With the recent struggles surrounding the franchise (and a failed movie), Ubisoft has taken a year off from their annual releases in order to step back and reevaluate the series. Assassin’s Creed hasn’t truly seen success since Black Flag (even though we loved Syndicate here at The Workprint), so with Assassin’s Creed Origins, it seems Ubisoft has gone back to drawing board with only a rough idea of what fans dislike.
It’s an important distinction in how Ubisoft approached making Origins, and once you start to tally up the negatives from previous entries, their flaws become the reason for Origins existence.
Fans wanted a more immersive setting, so Origins spares no expense with the graphics. Truly, Origins is one of the most breathtaking games I’ve seen. Playing on the Xbox One X, I had almost no issue running around the open world, and it was, dare I say, a more beautiful world than even The Witcher 3. Fans despised the map completion aspect of each area, so Origins straight up just removed the minimap. There are still objectives and a HUD to track the direction of things like chests and active quests, but for the most part, the focus is on the world and the immersion level of Egypt. And honestly, that’s the selling feature for Origins right now: stunning graphics with a lively open world that isn’t bogged down by obnoxious mini-quests.
Despite our little time together, I love what Origins has shown me of the game’s protagonist, Bayek. He doesn’t have the roguish charm of Kenway or the ego or Ezio, but he seems genuinely like a kind person. It might be a nice change of pace for Assassin’s Creed to have a good dude at the helm.
In trying to revamp the Assassin’s Creed franchise, I think Ubisoft went too far with Origins. The combat overhaul is the most noticeable change in the game and personally, I loathe it. Instead of countering attacks and using quick movements to land blows and duck out of a fight, Origins seems intent on fighting just like Dark Souls. There is a heavy attack, a quick attack, a dodge roll, and a ranged weapon move set and all of it feels heavy and clunky. Ducking out of fights is even more problematic since the climbing and running in Origins is somehow worse than it was in Assassin’s Creed 2.
It’s sad when a game set in Middle-Earth does assassin combat better than the actual assassin game series.
I don’t play Assassin’s Creed games to use heavy blows and wield cumbersome polearm weapons. I play them because I want to make use of the assassin gadgets, the stealth tactics, and the fast-paced assassin combat. Syndicate, while not lacking for issues, had such satisfying combat that I enjoyed every skirmish because even the combat sounds made me feel like a badass. From my time with the game and the videos I’ve seen so far, I’m afraid I won’t be getting that same satisfaction from Origins.
To further enforce the concept that Origins is a new spin on the previous entries, they have morphed the assassin’s Eagle Vision ability into an actual eagle. If you want to learn where quests are or find sunken treasure, you have to send out Senu, your eagle to scout you, and controlling him while searching for markers is irritating.
I had high hopes for Origins. I wanted to play a genuine assassin game again and while Ubisoft seems it is making good on culling the fluff, the game’s changes have me hesitant about picking up the latest Assassin’s Creed installment.
With as much as I love the series, I sincerely hope Origins proves me wrong.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins is slated to release October 27, 2017 on Xbox One X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PS4 Pro, and PC.