Gamers are the ones who brought on the “take a year off” hiatus that we saw in 2016. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed released a new iteration every year from 2009’s Assassin’s Creed II until 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Those who asked got what they wanted, a year off for the series. Now that time is over and we are staring down the amazing world of Assassin’s Creed Origins. The fatigue is no longer a complaint and the beautiful, massive world of Egypt awaits gamers this October.
At E3 2017, I had the chance to see plenty of Assassin’s Creed Origins. The massive size of the game is astounding and the depth Ubisoft has crafted is incredible. Just because they took a year off in the series doesn’t mean they pulled back on ambition. Thank goodness for that as they have not just built a new world, but rather a country.
Size is one of the most striking details when you first lay eyes on Origins. Take one look at the game’s map and you immediately realize how a country is the right term to describe the world. So much life is oozing out of every town, village, crevasse, cave and corner. Fans will be very happy to see how different, yet familiar this game is.
I think one of the most common complaints I heard from critics of the series was how easy the combat was. That was, after all, kind of the point of being an assassin, but still, Ubisoft listened to that feedback and made serious adjustments. From the combat I went hands-on with, easy is not a term people should throw around anymore.
The ranking system of Assassin’s Creed Origins is essential to understanding combat. Say you are a level 20 and you go up against a level 25 soldier. You’re probably going to die, particularly if some of his buddies come to the soldier’s aid. Levels matter in Assassin’s Creed Origins. Levels matter big time.
Don’t worry though because you can still kill a handful of enemies at once. You just need to make sure they are of a similar or lesser level than you. I appreciate the effect this has on combat, and therefore, the player.
For combat, it makes things far more challenging and you’ll really have to consider whether or not you can win a fight before going into it. In previous installments, you could pretty much take out enemies anywhere, anytime and you’d probably live to tell about it.
Not only does the combat make people think more, but it puts an additional emphasis on stealth. Stealth gameplay is probably one of my favorite aspects of Assassin’s Creed, and it always has been. From chucking knives as Evie Frye to the always satisfying aerial assassination, stealth is incredibly rewarding. Origins satisfies players who are subtle with their approach and stealth feels so much more gratifying when executed well.
Players will be able to use the environment to their advantage, while remaining anonymous. Unlocking the cages for a tiger to escape its cage and then wreak havoc on an enemy camp is an option. Using your bow and arrow to take out snipers overseeing a camp is another option. I say all of this with the additional point that keeping levels in mind is so important to surviving combat. If you headshot a guard who is five levels higher than you, it is probably not going to kill him. Food for thought.
Getting away from combat a bit and looking at the game’s mechanics, history has led us to this. I mean history in the sense of the franchise’s past iteration, not actual history itself. What is amazing about this game is how Ubisoft has taken all of the parts that made the series great in the past, and they seem to have put them all into Assassin’s Creed Origins.
One of the features I’m referring to is naval gameplay. This is back once again, though in a different fashion than what you remember from Black Flag. While the extent of naval gameplay is unknown, gamers will be able to sail around the waters of Origins. In the demo I played, I commandeered a villager’s boat and cruised for trouble.
I saw a soldier was standing on his boat, just hanging out, so I promptly delivered a headshot. Problem was, his level was a few higher than mine, so he ended up chasing me through the bay we were in. The naval combat I say was more like take out your bow and shoot the other person across from you naval combat. It is not like the combat in Black Flag, though how deep naval’s involvement in the game goes has yet to be seen.
Sailing is a wonderful avenue for traversal in Origins, as there are tons of things to explore in the game. Remember the window from Black Flag that showed you how many collectibles you still needed to pick up in an area? Well that feature is back and it is quite helpful for discovering key loot.
Instead of playing the gladiator arena Ubisoft had lined up in my playthrough, I elected to go treasure hunting. Toward one of the world’s shores, I sailed for a rich plunder. The area was a ruin and had a number of treasure chests to raid. Around me though were sharks and even a few soldiers. I dispatched the soldiers and then slowly handled each shark one by one.
After, I swam around the area and picked up the chests I could find. For the ones I still needed help locating, Bayek has this sonar sort of wave he sends around himself and this helps you discover where collectibles are. Through this, I found the chest with the biggest reward of all, a rare weapon. I didn’t have the chance to use it, but its stats showed a significant amount of more damage than my previous weapon. Exploration feels rewarding and discovering a hidden secret is amazing.
During my playthrough, I could have experienced a main mission that was nearby, but I chose to do a side mission off of the beaten path. I was surprised by how quality that mission was. Not only did the cutscene do a good job of showing Bayek’s commitment to his purpose as a member of the Medjah, who act as the police in Egypt.
I infiltrated several enemy strongholds and picked up intel along the way. While it was a brief sample, the mission structure seems to flow a bit like The Witcher 3‘s did. That dive of starting with one piece and then following the bread crumble trail to the end felt very natural. I think this will add more depth and meaning to each mission, mandatory and optional.
There is so much more to talk about, but to tie a bow on this, I think it is obvious how much Ubisoft has listened. Assassin’s Creed Origins feels really different from any other game I’ve played in the series. The combat is largely responsible for this feeling, but its mission structure contributes too.
No matter, it is the sum of its mechanics that makes this game feel like the Assassin’s Creed Ubisoft has been building up to for over a decade. I can’t wait to see where Assassin’s Creed Origins goes, and the wait will be over come Oct. 27. The game will be available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Assassin’s Creed.