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    Sorrosyss's Avatar Senior Member
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    Access The Animus - The Origins DLC Review + Where to next?

    Warning: Spoilers from the DLCs, main game and across the franchise

    Assassin's Creed Origins has had a series of downloadable content since its release in October 2017. With its release schedule now completed, let us take a look at some of this content, as we break down what worked and what did not.


    The Positive Aspects

    The Hidden Ones



    As one of the narrative expansions, The Hidden Ones picks up things several years after the main game. Fortunately, the story does a good job of introducing the ideals behind the tenets of what will become the Creed. We see the “Brotherhood” becoming threatened through over exposure of its activities, forcing the Hidden Ones to try and reduce attention to themselves. The desire to protect innocents above their call to duty is a vital and noble lesson to be learned as well. “Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent.”

    Sinai as an area is quite mountainous, and as a result the terrain in this DLC feels a little samey in terms of visual variety. However, Bayek and Amunet's new outfits look fantastic here, I was a huge fan of both and especially the latter's as she finally starts to take on a proper Assassin like appearance with a similar look to that shown in her statue of Assassin's Creed 2. Their voice actors (Abubakar Salim and Alix Wilton Regan) again both put in really amazing performances, and their final scene together was simply amazing – touching, heartbreaking, and completely appropriate.



    As with the base game, we do not really get much of a backstory to our villains here, but Rufio is at least memorable. It is nice to see that the Order of the Ancients continues to grow though, and we got some amazing Duat cutscenes once again.

    Whilst it is short, running to only a few hours of main story, the ending does fix a number of narrative issues I had with the depiction of the Hidden Ones in the base game. The revelations that lead to the forming of the tenets make much more sense here, as we see how exploiting innocents publically for a cause can be just as dangerous as the pursuit for freedom – especially with the attention it brings. The final scenes seems such a natural fit that it has lead to some cynical fans suggesting that this DLC is in fact the truncated last act of the original game – simply removed and repurposed for additional funds.

    As a final note, it was a great shame that we did not get to play as Amunet in any way here. She could easily have been able to run an infiltration mission for when she had to rescue Bayek, so that feels a bit of a missed opportunity.


    The Curse of the Pharaohs



    As with the Tyranny of King Washington before it, this DLC focuses heavily on mystical elements. I personally love when Assassin's Creed tries to break out of its comfort zone, and looks at its more crazy aspects. Undead Pharaohs certainly come under that category! It is nice that they tried to make each of them into proper boss battles, and visually they were quite impressive.

    The most notable standout moments of the DLC though is where Bayek journeys into varied beautiful depictions of the Egyptian Afterlife. Aaru and Aten in particular are simply stunning, and make for some amazing screenshot material. These areas are steeped with Egyptian lore and mythology, and it is genuinely interesting to read some of the back story to some of the Pharaohs lives and the gods that they worship.

    The real question though is; did Bayek actually travel to the afterlife? By his own admission he states that he thinks it was all a dream. I find it interesting too that the doorways to the afterlives give off the same pulsing sound effects as the Trial of the Gods – which are an acknowledged glitch in the Animus. One could assume that this is the case for Bayek's dreams, but then a certain NPC (Besa) states that he witnessed these events from within his prophetic dreams. So... it is deliberately open to personal interpretation I suppose?



    The Apple certainly showed Bayek visions, such as when it is revealed that the Anubis soldiers are simply altered images of ordinary guards. It would not be too much of a stretch for an entire vision to have been generated in proximity – as indeed similar to what we saw in Tyranny. My take on it is this; with the Animus struggling to display what it is seeing (hence the glitch sound effects), the afterlives may well possibly have been a glimpse into the digital paradise that is The Grey. There is a very clear visual similarity between the gateways shown here and those from the Lost Archive DLC of Revelations, which you will remember were in the digital realm. In my mind, it is the only in-lore explanation if we do not want to accept the more mystical possibilities.

    But what of the ending? Yes, it was abrupt and ridiculously naïve of Bayek to hand away the Apple. What is worse, for those unaware if you journey to the Cobra Oasis in the Wadjet Desert after the final mission, you will find the body of Sutekh, with Bayek mentioning that the Apple is missing. Did someone take it? Who knows. And what does that mean for where Bayek goes next? More on that later.



