Let’s Discuss Assassin’s Creed Origins’ Opening Hours!

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series has been on a bit of a rollercoaster, with extreme highs like Assassin’s Creed II and Black Flag, and unfortunate lows, like the infamously botched launch performance of Unity (a game that many hated, though I actually enjoyed quite a bit). After taking a year off from their annualized release schedule, Ubisoft went back to the drawing board with Origins in hopes of reinvigorating consumer interest.

They’ve given fans their most-requested historical setting in Egypt, providing a massive open world begging to be explored, but have also adopted many familiar gameplay elements that draw a similarity to The Witcher, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Destiny, and even their own Far Cry series.

I’m about six hours into the game, so whether or not Assassin’s Creed Origins is a success remains to be seen, but thus far I’m truly impressed with Ubisoft’s new direction. However, I’d like to start by saying that I wish they’d give up on the whole modern day Abstergo angle and just focus on historical fiction. The modern bits in Origins thus far have been unenthusiastically dull, which is a stark contrast to the revenge tale of Bayek.

As for the boring stuff, I’m playing on a standard PS4 and aside from some rather long loading times between cutscenes, the game runs pretty well overall. I haven’t experienced any noticeable dips in framerate or any weird bugs, which is unusual for an Assassin’s Creed launch. The environments are gorgeous, though, and I can’t stop taking screenshots — the last time I was this obsessed with photo mode was Horizon: Zero Dawn, which should tell you how damn good Egypt looks. There are also cats everywhere. Cats!

The gameplay hook largely remains the same, with Bayek climbing tall structures and synchronizing his map, eventually leaping off into a well-placed pile of hay, and then heading off to assassinate a major target. However, Origins is more an open-world RPG. There are blacksmiths and weavers, crafting and upgrading, and a tier-based loot system that’s bound to be familiar to anyone who’s played Destiny, Diablo III, or just about any MMO in existence.

Another familiar system is the inclusion of skill trees that focus on bow skills, XP gains, assassination improvements, brute force combat enhancements, and fancy gadgets that can poison, ignite, or blind foes. NPCs require the assistance of Bayek of Siwa, the last Medjay of Egypt, and reward side-quests with loot, XP, rideable mounts, and costumes.

Ubisoft has even breached into Far Cry territory with the addition of hunting and animal taming, which play along with the game’s crafting system. Bayek can also scout ahead using his eagle, Senu, who has proven invaluable thus far. Senu can tag enemies (displaying their level, rarity, and patrol route), locate quest givers and objectives, and can even dive in during combat to harass enemies. She’s a good girl.

This isn’t Senu, though. It’s my beautiful camel.

Combat is where Origins takes perhaps the most drastic turn, adopting a more Dark Souls-ish approach to melee (mostly in terms of button layout and hitbox detection) while still inheriting the stealthy assassination mechanics of earlier games. Similar to Horizon: Zero Dawn, you can hide in tall grass and whistle to lure in foes for assassinations or non-lethal takedowns. Bayek can equip swords, heavy maces, two-handed axes and spears, and even dual-wield swords. Unlike other games in the series, Bayek can use a shield to block and deflect enemy attacks (which leads to an incredibly satisfying parry attack).

You can quickly evade enemy attacks, retaliate with quick or heavy blows, fire off a bow and arrow, and even build up an “overcharge” meter that can be spent on a devastating, often fatal attack that can be enhanced (via skill trees) to further its effectiveness by hurling the recently deceased’s weapon at a nearby target. It’s a lot of fun, but definitely an adjustment.

For the most part, I’ve been exploring and doing side-quests. Egypt is massive and surprisingly varied for a desert region. Last night, for instance, I stumbled upon a hippo den and had to run for dear life, but accidentally stumbled into a high-level bandit camp where I was met with the pointy ends of various swords. I took a boat around a lake to explore, hunted crocodiles, and got duped by a beautiful NPC in search of her husband. Turns out she got him drunk, married him against his will, and, in his attempt to escape, got stranded amidst hungry crocs far off in the distance. I brought him back, she sicked her brothers on him, and I slashed them to bits because I’m the fucking Medjay of Egypt.

Side-quests have been (to use that word again) surprisingly entertaining. However, they don’t feel like optional objectives. When a new story quest opens up, it’s often way too high for my current level. The only way to level up is to take part in otherwise optional content, like side-quests, hunting, tomb raiding, and exploring, so it feels like a cheap way for the game to force you into doing all of the cool stuff. I would have done it anyway, but at least I would have felt like it was my choice.

Right now Assassin’s Creed Origins feels like a slightly better Horizon: Zero Dawn. It’s similar in structure, both with interesting leading roles, massive open worlds, various factions and quest hubs, loot systems, skill trees, etc., but I like what Origins is doing with all of it a bit more. Similar to Breath of the Wild, I like that I can climb EVERYTHING without looking for hand-holds. The combat is satisfying, there’s a more drip-fed loot system where I’m constantly weighing my options instead of using the same gear for most of the game, and the skill tree upgrades actually feel meaningful.

If you enjoyed Horizon: Zero Dawn, I’d definitely recommend giving Origins a shot. And if Assassin’s Creed has never been your thing, this may be the one that lures you in by breaking away from the series’ norms. It’s not perfect, but it’s the most excited I’ve been playing an Assassin’s Creed since Black Flag. I just hope it keeps the pace instead of falling flat.

12 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss Assassin’s Creed Origins’ Opening Hours!

  1. Origins look really good. The future stuff sounds dull, but the open world and RPG elements interest me a lot. A friend actually just bought this game for me today :). Can’t wait to jump in later tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It starts in media res, so give it about an hour to sink in. The first area, Siwa, is similar to Dragon Age Inquisition’s Hinterlands where you can spend a lot of time there before moving on, so feel free to progress the story to open up the map a bit and then double back. That’s my best advice. Once I opened up the more assassins tools I got sucked into doing EVERYTHING on the maps before moving forward. It’s so fucking good and I hope you dig it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you are enjoying it – all the systems you describe sound like the makings of a great game. Tier’d loot? Yes please. Im really enjoying Shadow of War, which has similar mechanics so glad there is another game waiting for when I finish that up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. i kind of think it may be a little less polished then AC:O from what I’m reading. But voice acting is fantastic and if you enjoy running around in the LOTR universe (I do) there is a lot to like here. Ignore the haters, it’s enjoyable.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I really did enjoy the game play of Mordor, I was just hesitant because I didn’t immediately feel the need for more of that on a grander scale. I got it as part of Target’s recent Buy 2 Get 1 Free promo with South Park and Evil Within 2, but the further I distance myself from its launch the more interested I am in playing it now. Particularly with AC Origins scratching that open world RPG, loot reward itch.


    1. Yeah, they’ve said in various interviews that their most requested setting was Egypt. I always thought that would be a cool playground since it’s such a far departure from the earlier games and their bustling cities. I think pre-colonized Mexico would have been great too, but for similar enough reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

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