Assassin’s Creed: Origins Review
I have always been intrigued by the magic of Ancient Egyptian Culture. I have always been an Assassin’s Creed fanatic. When the announcement broke that two of my favorite things were being blended into one another, lets just say I looked like my kids do when I tell them we are going for some ice cream.
We are thrown somewhere into the 300 BC’s during the reign of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which fits into the historic calendar around the time of Alexander the Great‘s Death in 323 BC. The Animus target is a Medjay named Bayek, who acts as the “right hand” or defender of the Pharaoh, which indirectly thrusts the responsibility of people’s protector into the job description as well. The DNA strain of Bayek (and Aya) were located in Egypt, in the same “cave” by a new recruit, fresh out of College, head-hunted by Abstergo for her ability to solve many of the current Animus Project’s setbacks.
Return To Ruin
Assassin’s Creed: Origins begins with your long awaited return to your home village of Siwa, which in the opening sequence insinuates that a great tragedy transpired there, sending Bayek on his mission of vengeance to take down a group of individuals known only as the “Faceless Ones” or “Masked Ones” who are part of The Order of Ancients. Bayek left Siwa in the capable hands of one of his trusted companions while he sought out the true identities of the men (and women) behind the masks and Assassinated them. Upon your return, you learn that everything has gone to ashes and that the entire region is heavily oppressed and that the people live in fear under the indirect reign of this Order of Ancients.
Part of your first steps while finding your footing is to locate your wife Aya, who is hiding in Alexandria after she took it upon herself to drop some bodies in the name of personal justice as well. This is where you first realize exactly how large this Open World Map actually is! The journey from Yamu’s Temple of Sekhmet to the entrance of Alexandria will take you at least five minutes by Camel, 3 minutes by Horseback and 2 and a half minutes by Chariot. That being said, you should invest in replacing your mount early in the game to help you get around quicker, as you start off with a drunken Camel, who enjoys running NPC’s over when you whistle for him to come to your aid. According to some charts, the estimated size of the open world map is 300km squared! That is absolutely massive, and very plausible, because I have only discovered and traveled to about 65% of the locations and it takes forever to get around if you decide not to opt for the Fast Travel system that you expand via Memory Synchronization.
As you progress into new regions, you find that Sync Points and challenges start getting higher and harder, with Giza offering you a magnificent view from the top of the Ancient Pyramids that you can scale and even explore from the inside and solve puzzles to uncover ancient tablets in the Tombs of the Dead.
Nothing Like The Others
A lot has been done away with or reworked. Contracts have been replaced by location side quests that assist each region with alleviating the oppressing powers of their slice of Egypt, and are either located by an “!” on the map or by discovering certain influential individuals that have secret backrooms filled with papyrus scrolls, each containing a side quest (request or plea) from villagers for you to take on. The iconic Eagle Vision, has been replaced by an Actual Eagle.
Bayek’s companion, Senu, is your guide to and through Egypt. You summon Senu, who is always flying overhead, to get a birds eye view of the surrounding area that you can guide and control. This system is great, as it allows you to literally fly into an enemy camp or stronghold and scan it for all the Guards, Captains, Mission Items, Quest NPC’s and even location Treasures. Senu can detect all of these right through walls, and the effectiveness of Senu’s Perception is determined by how many of the Sync Points you have Sync’d with (there is a total of 58 Sync Points).
You now also have a Crafting System which you use to upgrade your Tools, Weapons and Armor, all of which contribute greatly to your Hidden Blade, Ranged and Melee Weapon Damage, your Damage Resistance and lastly your Health Points. These upgrades can only be achieved by using Crafting Materials, that you either need to scavenge for, hunt or liberate from guards and convoys (Bronze and Cedarwood). Later you are able to purchase the Crafting Materials from vendors, but that is only after you have unlocked that Perk or Ability through your Skill Tree. Your Skill Tree is split into three distinct “classes”, namely, Hunter, Warrior and Seer. With every level that Bayek gains, you unlock a Skill Point which you can spend on expanding your skills. It is wise to play a balanced character because each zone has it’s own niche challenges that you need to find or have counters for if you are going to survive, let alone complete.
