Assassin’s Creed Origins Preview — A Fresh Start for the Franchise
We recently went hands-on with Assassin's Creed Origins on Xbox One X for almost 4 hours and were left impressed by far more than just the visuals.
A few weeks back, Ubisoft invited DualShockers out to San Francisco to run around Ancient Egypt and play nearly four hours of the newest game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Assassin’s Creed Origins. While I had tried the game out at E3 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed what I played, I still had a couple reservations about this new entry in the series. After pouring more time into Assassin’s Creed Origins though, I am convinced that this is the exact breath of fresh air that the franchise needed to reinvigorate fan interest.
As someone who has played each Assassin’s Creed game — besides Unity — since the franchise began in 2007, I was looking for Origins be a drastic departure from everything else in the series. Luckily, it seems to do just that. While Assassin’s Creed Origins shares elements with many of the games that have preceded it, I honestly think the best way for those who are still on the fence with Origins is to not even think of it as an Assassin’s Creed game. Despite once again taking place in a historical location and boasting gameplay features that are somewhat similar to past titles, most of what I played of Assassin’s Creed Origins felt entirely new to the series.
I think the biggest reason for this stems initially from the combat, which is quite possibly the biggest change that the series has seen in years. Instead of haphazardly swinging your sword or other weapons like you might have in the past, Assassin’s Creed Origins encourages you to be patient and time your attacks out. Enemies now have hitboxes and the damage that you deal out to them is dependent on how you strike them and where you hit them. You’ll also want to make sure that you take every enemy that you encounter seriously, as groups of three to four enemies are now incredibly hard to dispatch, compared to the dozen or so that you might have been able to take on at once in past Assassin’s Creed games. This increased difficulty of every skirmish was one of my favorite new aspects of Origins.
While the essential combat gameplay is now completely different, the feel of each weapon in the game helps make it that much more unique. Using a basic longsword — compared to that of a spear — will yield completely different results and allows that player to either change their weapon set based upon the combat scenario they are in, or to instead just find the weapon type that they prefer the most. The new bow mechanic also falls in line with this as well, as you have 4-5 different bows to utilize that each are specialized in completely different ways. Expect to switch your weapons up a lot as you play.
These new combat stylings go hand-in-hand with the overhauled RPG mechanics that are featured in Assassin’s Creed Origins. While the franchise has always contained elements of RPGs, Origins is the first game in the series in which I think describing it as an “action RPG” is appropriate. The player character Bayek also has a vast skill tree that allows you to specialize in stealth, combat, or ranged attacks to more closely resemble how you want to play, along with enemies now being of certain levels themselves. Missions also now suggest that you be of a certain level before diving into them. For example, if you’re level 15 but a new story mission suggests that you should be level 18 to start, you’ll definitely want to go grind a bit, otherwise you’ll get wrecked pretty easily.
These new RPG elements make you feel much more tied to your character’s progression than in past Assassin’s Creed games. Even in the four hours or so that I played, I really began to feel a connection to the version of Bayek that I was creating much more than any of the other characters that have served as the protagonist(s) in recent entries. Assassin’s Creed games are inherently all about drawing you into the historical location that you’re traversing, and I think leaning more heavily into making Origins an RPG has helped Ubisoft accomplish this goal more than ever before.
Speaking of the world, let’s touch on that for a moment because the game’s rendition of Ancient Egypt looks absolutely stunning. Despite only being able to traverse around a select portion of the game in my demo, there was still so much for me to see and do. More so than many other games I have played in recent memory, Egypt felt alive. From riding through the desert on my trusty camel, to sailing down the river to escape enemy pursuers, the sheer amount of unique landscapes within Assassin’s Creed Origins is incredible. While I’ll have to play the full game to be sure, Egypt has a chance to be the best location that we have ever visited in an Assassin’s Creed game — and that’s saying something.
It’s also worth noting that my demo of Origins took place on an Xbox One X dev kit, which made the world that much more breathtaking. The staggering amount of detail and color that the Xbox One X provided to Assassin’s Creed Origins really made me ponder whether or not I wanted to purchase the new console for the first time. For those that will be picking up the Xbox One X on November 7th, Assassin’s Creed Origins seems like a great game to put the new hardware through its paces.
All in all, everything I saw with Assassin’s Creed Origins just seemed incredibly polished. Ubisoft clearly put to use the extra year of development time that they had with Origins in great ways, as every aspect of the game seems to be of much higher quality than usual. As someone who had started to lose interest in the series in previous years, seeing what Ubisoft has done with Origins has made me far more excited than I would have expected after the game’s initial reveal.
If you have some reservations with Origins being “just another Assassin’s Creed game,” I would advise you to set those aside. Assassin’s Creed Origins truly feels like the fresh start that the decade-old franchise needed, and I can’t wait to dive deeper into Egypt and see all of what its vast world has to offer. October 27th cannot come soon enough.
Assassin’s Creed Origins will release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 27th, 2017.