Also On: Xbox One, PS4
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
After my Assassin?s Creed Origins preview event, I could not have been more excited to go hands on with the full game. During the event I was able to play on an Xbox One X prototype, but I wanted to get ahold of the PC version and really stretch its legs. I won?t pretend that Ubisoft has always been 100% ready to go for PC releases and bug free, so I had my share of concerns going in, but with many hours of gameplay behind me, I have experienced nothing more than an occasional hiccup with rendering or a slight graphical glitch. As a whole Assassin?s Creed Origins runs flawlessly and is absolutely stunning, a true technical achievement.
In my preview I touched on some of the highlights of this new entry in the long running franchise. A new setting, revamped combat, more intuitive controls and a complex and interesting protagonist were the key points I took away from my first four hours, and none of that changes in the full release. Bayek is without a doubt the strongest protagonist the series has ever seen. He is the richest, most complex and well developed character that Ubisoft has possibly ever put forward. He absolutely makes this game more enjoyable, with every mission and every cutscene adding something to who this man is and giving you another reason to care about him. He is emotional, raw and realistic. His interactions with NPCs are genuine and heartfelt which is something you rarely see, even in the most in depth RPGs.
Assassin?s Creed Origins manages to learn lessons from every Ubisoft game that has come before it and applies those lessons to outstanding effect. The level of polish and care that Origins presents in its final form is beautiful and really helps solidify the new standard for what a AAA title should be. The past few years have seen some truly stand out RPGs from some of the best names out there, but Assassin?s Creed Origins stands up right there with them. The loot system leaves a bit to be desired, with pretty much everything being available to you throughout the course of the game with very little effort or need to travel off the beaten path. It is quite possible that there are some special weapons hidden out in the world that I have not found that require quests and hunts to find, as this game is enormous, but I have not found anything that really stands out yet.
The world around Bayek is ever changing, each village and town you visit has its own life and culture. You can enter a town and be met with prejudice and disdain, then ride a short way to the next town over and be welcomed with open arms. Factions war over territory, supplies and which god they choose to worship. Each group you encounter will have a slightly different opinion of you and of your religious preferences which just continues to make this world feel real and lived in.
The improvements to the free running system are apparent throughout every aspect of Origins. I never had the frustrations that I experienced in previous games, but also never felt like my hand was being held. You aren?t able to just be reckless, but you also don?t have those controller breaking moments of trying to run and falling to the ground, ruining a stealth mission. On the subject of stealth missions, Ubisoft has chosen to give full freedom to the player to choose how you want to complete missions in Origins. The days of failing a mission just for being spotted by some random guard are over, with the option to just go in sword first and brawl with everyone available and viable from the very beginning. If you prefer stealth however, you are still given more than enough opportunity to hunt your prey and avoid detection. Origins doesn?t penalize you for the type of player you are and that makes it seem all the more satisfying.
Combat has been redesigned along with the movement system, making it also much more intuitive and seamless. Veteran players will need to forget old habits and be patient while learning this new system, but after some time with it I think just about everyone will agree that it is a vast improvement. The ability to choose your own difficulty is new to the series, and may end up being a much needed feature in Origins. With the redesigned combat and new focus on a more RPG style of gameplay, Assassin?s Creed Origins is without a doubt the most difficult game in the series if you leave it on its default setting. The game is not linear so you can quickly find yourself surrounded by enemies that can take your life in two or three hits, leaving you no escape and very little room to recover. Taking on foes that are substantially higher levels than you will most likely prove disastrous, and even fights that you are appropriately leveled for can feel like an uphill battle. Origins does not hold your hand, it lets you go out and get pummeled until you either level up and overcome or give up and drop the difficulty setting. Those who do opt for a lower difficulty will still be in for a challenge. I made it a point to play around on both ends of the spectrum and there is not a true ?easy? setting to be found here.
Assassin?s Creed Origins once again sets itself apart from its recent predecessors with the strongest story in the series since Assassin?s Creed 2. The political conflicts, the religious conflicts and the strongest protagonist and antagonists the series has seen yet all bring that story to the top of the list and leave you wanting more. After finishing the game I still find myself wandering around and finding little bits of story here and there that add to the already completed main game, which is great. Everything ties back into the story and adds some level of detail or quality that was not there before. Not only does Origins manage to be the most interesting Assassin?s Creed, but it is also the most believable. The setting and characters all seem to fit better here, and an emphasis on actually learning the Ancient Egyptian culture and customs again brings a whole new layer to the game. I actually learned facts about this civilization that I would have never known had I not dug into the story and the world.
Assassin?s Creed Origins manages to live up to the expectation that the preview event gave me. I dubbed it “near perfect” after that event, and the final product does not disappoint. A few pacing issues late in the story caused things to drag a little bit, and the loot system doesn?t remain intriguing after the first few hours, but finding a complaint beyond that is difficult. You can nitpick some of the graphical hiccups or complain about repetitive side quests, but even those manage to stay fun and interesting with all of the different styles of play. On a day with two other heavy hitting AAA games and an amazing TV show releasing simultaneously, your time and money are going to be precious commodities. With Game of the Year talks coming up, Assassin?s Creed Origins is a serious contender for the title in my book. I cannot speak for those other releases, but I can say that whether you are a newcomer to the franchise or a veteran, picking up Assassin?s Creed Origins is the right choice.