Its been a few years since the last Assassins Creed, so the unveiling of this game was particularly exciting.  I’ve had a fairly love hate relationship with this series, generally enjoying AC2 (mostly because it has a hunky renaissance man), and Black Flag (mostly because it has a hunky pirate man).  I’ve always thought Assassins Creed games are some of the best looking around, but at times can be a let down in terms of story and game play.  AC Origins takes what fans have been asking for, and thankfully implements some new ideas.

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First of all, the combat system has completely changed in this AC game.  The camera feels a bit like it does in “For Honour”, and allows the player to use a light attack, heavy attack, and an Overcharge attack after filling a gauge.  The player has the option of heavy weapons, spears, swords and dual knives, and can equip 2 weapons at a time.  There are also multiple types of bows and arrows, again allowing you to equip two at once.  I used a “predator bow” for long distance stealth kills, and a “quick bow” for rapid fire  close combat situations.  You can also lock on to a target, which really helps focus your attacks.  In previous games I always used stealth as I found the combat a  bit clunky, but in this game the new system solves these problems.

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Parkour is always important in Assassins Creed games, and this game takes this to the next level.  Usually in these games you can climb nearly everything, but in AC Origins you have to be strategic.  You can certainly climb a ton, but only if there are legitimate cracks and handholds to be found.  Sometimes I had to run around a mountain or building to find a starting point, which felt like a really nice and realistic approach.

If you can believe it, the concept of “eagle vision” has been replaced in this game with a literal bird named Senu, which means you can no longer see all your enemies with the click of a button.  Instead, you have to send your eagle flying to scout out and tag your enemies.  Yes this sounds tedious, but it felt much more rewarding when you clear out a military or bandit camp, and added a surprise element when you encountered an enemy you had missed with your bird companion.  I wont lie, at times I missed the quick and easy version of previous games, but overall I think this direction takes the gameplay further into the player’s hands.

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You can upgrade almost anything in this game, which has that total RPG vibe to it.  Everything from swords, shields and bows to your mount itself can be upgraded (plus you can call your steed with a click of a button).  Wanna ride a camel around? No problem.  How about a loyal horse? Just buy one.  The ability to customize your gear and buy clothing  is such a great addition to this game.

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The growth of your character has also also evolved.  There is now a “skill tree” in which you can upgrade your character depending on your play style.  You can choose to increase your melee combat, your bow attacks, or tools like smoke bombs and the like.  This felt a bit like the Shadow of War approach, and (again I say it!) really took this AC game into an RPG-esque realm.

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The storyline is pretty great in this game.  In other games the plot felt a bit confusing and I generally lost track of who was who and who wanted to kill who.  Here it’s pretty straight forward and easy to follow.  In AC Origins you play as a “magi” (spelt like Medjay) named Bayek in the Egyptian Ptolemaic Period (around 50 BC).  You are of course fighting a secret group of political enemies, and pave the way into become the first “Assassins” which will form the series of Assassin’s Creed.  Bayek feels like a well rounded character who has legitimate motivations for revenge and retribution (that’s all I’ll say without giving too much away!).  You can also play as his wife Aya; a tough broad who works to gain the respect of political outcast “Cleopatra” to work with her and Bayek.  The amount of strong women in this game is really inspiring, and I really appreciate it as a female gamer.

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Side quests are actually interesting for once, which is saying something because not all games can claim this.  I often find i do side quests to gain XP or fill that “completion-ist” gap in my heart, but with this game the side quests are generally fun and fulfilling.  Main quests are great, but they do a good job of creating well rounded and satisfying secondary missions.  I will mention that to move on in the story line side quests are pretty much mandatory to get to the appropriate skill level.  Now I didn’t mind this so much as I generally seek out side quests, but some players who aren’t used to large and open world RPGS may find this to be a slight nuisance.

The environments in this game are astounding.  This feels like one of the most well connected worlds in the series, and you could technically discover the entire region without using fast travel.  Previous games were impossible to cover without the use of quick teleportation, so its nice to see a totally unified environment.  The game has everything from dusty dunes, to beautiful classical cities, to lush almost tropical environments, so the player is guaranteed not to get visually bored.

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To wrap this review up, I will finish with a few minor issues I had.  First of all the game is so massive that it may feel slightly overwhelming to some.   I certainly didn’t mind this, but for some new players it could be a  little daunting.  There were also plenty of bugs (at least three in which I literally had to restart the system to reverse), but I am sure those will be patched with bug fixes.  This is by far the best Assassins Creed yet in terms of gameplay, although Black Flag will always have a special place in my heart.

Cheers to you Ubisoft!!!