MicrotransactionPersonally we are fans of Assassin’s Creed franchise. But even so, we have to agree that the Assassin’s Creed franchise is a great, yet a disappointing one at the same time. Back to 2009 when Assassin’s Creed 2 has just come out, it was an excellent AC game with cool characters (Ezio Auditore da Firenze is too charming to forget, isn’t it?), polished gameplay, and the beautiful Italy during Renaissance period. Ever since, Ubisoft has tried to capture this “magic” again with numerous yearly sequels… but none of those actually succeeded. This year, Ubisoft has tried again with the latest title: Assassin’s Creed Origins, with 2 years of development instead of one. So, does Assassin’s Creed Origins keep up with fans’ expectation? Let’s find out!
*Note: This is an early Assassin’s Creed Origins review and therefore, this early review won’t be able to reflect the entire game at the moment of this reading. A more details review will be updated in the future so stay tune!
*The game is tested on PS4.
From a Successful Title…
AC fans probably understand why this franchise is loved and also hated at the same time. In 2007, the very first Assassin’s Creed came out and it was… “okay-ish”. Well… it did have positive review but overall, the game was kind of… mundane with repetitive gameplay. Then 2 years later, Assassin’s Creed 2 returned and this time it made a big blast in gaming community. The game stepped up significantly from its predecessor in all aspects: story, characters, gameplay, sound, and visual. Even now many players still argue it to be the best AC game to date. Unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed 2 is also an “obstacle” for this franchise.
…To the Constant Struggle
For a game developer, having a successful title is also a burden. When a successful title comes out, players will wish for a sequel. And if the sequel doesn’t keep up with its predecessor, it will often be considered as failure. The AC franchise is probably the best example for this case. In 2012, the third entry of Assassin’s Creed franchise: Assassin’s Creed 3 released and this time, it is inferior when comparing to Assassin’s Creed 2. Its gameplay isn’t bad and it still maintains the core mechanic like previous AC games. However, there is nothing new added to the game, besides some few ship-sailing sections. The history part can be exciting since it based on the foundation of America. However, the main story of Connor Kenway and the Assassin – Templar conflict isn’t attractive enough, especially with a boring main character like Connor.
So what about other sequels? Unfortunately, most of them are not rated highly by players and AC fans. Assassin’s Creed 2 is like a massive shadow which later AC games have to surpass. And so far, none has succeeded. The only potential candidate to be on par with Assassin’s Creed 2 is Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. It is not an exaggeration when saying Black Flag has brought a new fresh air to the franchise. Its main character Edward Kenway is appealing; the Caribbean is gorgeous with many mysteries waiting to be discovered; and the awesome ship gameplay.
After Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, we have Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and the Syndicate. Rogue is pretty much a Black Flag’s expansion and its only new feature is the story from Templar’s side of view. Unity is expected to be a true successor to Assassin’s Creed 2 but sadly, it failed tremendously due to immense amount of bugs. Syndicate is a decent entry, yet it’s just a safe move without any new renovation.
Assassin’s Creed Origins: A New Hope
Finally, we have Assassin’s Creed Origins (or AC Origins) released just recently on October 27, 2017. The game seems to be another hope from Ubisoft to finally bring this franchise back in shape. It took 2 years of development instead of one like other AC titles. It also promises new features, renovations, and on top of that, the Egypt timeline which fans always want to see since very long time. With such promising entry, it leads us to a big question: Is Assassin’s Creed Origins truly Assassin’s Creed’s new hope?
*Note: Again, this is early impression of the game and therefore, this preview doesn’t reflect the entire game. So please stay tune for more updates in the future!
Among the 2 most demanded timeline: Ancient Japan and Ancient Egypt, Ubisoft decided to choose the Ancient Egypt and focused on the origins of the Assassins Brotherhood. The game brings us to Egypt during Ptolemaic period. Here, players will be able to enjoy a significant part in Egyptian history and legends, and also see how the Assassins Brotherhood was founded. Conflicting against the Brotherhood is a secret organization called Order of the Ancients, which is the Templar’s origin.
Of course, players also get to know brand new characters, including the main protagonist Bayek, a member of an elite Egyptian force called Medjay. Players will follow Bayek as an Egypt’s protector against the Roman’s threat, and more importantly, the Order of the Ancients lurking in the shadow.
