Now Play­ing: ass ass in’s creed ori­gins DLC

Fancy ea­gle div­ing back into An­cient Egypt? As­sas­sin’s Creed Ori­gins’ new DLC will nudge you off the synch point

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - Louise Blain Pub­lisher Ubisoft / De­vel­oper Ubisoft Mon­treal / for­mat Xbox One / re­lease date Jan­uary 2018

Fine, I’ll ad­mit it now. I have an As­sas­sin’s Creed

Ori­gins prob­lem. No, I’m not sleep­ing in piles of hay just yet, but where pre­vi­ous Brother­hood out­ings could be rinsed and shelved, Bayek’s jour­ney just keeps go­ing. Ev­ery achieve­ment, over one hun­dred hours on the sandy clock, a shield that makes en­e­mies sleep when I block, a lit­er­ally flam­ing Abyssal Steed, and it’s still not over. Daily quests, Heka chests, God bat­tles, and var­i­ous Ubi un­lock­ables have made Ori­gins my in­fi­nite fan­tasy AC. I could play some­thing else, or I could just dress Bayek as Michael Fass­ben­der’s Span­ish In­qui­si­tion hood-wearer, Aguilar, and try and win my­self a spear that looks like a gi­ant cot­ton bud. No, se­ri­ously.

It’s a good thing then that the first of Ori­gins’ two chunks of DLC has ar­rived to save us all (ie me) from com­plete mad­ness. Tak­ing place four years af­ter the end of Ori­gins,

The Hid­den Ones de­liv­ers new story mis­sions, but also a whole new siz­able chunk of map to ex­plore which, of course, is scat­tered with those elu­sive ques­tion marks. Sat­is­fy­ingly too, you need to be level 40 to head across the wa­ter to the Si­nai Re­gion if you don’t fancy your next trip into a tomb to be a very one-way af­fair. As some­one sit­ting at the level cap longer than I’d like to ad­mit, the in­crease to level 45 is wak­ing up on a Satur­day morn­ing when you’d for­got­ten what day it is lev­els of ex­cit­ing.

First blade

But what awaits in the beau­ti­ful Si­nai Re­gion apart from XP ac­tu­ally mean­ing some­thing for a while? Hon­estly? A lot more of what makes Ori­gins so ridicu­lously en­joy­able. More an­i­mal lairs, more ‘places to rest’, more en­emy en­camp­ments (this time led by some se­ri­ously ne­far­i­ous Ro­mans), more pa­pyri scrolls to solve, and more of the heart-filled quests that made last year’s ad­di­tion to the se­ries the best in the fran­chise so far. There’s even some bonus stone cir­cles to hunt down if you’ve missed stargaz­ing since find­ing the orig­i­nal 12. And the story still mat­ters too. There’s noth­ing here that dra­mat­i­cally rocks the As­sas­sin boat so to speak, but as I make my way through the cam­paign mis­sions, I’m hit by just how much I want to see the con­tin­u­a­tion of Bayek’s story. I need more of the birth of the As­sas­sin Brother­hoood, and a lot more of that frankly lu­di­crously in­tense re­la­tion­ship with Aya. This will be spoiler free for those who po­ten­tially haven’t fin­ished the main game, but there’s so much to tell here. This is a story that won’t be closed af­ter March’s Curse Of The

Pharaohs DLC. If the next As­sas­sin’s

Creed doesn’t clev­erly tap into the An­imus to con­tinue this era, I’ll eat my care­fully cu­rated collection of hid­den blades.

Thank­fully, it’s not all over once you’ve fin­ished the story cam­paign af­ter a few hours. The side quests of the Si­nai Re­gion are packed with leg­endary weapons and mounts. A camel called Gertha is a par­tic­u­lar high­light, and an en­joy­able light and mir­ror puzzle sets you up with an im­pres­sive set of dual swords for your trou­ble. There’s a beau­ti­ful sense of dis­cov­ery at work here. Si­nai isn’t quite as var­ied as the dan­ger­ously sprawl­ing Egypt but Arsi­noe Nome in the north is a fas­ci­nat­ing con­struc­tion site, while Ma­diama Nome in the south de­liv­ers im­pres­sive moun­tains and an end­less

desert. It would also be rude not to men­tion an idyllic look­ing trop­i­cal is­land with some dis­turbingly nasty se­crets hid­den just out of view. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about Anu­bis Is­land. Peo­ple are clearly just dy­ing to get there.

Gla­di­a­tor too

In­ter­sperse quest­ing with un­cov­er­ing the lo­ca­tions across the map and delv­ing into the Si­nai Re­gion feels par­tic­u­larly rich. The story cam­paign takes you past a Ro­man en­camp­ment called The Walls of the Ruler, a sprawl­ing moun­tain bar­racks packed with high level en­e­mies, trea­sure to loot, and an in­tim­i­dat­ing sky­line of zi­plines and bra­ziers. I ig­nore it on my first run past, but upon re­turn­ing to vac­uum up all the col­lectibles and get that pre­cious tick, it be­comes a per­fect play­ground that epit­o­mizes ev­ery­thing

As­sas­sin’s Creed has be­come. I sneak up to rooftops, pot-shot­ting en­emy skulls with my new Preda­tor bow, and set each bra­zier to stun those fool­ish enough to at­tempt to bring in re­in­force­ments. Two com­man­ders await slaugh­ter, as does a cap­tain, and there are six hid­den trea­sures to hunt across the camp. I’m sud­denly us­ing ev­ery tool at my dis­posal.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you about Anu­bis Is­land. Peo­ple are clearly just dy­ing to get there”

Sleep darts, war­rior bows, chain as­sas­si­na­tions. It’s not a good day for Rome, but a great day for Bayek of Siwa. I even take the chance to tick off the Zip it Off achieve­ment, as­sas­si­nat­ing three vic­tims from a zip line and try­ing not to holler ‘Are you not entertained?’ too loud to my empty flat. It’s re­as­sur­ing then to look at Ori­gins in 2018. The Hid­den Ones out now, The Curse Of The Pharaohs in March of­fer­ing myth­i­cal crea­tures to hunt across the new and even big­ger Val­ley of the Kings re­gion. The map al­ready teases a 10 level in­crease from 45 to 55, and I ex­pect Thebes will have plenty of new side quests and se­crets amongst the prob­a­bly not his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate mummy slaugh­ter. Be­tween this and the re­lease of As­sas­sin’s Creed Rogue Re­mas­tered in March, I wouldn’t be sur­prised if there’s no an­nounce­ment of a new As­sas­sin’s un­til early 2019. Ubi’s onto a win­ner a decade on and I get the feel­ing that it’s go­ing to want to give Ori­gins’ se­quel the love and care it de­serves to truly do it jus­tice. Dive into The Hid­den Ones now, though. Ev­ery­thing is per­mit­ted af­ter all. And once it’s done, there’s al­ways a flam­ing steed and a gi­ant cot­ton bud to try for.

above Quip­ping while guard killing is the true As­sas­sin way. Say ar­row to my lit­tle friend...

be­low The new area of Si­nai of­fers a new play­ground to ex­plore. Spoiler alert: there’s still a lot of sand.

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