March 22, 2018

Assassin's Creed Origins: Curse of the Pharaohs - Review

When Assassin’s Creed Origins first released, it did a great job of capturing the essence of Egypt, but if you ask most people what they think of when they think of the country, mummy’s, gods and curses are likely at the top of the list, alongside pyramids of course and now with the Curse of the Pharaohs DLC, we finally get a chance to delve into the myths of Ancient Egypt.

The story starts off with Aya telling Bayek, about Thebes and how people are being terrorised by a curse, the old gods are coming back to life, hunting down the people in the streets and killing them. As soon as Bayek arrives, a shadow appears and starts to kill; Upon defeating it, Bayek begins to learn just what is going on and seeks to stop it. While the people believe it to be a curse, Bayek believes it to be an artefact, like the one he took from Flavius and he begins to hunt it down. A few people in Thebes seek to mislead him, with false promises, but a few of the citizens are honestly willing to help out, in order to see the curse lifted and the people saved. The new characters are interesting, at least some of them and there are a few more that could be considered better than the main quest ones.

The city of Thebes is fun to explore, the Temple of Karnak is vast and dots the skyline from almost every view point you can find, but while its nice, the city itself ends up feeling like just another city from the main game. However; once you step into the afterlife, which is something you do, things look and feel remarkably different, from the reed swept fields in Aaru or the Duat itself, they feel mystical in almost every aspect. Visiting Akhenaten was one of the ones I liked the best, purely because it was a multi-layered space, full of underwater environments to discover, but it also had some very interesting quests to partake and some wicked cool things to fight. At the end of each afterlife section, you end up fighting the god of that location and while each has a distinct fighting style, meaning you need to adapt, the result is the completion of a quest, yes, but more importantly, their weapon.

One part of the DLC that I did not like was how quests themselves were broken down, in the main game, if you were taking part in a quest that required you to visit multiple locations, then your map was dotted with icons to show where they were. Here however, if you need to collect three idols for someone, which you do, it lists each idol location as a separate quest, meaning you need to keep going into the menu to activate the next section of the quest. If this was a one-time thing, it would only be annoying, but as it happens all the time, its quite frustrating and makes you wonder, why the change. Thankfully, that is really the only change to how the quests are handled, for the rest, it’s just like the main game, so you don’t need to fret at all. For the rest of the experience, its just more of the same from the main game, which is a wonderful thing as that was done quite well, there are some issues of random people appearing I noticed, but they are few and far between. The addition of the Pharaohs Shadows and even the Anubis warriors help keep things fresh, because you never really know when danger might just appear.

The DLC look great as well, the new areas feel similar to those you will know from the main game, but also feel unique, The Valley of Kings especially, but the world feels great across the board. As I mentioned before, the character designs are better for some, while the general populous is based on the same basic look. The sound, especially when you enter the afterlife sections, is incredible, voices appear as chants, music has a deeper feeling to it, it just resonates more, thanks to the matching visuals. There are a few hiccups again, with sync between cutscenes and the audio contained with-in, but you will either accept them and move on or ignore them now.

The Curse of the Pharaohs is a great expansion to an already great game, while the addition of the gods and afterlife add some variety to the game, it still feels much like the experience released last year. What I wish more than anything though, was that the game leaned into the myths a little more, but sadly a foot must be kept in the real world it seems.

Review code provided by Ubisoft

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