Assassin’s Creed Origins Review – A Fresh Start for the Series

Assassin’s Creed Origins is the much awaited follow-up to Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. This time around the game is set in Ancient Egypt but will it follow the success that Syndicate provided? Let’s find out.

Platform Reviewed: PS4
Platforms AvailableXbox One, PC, PS4
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release Date: October 27, 2017
MSRP: $59.99
This review is based on a review code provided by Ubisoft.

The protagonist of this game is Bayek, a Siwan native who seeks revenge upon the untimely death of his son. The game is set in Egypt at the time when Cleopatra seeks to claim the throne for herself.

Besides Bayek though we also have a present day protagonist that will take us into what’s going on at the present time. Not to spoil or anything the protagonist once worked for Abstergo and they invented the mobile Animus to do their own deep dive into someone’s genetic memories. Our protagonist was rejected by Abstergo and they wish to prove Abstergo wrong that they can also find their own artifacts and that they found a way to access someone else’s memories without being a direct descendant to that person.

I feel like the present-day protagonist wasn’t presented properly. And that they didn’t have enough airtime or sequences to make them relatable and memorable. It seemed like they were just put in place to fulfill the promise that there’s a present day protagonist but that their presence didn’t really impact what is happening in the present time at all. I was hoping that they at least provided enough time to make us want to play the present day protagonist but it made me feel like I’d rather want to play with Bayek instead. Especially since the focus of most of the game is with Bayek and not with the present day protagonist.

Nevertheless, it was good to see that they wanted to continue the present day story and I hope that in the next iteration of the game that they will be able to fully give the present day protagonist a significant part of the game.

The game this time around plays more like an RPG than its previous titles excluding Syndicate which already plays like an RPG. Bayek gains experience through completing quests which is why it is important to complete side quests as well since Bayek’s level is very important for you to progress through the story. This is because each mission has a level requirement which could mean that a mission might be easy or difficult depending on your level.

So even if you chose the Easy difficulty from the start, it doesn’t mean you will have it easy through the game. Leveling Bayek up is important as it determines what skills he can use and how much damage he can dish out on an enemy. His damage is also determined by what weapons he has equipped and the level of his armor as well. There are two types of weapons and armor: the equippable ones and the craftable ones.

The equippable ones are the ones that you can get through looting enemies, treasure chests or as rewards from quests. These items can also be upgraded by going to a blacksmith. This means that if you ever have a favorite weapon or shield that you’d like to keep around, you just need to upgrade it so it will have the same level as Bayek. This ensures that you will have attack damage that is appropriate for your level.

The craftable ones are weapons and armor that are with Bayek from the beginning and are unlocked through progression in the story. Examples of these are his hidden blade and pouches for his arrows and tools. And because these items are craftable, the way to upgrade them is by hunting materials that you can then use to craft the next level for the specific item. There are different types of materials that you need to hunt as well and there are many ways for you to get them. One of them is through hunting animals which provide different type of materials. These range from the most common one which is soft leather and to the more rarer ones like tough leather. Another way to get these materials is to steal them from traders that are transported through towns. Be ready for a quick fight though as the people who transport them are heavily armed. If you don’t want to spill some blood though, you can also get these items through treasure chests or by dismantling weapons and armor that you collect. You can also unlock the skill which allows you to purchase materials from the blacksmith or the tailor.

Speaking of the blacksmith and tailor, these merchants along with the stable boy are the only three merchants that you will encounter in the game. There’s a fourth merchant but I will discuss about that later as it is a unique merchant to the game. They mostly stay in towns and will accept drachmas as currency which you obtain by looting or as reward from quests. The blacksmith is your main source for weapons and shields. They can also upgrade the weapons and shields as I mentioned earlier and they can also refill your supply of arrows and tools. The tailor sells clothing sets that will change Bayek’s overall appearance. They serve as a cosmetic change for Bayek but it does not provide any stat changes. There are also certain quests in the game that will also grant you a free clothing set. The stable boy provides you with mounts or chariots which you need to unlock from the Seer skill tree which is one of three skill trees that the game provides. There are two types of mount which can either be a camel or a horse.

The three skill trees in the game are Seer, Hunter, and Warrior. Each skill tree is dedicated to a certain aspect of Bayek. The Seer skill tree has skills that’s connected to tools like poison and sleeping darts. It also contains the skills for you to purchase rare items or tame animals that will serve as your companions in the game. The Hunter skill tree contains skills that are connected to Bayek’s bow and his eagle companion Senu. This skill tree has the skill that improves Senu’s observation capabilities like tagging enemies routes or a skill which makes Senu distract the enemies when they attack Bayek. This also contains enhancements to Bayek’s bow skills like being able to equip two bows at once. The Warrior skill tree contains skills that are connected to Bayek’s melee weapons and his overcharged skills. It contains skills that helps improve his fighting capabilities and make use of his shield to attack an enemy. Overcharged skills are skills that are usable when Bayek has a full adrenaline gauge. This gauge gets filled overtime when Bayek is attacking enemies but the Warrior skill tree has skills that lets Bayek fight with either half or full adrenaline meter.

