Last week I was lucky enough to play 3 solid hours of Assassin’s Creed Origins and explore its dynamic ancient Egyptian landscape. Origins feels like a complete overhaul for the Assassin’s Creed series, in both story and gameplay making it the perfect entry point for newcomers and everyone else who couldn’t keep up. Here are some of the best bits:
Everything in Egypt wants to kill you
Within 5 minutes of exploring, I was mauled by crocodiles and had a hippo chase me onto dry land, its maw snapping at the air behind me. This was both hilarious and terrifying. Thankfully I escaped.
The Egyptian wildlife is a consistent threat and animals are prone to attack when you least expect it. During one particular mission, I helped some locals defend their land from an invading force, only to be pushed back towards a temple where I was repeatedly struck by nesting cobras. Of course there are cobras! The wildlife will keep you on your toes and naturally make the huge landscape feel more life-like.
Later, I accepted a mission to destroy an enemy war chariot which was terrorising other locals. After several failed attempts rushing the soldiers (who attack on sight), I opted for a stealthier approach. I snuck into camp, stole the chariot and guided the horses towards the river. Only problem was I crashed the chariot straight into a herd of hippos. Death was swift, but I still completed the mission. So it was a win, I think.
Something I didn’t see, but apparently, you can also die from heatstroke. Like I said, everything wants to kill you.
Bayek is a Badass
You play as Bayek, an assassin with some serious skills. Thanks to an overhauled combat system, Assassin’s Creed Origins offers a deeper and more strategic experience. Gone are the days of single attack and parry buttons, replaced by light attacks, heavy attacks, bows and arrows and a block/counter attack system – it feels similar to Dark Souls. Like in previous games, you can still rush squads of enemies head-on, but it’s a sure-fire way to end up dead. Utilising stealth and the full combination of attacks offers some seriously satisfying bloodshed.
A skill tree enables you to upgrade Bayek’s abilities based on your play style. By completing objectives, you can improve combat or stealth for chaining attacks or effortlessly defeating tougher enemies. Through crafting and missions, you unlock better weapons and better equipment for the more difficult objectives later on.
The wildlife can also be used to your advantage. I accepted a mission to rescue a prisoner from a small squad of soldiers. At the outskirts of their camp was a caged cheetah. I freed the animal who then rushed the soldiers and tore them apart. Unfortunately, it then turned its attention towards me…It was a good plan in theory.
Bird is the Word
Bayek has an eagle companion named Senu who is basically a living breathing aerial drone. At any time, Senu can take to the skies and provide you with some much-needed reconnaissance. Senu can scout ahead, tag enemy locations and simply cruise the skies of ancient Egypt giving you a literal birds-eye-view. Senu is a reworking of the Eagle Vision feature found in previous Assassin’s Creed games. If you play military games like Ghost Recon or Battlefield, you will already have a good understanding of how it works.
This Ain’t Hollywood
Personally, I liked the film. Many people did not. Either way, if the Assassin’s Creed film is your only knowledge of the franchise, don’t let Hollywood’s failures influence your gaming decisions. Origins is just as cinematic, yet far less contrived.
‘The Fass’ doesn’t make an appearance, nor does Jeremy Irons and unlike the film, almost all in-game action takes place in the past – 49 BC to be exact. The game’s publisher Ubisoft has stayed tight-lipped regarding the story, but you can experience Cleopatra’s ascent to the throne and battle with a mysterious force known as the Order of Ancients who are controlling Egypt through the ‘boy king’ Ptolemy III. You can also look forward to having Julius Caesar (the other JC) as an ally.
During my hands on, I was treated to a cutscene that introduced a villain named Scarab – a guy in a creepy Eyes Wide Shut mask who enjoys burying people alive. From what I experienced, he’s shaping up to be more than your cliché Hollywood bad guy.
Get Educated in Discovery Tour
Early 2018, Assassin’s Creed Origins will be receiving a free educational mode called Discovery Tour which lets players explore ancient Egypt through guided tours. This includes visiting key locations like Alexandria and learning about the life of Cleopatra and the mummification process. Sadly I didn’t get to try this feature, but it sure sounds like an interesting way to learn ancient history. It also opens an ultra-violent game up to a younger audience. You won’t need to put the kiddies to bed before you play.
These are just some of the features you can expect when Assassin’s Creed Origins lands on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 27 (well, not Discovery Tour). I’m looking forward to performing the Leap of Faith from atop the Sphynx.
Are you going to pick up Origins? Sound off in the comments below.