The Assassin's Creed series has been around for a decade, though you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a lot more. We suppose that's what the frequent main entries and countless spin-offs and mobile titles do to a franchise. It's not that games like Unity and Syndicate were necessarily poor (the state Unity launched in was, of course, far from okay), but in general we all started feeling a bit of franchise fatigue. In 2016 we only saw the release of the side-scrolling Chronicles adventures, and very little attention was paid to those. Oh, and the lacklustre movie.
There was much to prove for Assassin's Creed Origins, then. Plenty of ground to regain. The achievement was all the more impressive when you consider the context surrounding its release. On top of that, Ubisoft pulled it off in style.
Origins is the story of Bayek and his family and the birth of the brotherhood, but perhaps more importantly it tells the story of ancient Egypt. We're sucked into the mythology, the society, and the beautiful landscape. Perhaps the tombs were the greatest examples of this; isolated puzzle levels that allowed you to stop for a moment and have a breather, gather your thoughts and truly take in the surroundings, writings, and architecture. But the Papyrus roll treasure hunts also helped to immerse us in the world and take in our surroundings.
The game's structure and mechanics bring to mind one of the best games of the generation, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but more than just copying a proven formula, Assassin's Creed Origins manages to create its own identity. Some quests are part of more developed questlines, others simply tell the story of the people of Egypt, and together with the politically and historically charged main storyline that made up a cohesive whole that sucked us in and kept us enthralled for many, many hours.
The game offers plenty to do and the world is filled to the brim with activities and meaningful collectibles. Once you've finished the game there's War Elephants and Gods to challenge your skills and it must be said that the skill tree offers plenty of interesting mechanics to choose from, whether you prefer ranged attacks, melee, stealth, or any combination of these.
The world and its beauty, the brilliant realisation of ancient Egypt, is the key strength of the game, however. There is just the right amount of wilderness, desert, jungle, water, and towns. While there are plenty of systems in the game to pull you along to your next objective, we'd suggest you just turn these off, choose a direction and have the adventures come to you (at least, you should try it out). It's then that you'll truly start to see all the work that has gone into the environments and the behaviours in the open world. Maybe you'll save a villager from a predator's attack, or see a crocodile fight a lion, maybe you'll happen upon a hermit, or a vulture nest, or something far more exciting that you'll need to level up for so you can tackle it.
But it's not just the brilliance of Egypt and the game world that's reinvigorated the series, it's the decision to fully embrace RPG mechanics and make them core to the experience. Assassin's Creed Origins is an action-RPG with stealth mechanics, not a stealth game with RPG elements.
Assassin's Creed Origins has rejuvenated the Assassin's Creed franchise and we're excited to see what's coming next. Reenergising a franchise such as this is a massive feat and speaks volumes about the game and the people who made it.