The game features various changes, especially RPG’s elements like gears, leveling and skill tree, and exploration. Combat also got revamped and the exploration seems to be a huge focus in this new entry. But with all those news, how fare does the game go?
Let’s be frank, the very first impression we have each time starting a new game is its visual. Of course, visual is not a deciding factor whether a game is good or not. But still, beautiful visual is always a good inspiration for players to keep on playing. In Assassin’s Creed Origins, we glad to say that the world is absolutely stunning to look at. The world of Ancient Egypt is simply breathtaking with vast desert, lively towns, and mysterious tombs.
Background sound and music also does a great job in creating an Egyptian atmosphere. It feels really immersive as the world surround us comes alive. If you are purely into exploration and enjoying beautiful views, you won’t be disappointed with the world of Assassin’s Creed Origins.
But that’s only the first start, what we mostly concern is the story and gameplay.
First thing you will notice when starting a new game is that you get to play Bayek in this Ancient Egypt timeline instantly. There is no other “main protagonist”, no Abstergo, no machine in order to jump back in time. Personally, we consider this as a plus for AC Origins since players can just focus on a single protagonist and a single world. This creates better sense of immersion, as if we players are reliving the history by ourselves, not from some “certain guy” perspective.
Since we have only played about 20 hours, we can’t really judge the game’s main storyline. But so far, it is interesting enough to keep us curious about main protagonist and what’s happening. The main protagonist Bayek, despite giving out a typical “hero” vibe, seems to have pretty interesting backstory and personality. Some people may consider him not as interesting as Ezio Auditore. We also partly agree on this, still, so far we think Bayek is a good and interesting protagonist in this game’s context.
Besides the main storyline, the side quests are also interesting especially the ones related to tombs exploration. These side quests aren’t simply EXP source for Bayek but they also give us knowledge about the world and the occurring events. And on top of all, tomb exploration is absolutely exciting with loots, mysteries, or simply the sense of adventure.
Assassination in Assassin’s Creed Origins isn’t exactly different from previous AC games. Players can still kill the target with their trusty Hidden Blade (though it requires a bit of progression before we can get our hands on it), or kill target from afar with a powerful headshot from bow. However, there are several “small details” in addition to our tradition killing:
- Difficulty: For the first time ever, Assassin’s Creed features Difficult Setting from Easy to Hard mode. Of course the Easy mode is… easy and killings hardly go wrong in this mode. However, Normal, or especially Hard mode, is a different story. Unless you are overpowered with levels and gears, killing a target is not as easily as previous games. The enemies are strong, therefore, “assassinate” in Rambo style (like in many other AC games) is not a viable option anymore. As the results, we need other tools and planning.
- Senu: Senu is Bayek’s trusty eagle and he will be Bayek’s Eagle Vision. Basically players can control Senu flying around and scout enemy’s base without any threat. This is especially handy when playing on higher difficulties when players have to plan their attack before jumping into the fray.
- Day and Night cycle: Day and Night actually matters a lot in Assassin’s Creed Origins. At night, guards and soldiers often sleep, making night the best time to strike. For those who like dwelling in the dark, there is a skill which allowed the time quickly shifts between Day and Night.
- Gears: Normally, the Hidden Blade should be enough to assassinate an enemy. However, it also has damage parameter, which means Bayek may not be able to finish certain enemies with one hit. When things don’t work well, weapons like bows, swords, and shields are also crucial to ensure Bayek’s survivability.
There are probably more elements to it but these differences alone are enough to make assassinations in AC Origins more exciting. Unless you cake-walk with Easy mode, killing a target requires planning, not just simply charging in and killing everything in our way. And if you want more challenges, you can always try infiltrating bases with higher levels than yours.
Assassin’s Creed Origins’s combat has a big change this time. Basically it is like “Dark Souls”, but adjusted to become suitable for the game. Bayek can perform Light Attack, Heavy Attack, Block, and Dodge. When attack, Bayek won’t automatically close the gap and strike the enemy like other AC games. Therefore, players will have to calculate the range in order to get a clean hit. Parrying is no longer an innate ability; it is now a skill needs to be upgraded in the Skill Tree. And even if we unlock Parry, combat is still not significantly easier.
As mentioned, the existence of Difficulty Setting literally makes the game harder on Normal and Hard mode. Fighting enemy head on isn’t as easy as previous AC games since enemies are strong and hit really hard. Unless Bayek has higher levels and good gears, Rambo-style fighting among enemies is really challenging.
