If you have been following Darkworld Gaming for a while now you may be aware that I’m a bit of an Assassins Creed fan… I am open and honest about the triumphs of the franchise and when I don’t feel it has been executed as well as I would have hoped. At the time of writing this, I am at level 32 and have put in about 36 hours of game time. I am honestly in no rush to get through this game without giving it the time it needs. But as I am likely to take another couple of weeks to finish due to my day job, I wanted to share my thoughts with you in the form of an impressions piece rather than a full review and once I have completed the game, I will update to give my overall thoughts on the game.
The initial few minutes of Assassins Creed Origins did not run as smoothly as I would have liked. If you tuned into my launch stream, you may have heard me exclaim my concerns for glitches this early on especially when learning the combat. Visually, the game instantly sucked me in and I was desperately hoping I hadn’t set my expectations so high… and then the game became wonderful. Bayek, the Medjay, sworn to protect those who cannot protect themselves, has returned to his home of Siwa. Things have changed while he has been away and he has returned to avenge the death of his son. You will follow Bayek on his journey to eliminate those who harmed his family and you’ll have a lot of people to help along the way! As you embark on a journey beyond Siwa, you will encounter new friends, angry wildlife and a network of enemies to conquer. So let’s give you some thoughts on what I have experienced so far….
Visually, the game is beautiful and I love the photo mode which sees me spending hours of my time trying to capture amazing moments. With Ubisoft’s recent launch of a photo mode competition, you can guarantee that I’ll be working hard to pull off some shots! The cycling from day into night is seamless and even a desert ride which results in you heading straight into a dust storm is impressive to behold. While I haven’t unlocked the full map yet, I fully intend on exploring as much as possible as there is so much to see! It would be rude not to mention the landmarks of Egypt while talking about the visual settings. I took a detour early on to Giza to see the pyramids as while they create a stunning backdrop for your photos, getting up close is also great. But it’s not just the exterior that is impressive. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the tombs and the attention to detail makes it feel like an educational experience as well as an adventure. The developers and artists have done wonderful work in creating this space for us to play in and I could spend hours looking at everything not only in the pyramids, but the tombs and ruins in the desert which also usually have loot to reward your curiosity. I also love that if you spend too much time in the desert, you start to hallucinate a little as you become dehydrated. It’s a lovely touch and when you realise what’s happening, it’s also a little eerie. Elsewhere there are ‘stock’ NPCs that are used throughout the game which all look very similar and at times, the NPCs do their own thing which breaks the smooth running on occasion which is to be expected just due to the sheer number of people they have tried to put in. This is the only real niggle I have had with regards to the visuals though as the rest of the game is stunning.
The series has developed more of an RPG feel of late with more weapons choices, upgrades and the experience system but this also extends to the open world map as it feels like to has fully taken on the Fallout/Skyrim style. This was something that previous Assassins Creed titles had started to try and do, but Origins feels like it lends itself to a wider audience and draws in players who may enjoy the style of play without necessarily being fans of the franchise for the last 10 years. It is a big map but it’s also busy so if you want to see what is around you can just swap over to Senu, your Eagle vision in the sky, and get the lay of the land. You can even give Senu some abilities to enhance your gameplay which is a nice addition as this Eagle is more than just your eyes in the sky, but your companion on your journey around Egypt. Senu can mark targets, show you where loot is and also point out where the hunting is good. There are crocodiles, hippos, lions, hyenas, cobras and more out there in the Oasis or the desert for you to get the pelts and leather you need to craft and upgrade Bayek’s attire. It is worth making sure you loot everything you can find, whether you hunt and gather or simply wander around the towns, cities and bandit camps to get your hands into the pots lying around which may contain materials or coins and even weapons.
