Assassin’s Creed Origins

Key Features

  • Release Date: October 27
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Developer: Ubisoft

Assassin’s Creed Origins release date

Launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 27.

Assassin’s Creed Origins Season Pass

Ubisoft has revealed details on some of the free downloadable content coming to Origins alongside its paid season pass. The upcoming stealth adventure will receive two main expansions alongside an assortment of additional content packs

Assassin’s Creed Origins will also receive an assortment of free downloadable content in the form of new modes, a photo mode and the upcoming Discovery Tour. The season pass will retail for $40, although international pricing is yet to be announced.

Assassin’s Creed Origins gameplay

Assassin’s Creed, perhaps more than any other modern game series, has suffered terribly with fatigue. Over time fans have grown tired of a formula that appears to have become stale, the clunky parkour mechanics and new releases that feel ever-more like what we’d played only a year before. After taking a year off, the series has returned with Origins, offering a much more refined experience wrapped in the brilliant setting of Ancient Egypt. It still plays very much like Assassin’s Creed, but Origins could be the best in the series.

Pre-order Assassin’s Creed Origins from Amazon UK | Amazon.com

Ubisoft has made a number of changes to the AC formula, and it’s immediately clear that they pay dividends by creating a more streamlined and free-flowing experience.

For starters, mission structure has been overhauled, with players now opting for “quests”, where each individual task has its own mini-narrative. It’s much more like The Witcher or Red Dead, so no matter the path chosen by the player, they won’t lose track of the story.

I always fell foul of this in previous entries, taking part in a few main missions before becoming completely sidetracked with side-quests and quitting the game because I had no idea where I’d left the main plot. In four hours with Origins, I did the same, but each mission felt as valuable as the main questline.

In fact, I was taken aback at how differently Origins played to any previous game in the series in almost every aspect.

In its early years, AC played very much like Hitman, where you’d have to sneak up to single targets. Origins is way more action-packed, with players free to be as stealthy or as chaotic as they choose. Combat plays a big part in this, with Ubisoft dropping its rigid defend-riposte-attack system in favour of a more free-flowing setup that allows for more enjoyable multi-enemy combat.

Related: Star Wars Battlefront 2

In practice, it plays more like a stripped-back Bloodborne, where you have to leap in, get your shots off, and get out before your enemy has a chance to respond. Lead character Bayek can come equipped with an array of weapons, each handling differently. Spears allow for range at the expense of speed, while the traditional sword-and-shield approach is great for the more tactical affairs; dual-swords are perfect for fleet-footed fighters. But where it lacks is in the execution, and how victory is dictated.

I had plenty of fun taking part in numerous fights, rushing around like a madman taking on any and all-comers. The trouble is, victory was often defined by Bayek’s level compared to other combatants, more so than my prowess with a sword.

Origins focuses heavily on character progression, with everything you do earning XP towards levelling up. Points are earned to unlock new abilities, such as increased combos and the ability for Senu (Bayek’s eagle) to leap down and distract enemies. Enemies and quests, too, will be ranked by level. This doesn’t prevent you from tackling any particular mission or foe, but it does greatly affect your chance of success.

For example, at level 12 and facing a level 17 baddie, I quickly got battered – but using the same tactics against a level 13 foe made for a much easier fight. It made the combat feel shallow, which is a shame. But it does mean that those wanting a challenge can take on enemies  higher up the scale, taking far greater care in their attacks and strategy.

Related: Upcoming PS4 Games

Combat also isn’t restricted to man-on-man, and this is where Origins begins to feel very much like Far Cry. There are many different animals in Ancient Egypt, and sometimes you’ll be required to collect their pelts in order to craft new items. More often than not, though, a random irate beast will appear and begin attacking you, wreaking havoc on your current quest.

An early mission involved collecting dead bodies of a man’s family from a hippo den following an attack. You can run through and just pick up each body and return them, but doing so will anger the hippos in the area, causing one of the more bizarre combat encounters to ensue. But this tends to be where Origins shines: when bonkers situations coming from everything going wrong, despite your best intentions.

There were many instances where I attempted to complete a mission like a true assassin, only to be rumbled very early on, making the game transition from Assassin’s Creed to something more reminiscent to a travelling animal circus on fire. In one instance I had to rescue a prisoner from an encampment containing high-level guards and also high-level cheetahs and lions. I thought I’d go full Far Cry, sneak in and let the animals free to unleash havoc.

Related: Middle Earth: Shadow of War

My first attempt saw a lion freed from its cage, which proceeded to attack me twice, then run for its life away from the camp – but not before alerting a guard to my presence, who then raised the alarm and had me killed in seconds. The second time, I decided to let the lion loose again, only this time, after taking a swipe at me, it ran around the camp, attacked a couple of guards, set itself on fire by bumping into one of the torches, then died. Thankfully, this created enough of a distraction for me to sneak in, free the prisoner, and carry him to safety while the guards dealt with the flaming lion.

Freeing prisoners provided some of the most entertaining quests I’ve experienced – although one highlighted an incredibly frustrating shortcoming. Some AI characters are capable of walking out of enemy camps on their own after being freed, but in doing so, pay very little attention to the bad guys you didn’t kill on the way in. So if you manage to pull off the stealthy entrance – something I did in one of the most heavily defended forts and of which I felt very proud – your freed ally could just wander straight through the middle of a group of enemies, and it’s your job to save them. When this happens in a camp of enemies of significantly higher level than you, it’s a pain. It doesn’t seem too difficult for Ubisoft to make freed ally AI invisible to enemies to save the trouble.

Latest impressions

This is the most fun I’ve had playing Assassin’s Creed. The refinement of the formula may take the series away from its roots, but it makes for a significantly improved experience.

Pre-order Assassin’s Creed Origins from Amazon UK | Amazon.com

While the AI and mechanics can become a tad chaotic at times, it doesn’t make the game any less fun; it perhaps makes the game play in a manner that may not have been intended by the developers. Rather than pulling off that perfect stealth kill and sneaking off undetected, you’re far more likely to batter a target to death while their army fights a lion on fire and a viper let loose, with villagers fleeing while randomly kicking off with a nearby hippo.

It’s chaos, but of the good kind.