That said; this new combat system feels really clunky. Bayek’s movement doesn’t feel smooth, the respond doesn’t seem to be fluid as we expect. Therefore, although this combat system is a welcoming change, it definitely needs polishing if Ubisoft wants to implement it in the next Assassin’s Creed game.
Skill Tree is popular element, not just in RPGs but also in other genres nowadays. And of course, AC Origins cannot miss such a great progression element. In Assassin’s Creed Origins, Skill Tree is an important aspect to determine how players will approach foes. There are 3 branches:
- Warrior: Specialized in melee combat.
- Hunter: Specialized in ranged weapons and a bit of assassinations.
- Sear: Specialized in various tools and tricks such as Smoke Screen and Poison Dart.
While many of the skills featured in this Skill Tree system are similar to the previous AC games, there are certain interesting new abilities like Animal Taming from Sear branch or controlling arrow from Hunter branch. Warrior branch is probably the most unique since it focuses on melee technique – a feature which isn’t focused in other AC games.
Overall, Skill Tree system works really well in Assassin’s Creed Origins. Each branch is effective enough on its own, making the game progression much more meaningful.
There is no much to say about Gearing in Assassin’s Creed Origins, aside from Heka Chest (basically the Loot Boxes version of AC Origins) and microtransaction. These two are the most controversial implementations in AC Origins. Many players are afraid that microtransaction and Heka Chest loot boxes will ruin AC Origins like many other games like Dead Space 3 or Shadow of War. But for now, we can’t give a clear answer about the microtransaction’s impact on Assassin’s Creed Origins.
So far, we haven’t seen any necessary in buying Heka Chest or any other items from the Store. The gears looted in-game are often good enough for customization and progressing. We still don’t know how fare it will be in later progression but in early game, although there is no sign of forcing players to buy things with real money from Store. Many players already responded that microtransaction and Heka Chest loot boxes are completely optional. If this is correct then it will be a good news for Assassin’s Creed fans.
If you are familiar with sandbox/open-world type of game, you will see that making an open-world area isn’t really hard. But the problem is how to bring that open-world to life with interesting fillers and content. Witcher 3, for example, has excellent open-world since there are many, many things to be found and discovered in the game. So what about Assassin’s Creed Origins?
The first thing you will notice is that: the map in Assassin’s Creed Origins is totally massive. It completely covers the entire Ancient Egypt, from the desert land of Siwa to the prosperous land of Nile Delta. As we mentioned above, the Ancient Egypt looks extremely gorgeous in AC Origins. There are tons of beautiful sceneries waiting to behold and definitely players will love exploring such a beautiful world. Towns and cities also feel lively with NPCs, interactions, and especially the background music which totally nails the sensation of “Ancient Egypt”.
On top of that, tombs and other ancient sites are definitely a big plus in AC Origins’ exploration. The Assassin’s Creed franchise always has a big advantage of relying on real-life history. And this time, this advantage proved to be as beneficial as ever since they can use Egypt’s historical sites as materials. These tombs in AC Origins always give out a mysterious and alluring feeling. It makes players extremely curious about what’s inside those tombs. The darkness factor is also highly rated here as players have to use torch in order to see inside the tombs, creating even better adventurous sensation. What we get from exploring the tombs are also rewarding and therefore, there is no reason to ignore such great sites.
On the other hand, besides tombs and community areas, other areas in Assassin’s Creed Origins feel kind of… empty. In this vast world, somehow we feel like there are not many things to do. However, this is still early opinion and we will see how thing goes in later progression.
So far, we are happy to say that Assassin’s Creed Origins is a good game. The game is beautiful to watch and the sense of immersion strongly arises here. At the beginning of the game, we do feel like we want to progress and explore what Ubisoft has to offer. The main protagonist Bayek seems to be interesting to follow, along with the game’s main storyline. All the RPGs elements are definitely welcoming like leveling, skill trees, and gears. On top of all, the side quests make the game progression feels more meaningful and also, the Difficulty Setting makes the game challenging enough to follow.
Our biggest complaint about the game is the clunky combat which really needs polishing in the future. The infamous microtransaction and Heka Chest loot boxes are definitely not welcomed in a single-player game like Assassin’s Creed Origins. But we will see how it may affect the game in a whole.
For now, thank you and stay tune for more Assassin’s Creed Origins review updates in the future!
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