Assassin’s Creed has long been one of my favorite series, despite some missteps along the way, mostly with optimization and somewhat stale quest design. The actual attention to detail when it comes to period pieces and world design is peerless, and you can easily get some very thorough history lessons simply by virtue of playing through the games. Anyway, how does Assassin’s Creed Origins hold up both as the beginning of what I would consider the third era of the IP and storyline, and as a stand alone entry?

Story

I personally quite enjoyed the way Assassin’s Creed Origins developed what would truly be the origin story for the Assassin’s and to a lesser degree, the Templars. Bayek and Aya were engaging as the protagonists. You mostly play as Bayek, but there are enough parts of the game where you play as Aya to give you a real appreciation for both. Their motivations and reactions are completely natural and you can easily see yourself in their shoes (or sandals as the case may be). The way the story developed to the formation of the Assasssins, initially called The Hidden Ones, was thorough, interesting, and really serves to whet the appetite for this new story arc.

There are also no lack for side stories, via side quests, that really develop both the world and Bayek/Aya and become worthwhile ventures where in other game this might end up being boring.

For me, this iteration of Cleopatra era Egypt was both fascinating, and best I can tell, pretty accurate to real life as it was back then.

It is also worth mentioning that you can choose to play this game in “Discovery Tour” mode, which will allow you to treat this game like museum, wherein you can travel the world unimpeded, simply taking in the the actual history of the era, via the actual landmarks and places of interest.

8 out of 10

Gameplay

The gameplay in Assassin’s Creed Origins is fairly standard for the series, in that some mechanics continue to remain largely the same. Climbing is still the same as it’s been in past entries, including the annoyance of accidental parkour, which any fan of the series will already be well familiar with. There are still towers and lookout points.

However, there were also some pleasant changes. The first is with Senu, your eagle, who actually becomes an active follower of sorts in this game, and can be used to scout locations, tag enemies, and even attack enemies depending on how you choose to upgrade your skills.

Actual combat was also a lot more fun. Gone (mostly) are the QTE’s featured in past games. Instead, you get a more fluid combat system that requires better timing. Parrying is all about timing, dodging is still viable, but your weapons selection will also largely determine your tactics. My personal favorite was a giant golden mace that I kept upgrading throughout the game. It was a beast that also featured a built in parry as the beginning stage of your heavy attacks. Weapons speed and size are huge factors though, and you will always have a second selection. For me, this is where I experimented with the other weapon types. Some were better for fighting predators such as lions whereas others were more effective against armored opponents, for example. Weapons and armor can be upgraded throughout the game.

Your actual skill tree is familiar if you’ve played any UbiSoft open world games int he past. Three skills arcs and plenty of skills within each.

I would like to place special emphasis on horseback riding and combat. This was probably the best use of horses (and camels) as mounts that I’ve ever experienced in a game. The controls were tight, motions were realistic, and combat was fun as hell. I never grew tired of it, and in fact, this often had me ignoring fast travel in favor of riding around instead.

All in all, the world design and tweaks to the quest system were also a success, making even the most basic off side quests relevant to world building and purposeful regardless. No empty fetch quests (although there are fetch quests); every quest had meaning. This also means that exploration was also more fun and there were enough distinct regions to make finding everything something I actually wanted to do.

8.5 out of 10

Graphics

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The graphics in Assassin’s Creed Origins were stunning, but that should really come as no surprise. This game was always amazing to take in, and sight seeing will definitely factor heavily into most people’s time with the game. For me, that factored into the 110ish hours I put into this game.

9 out of 10

Audio

The audio in Assassin’s Creed Origins was also top notch. This is a living breathing world and you hear that clearly. Everything sounds as it should. The voice acting was also peerless. It really is a star of this game without question. The emotion each actor was able to convey through their characters was impressive. From an audio perspective, this game was near perfection.

9.5 out of 10

Verdict

Assassin’s Creed Origins is really a great game. I loved the new direction, the new setting, and the development of the IP in general through this game. Present day doesn’t factor as heavily as it did in past entries, but it was important nonetheless, and the precursor items Bayek finds really add depth to the story being told. I can easily recommend this game to fans of the series, and it’s an excellent entry point for people new to the series as well.

8.8 out of 10. The other 1.2 was lost to my sadness over what happened when…..