    The Curse of the Pharaohs DLC is a really meaty proposition though, easily lasting over ten hours with a quite diverse amount of terrain and locations. This is certainly the largest narrative expansion for any Assassin's Creed game thus far, and I feel safe in saying it was probably the most enjoyable to date. Ubisoft Sofia did a fantastic job with it.


    Bug Fixes and Patching



    The stability of Assassin's Creed titles has been brought into question with previous titles, most notably with the unforgettable state that Unity released in 2014. It differs from player to player, but in my case Origins has been the most stable release since Revelations in 2011 – and this is after putting over 150 hours into the game.

    In part this is likely to the extended QA cycle that the title had in its extra year of development, but it should also be appreciated how frequent the bug fixes have been. Ubisoft have put out consistent patches since launch, and have responded to certain complaints in kind – such as the drop rate of Store Items within Reda's daily rewards and chests. I feel it is worth mentioning and appreciating this when you consider that other studios have been complacent enough to leave their broken released titles unpatched for months at a time.


    The Mixed Opinions

    Discovery Tour



    The Discovery Tour is a novel addition to the franchise. This is the first time we have had a dedicated separate educational mode, and it was created using the varied research they conducted in preparation for realising Ancient Egypt.

    On the face of it, you get quite a lot of content. Multiple different characters to fool around with. 75 different tours. And a nice reskin for Senu as a reward for completing all of the tours. In practice though, I found certain tours were far more interesting than others. Learning about mummification, and the daily lives of Egyptians was far more compelling than hearing about the dimensions of rooms and tunnels within the pyramids for me. That being said, your level of enjoyment will of course be down to an individual's interest within different aspects of history.

    In my case, I was not particularly enamoured with the way the tours are conducted. I mean yes, if you want to take your time and slow walk around them then of course some people will choose to do that. But in my case, I found myself muting the narrators and reading the text cards in a quarter of the time just so I was not standing around so much. In the end, how much different is that to simply reading a database entry? I will say again, this mode should not have replaced the traditional database system of older games, as its absence definitely lessens your main game experience.

    Whilst I could happily live without it, I cannot grumble too much. It was a free update for those who purchased the game, and for non-gamers there is definitely a tangible benefit in using it for educational purposes. For that we should credit Ubisoft for trying something different and with such a commendable purpose.


    Trial of the Gods



    Ah, the Trial of the Gods. These are weekly events where a glitch in the Animus allows for an Egyptian god to invade the game world as a boss battle.

    The battles against them feel quite novel at first. You are presented with a giant entity, that must be defeated by a combination of different abilities, but mostly through shooting them in the chest with a bow. Here is the kicker though, after defeating them a few times you realise that fundamentally the fights are all very similar mechanically. Dodge a cone attack, deal with a group of mobs, move out of an area of effect etc. It would have been nice if there had been a bit more variety to them, such as having to shoot at their hands or head, or perhaps even engaging in melee with them in some capacity. As they stand though after defeating them a few times, they do start to feel pretty boring.

    At least they appropriately reward you with a variety of items and outfits, but I fear Ubisoft will struggle to keep bringing back players to repeatedly kill these gods for the long term without some drastic changes.


    New Game Plus



    By their own admission, Ubisoft had not scoped for a New Game Plus mode, but specifically added one due to feedback from the fanbase – and thus they should be commended for doing so. For the most part, it has been well received by fans as being able to replay the story with your maximum level and best gear can be enticing.

    However, the reward for doing so has frustrated some fans, as it only becomes available to your new save rather than your original one. Considering certain items can be added across all saves, this is a little disappointing. Personally I would have liked some further changes. Some fans have speculated about allowing players to play as Aya, to create new and more difficult enemies throughout the world, or even a special different ending. Hopefully Ubisoft can ensure the scope is there for the next title, and perhaps make some improvements for what has been a popular addition to the game.


    Horde Mode



    There is not much that can really be said about this mode. I mean yes, it is a horde mode. It does what it is supposed to. When it initially released, it was supremely difficult to get any further than around the sixteenth wave, purely as enemies over scaled you in level to the point that they could one hit kill you. Now with the increased level cap, it goes even higher to around wave 38 before it becomes very difficult. If you enjoy this kind of mode, then the challenge is certainly there for you.

