How did Ubisoft’s next Assassin’s Creed stack up?

I didn’t finish Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. It was the first Assassin’s Creed title I haven’t completed and I’ve been with it since the beginning. After three hours I decided I’d come back to it, and never did. That’s not to say I have lost enthusiasm for the franchise – far from it; I was thrilled to learn of Assassin’s Creed Origins and its Egyptian setting.

Today I got the opportunity to go hands-on with it, playing two modes: a quick look at the campaign and a new gladiatorial-style mode giving you the chance to be your very own Maximus Decimus Meridius.

The campaign will be familiar to AC fans, but the Ancient Egyptian setting affords visual carte blanche to Ubisoft Montreal, the team that brought us the brilliant AC Black Flag.

Our campaign mission gave us insight into the new combat mechanics that are mapped to the right bumper and trigger for heavy and light attacks, while the left bumper raises the shield and locks on to opponents. The left trigger brings up his bow. The X button (on Xbox One) is reserved for a vital dodge move  to evade incoming blows – this proved to be essential during fights.

We also piloted a boat (hey, they had to have some form of naval gameplay in it), dodged a crocodile, swam to a wreck to retrieve a gold statue, and accessed an extensive skill tree which offered unparalleled options to upgrade the new protagonist, Bayek.

Bayek’s eagle – effectively his drone – is released at the push of a button and acts as his eyes to mark targets and find objects.

Arena was a heap of fun. Three waves of opponents with different weapons and attack methods was the perfect test for the new melee options, amidst an arena teeming with obstacles including spinning timber columns studded with spikes.

Once your nine adversaries are dispatched, you’re faced with the boss – a giant armed with a trident that causes mass damage. Dodging and attacking from behind proved to be the only way of beating down his extensive damage meter. It’s a great mode.

Origins has been reportedly finished for a while now, so Ubisoft Montreal have plenty of time to ensure the game is problem-free when it launches in October. At this stage, it’s the best looking title in the series so far.

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