Assassin’s Creed Origins Is The Reboot We’ve Been Waiting For

8.5
  • Playstation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Open World
Assassin's Creed Origins
Bayek and his son, Khemu. Ubisoft

Assassin’s Creed Origins is a much-needed reboot for the franchise, and a mostly successful one. Witnessing how the first Assassin and Templars came to be and hanging out with Cleopatra are highlights of an engaging story. The breathtaking views and massive areas to explore not only look better than ever, but will keep you entertained for a very long time.

The story takes place during what may be the birth of the Assassins and Templars. You play as Bayek, a medjay who’s sworn to protect the people of Egypt. One day, a group of masked men and women kidnap Bayek’s son Khemu to get information about a relic. Bayek can’t provide the information and his son is murdered; he embarks on a quest to hunt down those responsible.

Bayek’s travels lead him all around Egypt. He soon teams up Cleopatra to fight against the “Order,” a group that seeks to bring terrible things to Egypt. Bayek’s wife, Aya, works for Cleopatra to protect the world the from becoming a dark place. However, Aya seeks to kill the people responsible for her son’s Khemu death, just like Bayek. Their journey turns them into some of the earliest members of the Assassins.

Bayek’s story is a great one. His faith in the Gods and spirituality plays an important role in his life. He is a medjay of the people and wishes to lead by example, which is not something we’ve seen in Assassin’s Creed before. Most of the past protagonists had to live in the shadows because any connection to the Assassins made them automatic target. Bayek doesn’t care if his targets know he hunting them; which makes the story this time around more interesting.

Assassin's Creed Origins
Aya, Bayek's wife. Photo: Ubisoft
Assassin's Creed Origins
Bayek and a friend in Siwa. Photo: Ubisoft

But the best part of Bayek’s story is that it’s not unnecessarily dark. The world of Assassin’s Creed Origins is bright and hopeful, despite the oppressive conditions some people live in. It acknowledges the bad in the world, but doesn’t make Bayek a savior. The richness comes from the stories of the people he encounters, not the main campaign. He’s “Uncle Bayek” to the kids or the man who carries an old man back to his home. He’s not made into a God the people run to with their problems. They just know he’s willing to help wherever he can, from killing a hippo to retrieving a stolen horse.

Then there's the Modern Day aspect of the game franchise fans are always curious to learn more about. In Assassin’s Creed Origins, you play as Layla Hassan, a rogue Abstergo employee that goes on a expedition in Egypt and finds information about the first assassins. You go through her computer files and realize she's eager to excel in the Animus program. She's connected to well-known pioneers at the company. She's worked to create an animus that can explore the DNA memories of her ancestors as well as samples from other subjects.

Unlike Bayek, your interactions with Layla are limited, which brings me to one of the disappointing points of Assassin's Creed Origins . The Modern Day storyline has been the weakest point for the franchise, and unfortunately the reboot is no different. Assassin’s Creed has a mystical element to it that’s not really acknowledged, it just exists in the universe. It’s an element that seems to be treated like an afterthought by the studio since the death of Desmond Miles in Assassin's Creed III and it’s unclear why.

Desmond died to prevent Juno, of the First Civilization, from bringing forth the apocalypse. Not explaining why this sacrifice was necessary makes the loss of the character feel cheap and unnecessary. You’re exploring the memories of your ancestors, but the game never explains why you should care. It never explains why you’re looking into Assassin memories or why Abstergo wants to continue the Animus program. Juno was built up to be this impending doom to destroy the world. She wants  to rebuild the First Civilization and rule over the people. She's set free, lurking in the shadows and trying to recruit you into her cause in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.

And then she's downgraded to a floating head in Assassin's Creed Unity . And now she's nonexistent. Assassins and Templar exist in Modern Day. Abstergo is a Templar-run company. And yet, we don't know what anyone's planning and how it's affecting the world. Assassin's Creed Origins had the chance to acknowledge this in the game, but it didn't.The franchise would probably do well in the Modern Day if they revisit Shaun Hastings and Rebecca Crane. They are Modern Day assassins who worked with Desmond and can tie into the next leader’s storyline.

Assassin's Creed Origins
Layla Hassan, Abstergo employee. Photo: Ubisoft

As for the gameplay itself, Assassin’s Creed Origins takes all the best parts of past entries and enhances them. There’s no more annoying tailing missions where you’re forced to follow an extremely paranoid target that catches your movements every five seconds. You’re rewarded for stealth actions and encouraged to be very assassin-like. It’s easier to remain in the shadows for most missions than to brute your way through. The game allows you to lock onto a target and focus your actions on them, which is helpful when dealing with tougher enemies. Senu, the eagle, is the best part of the new Assassin’s Creed Origins . Bayek is essentially a warg like Brandon Stark and uses Senu to scout the area. The eagle in the sky is a great tool to help you infiltrate enemy camps and bases.

But where Assassin’s Creed Origins really shines is its map size. This map is HUGE. You will be 30+ hours into this game and realize you haven’t scratched the surface when it comes to exploration. And don’t think you’ll be able to find things through synchronization points like in past games. You encounter quests by exploring the areas, so you’re encouraged to skip the fast travel, similar to what you experience in open-world games like Skyrim . There are hidden temples, puzzles, loot crates, scrolls, etc. waiting for you to find in the desert.

It took 20+ hours of gameplay to just reach the Pyramids of Giza, which is all the way on the other side of the map. And traveling by sea and canals is amazing. The landscape of the game is gorgeous. You’ll find yourself stopping in places like just to enjoy the views. It’s why you’ll enjoy hunting for animals and pirating ships to get crafting supplies.

Assassin's Creed Origins
Bayek is bae, too. Photo: Ubisoft
assassin's creed origins ubisoft
Assassin's Creed Origins. Photo: (c) Ubisoft

Speaking of crafting, Assassin’s Creed Origins introduces a fresh upgrading system and skill tree to unlock perks. It’s all pretty straightforward: you unlock the perks that fit best to your preferred playstyle. However, this game is grind-heavy. You will unlock a lot of quests you can’t get to unless you level up by taking on lower-level side quests. Most of these are fetch quests that you can get through fairly easily, but you cannot brute your way through the main campaign. The second level of assassination targets in the game will require you to be at level 20, which is frustrating when you’ve unlocked them at a much lower level.

While there are plenty of sidequests to play through in Assassin’s Creed Origins , some of them are pretty forgettable. There’s part of me that hoped more games would take on the model of Witcher 3, where every person you encountered on a side quest was connected to the world in some way. The people in the Witcher 3 remember your encounters with them and if you killed someone important in their lives, they will treat you differently. Your actions had consequences and may come back to haunt you in a later mission. You don’t get the ties to the community in Assassin’s Creed Origins . You can go from side quest to side quest and remember nothing about what you did later.

But this doesn’t make the game less enjoyable. In fact, the good in Assassin’s Creed Origins heavily outweighs the negatives. You have so many options to break up the monotony of gameplay. You can enter into a fighting pit or take on a chariot race if you need a break from exploration. You can investigate a murder, take out a killer crocodile or explore a temple to learn more about the First Civilization. It’s a dense, richly-packed open-world game you should definitely pick up or include in your holiday wishlist this year.

REVIEW SUMMARY
Assassin's Creed Origins
8.5
Assassin’s Creed Origins Is The Reboot We’ve Been Waiting For
Assassin’s Creed Origins is a much-needed reboot for the franchise. Its massive areas to explore not only look better than ever, but will keep you entertained for for a long time.
  • Map size allows for enjoyable exploration
  • Excellent side quests
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Bayek’s story
  • Weak Modern Day story
  • Forgettable characters in some side quests
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