. Killing animals like crocodiles hippos and lions grants leather and pelts, that can enhance Bayek armor to add extra health and damage. It's an intuitive system it thankfully cuts out the unnecessary grind of having to invest in many pieces of equipment.


Even while playing on the new Xbox One X the visuals are inconsistent. Certain characters look stunning especially during cut-scenes while others are distractingly artificial. Same can be said about the environments. Iconic locations like the pyramids have received extra attention, while back-alley shops and other less important places lack detail. There are also occasional moments of lag and certain character movements are awkward and unnatural. The extra year of development time has certainly helped compared to previous games in the franchise, but some extra polish could have helped to smooth things out.

After completing the game there are a handful of high-level activities to partake in. You can hunt down extra bosses or you can try your luck in gladiator arenas and chariot races, that offer unique rewards. There are also a few other surprises. I won't spoil but it's safe to say that even after the credits roll there are reasons to keep playing.
Micro-transactions come in the form of helix credits which can be used on a number of in-game purchases the devalue many of the game's more rewarding investments. For 400 credits which are roughly four US dollars, you can reveal the location of all the hidden tombs and secret stone circles. Ubisoft has labeled these time savers, but they undermine the sense of reward gained from seeking out secrets to unlock the most valuable gear and lore.
Assassin's Creed origins aren't the reinvention of the prolific franchise that many had hoped for instead, it refines the formula put in place a decade ago while telling an important story about the assassins. Ancient Egypt is a compelling playground to explore and the RPG elements make it easy to stay engaged. If you love the franchise Origins is an easy recommendation just don't expect much change.


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