    I do feel the mode could really use far more variety than it offers though. In the Season Pass trailer they showed the mode interspersed with boss battles, and I honestly would have liked to have seen some of those thrown into the mix if only to keep it more interesting. There is also a complete lack of any tangible reward other than obtaining some XP and Drachma. To this end, I imagine most players will try it the once and never touch it again. In my case, only twice.


    Nitpicks of Negativity

    Meta Plot (Modern Day / Isu)



    Here we go again. The Modern Day section to the main game left many fans less than impressed, and there was a hope that the two DLCs might do something to alleviate the abrupt stall to Layla's story. But alas, the wait for the extraction helicopter has gotten to memeable levels of tragedy amongst the fanbase now.

    I mean yes, we do not have to have Modern Day connecting every single story. But for most fans it is definitely a preferred, as having that connection and narrative framing purpose makes things more acceptable to believe. As things stand, we now have a Layla who has not responded to seeing messages from the Isu mechanisms, but whom also travelled to not one, but four afterlives – yet she gets out of the Animus with absolutely no reaction to what she experienced whatsoever? Come on now, this is just lazy storytelling.

    The fate of Juno falling from the games to the comics has been a pretty scathing topic amongst the community, with many not happy with how her long standing story as the central antagonist has been dropped to prevent a narrative barrier to newcomers - despite the fact that we continue to use relics and Pieces of Eden with next to no context given to them in Origins. Egyptian gods continue to appear to be Isu, but any tangible connections are still left deliberately vague. It is frustrating as an Isu lore lover to see it come to this.

    I genuinely fear we are treading into dangerous territory with the overarching lore now. Are we saying that longer term fans should no longer get invested in storylines, if they are simply going to be dropped from game to game? Take for example the Empirical Truth messages of the base game. At Access The Animus we consider it to be one of the biggest lore changers in many years for the franchise. So fundamental in fact, that we have created multiple articles about it. Yet, the official Hachette magazine for Layla makes not a single mention of it throughout its 16 dedicated pages to the character. Have Ubisoft elected to drop this plot point already? I daresay a large portion of the sales of Origins were from existing fans rather than new, therefore this new found dedication to newcomers is troubling to say the least. As always, the Modern Day element sadly appears to be the main victim once again, and its complete absence in both DLCs is a sad testament to that fact.


    When A Season Pass Is Not



    It was raised in our main Origins review, but the cosmetic packs continue to frustrate. I mean yes, the Season Pass contains a fair portion of content, but fans quite rightly expect everything to be contained within it. Seeing pack after pack being released outside of the Pass has caused some distaste amongst the fanbase, but I feel the vast majority of that revolves around the pricing of them. Using UK pricing the Hidden Ones expansion is £7.99, which is a fair price honestly. But then you have the Horus pack for example at just shy of £6.00. Or worse, any of the standard outfits on the store at £4.00 each. Are we seriously saying a single outfit is worth the value of half of an expansion? The scaling is completely out of balance in my view.

    At one point I was at 450 Helix credits leaving me just 50 shy of purchasing something nice. But due to the silly amounts we can purchase, I was not prepared to have to purchase 500 credits just to fill the small shortfall. Why are there not smaller amounts available? Say, 100 for £1? I mean yes, they are likely deliberately set in those larger amounts to make players spend more than they have to, but in my case they lost out on the purchase due to the ratio.

    I understand the rationale behind microtransactions. I like that they can help support your favourite games. I understand why many people have a distaste for them. But in the end, setting items at a sensible price point value, and allowing gamers to have more control over how much they spend must surely be a win win situation here. For the next release, I sincerely hope that a Season Pass is literally that in name and covers all content released. Otherwise, let us please consider renaming it next time around.


    Closing / Where To Next?

    At time of writing, I have spent over 150 hours with Origins. Thanks to the varied DLCs, I can safely say that this release has had the most content of any in the Assassin's Creed franchise. Despite the niggles, I do actually recommend picking up the Season Pass, and experiencing the content for yourself as they are great additions to Bayek's story. Ubisoft should be proud of their post game content for this title, as it really is a vast improvement from previous titles, and hopefully paves the way in terms of expectations for future releases in the franchise.

    But where does Assassin's Creed go next? That is the question on everyone's mind. If we get a new protagonist, it could be potentially anywhere. There have been some suggestions already that is ultimately what we should expect. But what if we were to continue Bayek and Amunet's story though? Well, I closed out the main game review with the suggestion of Greece, namely due to the amount of architecture and terrain that could be repurposed, and recent rumours keep pushing in that direction. With Amunet's family being there, and the Rome storyline evidently being wrapped up in the comics, it does feel like a natural progression. However, there is another possible location, which comes to the forefront due to name drops in both expansions.

