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Assassin’s Creed Origins Review

Assassin’s Creed Origins Review

After two years we finally have another Assassin’s Creed title, taking place much earlier in history than the previous game, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate - ancient Egypt. An open-world third-person game, Asssassin’s Creed Origins stars a brand new assassin brought into the gaming world and he goes by the name Bayek, a Medjay (like a cop or sheriff) of Egypt.

You begin with Bayek having murdered one of the five low level masters of Egypt, having returned to the region after a year away. His main focus is to assassinate the ones responsible for his son's murder.

As you move through the deserts of Egypt you come across a lot of question marks on the map. I got sidetracked from the main mission several times because I kept finding a lot of these which would uncover new discoveries such as treasures or killing the “king” animals (lion, hippo, vultures). There are also many diamond shapes with an exclamation mark which can be either a side or main mission.

Like in the previous game, you level up with experience points, which are gained from doing pretty much anything. Each mission shows a suggested level that you should reach before taking it on, but you can ignore that if you’re feeling lucky. You can see the level of each enemy and also their health meter, even showing how much damage you’ll do in a sneak attack. Most of the main quests involve killing someone (obviously), but one thing I personally enjoyed returning from Syndicate are investigations. Like in the Batman Arkham games, some missions require you to look around an area, collecting clues (blood trails, broken railings, etc) to find out what happened. A few missions let you sail a ship with Aya (Bayek’s wife) and a few others let you control and fight as her too.

ACO aya boat

Side quests can be anything from rescuing a kid in a cave to stealing a relic, or even aligning stones in the desert for one of the gods. You will also get marks on the map that ask you to avenge other real players. Basically, you just have to track down and murder the hell out of whatever killed them. Later in the game you can even do chariot racing, doing laps around the Hippodrome and try to finish first. If anyone on your friends list beats your high score you can challenge them - but as nobody I knew had played Assassin’s Creed Origins, I couldn’t see what happened when you do that.

ACO chariot race

As you travel around, certain missions and random loot will gain you new weapons. There are loads which you can either sell or break down into crafting components. You have to be a high enough level to equip them, of course. Ubisoft have set the max level up to 40 but in my eyes I think they should've set it higher due to the fact the game is so big. After 40 hours or so, I managed to max out my level and I hadn’t even completed the whole main storyline I had two out of the twelve targets left.

ACO weapons

The game map is huge and divided into more than 30 parts. One thing I didn't like about the map itself was it shows screenshots taken by other players. This is annoying because it gets in the way and each one has to be hidden separately. Some of the marks on the map can also be hard to see anyway, due to being white on bright yellow. Some of the text can also be difficult to read, too.

ACO Map

After certain missions there are real world segments, where you control Layla Hassan who is running from Abstergo. She built her own Portable Animus so that she could relive Bayek’s memories. When you’re controlling her, you get to use a laptop which has tons of stuff to give you more information about Layla with audio files, emails and photos.

Back to Bayek, I decided to see what outfits I could change him in to, and although they are only cosmetic, there are a lot available. I noticed that when he had a mask over his face or a cloth over his mouth that his voice was muffled in cutscenes and when talking to people in missions. You can buy outfits from weavers, and weapons from blacksmiths who can offer upgrades to any of the weapons you own. You can buy a few crafting items from them, but you have to go hunt by killing animals for most of those.

Using the skill tree, you can upgrade things such as being able to use sleeping darts or getting a berserk knife, but these require a certain amount of ability points. Now, the berserk knife I wasn’t too keen on because in the other Assassin’s Creed games you were able to throw it at the enemy, like the poison. I didn’t like it in this game due to the fact you have to run for your damn life before they stab the hell out of you for stabbing them.

ACO Ability map

In every Assassin’s Creed game there are synchronisation points which you climb up very tall buildings to see a large area and unlock parts of the map, but in this game it is climbing up rocks and buildings instead of churches and landmarks. There are 58 of them, but I didn’t realise I had unlocked all of them until I looked at the ability tree, which I wasn't pleased about because I was waiting for an achievement for finding them all, like in past titles.

