Over the last couple of years, the Assassin’s Creed series seems to have been on the decline. Serious bugs upon release made for negative press and accompanying memes. That is not to say they were all bad games, but Ubisoft likely had more than enough reasons to try and turn things around. Is the new Origins game just more of the same, or could this title be as hot as the Egyptian sand at high noon? Saddle up and join us for the ride as we find out.
- The game looks absolutely amazing. It is possibly the best looking game currently available for the Xbox One. The detail, lighting and general artwork are gorgeous. On the Xbox One X, this goes into overdrive with an obviously increased resolution but also improved visual effects with lighting and shadows. Even testing on a 1080p TV set it almost looked like the screen secretly got upgraded. Which no gamer would ever do, of course.
- The wildlife is varied and interesting, behaving in a mostly believable fashion. At one point I ran into a group of lions fighting two hippos on the shore of a river. Jumping in and attacking both, they actually tried to divide their attention between their original enemies and me in what looked like realistic behavior. This is refreshing considering all the games where all the computer controlled enemies would just focus on the player instead of managing threats properly.
- The more you play and explore the more stories you will create that aren’t necessarily the same as that of the next player. Remember that time when you were about to head into that dark cave, and this lion jumped out, scaring the living daylights out of you? Of course, there is a fair share of setups like that blasted cobra in a vase I had to shatter, but dynamic, unscripted encounters will happen quite frequently.
- Exploration is a joy in Origins. Besides the obvious walking, running, climbing and horse riding. You get to ride chariots, use boats and swim underwater for quite a while. The latter will let you explore some underwater ruins and loot treasures as well. Just look out for the crocodiles. Then there is the ability to switch to your eagle companion soaring through the skies and scouting out enemies and resources.
- Speaking of exploring, Origins feels like the most open world of open world games in this series so far. There are more ways than ever to approach an objective or the game in general. Stealth, exploration, all-out combat, for the most part, you can play the game the way you want.
- Besides the main storyline, there are just so many activities to undertake. Doing side missions, exploring ruins and tombs, hunting wildlife, chariot racing, arena battles, location puzzles, the list goes on and on. If you are either a completionist or just enjoy exploring the world in your own time, you can easily spend more than 100 hours in this game. That is not even including the upcoming expansions included in the season pass.
- Quite a few side missions fit into the main story, and features events and people encountered earlier on in the story. This makes them more interesting, and I would advise not to skip over them. The missions range from fairly short up to much more involved with multiple quest phases. Another reason not to skip over them is that certain quests will have recommended levels for them and they will be very hard to complete when you are seriously under leveled. Since the grind doesn’t really feel like a grind, this doesn’t turn into an issue but further encourages players not to skip over too much of the worthwhile content.
- The gear system has shifted further towards a more RPG style, and I do like the way it’s set up in Origins. You have various weapon rarities, and the rarer the weapon is, the more additional attributes it will offer like higher critical hit rate or causing poison on hit. You can dismantle weapons you don’t want for crafting resources, or you can upgrade your favorite weapon to your current level at a blacksmith.
- The abilities you can unlock let you prioritize the gameplay elements you prefer. Are you big on archery, melee weapons or tools? You can pick the general direction of skills to unlock first or mix and match however you see fit. Ultimately, you’ll be able to unlock all of them, but this is a nice way to further help players customize their characters to their preferred playstyle.
- There were some bugs when I first started out with cutscenes not playing and even a freeze that forced me to restart the game to play again. Having said that, I have not encountered any such issues later on so it might have gotten patched already or just be limited to an early mission issue.
- The combat can be very hit or miss. The various weapons you can equip will change the feel of combat which is a good thing. I do however miss the old parry and counter style of fighting. While you can parry or block and follow up, in Origins this is relatively hard to pull off. This means that sometimes during group or boss fights you can get locked in a stunned state for a bit, which isn’t much fun.
- I’m not fundamentally against microtransactions. I’m also not fundamentally in favor of them. When you buy the game including the season pass, the last thing I imagine you want to see is a series of paid-for content on top of the initial expense. Of course, all of these are very optional, and I haven’t spent any extra money on the game myself. Shortcuts are not really necessary, and I can do without the costumes you can buy. Though there is one outfit I’d like to get, and it’s annoying that the only way seems to be through paid DLC.
- The voice acting is rather bad at times due to the extremely forced accents which serve more to break the immersion than enhance it.
- The loading times when starting a new game session are quite lengthy. Running on the Xbox One X seems to be a bit faster, but still takes longer than I would care for. Honestly, I don’t really feel like docking points for this as you don’t run into loading screens that often and the world you get presented with is almost unbelievable for consoles, especially when seen on the Xbox One X enhanced version.
Assassin’s Creed is back with a vengeance. After being in what could be considered a downward spiral, Origins lifts the series up into the skies again. I’ve never considered myself much of a fan, but Assassin’s Creed Origins is an instant classic for me and will be in my top games for 2017. If you used to like the Assassin’s Creed games but have been down on them lately, I would really recommend you to check this game out. To players new to the series, all I can say is, Egypt awaits!
Dev:Ubisoft Publisher:Ubisoft Played on:Xbox One and Xbox One X | LifeisXbox received a digital review code, provided by Ubisoft