I’ll be the first to admit that after a new “Assassin’s Creed” game popping up almost yearly for the last decade, the franchise had without a doubt began to lose it’s shine. Simply put, when game studios, in this case Ubisoft, are pressured to make a game every year the end result eventually becomes an uncompleted, glitchy mess of a game.
After the original 2007 game spurred a now nine separate main game sequels, it’s clear that Assassin’s Creed is still an immensely popular franchise and even more importantly, quite profitable for Ubisoft.
However, after 2014’s “Assassin’s Creed Unity” and 2015’s “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate” were generally criticized for lackluster storylines, uninspiring gameplay and a swarm of game breaking bugs and glitches, Ubisoft realized they had to make a change.
In comes the newly released “Assassins Creed: Origins.” Having been generally turned off from the franchise as a whole since “Assassins Creed 3” in 2012, I was eager to give the franchise another try half a decade later.
Once Ubisoft listened to fans and realized that yearly releases led to incomplete and underwhelming games, the game studio spent an extra year working on Origins. Spending two years instead of the usual one to develop their new game has allowed Ubisoft to really focus on game mechanics that add new elements to the series that we haven’t seen before.
For starters, the game’s brand new setting is without a doubt its most alluring and expansive yet. Sprawling across vast deserts, exploring a multitude of caves and tombs, and traveling from Ancient Egyptian city to Ancient Egyptian city is an experience like no other.
Cities feel lively, the atmosphere is appropriate and characters are well voiced in the “Origins.” The removal of loading screens also provides a more surreal and realistic experience of the game world and, besides the occasional short cutscene, exploring the sand dunes of Egypt flows remarkably well.
After spending a solid amount of hours traveling, questing, and assassinating every enemy in my path as the new main character “Bayek” I still feel like that I haven’t even begun to uncover every secret that the ancient Egyptian setting of “Origins” has to offer.
For me, the Ancient Egyptian setting is much more compelling than setting such as Renaissance-era Rome and 18th century France, two settings that previous “Assassin’s Creed” games have explored. Not only does Egypt offer excitement around every corner of it’s massive map, it is also, without a doubt, the most visually stunning game of the franchise so far.
The main story is one of the strong points of “Origins”, stepping into the shoes of “Bayek, Medjay of Siwa” the player is thrust into a quest line both invigorating and mystical. Tracking down the men who were responsible for his son’s death, Bayek’s journey of vengeance and bloodshed is perhaps the strongest of any the franchises entries to date.
Masterfully voiced by actor Abubakar Salim, the player will no doubt feel connected to Bayek and his story, something that hasn’t always been the case for the franchise. Bayek is brave, charming and intelligent, while at many times vulnerable to both his past trauma and the world around him, a testament to the fantastic job done by the character development team at Ubisoft.
With an extra year to develop the game, Ubisoft was able to reinvent a formula that was starting to become stale. Now similar to traditional role-playing games, “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” features a new quest system. No longer are players tied to the game’s main storyline as a variety of unique quests with all kinds of rewards await, waiting to be completed at any time throughout one's playthrough. This leads to the game feeling more open, allowing players to complete objectives how and when they see fit.
Also new to the franchise is a more action-oriented combat system. Combat seems more tactical with enemies having levels based on their difficulty and a variety of weapons and accessories that allow the game to be played in completely different ways.
A new skill tree leveling system allows players to build and control Bayek in a multitude different ways. “Hunter” focuses on long-range attacks, “Warrior” focuses on up close and personal fighting and “Seer” puts an emphasis on tools and assassination.
New to “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” is a new emphasis on loot. Enemies that you conquer will now drop loot that further allow the player to customize their game experience.
Bows, swords, shield and a multitude of other items will drop in a variety of rarity and strength. Searching for rare or powerful loot becomes addicting and although some items may be purely cosmetic, “Origins” new loot system is a welcome addition.
After playing the game for over two weeks, I can, for the most part, conclude that bugs and glitches that plagued many previous “Assassin’s Creed” games are for the most part, a thing of the past. Having only experienced one minor, inconsequential glitch, it seems that an extra year of development was exactly what the doctor ordered for the franchise.
I’m not saying that “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” is a perfect game. However, tracing back and focusing on the game’s negative aspects is quite hard, simply because it doesn’t have many. While the quest and leveling system can become a bit of a grind and the fact that gameplay mechanics may feel strange to returning fans of the series, I have no doubt that this is the most impressive and enjoyable game in the storied “Assassin’s Creed” series.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the franchise or just a casual gamer looking for a fun action role-playing game to pass the time, “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” is expansive enough to provide countless hours of enjoyable gameplay.