As you explore the desert, you get hit by sandstorms now and then, and they are even part of some missions. It’s very hard to see (because it’s a sandstorm), but has some great detail making it quite realistic. It even helped me get lost a few times and walk into walls or trees.

ACO Sandstorm

Speaking of detail, during combat I noticed that I was getting covered in blood. Now this wasn't just a few splashes, it was more like someone had got a bucket of blood and thrown it all over Bayek. Origins is so gory that a few times I could paint the desert in it.

As I was playing this on the PS4, the combat was hard to get to grips with. The buttons have changed, so I was having to use the shoulder buttons for my weapons instead of the face buttons. I was used to the normal buttons controlling the weapons, so swapping them to the shoulder buttons took me a bit of time to get used to. I went into the settings to change them at one point, but I changed them back because I wanted to continue with the controls it had set me.

There are plenty of animals in Origins, with crocodiles, hippos and snakes ready to attack you. You can also ride a horse or camel, which can be set to “free riding” mode, putting the animal in cruise control to follow the road or head to a marker you have set. Provided you are on the road, or close to something like a road. Bayek also possesses a symbiotic relationship with his eagle, Senu, which allows him to see the world through its eyes to find crafting items, treasure or enemies. It’s useful, but can leave you open to getting murdered.

As you go around Egypt you see Ptolemy statues where you have to smash them. I’m not sure if this unlocks something, I am still trying to hunt them all down to smash them all, but as you go around you get to collect ancient tablets that are in tombs and as collect silica which works the mechanisms. After you collect them all they unlock an outfit for Beyak to wear.

ACO Tablet1

Now here come the issues I came across in Origins. First up, I found the loading times took longer than I expected. There’s no progress bar either, so you’re stuck waiting with hints cycling in the bottom right of the screen. I wouldn't say the length was too drastic but a few times when my youngest child distracted me it would load and I would miss what the mission or the person was talking about.

Looting makes Bayek wave his hand at whatever it is, and pulls the money and items through closed chests and out of vases. Sure there is a lot to loot, so it is quicker, but I miss kicking open chests in the previous games.

I like to play with subtitles on, but these are annoying as they are in a huge block at the bottom of the screen. A couple of times, I was following someone while they talked to me and a random NPC spoke, which covered the subtitles with what they were saying, so I had no idea what the important person was saying.

ACO subtitles

When wandering around, you can press and hold down the up directional button to send out an Animus Pulse, which is a wave that replaces the Eagle Vision from the older games. It highlights everything from lootable stuff to anything important, although since you can also do with Senu, I prefered to do it that way.

Like in previous entries of the series, you can jump off of a roof to your death annoyingly easily, as well as the usual Ubisoft problems. A group of six people disappeared right in front of me when I was going to get on my horse, for instance, and enemies glitched through the floors on a couple of occasions.

Three times, I was just running along and the frame rate dropped to the low double digits for well over 30 seconds each time. I’ve seen it happen for a few seconds in other Ubisoft games, but this was extreme. While I was reviewing, a 1.5GB update patch was released 2nd of November, which apparently addressed a lot of issues, but there’s no guarantee that it ironed out the problems I noticed.

I would have loved to have given this game a higher score, but I found a lot of issues with it from bugs to the things with the map and other small bits, although I did enjoy playing it because I am a huge Assassin’s Creed fan. It’s really big and fun, but the issues I listed and the changes they made aren’t all great ones.

8.00/10 8

Assassin's Creed Origins (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

I would have loved to have given this game a higher score, but I found a lot of issues with it from bugs to the things with the map and other small bits, although I did enjoy playing it because I am a huge Assassin’s Creed fan. It’s really big and fun, but the issues I listed and the changes they made aren’t all great ones.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Anna Duncan

Anna Duncan

Staff Writer

May very well be an assassin with a wrist blade and everything.

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