An older Bayek travels to the Sinai to fight oppression and the Order.
As you'd expect with major releases these days, Ubisoft has pretty ambitious post-launch plans for Assassin's Creed Origins. The Hidden Ones is the first of two sizable chunks of story DLC that add new areas, activities, and quests to what's already a game brimming with content.
The Hidden Ones is set a while after the events of the main game and sees Bayek travel across the Red Sea to Sinai in order to assist the local Hidden Ones bureau. The Hidden Ones, or the brotherhood, are still just starting to formulate their creed and their ways, and for fans of the franchise, this DLC may actually feel more meaningful than the story of the main game that really had more to do with Bayek and the Order than the actual brotherhood. There are some pretty neat tie-ins with the story of the main game, and for instance, the Scarab gets a continuation here, and it provided us with a nice sense of closure.
The new DLC contains four zones, which are fairly small in size (one being the Red Sea which is basically just open water), but they're packed with activities and quests. We spent around 7 hours completing the new quests and doing most of the open world activities, but if you're a completionist you might get even more out of it, even if there are no major challenges here like the War Elephants. The extra five levels (new level cap at 45) are achieved fairly quickly as the quests are rewarded with rather generous chunks of XP, and as there are no new skills in the skill tree you'll either spend them on mastery traits or skills you deemed unnecessary for your build the first time around.
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One of the issues we found with The Hidden Ones was the fact that we'd had our fill with the open world busywork of the main game. We found no real drive to clear camps and take out animal lairs. The motivation here is more useful loot in chests as a large number of them contain carbon crystals you'll need to upgrade your gear further (this is expanded a fair bit compared to the main game), while not getting quite as many weapons to dismantle or sell off. We did enjoy solving the Papyrus scroll riddles and they felt more challenging, perhaps because we hadn't spent as much time in the world when attempting them. Hermit locations and Stone Circles also return for some more relaxed activities.
In terms of the quest design, it felt a bit uneven, and this was an area where the main game really excelled. We truly enjoyed a quest where we were made to follow the writings of a quite insane man across the entire map, taking out various enemies along the way while searching for his lost treasure. Some of the main quests were also really good, and there was a couple of interesting assassination scenarios that forced us to really consider our approach (Rufio, in particular, required a bit of finesse). Other quests felt undercooked and a little bit lacklustre in their design.
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Compared to the main game The Hidden Ones also had significantly more technical issues, whether it was strange AI behaviour, collision detection, or issues getting stuck on props and bits of the scenery. Most alarming, there was a section of the main story at a quarry where alerting the guards sent the framerate to a crawl, perhaps it was simply a case of the game struggling with a huge number of NPCs on alert. Not that any open world game is completely without flaws at launch, and a recent patch should have helped some of the issues we experienced, but still it hampered our time with the DLC.
At the end of the day, The Hidden Ones provides us with a nice continuation of the main story, one that will appeal to those fans who felt like there wasn't enough focus on the origins of the brotherhood in the main game. It's largely a case of more of the same content, and the environments, while striking, are a bit mundane compared to some of the spectacular vistas seen in the main game. Still, it's good value and if you're looking to spend more time with one of the best games of 2017 you should definitely look into The Hidden Ones.
7 / 10
Good size expansion, Some memorable quests and interesting assassinations, Meaningful addition to the origin story of the brotherhood, More Papyrus scrolls to tackle, Leverages the strong foundation from Origins.
The Sinai lacks a bit of punch compared to the main regions of the core game, Suffered from more technical issues, A few undercooked quests, Could have done with some new open world activities.