    It should be noted though that not all hints and teases actually lead to something in Assassin's Creed, and I am acutely aware of this after multiple fallen plot threads over the years of theorycrafting. There is even a strange code in Aaru that some fans have tried to translate, with suggestions it might refer to a specific date or location for where Layla needs to go next. Or it may simply have been left in by Ubisoft to toy with the minds of people like you and I. But I digress, the point is that sometimes it can be hit or miss with these things. Dead Kings went out of its way with Egypt hints though, so we can at least be open to the possibilities.

    The location that I am referring to in the case of this DLC is Judea. As with Greece, a lot of the texture work for Origins could certainly be reused due to the similarities in the terrain of the area. So what is the evidence for this possible future location? Well, The Keeper of Secrets (Besa) whom you rescue during the story of Curse of the Pharaohs is an interesting NPC similar to the Oracle of Apollo, and following the last mission of the expansion he reels off a series of prophetic dreams to Bayek. Some of these refer to various times and locations (including the moon), but the one that interests me the most is this one; “Men seeking wisdom, they hide in the temple of the tenth son of David. They will pit themselves against the Hidden Ones.” This is a clear reference to Solomon, the tenth son of David, as detailed in the Hebrew Bible. The Temple of Solomon was located in Judea, and famously featured in the opening scenes of the original Assassin's Creed game - but this is not the only reference.

    Within the Hidden Ones expansion, Bayek resolves a conflict with the son of the Scarab – Kawab, who eventually decides to join the Hidden Ones. He elects to travel to Judea to battle against King Herod, who famously rules from the very same Temple Mount. Finally, Bayek himself also mentions Judea as an area of interest to them in the closing cutscene to the expansion.



    “But wait, there's more!” Again, following the conclusion of the storyline of the second expansion, if you return to Tahemet's tent in the Necropolis of the Nobles, you will find a note left behind stating that she has journeyed to Canaan. This is the regional name of the greater area we know today as Israel, that which contains Judea. With the reference to an everlasting god, the parallels to Christ cannot be ignored, especially when the Keeper of Secrets makes a similar mention; “One will come from the land of the Gazelle. Two fathers born of earth and air. Like Osiris he will die and live again, enshrouded in ancients.” Is this where Bayek's journey will ultimately take him? Dealing with Herod, and awaiting the birth of Christ? By the time of his birth, Bayek would certainly be well into his 80s. He'd make a fun cameo as one of the Three Wise Men perhaps, especially if he carries a Piece of Eden to the baby Jesus as “gold”. It would certainly give some interesting context to Christ's powers in the Assassin's Creed universe anyway. Many fans have always assumed that Ubisoft would never touch the potential religious minefield of Christ's story, but I suppose anything is possible. “Everything is permitted.” Time will tell soon enough!


    Thank you for reading! For the full review, please visit; http://www.accesstheanimus.com/ACO_DLC_review.html

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    cawatrooper9's Avatar AC Forum Moderator
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    As always, a very thought provoking review! Agreed on most accounts, particularly that I wish we'd been able to play as Amunet for some of The Hidden Ones.

    Originally Posted by Sorrosyss Go to original post
    Is this where Bayek's journey will ultimately take him? Dealing with Herod, and awaiting the birth of Christ? By the time of his birth, Bayek would certainly be well into his 80s. He'd make a fun cameo as one of the Three Wise Men perhaps, especially if he carries a Piece of Eden to the baby Jesus as “gold”.


    Now that would be interesting! I think you're probably right that that particular "minefield" probably won't be probed any time soon.
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    Amazing. Our thoughts are on Par. I need to start posting my full reviews as well. It is always good to compare and contrast our ideas and then have constructive critiscm. But overall this is a well written, thought provoking, quality piece.
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    adventurewomen's Avatar Senior Member
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    This is my first post back here in a really long time.. but I have been playing AC Origins. I did enjoy the DLC. I think that Ubisoft should've shown Bayak's son in the field of reeds and Bayak and his son could have a conversation in the afterlife. That would've closed that loose end of Bayak's story and grief. Just my suggestion, I was hoping to see this happen but disappointed that it didn't.
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