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Assassin’s Creed Origins is still the best game in the series

With all its courtly intrigue, geopolitical turmoil, and time travel spanning millennia, it’s easy to forget that Origins of Assassin’s Creed It begins with the death of a child. As protagonists Bayek and Aya set off on their intertwined revenge missions across Egypt, Libya, and the Sinai Peninsula, the unimaginable has already happened. The rest are just details as they both do their best to cope with the loss of their son.

ubisoft released Origins of Assassin’s Creed in 2017, two years later Assassin’s Creed Syndicatemarking the first break from annual releases since the gap between the original 2007 game and its sequel. origins it was nothing short of a tectonic shift: the series’ social stealth and urban parkour elements were stripped to the bone in favor of a sprawling world, a robust quest system, and bona fide loot. The cynic in me acknowledges these new design pillars as an effort to bring the series in line with “modern” open world games; the optimist in me can’t help but marvel at the outcome. I returned to origins recently to play it on Xbox Game Pass, and it’s as amazing as ever.

Located towards the end of the Ptolemaic period, Origins’ Egypt is huge. I don’t mean massive in terms of scale, more in terms of scope. While most previous Assassin’s Creed games jumped between a handful of cities, the settlements in origins they are connected by a real nuanced landscape. It is an acronym for deserts, oases, spooky caverns and blue shores. assassins creed 4 black flag it was huge, yes, and its connective ocean played host to a host of exciting sequences. But the Caribbean cities of Havana, Kingston and Nassau felt like mere stepping stones in the service of the central story. In originsdozens of individual settlements have their own discreet and fantastic stories to tell.

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Assassin's Creed Origins - Bayek on a Sphinx

Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft

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There’s Letopolis, the city slowly being swallowed up by the desert, even as political subterfuge impedes Bayek’s quest for revenge; there is Memphis, a city whose citizens believe it to be cursed after its patron bull is poisoned; there is Cyrene, where the ruling Roman elite can gaze down from the city’s Acropolis at the colonized Egyptians. I stay in each of these places long after I’ve exhausted their side quests, because each one feels as detailed as Boston in Assassin’s Creed’s Creed 3paris in Unitor Rome in Fraternity.

In its urban environments, its picturesque towns and its bucolic landscapes, origins it thrives on its excess of space, specifically because it understands the complexities of emptiness. While lesser open world games have become overloaded with collectibles, quests, and things to do in all its nooks and crannies, origins he has the confidence to let his world breathe. The rugged and desolate Black Desert near the center of your map is completely devoid of NPCs and treasure chests. it’s just there. But far from feeling useless, it imparts a sense of tranquility and solitude that makes the cities on the other side feel that much more lively. I like it Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and this year’s elden ring, origins is a prime example of how pacing is just as important in open world games as it is in linear ones. and it’s a concept Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Y Valhalla did not understand well.

origins it’s even more impressive in the way it draws attention between points of interest with sightlines, skyline silhouettes and color. (That color! fuck me with that color.) In a series almost defined by the color palettes of their games, the blues and golds of originsThe landscapes, clothes and architecture are even more impressive. So are the sudden flushes of red in a field of poppies, or the vibrant greens of an oasis (or is it a mirage?) in the distance. I still remember being breathless the first time I saw the dyeworks of Erython through the eyes of Bayek’s eagle Senu. It took the work of talented artists to make the places appear origins‘fascinating panoramas of gold, and pop they do.

Assassin's Creed Origins - Bayek and Aya hugging

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Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft

For all its environmental mastery, all its compelling side stories, and all its layers of craftsmanship, Origins of Assassin’s Creed It is, above all, a powerful love story. Following the murder of his son, Khemu, the romance between Bayek and Aya is tense and complex. Bayek, who crucially actually stabbed Khemu during a moment of confusion, deals with loss by killing his way through Egypt. Aya, on the other hand, embraces the comfort of a higher purpose, aligning herself with Cleopatra, who has returned to Egypt after being exiled by her brother Ptolemy XIII.

Both intend to expose the Order of the Ancients, a group to which Khemu’s assassins belong, but their paths only occasionally cross. Months, even years, go by before they see each other, bond (they’re both babies, by the way), talk indirectly about their shared pain, and then part again to continue the hunt. It’s hard to tell if their mission is serving any purpose or if they’re just getting distracted. It’s tragic.

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It is their complex but passionate relationship that is the basis origins‘ story of global politics and espionage, making it more accessible than any Assassin’s Creed before or since. The central story here is that of Bayek and Aya’s mourning, and I would rank it among those of the last of us part 1 Y Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask how masterfully it explores the stages of grief. By the time they’ve accomplished their initial mission and decided to form the Hidden Ones (the forerunner of the series’ famous Brotherhood of Assassins), they’ve drifted too far apart to ever fully fit back together.

Oddly enough, I remember Frodo at the end of The Lord of the Rings, traveling to the Gray Havens and leaving Middle-earth behind because so much bad it had happened to him, and how could he explain it to someone else? Bayek and Aya are not innocent in any sense of the word – Bayek probably killed over 2000 people during my Platinum playthrough – but the remorse surrounding them is potent nonetheless. Both of them have experienced the unimaginable, and while there may be a world where they can fully face it, together, this is not that world. So they go their separate ways.

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