Vantage points are still present in this game. They are used to improve Senu’s sensing capabilities which makes it easier for Senu to tag and find enemies and treasures. Vantage points also serve as fast travel points to make traversing the game easier. I almost thought that I would be travelling through the game without having to fast travel but thankfully that was not the case. Senu plays a major part in the game as she serves as the eyes in the sky for Bayek to help him plan his next move. Senu can tag enemies even when they are behind a wall or inside a room. Senu is really helpful when you need to find a treasure as well.

Loot boxes that contain random weapons and items are present in this game. But it’s not a necessary item for you to finish this game. You can always skip these loot boxes as the game provides you with plenty of weapons that are powerful in their own right. In the instance that you have some in-game money to spare, you can purchase these items from Reda the merchant. If you want to keep from spending money though, you can still take advantage of this feature by doing Reda’s daily quests. Completing a daily quest will net you a loot box that will contain a rare, epic, or legendary item. Rare items are indicated with a blue background, while epic are indicated with a purple one. The legendary items are indicated by a golden background and are said to be the most powerful items in the game. But keep in mind that whatever items you receive will have the same level as Bayek during the time you received them. So for example, if Bayek is level 20, you will be receiving a level 20 item. You can still upgrade these items as well and even dismantle them if you wish to do so.

Aside from main quests and side missions, there are also avenge missions that will show up randomly in the game. Avenge missions are missions where you will have to fight the enemies that killed off a player of the game. For example, if your character dies, the dead body of your character will show up elsewhere in someone else’s game. They can then accept the quest by highlighting your character’s dead body and they can then challenge whoever killed your character. They will be indicated by a blue assassin’s head figure on the map. Although it’s a cool feature, the quest itself does not give enough experience so I don’t think it’s worth your time to take these quests.

If puzzle-solving interests you, you can try and solve the Papyrus puzzles in the game. These puzzles can be obtained in certain locations in the game that is indicated by a scroll icon. The papyrus puzzles are passages or riddles that points to a location in the game. You will then have to figure out where this location is and when you’re in the right spot, a loot action will show up and you can then get the reward which is usually a rare or better item. This is similar to the treasure maps from Black Flag although the Black Flag one only has images. It’s a nice and challenging side quest and the riddles are fun to solve especially since you can get good items through this.

Ship battles are back and instead of them being forced upon you, they are quest lines that involves Aya who is Bayek’s wife. I like the ship battles this time around because they are not as complicated as in Black Flag. They have been simplified for you to focus more on the battle itself and not worry about whether you are too undergraded to take on enemies. A feature that was not in Black Flag was the addition of a counter attack when you’re trying to brace from an enemy attack. You need to time it right so that when after your ship gets hit by arrows when you brace for cover, your warriors will launch a counter attack immediately.

One thing I really like about this game is how they improved the climbing ability and the stealth ability as well. You can literally climb any kind of surface in this game. There were a few cases where there are still limitations but otherwise you can just climb and jump everywhere. This makes traversing the game easier as you can just climb through a lot more surfaces than ever before. As with the stealth, there are a lot more bushes in this game and as long as a plant is tall enough to cover you, it can serve as your place to hide.

One feature that I also like about this game that I think has not been done in previous games and I also think that it works well for this game is the chance to raid tombs. Tombs are scattered all throughout the game and this includes the Great Pyramid of Giza. These tombs are puzzle dungeons which will lead you to a tablet that will give you an additional ability point. These ability points are the same ability points that you can get through leveling and can used to unlock skills in the skill tree.

And for the first time ever, the game has a photo mode feature. Egypt is a beautiful place with all the pyramids and deserts. The temples are such wondrous places that you can’t help but want to capture. Entering photo mode lets you take pictures which you can save and is then shared to players of the game. They will show up on the world map as square icons that you can view and heart it if you wish to do so. A lot of good content has been captured and I even captured some myself. It’s a nice feature if you just wanted to enjoy the beauty that this game provides you.

One last feature that is worth mentioning is the gladiator and chariot coliseums. The gladiator coliseum provides you the ultimate challenge in facing enemies where you will be pitted against waves and waves of enemies and even some boss battles that will test you to your limits. Chariot racing is fun too and reminds me of the coach races in Syndicate. Chariot races are more aggressive though as you can ram your opponents to knock them off course and damage their chariots. These features serve as minigames that you can access anytime by going to the respective locations that they are located in.

Despite all these great features and activities in the game, there’s one thing that really bugs me. The ally AI. I feel like whatever good the AI we had from previous games like AC Brotherhood and Syndicate, they all threw that away in this game. There was this one quest line where this person gave you allies that will help you in battle. Instead of them being of any help, they were more of a hindrance to me. They keep initiating fights with the enemies and don’t even know how to hide in the bushes. I was so annoyed by them that I just allowed the enemies to kill them while I waited in the bush.

Overall, Assassin’s Creed Origins is a beautiful game and it lives up to the success of Syndicate. It’s just that the present-day story needs a little more attention. Where Bayek’s story is the strongest part of the game, our modern-day protagonist’s story is very lackluster and just feels like it was added their as a requirement. One thing is for sure, this game is definitely worth playing. It revitalized the series into new heights and I cannot wait where the next adventure will take us.

Assassin's Creed: Origins - Review
Score Definition
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.
RPG elements
More freedom to roam the world
Exploring the Great Pyramids of Giza
Dumb Ally AI
Can get grindy
Lackluster modern-day story