We spent four hours in Ancient Egypt. Here’s what we did.
Assassin’s Creed Origins has the potential to be my next video game addiction. Let me explain.
This has happened twice so far in 2017. The first time was with Persona 5, which I ended up sinking nearly 100 hours into over the course of three weeks. I couldn’t tear myself away from its depiction of Tokyo, and the bonds I was forging with the characters that inhabited it. I wanted to learn everything there was about the people, places, and things in its world.
The second was more recent, with Destiny 2, but for very different reasons. With Bungie’s sequel, my inability to turn the game off stemmed from its constant IV drip of rewards and progression. I’d heard countless people talk about this over the past three years at work – the Fireteam Chat crew knows this all-too-well. But somehow, it finally hit me with Destiny 2, and for a solid two weeks, I was all-in.
That brings us to Assassin’s Creed Origins. It’s well known by now that Ubisoft took two years off after Syndicate commercially underwhelmed (despite being a fantastic game and one of my absolute favorites in the series). Well, I’m happy to report that after being dropped into the open world of Ancient Egypt, it looks like Ubisoft’s decision to go back to the drawing board paid off. Origins made my four hours go by in a flash, and that’s partially due to the same reasons I loved both Persona as well as Destiny.
First and foremost, Origins feels great, which is so important in an Assassin’s Creed game. The urban verticality of Unity and Syndicate has been replaced by greater stretches of nature filled with horizontal modes of parkour. Think AC3 and Black Flag, but with the increased control that Syndicate introduced. Keep in mind, I still found myself occasionally sticking to a wall I didn’t mean to, or unable to quickly drop down from a ledge, but for the most part, I felt fully in control of my adventure with Bayek.
With movement out of the way, in my four hours, I can’t count the number of times I made some sort of meaningful character progress. Every new sword, every slightly-stronger piece of armor, every new crafting ingredient – all of them fed towards that feeling that I was growing. Like Destiny 2, my eyes began to take in information via color – common items were overshadowed by rares and exotics drenched in purple and gold. But this wasn’t just a number thing – I could feel my Bayek growing stronger, allowing me take on tougher enemies. And more than ever for an AC game, I truly felt like what I had equipped mattered.
Aside from material goods, I loved the web of RPG skill upgrades I was able to choose from to evolve my character. It takes the idea of player agency and freedom that the series has exuded for years to a brand new level. I really did feel like I could dictate if I would be an archer who poisoned the tips of his arrows, a ghost who slipped in and out of compounds without being detected, or a brute who dominated anything that came before him.
Another thing I absolute loved about my time with Origins were the random experiential stories I stumbled across (or sometimes stumbled across me). As much as I dug the core narrative that Ubisoft has created, I completely fell for all of the weird, random, and bonkers events that happened to me in my four hours that felt personal to my playthrough.
While I started with a horse as my go-to mount, I quickly changed it to a camel. After all, I’ve played plenty of games in 2017 that have let me ride a horse, but literally zero have allowed me to hop on the back of a camel. So with the push of a button, my Bayek would whistle, and out of nowhere, my trusty camel would appear. I’m not sure why, but I smiled a bit every time this happened.
With my trusty camel by my side, I explored a small chunk of Egypt in an attempt to find out what kind of trouble I could get into. For example, from a distance, I uncaged a pair of lions and watched them completely tear apart an enemy outpost, which allowed me to the reap the benefits without ever unsheathing my sword. Later, I foolishly sailed my boat up to an island of hippos, only to realize that hippos are the most dangerous and downright terrifying things in all of Origins. After they killed me, I explored a town and stumbled upon a murder mystery that had to investigating the crime scene and really embracing my inner Batman.
There is so much to do in Egypt, that I found myself getting sidetracked from the main quest at nearly every turn. But I never felt like this was a bad thing, because I was always finding a new story, experiencing something strange and memorable, and slowly upgrading my Bayek.
After my four hours, I only felt like I had scratched the surface of what Assassin’s Creed Origins has to offer. Without going into spoilers, the single core story quest I completed culminated in a dizzying set-piece, surprising betrayal, and a decision that really made me question the kind of hero my Bayek was. If the rest of the game is filled with the same fantastic loot system, hilarious dynamic events, and memorable story beats, we could be in for something special.
Marty Sliva is a Executive Editor at IGN. A girl he was dating once stepped on his PlayStation 4, and now he no longer owns PT. But don’t worry, they broke up. Follow him on Twitter @McBiggitty.