Assassin’s Creed Origins kicks things off slowly. The pace may in fact put you off – but stick with it – by the time the ending climaxes you will be more than satisfied with the story of how it all began.

For most of the game you step into the sandals of Bayek, a Medjay who treads a road of revenge alongside his wife, Aya, who you also have the opportunity to play as – albeit it only for a short while. Bayek is already well versed in the art of combat and the majority of Origin’s conflict is brutish – reflecting the lack of an established Creed and discipline. While you can sneak about, the mechanics of combat favour open combat rather than the finer finesse of assassination.

The combat has seen a huge overhaul, which has been simplified to two melee attacks with dodge, block and parry – mostly you will step in and out of strikes, picking your strikes, while dodging the heavy attacks. An adrenaline bar also fills during combat, allowing you to pull off an overpowered strike. It took a while to grasp the new system, but once I mixed things up with the various bows in Bayek’s arsenal, I began to go head first into combat without so much as a care for a stealth approach.

Ascending and descending has also been tweaked to create a Parkour system that is the easiest it’s ever been. No more clumsy moves. No uncomfortable moments where you flail around trying to grab the next outcrop. Bayek seems to be able to traverse and climb just about anything.

The land of Egypt is huge and with the help of your trusty camel and eagle, Senu – who is essentially your own personal UAV – the sands of Egypt are easily navigated, especially when using the auto routing ability of the camel, allowing you to sit back to take in the sights and boy does Origins look good. Canyons, ruins, Oasis, the desert and the many cities of Egypt look stunning and have been expertly crafted.

I did find the populated areas to be a little thin on the ground, lacking crowds or the impression they are lived in, but the land is teeming with wildlife, flocks of birds fly up from fields and packs of animals roam about – and for those that know me – the crocodiles weren’t something I was happy dealing with! What works beautifully is how animal and man exist in unison, colliding at odd moments. Largely these seem unscripted and instead dependent on whether a patrol or unhappy group of hippos happens upon one another.

While there are several nods to Assassin’s Creed lore woven into the story – including why the ring finger was removed and how the logo was established – there is a real lack of lore and a deeper story of its creation. It takes somewhat of a backseat until the final throws of the game. I was however, extremely satisfied by the story of the creation of the Assassin’s Creed; I just wanted more of it and the opportunity to part of the first group of assassins.

Something I was very happy to see was the beginnings of a new modern day story that was actually interesting… but I won’t say more on that matter, only that I’m excited for what could come next.

There is so much to love about Assassins Creed Origins, including some excellent camel back combat and a skill tree that allows more crafted character traits. Even the loot system is great and while far from that of Destiny, it offers a level of searching out better weapon stats, rarity and traits that will help you on your mission to rid Egypt of its tyrants.

There is no escaping the nature of Assassin’s Creed’s mission structure and side questing but now they all play out as one huge quest – think Witcher 3 – allowing you to dip in and out of them as you complete each part. Origins takes all the best bits from the series to date and created a world that Ezio would be proud of, with a story that falls just short of the heights of AC2 and brotherhood. This is in part due to how well the time period is integrated into the story.

Egypt’s political and social situation is entwined with the story, and how the Creed is shaped around it. Recent titles in the series may have had a periodic theme, but that theme was just a backdrop, a fun playground to romp about in. Egypt plays a stronger role, one as important to the game as the main characters.

Origins gets off to a slow start, it had me questioning the design choices, especially with combat and the lack of direction towards establishing the Assassin’s Creed – or so I thought – Origins is in fact perfectly paced, which becomes apparent during the final quarter of the main story, all previous ill feelings I had vanished and was replaced with an excitement for what the future holds for the series.

The world Ubisoft have created in Origins is a masterpiece and one I’m looking forward to immersing myself in further by mopping up all side missions, exploring each corner of the huge map and exploring the many tombs that remain hidden under the sand.

It’s been a while since Ubisoft have stuck with the same characters – both in the modern day and in the Animus – and I hope that we get to delve further into the lives of Bayek and Aya, and explore further into how they created the Assassin’s Creed.

Thanks to Ubisoft & Xbox for supporting TiX