Early on in the game you meet a “young boy” named Reda, a vendor of very rare goods (the goods rotate weekly), but who also offers you Daily Quests that reward you with Epic Gear, or if you are fortunate enough, with Legendary Gear! These quests take between 10-15 minutes to complete and benefit Bayek greatly, so they are worth the grind. It is also advisable that you keep as much Legendary gear pieces as you can and spend your coins on Upgrading them at the Blacksmith. Try do this as often as you can, otherwise the gear upgrade costs will burn a hole in your satchel, as this upgrade feature takes the item level and boosts it to your current level. (The smaller the level upgrade gap is, the less golden coins are required).
Gone Are The Days
Often I would watch people play an Assassin’s Creed game, and just go in flailing, hoping for the best outcome after starting an encounter. That is quite literally, not possible with Origins. As vast as the map is, Ubisoft have kept to the population density quite accurately, so unless you are wandering around in the blistering (day) or frozen (night) Desert, you will almost always have People, Soldiers, Bandits or Animals around you, and by engaging a target, you set a Global Combat Status alerting even passers by on horseback and hiding in haystacks will not be your saving grace anymore, its either stand and fight hordes of aggressors or run for your life, and this applies to both Land and Sea!
Whats even more epic, is the introduction of fear for Bayek while you are playing, who after a certain part in the game, becomes a hunted target by a group of ruthless Champions or Bounty Hunters called Phylakes. These Phylakes roam the map searching for you, and Senu does warn you when they are near, but you can see them on your World Map indicated by Large Red Horned Helmets, it is best to stay away until they pass, because it is almost a guaranteed certain death if they cross your path, unless you are pro at Dodging, performing Shield Breaks and are armored like a beast yourself.
As difficult as battles are with Predators and Soldiers, you do however have Senu to help you be more strategic in your your approach by permanently marking all the threats and setting a tracking marker on your target (Demonstrated in the Screenshot). Again, it is always best to exploit the less patrolled zones and pick off soldiers one by one, because if you alert the camp to your presence or get discovered, it is a guaranteed wipe, mainly because the archers light Braziers that call in never ending Reinforcements and if you do not leave in time, you are also hunted down by Phylakes inside the Strongholds or Camps. Make sure your tool pouch is topped up with Sleeping Darts and Smoke Bombs before you go into larger locations, and try opting for night strikes because half of the guard will go sleep, making it easier for you to thin the numbers faster.
At the time of writing this review, Ubisoft has spilled the beans about new Assassin’s Creed Origins content that will be arriving later this month, including the HDR update and a Trials of the Gods Mode. The Trials of the Gods Mode is the equivalent of facing a Heroic Boss, where Bayek will have to face Egyptian gods to get rewarded with Legendary Loot! According to Ubisoft’s release, Anubis will be the first god that we get to face on 7 November 2017. The in-game store will also be updated weekly with new Item Packs, including the Roman Centurion Pack (7 November 2017), the Nightmare Pack (14 November 2017), the Horus Pack (21 November 2017) and the First Civilization Pack (28 November 2017). These packs will include New Shiny Weapons, Mounts and Costumes which can be bought with Real-World Currency “Helix Credits”. If spending money is not your thing you can do those daily Reda quests and try your luck or use Gold Coins to buy Heka Chests from Reda until you get a drop from the new packs.
There are still so many aspects that I know I have not covered in this review, like the great Hystorical Figures you meet (Caesar, Cleopatra), World Puzzles and super fun Hippodrome Chariot Tournaments, Time Trials and Friend Challenges that reward you with Legendary Mounts if you spend enough time racing, but I do believe that I have covered enough of the Basic and Intermediate Content to get you hyped up for the game. Heck, I have even given you so many pointers and tips that I wish I knew before I started playing. The story was enthralling, and witnessing the birth of The Brotherhood was special. Being part of that was even more special.
Assassin’s Creed Origins was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and released globally on 27 October 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and XBox One. At the time of this review, BT Games is selling the PlayStation 4 and XBox One versions for R915.00, which is a lot of money, especially with Christmas around the bend, but quite honestly is worth every cent spent. With the additional content dropping this month, the stellar graphics and beautiful OST, you will never regret adding this to your collection. For fans of the franchise, I suggest investing in the Deluxe Edition, for newcomers who are still unsure while trying the game out for the first time, the Standard Edition will keep you busy for many moons to come.