Assassin’s Creed Origins is really growing on me.
I don’t remember a lot about Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, the last major Assassin’s Creed game I put a few hours into. So my initial expectations for Origins were based purely on my interest in the Egyptian setting.
That setting has certainly hooked me in. Origins is rich with detailed architecture, with crumbling stone and decorative hieroglyphics. There’s a real beauty to the world, with lush reeds and flowers, its lavish clothing, jewels and eyeliner on good-looking people. Ubisoft is doing a grand job of creating an elegant and rich world that I want to explore more of, to poke around and interact with.
But there’s a lot more to enjoy beyond the aesthetic. Today I played a full Assassin’s Creed Origins mission that had hero Bayek running around an Egyptian city, before following that up with some good old fashioned free-play tomb raiding.
The mission set me on a path investigating a poisoned animal, rummaging around in its shit and pulling out a peach stone (I washed my hands afterward), rescuing a small boy and fighting off a bunch of guards. I found the combat to be a little more loose than when I played the gladiatorial mode in June, but that might just be me getting used to it again. Fighting more than one guard was awkward even when locked onto an enemy. But bashing a shield away to open an opponent up for quick attacks felt right and rewarding when I got my timing down, and there’s a brutal satisfaction to the thump and crack of hand-to-hand combat. Bayek’s bow work felt much more immediate, and I’m pretty sure I’ll rely on it as much as possible in the future.
“Assassin’s Creed Origins really feels like a single-player RPG now.”
Assassin’s Creed Origins really feels like a single-player RPG now too, which might be another reason I enjoyed it. With the option to customise Bayek’s skillset you’re able to focus on builds designed around a whole heap of warrior, bowman or poisoner talents. There seems to be plenty of ways to earn experience and level Bayek up, and this is helped with the addition of randomised loot. We’re well familiar now with common, rare and exotic weapons, armour and equipment in games. You may roll your eyes at the addition of that, but it honestly feels right in Assassin’s Creed Origins. Randomised loot in hidden chests is still a satisfying reward to me.
Besides the main mission I explored a pyramid on the (massive) map. Scrambling through the corridors, solving a few simple weight puzzles and climbing across its dusty ledges was a welcome change from the busy city streets, and it definitely had a pleasing Tomb Raider vibe to it. It took me right back to the thrill of the parkour and traversal in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. And I suspect that climbing to the top of a pyramid and sliding down it is also something you’re going to break off from the main quest to do pretty soon after starting the game. It’s just cool.
What else is there to like? I’ve not experienced a lot of the story, but the voice acting was genuinely good with interesting dialogue (“boil them alive!”) that pricked up my ears. I rode a camel and attacked some bandits, steered a papyrus boat through mellow waters to drink in the coastline, sent my pet eagle to harass a guard.
I walked away from Assassin’s Creed Origins wanting more, which my be a cliche but it’s also an encouraging sign. Maybe that year off from the annual development period is responsible for what feels like a renewed focus on what makes Assassin’s Creed fun. There may be busy work that becomes apparent when played for longer but I honestly can’t judge that yet. What I can judge is the fun, the coherence of the Egyptian world and its activities, and the addition of a familiar role-playing vibe. All of those point to Assassin’s Creed Origins being a very solid and very enjoyable game.