I’ve reached a 97% game completion rate for Assassin’s Creed: Origins. All that’s left are the War Elephant arenas and the Hippodrome races. I don’t want to bother with those, so I can pretty much say that I’ve finished playing the game after 80 hours. I’ll be giving my thoughts on it as well as sharing a few images I’ve taken using the game’s built in photo mode.
Note: This isn’t a full, in-depth review like before. I’ll just be spouting off all my thoughts in a free-flowing manner and try to structure them in a way that kinda makes sense.
When I read some reviews and comments about the game, people were saying how Origins changed the direction of the entire Assassin’s Creed franchise. By introducing RPG elements, it didn’t feel like an Assassin’s Creed game anymore, they lamented. So I braced myself for the worst experience ever. But instead, I got my favorite Assassin’s Creed game so far.
I wonder if jumping into this game from The Witcher 3 impacted my opinion. It’s no secret that it was The Witcher 3 that inspired the changes into the AC formula, but it’s not really a 1-1 copy. In fact, I felt that AC:O fixed some of the issues I had with The Witcher 3.
Horse riding controls and feel are so much better, with the addition of a hands-free “follow road” mechanic. Swimming controls are also tighter, although Bayek never really dives as deep or explores as much underwater as Geralt. Looting on horseback is very convenient and the Animus Pulse is a welcome change from the Eagle Vision and the Witcher Sense, which discolored the entire world when used. Most importantly, NPCs run when you run and walk when you walk. Hurray! No more escort missions that test the limit of your patience because of the movement speed of NPCs.
Even my big issue with level-gating is lessened. While in the beginning, Bayek was pretty much limited with where he could go and the enemies he can confront, the leveling system in the game was balanced and I never felt that Ubisoft was stingy with the experience points. While playing the story, I was pretty much ahead by a few comfortable levels compared to the recommended level of the quests I did. Just exploring the world and doing side quests was enough to give you the XP needed to make your Bayek stronger.
The only downside to AC:O when compared to The Witcher 3 was the variety in the enemies you can encounter. Understandable, of course, because the game is set in Egypt, and not a fictional world where fairy tale monsters are real. The human enemies are pretty much just a handful of types (Heavy, archers, swordsmen, spearmen, thieves) while the animal enemies are usually big mammals (and crocodiles) that attack in the same pattern.
I’m not saying that the combat is boring though. Sometimes it can be pretty easy, and sometimes you can get swarmed by enemies and get desynchronized very quickly. It all depends on your approach. The combat controls are a huge step away from the old AC games. This was the biggest jump for me as using bumper buttons and the trigger to attack was new. However, I got used to it a few hours in and the complaining stopped. I did keep forgetting to use my shield and thus, I died a lot from the archers. Bayek has all the weapons and skill needed to be an unstoppable force, it’s up to the player to make him that way.
As said above, I’m guessing it was the RPG-style leveling and the combat-controls change that rubbed the wrong way on the die-hard AC fans. But for me, The Witcher 3 style weapon combat in addition to the tested and proven Assassin’s Creed style of stealth killing is the best combination. Back when I played Black Flag, combat was as easy as waiting for your opponent to attack and pressing the counter button. This time, it was more reactive and playing with different kinds of weapons that each have their own perks and disadvantages. More challenging, yes, but with the reward of more approaches to combat.
Aside from these, it’s pretty much the same Assassin’s Creed story but this time, we get the POV of the person who established the first order of Assassins. Let me already say that stories of the Assassin’s Creed games aren’t really masterpieces, but playing as Bayek already has a significance in itself because he is technically the first assassin. Bayek isn’t as charismatic as Edward Kenway, but that’s fine because they come from different backgrounds and go through different experiences prior to becoming assasssins. As a standalone character, Bayek’s motivations are justified and you can see that he really is just a good guy wanting to stop the big evil he is up against. You need to have some suspension of disbelief in some parts (if he was the first assassin, where did Cleopatra get the hidden blade from? Did Aya also cut off her ring finger? Is that really the origin of the Assassin’s Creed logo???), but there’s nothing too immersion-breaking. It’s all par for the Ubisoft course and you don’t need to understand the convoluted Izu storyline to get Bayek’s story.
I kept comparing it to The Witcher 3 because it felt more akin to this game than the previous Assassin’s Creed game I played (Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag). That’s not a bad thing because it still had the Assassin’s Creed elements that I loved. Stealthily taking down an entire fort is still as enjoyable as ever, but this time, I have the option of just straight up running through the front door and gutting through everyone if my level (and skills) is high enough.
Being set in Egypt, I prepared myself for another Mad Max game where it’ll be mostly sand. It is mostly sand, but there is also so much beauty to see in ancient Egypt that I also had moments where I would just stop and admire the surroundings. Being an assassin, there is no place that Bayek can’t reach so synchronizing at the very top of structures is always a good experience. Visually, the game isn’t lacking much. Like I’ve said countless times before, I’m not that big on graphics. I was already a fan back then with the visuals of AC4: Black Flag, so Origins being a newer game just means that graphics are better. I’d say that the character models in Black Flag and The Witcher 3 are more aesthetically appealing, but I guess Ubisoft was going for realism, with average faces everywhere except for the main characters.
They brought back the naval battles that I missed in Black Flag, but only as tiny quest lines. Seriously, there were less than 5 naval battles if I remember correctly, but that’s because Bayek and Aya aren’t pirates. The ship wars were utilized to move the plot so they weren’t a gameplay option you can keep replaying, but they were still a welcome change of pace.
It does get a bit grindy if you wish to really discover all the places in the game. At the latter parts, I spent more time riding my horse than in actual fighting. This is because fast travel locations can be quite far from the places of interest (same as The Witcher 3, but travelling IS part of the game). Most of the side activities are collecting loot and treasures that you can use to enhance your character. The side-quests can get a bit overwhelming especially if there are so much listed on your to-do list. I suggest not minding them and just choosing and completing them one at a time. I did get some fatigue after an 8-hour marathon, so don’t forget to take breaks!
All in all, Assassin’s Creed: Origins is my favorite game in the series so far. There are people that say that Black Flag is the best AC game, and if I hadn’t played this, I would be in agreement to that. But, Origins adds so much more to the game while taking out very little, it’s hard to argue against this one being the superior game. We’ll have to see if I would still want to play AC: Odyssey and Valhalla because based on the reviews they’re an even grind-ier game than this one.
For now, I’ll be taking a break from Assassin’s Creed games. I still have a lot more games in my Steam library just waiting for me to play them, so who knows what game I’ll be making a post about next. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out AC: Origins since it goes on sale on Steam pretty regularly.
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.