Head back to where it all began with Assassin’s Creed: Origins

Consider yourself a fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise (that’s now 10 years old, mind you) but not actually that knowledgeable about the Brotherhood? Never fear, Ubisoft are taking it back to where it all began and showcasing the start of the Assassin’s Creed itself in Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

You are Bayek – last of the Medjay, and the beginning of the cult of Assassins as we know it today. It’s up to you to take to the beautiful – and we mean beautiful – world of Ancient Egypt, put to sleep any political unrest, and preserve mankind’s free will. Or, you don’t care about any of that, and you’re just here to kill people. Either way.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a reset for the entire series. Ubisoft took the extra time to craft a more refined experience, one free of glitches and one that would provide players with an introduction to the AC series. And, well, they mostly succeeded.

For starters, one of the most prevalent changes to Origins is the revamped combat system. The game now uses a combination of light and heavy attacks, a shield, and a bow and arrow in combat – in addition to the normal stealth assassinations – to take down enemies. This new combat – whilst refreshing – takes a bit of getting used to; and anyway, what would an AC game be without some glitchy takedown animations?

That being said, there was never a point that play was hindered by a bug – which is more than can be said for those AC games that have been borne of recent years. Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a definite improvement on the most recent games in the franchise.

The combat itself, once you’re accustomed, is fluid and fun. There’s a sort of balance you need to reach between dodging, shield-breaking with your heavy attack and then poking with a lighter one. It’s easy to get into a rhythm. We also found it’s advantageous to equip longer weapons like spears that give you greater reach on the enemy, and be attacked without being hit in return. It’s a more rewarding RPG-based system than the previous games’. We also never got the impression that combat was geared to either stealth or full-frontal assault; any situation could be successfully approached either way.

Looking for more people to fight? The map in ACO is huge – and downright gorgeous. Honestly, can someone hurry up and do one of those walking montage videos? Anyway, it’s easy enough to fast travel on the map, but you can also use your trusty bird mate Senu to scout the area and have a look around. Senu is a great companion to have (literally) on hand, as he can scout nearby areas, Synchronise with the location for you, and even attack enemies (if you’ve unlocked the ability).

Speaking of – levelling up is quite rewarding in ACO. You can gain experience through the main quest and side quests (side quests are great for a quick exp boost, by the way – don’t disregard them) and once you’ve levelled up you’ll get ability points to spend. The skill tree is split into Hunter, Warrior, and Seer, which will all allow you to divvy up your points into chosen areas of expertise. Most of our points went into Hunter, for example, as we favour the use of the bow. But of course, it’s up to you how you play.

All this without even touching on the dangers that await you in the wilds. Not only have Ubisoft crafted an immensely beautiful world for us to cause absolute bloody chaos in, they’ve also filled it full of animals for our picking. Similar to AC games of old, you can hunt the local wildlife and turn them into weapon upgrades. Everything from lions, hippos and hyenas (oh my!) are abound for you to hunt should you choose to do so, but be warned – they will fight back. Be especially careful in the water, as who knows what could be lurking underneath…

One of the best things about Assassin’s Creed: Origins is its weapon and gear management system. The section in the menu lets you see what you’re wearing or have equipped, then allows you to check out everything you’ve got to see if any of it’s better, even giving you little green arrows to show a better item. You can have two bows and two weapons to switch between using the D-pad, so it’s a good idea to get a solid variation of weapon types in there just in case. It’s also really easy to use this screen to upgrade stuff like your quiver and hidden blade – weapons can be upgraded at Blacksmiths in town.

How you play Assassin’s Creed: Origins is essentially completely up to you. Tackle the main quest. Take up your time with side quests. Find a horse (or a camel) and run from one end of the map to the other. Hunt animals and craft weapons and gear. Follow stray cats around. In spite of the (infrequent) glitches, Origins is beautiful, no matter how you take to Egypt. Say hi to Cleopatra for us.

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