After only a few hours in Assassin’s Creed Origins I’m already loving this game. The combat is fun and engaging. The prologue is long but by the end of it I was sold on the story and I’m all in with the main character Bayek. The scenery and all the amazing vistas are beautiful. Though I’m still very early on, and there is still a long way to go, Origins has all the makings of becoming one of the best additions to the franchise in years.
The Prologue starts off after Bayek has been on his quest for vengeance for an entire year. The opening cinematic shows him taking his vengeance on the first of his targets, The Heron, and then uses the ensuing fight with his bodyguard to teach the combat system. Although this is a bit weird from a narrative standpoint, you’d think the bodyguard would have to be dealt with first, it works well as a combat tutorial and is important because combat works a bit differently in Origins than previous Assassin’s Creed games. The combat feels very engaging and fun though the controls are a bit weird, especially on a gamepad. Even though the mechanics are different the combat feels similar to what combat in Witcher 3.
In general, I tend towards an aggressive combat style in most games and so far, this has mostly worked out for me. However, using stealth and cutting down enemies one by one does seem like it is often the more optimal strategy. There are also situations where just the sheer number of enemies makes taking them head on a bit foolhardy. It’s nice to have real choices about how I want to go about completing my quests instead of having one choice and no real reason to do it any other way.
With the more active combat style there is also an extensive abilities menu to augment combat capabilities. One feature on this map I particularly like is the fact when I hover over the ability I not only have a text description about how it works but there is also a short video clip demonstrating it. This is a helpful addition because it let me quickly see what an ability does, and the text was just a short description of how to use it. The main categories are Hunter (ranged attacks), Warrior (melee combat), and Seer (utilities). These categories branch in various directions and some even link together which provides a ton of customization.
Also, it’s worth noting the abilities deeper in the trees cost more ability points than the early ones, which is more or less a standard practice. This does lead me to wonder how full the ability map will be when I finish playing. Every level gained grants one ability point and if there is no other place to get them in game this means obtaining all abilities or even most of them is probably not likely. Maybe higher levels will reward more than one ability point or there will be other ways to earn them in game?
The crafting system is nicely integrated into the character screen and very easy to use. I didn’t have to be in a specific spot to craft, I just needed to have all the materials needed available. Just by hovering over an item I could see a list of what materials I have, which I still need, and what the upgraded item will give me. Also, when flying as Senu the icons of what materials I could get from different things would appear over their heads. While some might be disappointed in the lack of choice in what is crafted I appreciate the simplicity of it.
Wandering around towns exploring is currently one of my favorite off-task activities. There are a ton of sidequests to be found just by talking to the random people milling about. Additionally, locations will often have location tasks or events to participate in. These of course aren’t a requirement but do offer some nice bonus experience and adds a real feeling of belonging in this ancient world. Everything feels like it’s been there forever and like these people have really lived their lives in the two towns I have been to so far.
In most games the photo mode is often frustrating and can just generally be a pain to use, but that’s not the case in Origins. It’s easy to get into (I stumbled upon it before the game introduced it) and everything is very intuitive. As a bonus on the map screen you can not only see your own pictures, but you can also see pictures other players have taken. There is an option to hide the pictures if you’d rather not see what other people have done. Personally, I found looking at other people’s pictures interesting and fun, but unless there’s some sort of limiter in place the maps will likely get overrun after launch.
One concern I do have is the inclusion of the store in game. In the store for real money extra game currency, materials for crafting, ability points, the ability to customize Bayek, and mounts can be bought. The inclusion of these items makes me feel a bit nervous just from an unease with microtransactions standpoint. Being a single player game there’s no issue with people who spend extra money having more power than people who don’t (because what people do in their games don’t affect anyone else). However, it just feels a bit off to me. Really it is the crafting materials, ability points, and in game currency which bother me the most. All of those things can be translated directly into the strength of the character which is an area I’d prefer microtransactions to stay away from.
On a related note the Uplay club perks are back… and they are still annoying. I don’t even care what I get through it I just really don’t like the pop-ups. Just make these things in game rewards for doing things! They whole purpose of the Uplay Club Rewards are just annoying and frustrating.
These minor concerns and annoyances aside Assassin’s Creed Origins’ first few hours are great, and I can’t wait to dig into the rest of the game. Hopefully the sheen won’t wear off too quickly because Origins very well could end up being my favorite Assassin’s Creed game yet.