Microsoft got the nod to reveal Assassin’s Creed Origins at its E3 press event this year, which then carried over to its showcase the next day where I got to go hands-on with a mission from the game’s campaign running on the Xbox One X. It was a dev kit per se, but definitely an Xbox One X dev kit thanks to the little graphic programmed on it telling me it was so. I have to say that it felt great to be back in the Creed universe again, because I’ve taken a multiple year hiatus due to fatigue and the nightmarish launch of Unity. Although, after controlling Bayek — the new protagonist — I’m ready for a return to the franchise to see where it all began.
Considering that my demo took place on the Xbox One X I’ll start this preview with a graphics assessment. It’s safe to say that this is the best looking Creed-to-date, as it should be considering the beefier guts of the One X and PS4 Pro, as well as the longer development time, which is at around three years as of now. The One X’s 4K and HDR capabilities definitely make Origins look as crisp and vibrant as possible, and the gameplay engine performs better than ever. Cutscenes look great, but they definitely didn’t blow me away with lifelike visuals as the characters still looked and felt like strings of programming code. I’m not saying they looked bad by any means, in fact they’re top-notch, but when you start playing games meant for higher end systems, you tend to expect some sort of major bump in quality, but that’s just not the case. Either way, visually, the game looks great and didn’t suffer a single frame rate stutter, even as I had half of an Egyptian city hunting me down for attacking a guard in public just to get some battles started.
Combat feels familiar, but also more strategic. The AI just performs more admirably, so unlike previous Creed titles, Origins will rely more on strategy and skill over pure button mashing. I found dodging to be handier than ever, as well as the ability to use Bayek’s parkour skills to get out of sight quick when guards are on high alert. Enemies also drop loot now with ratings — think Destiny — making each battle a potential treasure fest, which makes these little skirmishes even more exciting to get mixed up in.
In terms of the mission I played I had to prove to a priest that a boy he was beating wasn’t so bad after all. This required me to find sunken treasure that the priest accused the boy of stealing. To do so I had to do a bit of swimming, which like combat feels more precise and straight forward than ever before. The underwater vista is also something to behold, so thanks to Bayek’s ridiculous lung power I got a great tour of the sea, which is just as detailed an alive as the land settings in Origins.
Once I found a ship where the treasure may be I had to use Bayek’s eagle, which isn’t a spirit form, but rather a companion that you can call on at anytime to help you scout things out. High above the boat I was able to scan and mark targets, which then allowed Bayek to gain entry to the ship so he could murder everyone en route to finding the treasure he marked with the help of his eagle. Transitioning between the two playable characters is seamless, and having the eagle should open up alternate ways to go about any quest, as well as being core to a few others, so while this new feature isn’t game changing, it does change the AC formula ever so slightly for those looking for some sort of gameplay mixup.
Assassin’s Creed Origins looks and plays great on the Xbox One X, at least at this point in its development. Quite frankly though, its narrative is what has me the most intrigued thanks to the fact that it will show the formation of the Assassin’s, as well as more information on the Templars, or whatever they’ll be called in Origins. The game takes place 1,000 years before any previous Creed title, so narratively Ubisoft has plenty to work with and all sorts of directions it could go, so I’m definitely most excited to see how this game’s story plays out. Plus, even in my short time with him, Bayek already appears to be the most interesting lead character yet, so I hope his tale doesn’t disappoint once the game finally ships.
Origins is set to release on October 27, 2017 for PC, Xbox One, and PS4. You can pre-order various editions now for bonuses and such. If you were like me and have left the AC franchise alone since your time on the seas with Edward Kenway, then I think you should give Origins a chance. Even for the fact that it will finally tell how the Assassin’s Creed organization came to be, which is enough for me to warrant a purchase.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”