Impact Plays – Assassin’s Creed: Origins – Is it the reboot the series needed?

I am, by all accounts, an Assassin’s Creed nerd. When the first game came out, as the younger sibling I was forced to simply sit and watch as my sister got to play through the life of Altair, assassinating key figures in the ancient cities of Damascus, Jerusalem, and Acre for the ancient order of Assassins. I remember being filled with absolute jealousy as I felt a deep urge to just take the controller and play the game for myself. So, when the Ezio Trilogy came out, I made sure I was the first to claim the console, and quickly delved into Renaissance Italy on my own adventure, living through the eyes of Ezio Auditore de Firenze (who is, let’s be honest, the best character of all the Assassin’s games).

Once the Ezio Trilogy concluded the games massively started declining in quality. AC: III started out pretty great and definitely had the best twist in regard to game openings, however, after the initial few hours of gameplay, it started lacking – both in story, and gameplay. Black Flag wasn’t much of an improvement in many ways. It was great game, but if I’m honest, it wasn’t an Assassin’s game. Really, it’s just pirate simulator and as much as exploring the seas on your kickass boat (sorry, ship) was great fun, it in no way compared to its predecessors, and this trend of deterioration continued for some time.

“Not only is the game back to its traditional assassin routes, it has been massively upgraded in regard to quality”

When Assassin’s Creed: Origins was announced I felt both incredibly excited and full of dread – although Syndicate slightly saved the series, I still very much felt like the franchise was beyond salvaging – and this is coming from someone who was obsessed with the games when they first came out.

Naturally, I had to play it for myself before I could make a fair decision, and thankfully, I’ve finally had that chance, and I can safely say – Ubisoft has delivered. Not only is the game back to its traditional assassin routes, it has been massively upgraded in regard to quality. The characters are charming and well-developed, the graphics are stunning, and the mechanics are brilliant – there is so much more for players to do. Not only are there way more buttons and, therefore, mechanics, but in many ways, Assassin’s Creed: Origins is much like a traditional RPG; the map is massive and open-world, allowing you to explore the vast regions of the Egyptian and Greek empires, and there’s even an RPG-esque levelling mechanic, allowing you to invest in intriguing abilities as you progress through the game.

“The story isn’t quite as captivating as the Ezio trilogy and the targets could be more developed”

Obviously one of the first things I did was travel straight to Giza to climb the pyramids and the view from the top was in no way a disappointment – It was absolutely beautiful.  In fact, I was so caught up with the graphics, that when I found the camera button I spent hours capturing my favourite views throughout the game (much to the annoyance of my boyfriend who just wanted me to go to the next objective, but hey, my playthrough, my rules).

Though, to be fair, it isn’t perfect. The story isn’t quite as captivating as the Ezio trilogy and the targets could be more developed, plus, some of the new mechanics meant some older ones had to be removed – the sprint button for one, which was rather annoying, but it’s still a fantastic game. Some of the new mechanics definitely justify the scrapping of the older ones – no longer do you have eagle vision as we previously understood it, but instead have literal eagle vision, as at the press of a button, you switch characters to that of your eagle companion, Senu, (the best character in the game) flying overhead, through whom you can scout out objectives, and enemies, on your behalf.

Not only this, but akin to other RPGs, the open-world allows for a lot more exploration, both in geography and story – there are so many possible side quests and extra regions that doing everything that this game has to offer will take a lot of time. And, like AC: III, hunting remains a key part of the game as a means of upgrading your gear, but it is made far more effective and enjoyable. Senu reveals where the desired reagents are, and let’s be honest, fighting a crocodile (or even a hippo) is a lot more interesting than hunting a deer. Although when a hippo sneaks up on you, it’s a little bit terrifying.

Overall, it’s not perfect, but it is definitely the reboot that the series needed. I absolutely loved playing it and with so much more still to do, I know there’ll be many more hours in my life devoted to this game.

Georgia Butcher

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