There are also merchants for you to visit to sell your unwanted items, buy crafting materials or upgrade your weapons. I forgot to do this and luckily ended up with enough coins to level some of the legendary items in my inventory which were part of the DLC I got with my edition of the game but if you did not have access to this content, there are some quests which will offer some of the swish looking weapons without you having to pay any hard earned cash for it. Be sure to visit Reda, the small boy who has daily quests for you to complete in order to get a chance at the special weapons you’ll want to get your hands on. The weapons get better as you go along as they begin to develop perks that will help you out in a fight. The only weapons I don’t enjoy using are the multiple arrow bows. While they look cool in the trailer, I just can’t get on with them and find myself using precision bows or standard hunter bows to actually carry out my attacks. With regards to other weapons, I have found myself sticking with some of the DLC picks which have certainly come in handy but I might swap out for a bit to try something new as smashing people in with a huge warhammer is cumbersome but also amazing. I also haven’t been a fan of having to choose between your firebombs and sleep darts. I miss the quick menu which allowed you to cycle between them (unless I have missed something and it is possible to switch without having to go into your Gear menu, please feel free to correct me). I always end up throwing a fire bomb instead of a sleep dart causing chaos instead of a nice stealthy wander through a bandit or soldier camp. Still, if I paid more attention, all would be fine.
The only thing I’m still not entirely sold on is the combat. I know I always go on about how good Black Flag was and I also really liked the combat in Syndicate but I wonder if things have been scaled back in Origins because of the ability to have two bows and two melee weapons equipped. While you have dodge, hit, heavy hit (which you can charge) and a shield which you can attempt to break an attack with, I’ve not found any awesome counter moves that deliver those bone crunchingly good finishing moves. Okay, so when you finish the last guard, you’ll give them a little extra punishment but it used to be all about timing those counters to pull off those bloody endings. The combat just feels a little clunky and even with the option to lock onto your target, I still end up swinging wildly. It’s not a difficult combat system which is great, but it feels like it’s lost a little something since Syndicate. It is worth noting that the levels do mean something in this game so if you stumble into an area which is beyond a comfortable level, prepare to be killed in one hit which also extends to the wildlife. I learned this the hard way when trying to go to a new synchronization point and ended up getting destroyed by a lion in mere seconds.
Moving to the story, I am enjoying it so far. Bayek is haunted by the past and the Medjay were protectors of the people so you feel like carrying out side quests is something he would happily do. The main story is a case of assassinating the targets and working your way through the hierarchy while helping those in need. There are mentions and appearances from well known figures from history (the accuracy of which I haven’t looked into too much at this stage) and of course there are the famous landmarks which have been beautifully recreated. We are also get to spend time with Bayek’s wife, Aya. She’s feisty and strong, perfect for Bayek but she has her own duty to perform which forces them to fight apart. I was a little sad about this but there are opportunities to play as Aya for a little while which is nice. I was sort of hoping for a Syndicate situation similar to Jacob and Evie where you could go between the two, but I am happy enough with the way the developers have approached it. The only character I haven’t spent a lot of time with yet is Lara. She is the person in the Animus looking for these memories. At this stage, I’m not sure what to make of her as she is clearly not following protocol to get these memories and it is telling in the way she speaks with her partner. I’m hoping to jump out of the Animus more often to look through the files and emails on her laptop just to get more of an idea of what role she plays in the bigger picture.
I must note that Ubisoft have kept the option to buy Helix credits in order to purchase gear, mounts, maps and kits to help you build the ultimate Bayek. I have been tempted to spend more of my hard earned cash but as I have already spent a hefty chunk on the Collectors Edition which fortunately came with some DLC which has been very useful, I can’t jusfity buying anything more, no matter how amazing it looks. If you have a member of the UbiClub, you may have some rewards on there too which won’t cost you actual money and it’s worth taking part in some of the community events such as avenging your assassinated friends to help build your points so you can obtain some cool gear. I don’t have too much of an issue with this aspect as it’s entirely your choice whether you purchase items with your own money.
After the initial blips in the first few minutes of the game, I am thoroughly enjoying Assassin’s Creed Origins. It is a beautiful game with not only a wonderful setting but a lot of history to play with. I’m looking forward to seeing how the story progresses and trying to get the hang of the chariot racing in the Hippodrome while completing all those side quests and giving the Trials of the Gods a go. The issues I have with the game aren’t that major in the grand scheme of things and part of the reason I am taking my time is so I can make the most of it. The photo mode is a lovely addition which has given players the opportunity to share their experiences with the community and once I’ve completed the game, I’m sure I’ll think back on all of those moments I missed out on capturing! If you’re still not sold, I would highly recommend giving it a go. Whether you’re a fan of the series or a visitor drawn in by Ancient Egypt and the RPG style approach, there’s so much to see and do that will bring hours of enjoyment and entertainment.
Once I have completed the game, I’ll aim to return with some final thoughts and possibly another bunch of photos I took in the game!