Assassin’s Creed Origins – Back in the Animus
After 2 years Ubisoft has finally released another Assassin’s Creed game – this time called Assassin’s Creed Origins. The game is available for Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Below I am reviewing the PC version. Origins is set in ancient Egypt, in case you were still wondering, and follows Bayek, a Medjay (protector of sorts). Set in the last stages of the Ptolemaic Kingdom the story covers the power struggle between Ptolemy XIII and his sister Cleopatra. Well, before long Julius Ceasar and the Roman Empire also get involved. Bayek tries to uncover the sinister forces behind these events while at the same time keeping the ordinary Egyptian people safe from bandits and warlords.
The game’s biggest attraction is its game world. Ubisofts’ efforts created for Assassin’s Creed Origins feels like it has been made to scale. Most of the game covers the Nile delta and river but also a large portion of deep desert. Never did I have the feeling the world was squeezed. It feels like genuine an Ancient Egyptian world rather than a theme park. After nearly a dozen games in the series it was time for some upgrades to the basic gameplay. This time Ubisoft has used a hit-box system for combat. That means Bayek will do damage to enemies he actually hits, not with predetermined animations. This increases the ‘feeling’ that skill and chance are important and increases the feeling of freedom.
Ancient Egypt brought to life
Furthermore the player will be aided by Senu, an eagle that can be used to scout enemy positions and even join in the fight. The open-world can be explored through the use of horses, camels and boats. Assassin’s Creed Origins does not lack a sense of freedom, though some aspects do feel somewhat contrived. I doubt that the average Ancient Egyptian would keep gold in practically every household pot for Bayek to loot. Staying true to its title the game has more to with the dead than the living, though there are shops were you can trade. Overall the experience takes place mostly in tombs, temples and forts. The development team has done a wonderful job of making the world of Ancient Egypt come to life. The depiction of murals, rituals really brings into focus their reason to mummify the dead.
An ‘too’ open-world to explore
Ubisoft has with Assassin’s Creed Origin yet again improved its open-world gameplay. But its not an easy game, initially the player is left wondering ‘what’ and ‘where’. My first real challenge, clearing a cave of bandits ended up being a real challenge. Clearing the sentries was easy enough, with the help of some well placed bushes. However, the cave boss was surrounded by more bandits that could not be stealthed. After several failed attempts I focused on improving my gear and skills level and became more familiar with the wonky fighting controls.
It’s gets better with practice, and with better gear and abilities. Assassin’s Creed Origins is thus not that different from other open-world games. Still after about 6 to 8 hours playing I felt I did not know what the overall objective of the game was. Some of the gameplay had started to become repetitive and I focused mostly on the storyline. The completionist in me wondered if I ever would pursue all those side quests. That said, one improvement I can’t get enough of is the environment. It is not only visually stunning, but also highly interactive: compared to games such as The Division and Ghost Recon: Wildlands. I never tired of climbing a mountain, a temple or a pyramid for a better perch. The screenshots you see on this page were made with the in-game photo camera. I suppose it can be explained through the Animus.
The graphics on PC
Assassin’s Creed Origins is definitely the prettiest game in the series, but that is to be expected. However, playing it in the flesh gave me a better feeling than watching videos on YouTube. The textures are finely detailed and often made me pause to consider the effort it took. The graphical special effects really make the game come to life. From sand moving in the wind, the water effects and lighting – it all makes the environment come to life. Only the strategic emplacement of bushes to allow Bayek to sneak made it clear this was a computer game – and not the real world.
I have played the game on a Core i5 that is about 2 years old with a Radeon RX-480. The game runs fine with most special effects set to their highest level. From time to time I have noticed some textures not loading properly, but this only occurred in certain temples.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is available for 59.99 on Steam, for another 39.9 you can get a season pass. It may be worth it, but it is expensive. I played the vanilla version of the game and I will decide in the future whether I will play all the DLCs and special game modes.