Review: Assassin’s Creed Origins (PS4)

Review: Assassin’s Creed Origins (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Assassin’s Creed Origins
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (46.28 GB)
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

When I reviewed Assassin’s Creed Syndicate I lamented about how I enjoyed the experience but I felt the franchise’s annualized approach was causing our Brotherhood heroes to overstay their welcome.

A few weeks later, Ubisoft announced that Assassin’s Creed would be taking 2016 off, presumably to reinvigorate the series and deliver the best iteration yet for 2017.

Now I’m not saying I’m so influential that my feedback was responsible for giving the assassins a much needed vacation, but I mean… you can connect the dots.

On a serious note though, I commend Ubisoft for their talented community management staff and their genuine analysis of the fan feedback most likely responsible for the hiatus. That sort of thing is rare for such a conglomerate publisher.

While we may not be experiencing a complete overhaul or reboot with Assassin’s Creed Origins, some of the systems and mechanics that caused the series’ biggest grievances are addressed and they’ve very obviously benefitted from the time off. Reworking the ranged weapons, melee combat systems, and climbing mechanics make Bayek feel like the most fluid assassin we’ve ever had the pleasure of controlling.

Gameplay:
Assassin’s Creed Origins takes place in Egypt, a prime location for the series’ lore and fictional history. You needn’t fear the limited architecture of the setting clashing with the parkour elements as Ubisoft has crafted an overwhelmingly large map rife with exploration opportunities and plenty of diverse landmarks to scale.

I was immediately impressed that, even with a play space of this girth, Bayek exhibits an authoritative command over traversal. He can run faster and climb easier than we’re used to, while mounted horses and camels can be automatically directed toward waypoints. Even the longest journey between quests never felt like a boring slog.

Rather than drawing comparisons to its predecessors, I likened Assassin’s Creed Origins more to a game like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The abundance of quests and the meta involved with tracking them, the character progression along with the branching skill tree, and the literally hundreds of weapon choices complimented by varying effects certainly take this installment down the RPG route. Luckily, these systems do not match the depth of a Witcher and the brilliant streamlining of the processes gives the player less time with the merchants or menus and more time with the action.

Bayek has spent most of his adult life employed as a Medjai, or protector of the Pharaoh, so it makes sense that many villagers look to him for help with their dilemmas. The side quests are built upon this believable foundation and some NPCs will have a lasting impact on the player. The occasional fetch quests are excused by the ones that give your protagonist a strong sense of purpose and a fleshed out mini-narrative.

While carrying out your quests, be they main or side, you’ll certainly engage in conflicts with enemies of varying difficulties, not to mention the dangerous desert wildlife. Just like Bayek, the soldiers in the game also have a level and if the bad guy’s is more than just a couple higher than yours, you face almost certain death even on the easiest difficulty. The enemy level and suggested level for each quest work together, encouraging the player to find XP elsewhere. Fortunately, the pacing and variety of the questing provide engaging gameplay and an enthralling story.

The hand-to-hand combat in Assassin’s Creed Origins has thankfully undergone a much needed makeover. With the ability to lock on, light and heavy attacks mapped to the right shoulder buttons, unlockable abilities allowing for combos and parries, intuitive dodging, and an overpower mode akin to Kratos’ Rage of the Gods, the fighting rewards tact and skill.

Rather than seeking out the tallest building for a synchronization point that will densely populate your mini-map with a hundred icons, exploration and discovery provide the map-revealing rewards. Don’t get me wrong, the bird’s eye observations and the leap of faith still exist because they’re a series staple and damn cool, but they’ve also evolved to give more visibility to Bayek’s eagle companion Senu.

One clear advantage of Ubisoft’s tech sharing across their worldwide studios is that the best ideas from one game can be reused in another. Much like Marcus Holloway’s drone in Watch Dogs 2, Senu is vital to your operation when planning your infiltration, searching for goodies, and locating objectives. I’ve always been a fan of beastly companions in games and Senu proves to be one of the most useful.

The stealth is largely relegated to navigating rooftops or darting between tall grass patches while crouch-walking. Although adequately implemented, I found myself consistently reaching for a non-existent button to enter cover. While it remains satisfying to pick off enemies from undiscovered locations with Aloy-style bow and arrow mastery, I would like to have seen an overhaul of the stealth mechanics as well.

Since it’s currently a hot topic, I will note that the microtransactions, while offering advantages over the ‘free’ players that aren’t purely cosmetic, do not impede the game’s enjoyment. The rare weapons, cool outfits, and time-saving skill points are an enticing buy, but they aren’t forced upon the player and earning the legendary loot in-game comes with a higher degree of satisfaction.

Visuals:
I hate to be a purveyor of buzzwords, but the 4K enhancement afforded by the PS4 Pro allows for astonishing vistas, beautiful scenery, and incredible captures with the in-game photo mode. I would often set a path for my horse and pan the camera in appreciation of the scenic routes. While these observations did cause some pop-in, mainly of the shrubbery closest to the road, Assassin’s Creed Origins is a visual feast.

You’ll explore everything from cavernous mountains to the dilapidated shacks of the impoverished during your crusade to end ancient Egypt’s tyranny. The environments are distinct yet meticulously crafted with parity of detail. Even the desert areas that aren’t populated by the most interesting attractions house some intriguing treasures.

Audio:
While some of the NPCs with smaller roles do not showcase the best voice acting, the performances of the main cast are outstanding. Accents are often authentic and the writing is even sometimes infused with the Ubisoft humor and charm. A dialogue boost option in the settings menu makes the actors dominate the soundtrack and lessen the need for subtitles.

The music in the game is tranquil and serene during the intermittent peaceful travels while the combat scenarios and chariot races are coupled with more lively sounds. The audio is characterized by its Middle Eastern vibe and the sound effects of clashing weaponry drive the excitement.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
In my opinion, Ubisoft decisively ‘won’ E3 this year. At their press conference, we saw tears of accomplishment running down the face of Davide Soliani, Creative Director of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, as the legendary Miyamoto praised his game.

We witnessed the passion and enthusiasm of Ashraf Ismail, Game Director of Assassin’s Creed Origins, as he reminisced about his storied history with the series. We felt the loving camaraderie between Ubisoft CEO, Yves Guillemot and Beyond Good and Evil creator, Michel Ancel as they announced the sequel to a 15-year old fan favorite.

Staring down the face of a hostile takeover, this titanic company with offices all over the globe stood before us, united by an unbreakable bond forged from their shared devotion to entertain the world.

Somewhere within this state of passionate cohesion lies the place where Assassin’s Creed Origins had been incubating. Ditching the annualized business model in favor of creating a fantastic product with rich mechanics and top-notch production value is exactly what the franchise needed. Building upon the framework of what defines the series while heading in a new direction with systems and gameplay makes this title stand out not only against its predecessors but the genre as a whole.

Above all else, Assassin’s Creed Origins is fun to play. I fully intend to continue this journey after rolling the credits, even with the over thirty hours of main campaign I’ll have behind me at that point. With almost no filler content and a quest catalogue boasting an appealing variety, there’s always something fun and fresh to do. Now if we could only get Activision to take a year off from Call of Duty.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Emrah Rakiposki

Emrah Rakiposki

– Food
– Video games
– Rap music
It has been my life’s work to properly order the list of this world’s greatest pleasures. There is no right answer.

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