After over 110 hours I was finally able to put the game down. Never before did I feel so immersed in a game world. Even with the last DLC going for a more fantasy theme, most of my playtime with Assassin’s Creed Origins really felt like I went 2000 years back in time. Back to an epoche and place where the most important ancient peoples melted: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and a pinch of Persian influences are all part of the experience.
That resulting ingame drama is backed by solid history facts and amazing reconstructions of temples, garnisons and every day buildings. Everything feels authentic and incredibly alive: The fields with their irrigations systems, crops that belong there and the fauna in general. It is breathtaking to ride through a diverse landscape that only the river Nile can sustain. When you get further away from settlements the desert takes over, first slowly and then without mercy. There are no hard breaks in the landscape. Everything fades naturally in one another.
If that wasn’t enough there is a large number of different animal species doing what animals are supposed to do. Running around, grasing, sleeping and being hunted. You can watch grazing herds of gazelles while a predator approaches. Predators are lions, hyenas, crocodiles or leopards. Once the kill is done you can wait for the vultures to arrive. Just watching animals going through the circle of life is something worth looking at in the game.
When you wander through the landscape or ride on either camel or horse you will meet a wide variety and large number of normal citizens doing their thing. The all speak different languages. I am not the best when it comes to ancient languages but I can clearly identify Latin, Greek and some Arab. Those languages I heard where only part of the many more languages. That just adds to the authenticity of what this game world offers.
Everybody you meet is busy doing their daily work. Farmers tend their crop, work with irrigation or transport their harvest. Then the crop gets spliced and transported to baking sites where it gets transformed into bread. You can also watch fishers doing their thing, traders selling off different items, butchers slicing meat and people buying items of their choice. It is delightful to just stand around and watch the inhabitants of this ancient world doing mundane tasks. To read about that time period in books is one thing but to put this time period into context with normal people doing normal things was one thing I always wanted to experience.
Equally often I found myself staring in disbelief at huge and colorful painted temples, at marvellous black obelisks or at Ancient Egypt animal god statues. There is so much love to detail in each building – even the smallest shack – it can be overwhelming at times.
All the jewelry and little statues I am used to see in museums have been brought to life. I never comprehended how and why this jewelry was used. But seeing it worn by priests and priestesses in huge temples filled with poor peasants made me understand how impressive these items must have been in the eyes of people of that time.
I was also impressed how well and in the depth the Ancient Egypt belief system was explained. None of the books I read over the years explained the death cult as well as the game does. Not only are many of the rituals explained but also how important death was in the life of everyday Egyptians. Many of the more mundane missions in the game involved parts of different rituals or holy animals.
For me all this is history come to life.
And then there is of course a main story, side quests and a bunch of well thought through game mechanics that kept me engaged for 112 hours. The main story is for my taste a bit too uninsipred because it is a revenge story with more or less obvious ending. The side quests is where the game shines the most. Your main protagonist is Bayek of Siwa whose job it is to help and protect “the people”; he is something like a Judge Dredd of 48 BCE in Egypt. All tasks big and small flesh out how important such a person was at that time.
There are no classical “fetch quest” side quests. Many side quest have twists in the form of dying or dead targets or a simple starting instruction evolving into a multi stage quest. Quests are cleverly used to convey information about everyday life, about aspects of religion or social order. And more often than not you will meet people from one side quest in other side quests. This provides a sense of familiarity on top of world building.
Another thing that stood out for me was to see how Bayek interacts with children in side quests.These interactions are extreme well written and feel absolutely authentic. They are funny and always full of surprises. Bayek shows so much patience, sense of humor and responsibility when it comes to children. It is just beautiful to watch.
Humor is another element that gets used in side quests. Either by adding a funny twist or some form of self-mockery. It is never overdone and sometimes comes at unexpected places. It provides an excellent counter balance to the brooding revenge topic of the main quest.
You might wonder why not talk about the usual gameplay elements? They are done so well, I barely noticed them: Crafting is simple yet deep enough. The skill tree is straightforward and self-explanatory. Equipping melee and ranged weapons is easy. Upgrading your weapons is done by spending gold at any local blacksmith. Gold can be found in many different places or by selling looted relics. The gold economy is done spot on because you will never have enough gold to buy everything but you will more than enough to upgrade your most important weapons. Weapon variety decent with roughly 50 bows from 6 categories and 50+ melee weapons from 8 categories.
And as you would expect from an Ubisoft open world game Assassin’s Creed Origins offers a vast world to discover. There are so many places see and things to do: tombs to loot, stone circles for unique story bits, meditation places for free level ups, forts to liberate and to loot, treasures to find, wildlife to hunt and many more things I have since forgotten.
For me it is one of the best games I played in years because history and video game are merged in a way I have never before experienced.
Assassin’s Creed Origins on Steam | Assassin’s Creed Origins on Uplay