While playing the new demo for Assassin’s Creed Origins on Xbox One X, one of the developers from Ubisoft Montreal kept talking how he loved the hippos that inhabited this region. So, after starting my Egyptian journey as one of the first of the Assassins, Bayek, my one mission was to find these majestic beasts.
The demo began as Bayek was riding his trusty steed into a local town on the water. The first thing that strikes me as we gallop down the sandy roads is how absolutely gorgeous this game’s visuals are. Playing on an Xbox One X with Full 4K brought this world alive, unlike any Assassin’s Creed before it. While the player models still leave a bit to be desired, the environment draws you in and I found myself being distracted from doing anything important or crucial to the main mission. Seriously, this game looks that good.
For me, personally, this is a great sign. When a game’s world is so detailed and full of secrets and life, it adds weight and realism to the normal campaign or side missions. As I walked down to the shores to “acquire” a boat, people were going about their everyday routines and it felt that you were just a passerby in a city that would live long after you have departed. In a first for the series, you have the ability to control the flow of time by having Bayek meditate. This will obviously come in handy when you arrive at an enemy encampment in the middle of the day and want to wait to make your entrance once the darkness of the night can aid in your quest.
Another feature that feels like a worthy addition is your eagle companion, Senu. With just the click of a button, you can seamlessly assume control of Senu and take to the skies. Similar to Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands Drone feature, as well as many other games, you have the ability to mark targets and plan your attack. The best part about Senu is his impressive range. I tested how far I could fly Senu before I desynchronized or lost contact, and no matter how far I flew from Bayek in the demo, I kept control like a charm.
During my tour of the demo’s limits in Assassin’s Creed Origins, I finally spotted my target. Surrounding an island in the middle of a lake were three Hippos happily basking in the Egyptian sun. I tagged them with Senu and then returned to Bayek. I sailed from the shores to meet my destiny, and was instantly brought back to the glory of sailing in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but obviously on a much smaller scale. As I approached the family (I’d like to think so) of Hippos they all spotted me and then I knew I was in trouble. All three charged and attacked my boat, in a panic I decided to jump out to swim for shore. Big mistake. I was torn apart by these creatures, and while my game was loading I couldn’t help but notice the big smile on the face of one of the developers, happy that his mission was a success.
That is the power of Assassin’s Creed, I spent my entire 15-minute demo exploring the world and seeing how it works. I had a great time exploring Egypt and getting lost in a world that beckons to be discovered. I had barely any time to mess around with the new RPG mechanics that allow you to shape Bayek into a Hunter, Warrior, or Seer. I didn’t get to test the deep crafting or weapon system. Though, I did confirm that you can choose to have your hood up or down, which is a feature many have been asking for.
Combat has also gotten an overhaul and it feels very satisfying. Attacks are initiated with the right bumper/trigger and blocking is with the left bumper. Dodging is very important, as well as using the correct weapon for each situation. Long gone are the days of many enemies circling you while they die by your hand one at a time. You have to be light on your feet and pay attention to all around you.
The movement also still feels great, though I ran into a few issues where I was trying to climb certain structures and it would take a few times to grab a handhold. Since the game was in Alpha state, I feel confident these issues will be ironed out by launch, but I felt it worth mentioning.
Assassin’s Creed Origins appears to be on the right track to deliver a compelling and expansive experience. I’ve recently fallen out of love with the franchise and haven’t completed a title since Black Flag. However, come this October 27th, I can’t wait to jump into 49 BCE Egypt and stay for a very long time.