- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Genre: Action Adventure, Stealth
- Release Date: October 27 2017
- Platforms: Playstation 4, PC & Xbox One
- Reviewed on: Xbox One S, HD TV & Surround Sound
- Game Supplied by: Microsoft
Okay, here we go, we’re diving into one of the most hyped games of 2017, and praying that it doesn’t glitch out. After a year’s break, Ubisoft have thrown us into Egypt for the first time in the decade-old franchise.
When I went to download the game from the store I initially hesitated, this series is renowned for being rushed out too soon and then having glitches galore once you begin playing. When I played Assassin’s Creed Unity I played the first 15 minutes and then didn’t touch the game for 3 months because of the number of bugs in it. So, what was stopping this game from having the same issues as the ones that came before?
Well firstly, they’ve upped their game engine from the Anvil engine to the AnvilNext 2.0 engine. This is supposed to smooth out the graphics and remove any low fps issues that gamers might encounter during their gameplay. In my experience, has the engine change made a difference? As I’m not reviewing on a 4K TV with a shiny new Xbox One X attached to it, I honestly see no difference in the graphic quality between this game and the ones before. Although, I have noticed that there are little to no bugs within the game that affect the gameplay. Although there have been some rather interesting glitches (floating scorpions, bodies halfway in the ground, floating pots etc).
“Okay, so they’ve changed the engine with no major effects to the graphics or the glitches, so what’s new?” I hear you ask. Well you may want to sit down. With Assassin’s Creed Syndicate being 30% larger than Assassin’s Creed Unity, I cannot calculate the percentage increase between Syndicate and Origins. The map is so big it takes almost 3 hours play time to cross at a walking pace. No, you heard me correctly. Three. Hours. When I first opened the map screen it made me laugh at how Ubisoft expected anyone to complete this game in a reasonable amount of time. I can already hear the anguished cries of multiple speed runners across the globe.
So how does this change the gameplay, is it the same as I’m used to? Can I still watch hilariously as guards jump onto a ledge only to lose grip and fall to their doom? In a word, no. The gameplay has had a rather large transformation since we saw it a year ago in Syndicate. Previous Assassin’s Creed titles have allowed us to plough our way through enemies with countering and dodging being a simple game mechanic that is easily taken advantage of. In Origins the combat now feels a lot more fluid and less “clunky”. The enemies now attack you 2 on 1 or even 3 on 1 at times. The player must fluidly dodge and parry as if they would in a real-life situation. You’re able to lock onto targets and pick them off one at a time, however the player must keep an eye on everyone within the fight otherwise they could get a sword in the back.
Ubisoft have continued the recent tradition of no multiplayer capabilities within Assassins Creed Origins which for me is a disappointment. The outcry of no multiplayer for Syndicate was loud enough that Ubisoft should have integrated some form of multiplayer into this game. However, no such luck I’m afraid. But, in all honesty, the single player game is so vast that you won’t miss the multiplayer. By the time you’ve finished the storyline the next Assassin’s Creed will more than likely be out!
To assist the player in keeping up with the increasing level of difficulty throughout the game, Origins allows the player to level up the protagonist. This is done through multiple channels on this game, which helps tailor the game to the way that you play. Each time a quest or side mission is completed you gain XP and then level up. However, each time you level up you are granted a skill point, which you can then spend in the skills tree. This allows you to branch off (pun intended) into 3 different styles of gameplay. I myself am a ranged weapon user, so I’ve gone down the “Hunter” branch, however if I wanted to (or completed my branch) I could then branch down the “Warrior” or “Seer” route. It’s a great way to gain specific skills to your own playing style.
The story is set in Ancient Egypt and is full on, not suitable for anyone under the age of 17 according to the ESRB, and after playing it I do agree with them. There have been times where I’ve widened my eyes in shock with either the brutal violence, nudity or language used in this game. Assassin’s Creed grew up quick! It’s now a teenager that seems to want to swear in every other sentence. Calm down Ubisoft, the shock factor is good every so often, but geez! The storyline focuses around a man called Bayek who is NOT an assassin, this is practically forced down your throat whenever you make a kill. Bayek does not have the patience, nor the skill to pull off a beautiful assassination like Altair or Ezio. For example, when catching one of his targets, he mercilessly beats his skull in with an orb. I mean, talk about brutal.
One word of warning to those out there, if you are like me and like the story to be acted out from start to finish whilst you’re playing, be patient with this game. Within the first 20-30 minutes I really didn’t like playing it as it wasn’t clear why my objective was my objective. There was no clear reasoning or rule behind why I was killing this man. However, after the first 30 minutes of gameplay the story started to become a lot clearer and I noticed that I was enjoying it more and more.
The one thing I would like to point out, I absolutely love the travelling mechanic. With the map being as expansive as it is you need a way to get around that isn’t going to make your legs wobble after 15 minutes of exhaustive sprinting. And with this game being set in the desert of Egypt it’s only natural you get 2 modes of transport, horse or camel. Now I won’t judge you for whatever method you choose but I will judge you if you don’t use the amazing “Follow Road” function. Too often nowadays we use fast travel points to get from point A to point B in a game. Fast forwarding through the beautiful scenery of a game just to complete a quest or two. However, in Assassin’s Creed Origins you can get your horse to follow a road to the specific point that you set on a map and simply put your controller down. This game mechanic has been used in other games prior to this (Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) and it’s nice to simply lean back and watch the virtual world go by. I will warn you though, if you set your marker inside of a property, your steed will stop at nothing to get to that marker. The glitches are hilarious.
The sound design is as usual very well done in this franchise. Simple things such as hearing your eagle cry from above to hearing the scorpions scuttle around underneath you, you can really immerse yourself in this game. One thing I will note is that within the first section the voices didn’t sync up with the lip movement of the characters, and that really did irritate me.
Speaking about your eagle one extremely neat mechanic is the new “marking” feature. Say you’re about to infiltrate an enemy fortress but you have no clue where all the enemies are hiding. All you need to do is remote pilot your very own biological drone (eagle for short). By flying around with your eagle, you can get a bird’s eye view (pun intended) of the fortress and mark each enemy that is in the immediate area. Your eagle will even locate nearby treasure for that additional bonus! Out of all the new mechanics I would say this one is my favourite as it really comes in handy for those who like to play the game with stealth. Assassin’s Creed has really upped the “Eagle Vision” mechanic here (another pun intended).
All in all, Assassin’s Creed Origins is in contention for my number 1 Assassins Creed game of all time (alongside Brotherhood). The map is dauntingly huge, and the scenery is one of a kind. The storytelling leaves a bit to be desired and the glitches are as beautiful as ever. You can while away hours on the side missions and level up your character to blast through the main campaign. And it appears to be nicely customisable to the way that the player decides to play. Oh, and did I mention that you can kill and skin hippos?