Assassin’s Creed is one of the most popular franchise for Ubisoft. It has spanned several games and even a Hollywood movie but despite that, the popularity of the series started to wane beginning with Assassin’s Creed Unity. One of the main reason of the decline was the frequent releases and rushed launches that not only lead to bugs, but also a fatigue among the series fans who were getting tired of playing the same kind of gameplay again. Each Assassin’s Creed was developed on an existing formula attempting to present an open world that encouraged exploration but this came at the expense of the mission design.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is the result of Ubisoft strongly focusing on the fan feedback after the lackluster reception received by Assassin’s Creed Unity and Syndicate. The game was in development for an extra year compared to the past Assassin’s Creed games letting Ubisoft utilize the extra time to work on polishing the experience and fix any potential bugs with the final product. The end result is a game that is completely solid and a radical departure from its predecessors, and as a result, it feels fresh and exciting to play.
The main Assassin this time is Bayek of Siwa. He is a man out on revenge and the narrative attempts to use this revenge motif to set up the creation of the Brotherhood of Assassins. It is not exactly a great story to tell here but those who are fans of the series might find it exciting to witness the origin of the Brotherhood of Assassins. Bayek himself appears to help the common people against the Ptolemaic Kingdom which happens to be in turmoil over its internal politics and family affairs. The story does feel disjointed and clunky at times which doesn’t exactly do it any favor, but the journey from the start to end is a fun filled ride as you witness the creation of the first Assassin.
The gameplay this time has been completely revamped which also results in a more focused approach to the open world. While the climbing mechanics are mostly retained, they have been simplified and instead more focus is put on getting a solid combat and progression system. The game has basically transformed into an action RPG with experience points, skills and a crafting system that lets you search for loot and develop new equipment or upgrade your existing ones.
This is perhaps the largest Assassin’s Creed game, both in term of the amount of content offered, and in term of the open world map that you can explore. It can often feel overwhelming and this can be a good or bad thing depending on how you prefer your games. You are free to approach the story as you desire but it will be hard to ignore the many sidequests or points of interest that are dotted out throughout the world map. Since the level up system relies on experience points, the best way to source them will be to do majority of the sidequests. Each quest usually also comes with a level requirement so if you are having difficulty with progressing in the story, you can try to attempt some of the side content in order to gain experience points for Bayek. Hunting also plays a big role here and the world map is full of animals that you will be able to kill to get loot, which results in unlocking new equipment or upgrading an existing one to improve your stats.
If you have played any of the past Ubisoft games, you might be easily able to recognize how they attempt to integrate mechanics from their different games into each other. I couldn’t help but feel the same way with the new addition to scout enemies or locations from a distance. This mechanic has been prominently featured in Watch Dogs 2 and Ghost Recon Wildlands and the same appears to be the case here. In Assassin’s Creed Origins, this is accomplished by using Senu – Bayek’s eagle companion. You can press a simple button to switch to Senu as he flies over Bayek. You can use this approach to scout any location from a bird’s eye view while also giving orders to mark specific targets. This can also prove to be useful in hunts where Senu can actually help you get the animal that has been marked. One cool little tidbit that I noticed was that when you remained idle for too long, Senu would often fly down to Bayek and sit on his arm.
The combat is more action focused and changes depending on the weapon you have equipped. It helps in avoiding the repetitive nature of the combat from the past games letting you exploit the weakness of the enemies. You can perform standard slashes, block or dodge around the enemy attacks. Timed dodge can also provide a boost to your special meter which lets you execute a powerful strike to the enemy. You can also use your bow to shoot enemies and it comes quite handy especially during hunts when you are scavenging for loot. The strength of the weapon is important now since they have a pre-defined damage depending on their stats. You will also see the damage on screen as you slash away at your enemies, just like in an action RPG.
Skills are the new way to gain progress in Assassin’s Creed Origins. You can prioritize skills that best suit your play style. If you prefer to go for stealth, there are skills dedicated to it while if you want to just go straight for combat, you might have to focus on the warrior based skills. Some skills offer you some extra reward like the ability to forward time to a different time of day or investing in the loot and rare equipment skills. Ability points are rewarded after each level up or purchased using Helix credits that are obtainable in the game.
Visually, the game is gorgeous and one of the better looking open world games on the PS4 Pro. I tested it on a 4K display and found it a great looking game without any noticeable flaw. The draw distance is perhaps a little low and objects can pop out when you run around or use Senu the eagle to scout around locations, but the dynamic day and night cycle along with the gorgeous lighting is hard to ignore and can really help establish the atmosphere and make you feel immersed in the game’s world. Unfortunately there was no HDR available to test since it will be implemented at a later date with an update to the game.
Assassin’s Creed Origins Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Assassin's Creed Origins is an upcoming action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It will be the tenth major installment in the Assassin's Creed series and the successor to 2015's Assassin's Creed Syndicate.
Assassin's Creed Origins manages to rejuvenate the series with a solid foundation built on a fun combat system.