Having spent countless hours roaming the dunes, cities, settlements and tombs of Ubisoft Montreal’s take on Ancient Egypt, I’m struck by just how bipolar Assassin’s Creed Origins really is. It’s a game of two warring personalities.
One wants to try new things – hitbox-based combat! collectible gear! camel races! – while the other steadfastly grips the tropes you’ve experienced in every other AC title (and they very much are tropes now we’re 11 or more games and ten years into the series).
You’ll parkour over scenery and climb incredibly detailed monuments; you’ll blow sleep darts and sneak through conveniently placed long gross; you’ll leap from ever implausible heights into even more conveniently placed stacks of hay. It’s undoubtedly derivative of itself in those moments, but when it embraces new ideas you get to enjoy an AC game that takes its core principles forward rather than relying on a completely foreign mechanic, such as Black Flag’s naval warfare, to make that progress for it.
With the same team that brought Black Flag’s golden age of piracy to life, and a four year development cycle (thanks to that much needed year off in 2016), Origins ends up offering a playground that seemingly never ceases to exude personality. The decision to set the game in Ancient Egypt – more specifically the reign of Ptolemy XIII, where the pyramids have become crumbling symbols of a bygone era – is the first stroke of brilliance.