Kill like an Egyptian
After a yearlong hiatus, the mainline Assassin’s Creed series gets a new title. Fans of the series are no doubt hoping that Assassin’s Creed Origins eschews the stale gameplay that plagued more recent titles and returns the series to prominence.
The game takes players all the way back to ancient Egypt, circa 49 B.C. You play as Bayek and make your way through the ancient landscape, exploring pyramids, taking on more complex bosses, and help found the Assassin’s Brotherhood.
There are a lot of things that point to this game being a needed breath of fresh air. This game was developed by the same team that birthed the acclaimed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The demo that was playable on the E3 floor showed off many new wrinkles. The game employs RPG elements, including level progression, a skill tree, crafting, and legendary weapons with upgraded stats. Bayek employs as pet eagle, Senu, as a sort of drone. Senu can scout the area and pinpoint targets for Bayek. There are also many unique travel modes, including horseback, camel, riverboat, and ships. And yes, just like Black Flag, ships mean naval battles.
In addition to the usual enemies and civilians, the world is home to a variety of animals. These include horses, gazelles, giraffes, and crocodiles. Similar to Far Cry, you can use them to your advantage. If you let loose a caged lion, he may maul enemies near you. Of course, they can also turn on you. Having a hippo or croc snapping at your heels while you’re swimming is not fun in the least.
Unlike other games, the townsfolk have a lot of personality. According to the developers, each citizen has his or her own day/night cycle, social life, work schedule, and family dynamic. You’re able to study them, watching them go through their day and learning their patterns. Should you have to assassinate them later, that kind of intel is extremely useful.
Combat has been revamped in Assassin’s Creed Origins. The left and right triggers are now light and heavy attacks, respectively. Dodging is now more important, and the old targeting-based system does not lend itself to easy blocking. Everything is now more reaction-based, making combat against groups of enemies more fluid. And the boss battles, of which there are many, are not straightforward affairs. Some of these bad boys are huge, and you really have to mix up and master all of Bayek’s combat moves.
All of this takes place in a world that is absolutely stunning. Rather than the barren deserts that most people think of when they think of Egypt, the towns are lush and filled with all manner of flora. There are arid areas, but there are also port towns and brutal cliffs. Everything is rendered in 2160p30 with a draw distance that stretches for miles. I noticed a few dropped frames during the Xbox trailer, but it’s excusable since Ubisoft showed alpha gameplay.
Assassin’s Creed Origins will debut on October 27th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Judging from everything seen, this looks to be a great return to form.