And it plays extremely well too.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins was finally unveiled at this year’s E3 to widespread praise. I had friends telling me that they haven’t played Assassin’s Creed in years — having given up on the series — but were very excited to play Origins. And what has been shown during E3 2017 translates perfectly in style and gameplay. From its namesake, Origins goes all the way back to the founding of the Brotherhood, the founding of the Assassin’s Creed. What better way to find the beginnings of a deeply secret sacred society, than to trace it all the way back to ancient Egypt? The ideas of what’s to come next are nearly limitless. And Origins is proving that the developers at Ubisoft, have yet to run out of original and fun ideas for this long-running franchise.
I’m not sure what is it: maybe the golden luster of the sun soaked sands of the arid desert; or maybe the excitement of walking through the crowds of villagers; or maybe it’s the underwater exploration and gameplay mechanics that really bring out the fun in the short time I had to experience Origins. It’s probably all of those combined. It becomes apparent, right from the start, that Ubisoft are treating Assassin’s Creed Origins as though it’s important again. With every nook and cranny of the previous games rinsed off and fine tuned for Origins, it’s important to note that the experience in the preview version, ran better than any of the other Assassin’s Creeds this generation.
"Climbing has been revamped, as well. You’re probably thinking: there weren’t many tall buildings in ancient Egypt. Well, you’re right and wrong."
The controls for Origins are quite different from previous games. Instead of hitting face buttons this time around, the main character (Bayek) is controlled with mostly the trigger and bumpers of the controller. At first it was very weird for me to play a third person, stealth-action/adventure game, where my character’s fighting mechanics were controlled with triggers. I had a hard time understanding the lock down of how the buttons translated into the fighting mechanics, but after about five minutes, I really felt the difference between the past and present configurations. There’s more of a sensitive reaction time when using the triggers for fighting. It also frees up the complete button scheme for other uses within the game. What’s left in the end is a well mapped control scheme that may take some time to learn, but it’s ultimately refreshing and simplified.
Climbing has been revamped, as well. You’re probably thinking: there weren’t many tall buildings in ancient Egypt. Well, you’re right and wrong. We’ve learned that actually Origins takes place near the end of the ancient days. Buildings and towers were much taller near the end of the ancient days. But from I saw, nothing really compared to what can be seen in games such as Unity and Syndicate. What I was able to climb were towering ships over the river, and tall housing and stores in the market area; although we’ve been promised that the sky high pyramids will be climbable in the final version.
Bayek climbs up with little to no struggle — no more realistic struggling for the next ledge or grip. It makes sense to be realistic, but who wants to spend their time over every little leap? Not me. As many Assassin’s Creed fans know, it’s not always a straight path to the top of whatever you’re climbing. Sometimes going right or left, or shimming across a narrow ledge is a key part of accessing the right path to the top. Assassin’s Creed fans also know that feeling of the character’s internal thinking of side-jumping, “Can I make this jump? Should I? Okay, I’ll go for it.”
Not this time though. Bayek controlled brilliantly when accessing different routes while climbing. Want to go left? He goes left, and the same with right. His flow is constantly in perpetual motion. There are moments of slowdown, of course, but nothing as dramatic as the previous iterations.
"Quests in Origins seems to be about the same as the others in the series. The ones I got to experience were fetch quests of running back and forth between points…"
Bayek is equipped with a falcon with which I was able to pinpoint enemies from long distances, and spot hidden crevasses I might not have been able to see or even notice on foot. What’s also interesting is that there is no cool down time for the falcon and you can send it to the farthest boarders of the game; there are no restrictions on flying. I did find it rather lazy, however, that you can fly the falcon as low as you’d like and the enemies do not sense its presence. With that, it’s also not possible for the enemies to attack the bird either. This leads to a design in which the player has almost ultimate power that I’m not particularly fond of.
Other than exploring the vast, dry lands above, you’ll also be able to explore below the water; and what’s below is quite beautiful. Under the rivers are deep floors covered in seaweed and brilliant colors. We’ve learned that many quests will require Bayek to adventure under the water to discover treasures and secrets. Bayek’s breath can be held for long periods of time, allowing you to explore for a good amount of time. It’s also important to note that the controls for above the water are the same as below, making the experience intuitive with an ease of access; unlike other games where there are different controls for above and below water.
Quests in Origins seems to be about the same as the others in the series. The ones I got to experience were fetch quests of running back and forth between points; most of the time not paying attention to why I’m running back and forth. Hopefully we’ll get some more enticing and interesting quests in the full version.
What’s left after the wonderfully designed world of ancient Egypt’s vistas and valleys in Assassin’s Creed Origins? Who knows? What I can say is that this is definitely a game you want to get behind. Especially if you left the world of Assassin’s Creed, or you’ve been looking for a reason to get in to it.
This game was previewed on the Xbox One X.