Over the end of 2017 and the early portion of 2018, I’ve spent a lot more time playing Assassin’s Creed: Origins, enough time to have a solid enough idea of the game to write something of value. As I’ve mentioned in previous coverage, the combat has seen a bevy of changes and almost across the board improvements. Having now spent several more hours with the game, I mostly still believe that to be true with a few caveats. Bayek has a nasty habit of knocking enemies back at the end of combos, which in turn seems to reset their stance making them able to counter fairly quickly. For the most part, this isn’t an issue, but some of the game’s tougher enemies will counter and take about a third of your health bar while leaving you open to attacks from lesser foes. The few times I have died in combat have been the result of these encounters and I’m concerned that as the game goes on these types of foes will be even more common.
I’ve also acquired the hidden blade which unfortunately can’t be sprung out at a moment’s notice anymore. This is nothing wrong with the game itself, but I’ll miss casually walking down a city street popping out my blade and spooking pedestrians. I’ve found that assassinations from hidden locations and cover can be wildly inconsistent. Stay too close to the edge and Bayek will jump into plain view, revealing your location to other nearby guards who happen to turn around. Other times though, he’ll jump out of cover and pull the body out of sight for a clean assassination, or barely move and drop the poor fool where he stands, causing an investigation but not compromising my exact location. I’m not sure if it’s an animation cycle or if I’m just not fully aware of my positioning, but it can be a little annoying when you’re on a silent assassination run only to be thwarted by a rogue animation.
Those quirks aside, I’m really having a great time playing Origins. As a whole combat is fluid and I’m starting to master the use of my “Overpower” ability, which on my favorite sword is a deadly lunge attack has killed everything I’ve used it on in a single hit. The hidden blade required an upgrade or two to reliably eliminate high health targets but has since made clearing out strongholds much easier. It’s faster than the old knockout mechanic and more satisfying to use because I want to assassinate people as an Assassin.
I wanted to hold my initial judgment of Bayek until I progressed the story a bit more, and having done so I can now say that I find him to be delightful. He’s wounded, but not the brooding type. He greets old friends with an ear to ear smile, a chuckle, and a firm handshake or hug. He greets his wife with passion and love and the two seem like an ideal couple. In the moment during a story assassination, he is ruthless and unwavering, becoming more confident with each new target but never losing himself in his quest for revenge. Unlike most other AC main characters, his entire personality isn’t the stoic assassin or lighthearted jokester, he has depth. I felt for him as I saw his son die in his arms, and I was happy for him when he was reunited with his wife for the first time in many months. I’m not saying he’s the best character of the year or anything, but he’s certainly a cut above the likes of Ezio.
Above all else, the world of Origins is gorgeous. I never thought I could be so enthralled with roaming the open desert between cities large and small. Pyramids rise above the horizon and massive lakes and rivers bring forth patches of forest that stand out beautifully against the surrounding sands. Origins is as gorgeous technically as it is artistically and makes Egypt feel more natural. Every new area I reach offers a new scene to ogle at as I explore and try to find the treasure always hidden nearby. All of this is accompanied by an excellent score that is more often than not a variation of the main theme but continues to set the tone and mood to perfection.
I’m confident at this point that I’ve got a solid understanding of what the game is going to throw at me and I can’t wait to sink more time into it. This is hardly a comprehensive write up of everything I’ve seen and experienced, but it’s the things that have stood out to me during my playthrough. I can say with confidence I’d recommend the game and I have to a lot of people already. I hope to have everything wrapped up by the time the big releases start to hit but I’m also in no hurry. I’m doing all the side quests and exploring the world for everything I can get my hands on. So yeah, play the new Assassin’s Creed and keep an eye out for the Final Say in the near future.