Assassin's Creed Origins takes a dip into the RPG world and definitely makes a splash...
An effective RPG is hard to do. It's an oversaturated market, and you have to work hard to get your game to stand out among the crowd. This hard work can show itself in many ways - world design, combat mechanics, plot progression. No matter what, you have to find some way to be unique.
I have never been a huge fan of the Assassin's Creed franchise. I've played them, because they are important games for someone like me to play. And over the years, I've watched them fall from greatness. Now, it seems to be making a real comeback. It's gone away from it's stealth-action days of yore, instead taking on the mantle of an action RPG. Was this change seamless? Was it effective for the series? Does it stand up to other RPGs of it kind? Let's find out.
Ubisoft Montreal dropped the ball a bit in recent years with Assassin's Creed. Unity released with a crap-ton bugs and poor controls. Not to mention it's poorly-handled gender controversy. They improved with Syndicate; the controls were better, the characters were likable - but it didn't feel as good. There wasn't that magic there that existed in Assassin's Creed II and Black Flag. And I can say, to an extent, the magic is back with Origins.
First things first. It's open world is amazing. It is larger, and it is freer. It is definitely better than the open world aspects of the previous titles. You to do things at your own pace and explore to your hearts content. The world is vibrant and full of life, and I could go on and on and on about how great these parts of the game are. But there are also problems - Ubisoft tried to mix these new elements with the old, and it wasn't always successful.
In every open world game I play, I always start out doing every side quest I can. Side quest are the back bone of these games, and if they suck - the game sucks. It's that simple. It's part of the reason games like The Witcher 3 and Breath of the Wild worked so well. The side quests were relevant and fun - they enhanced the experience.
And Origins' side quests weren't the worst. What they gave me was good, but it wasn't the best. The quests have a weight to them, usually, and you do feel for the characters (due to both the writing and the voice acting, which are superb). Still, there is a certain false variety. The stories change, but you're always fighting guards/bandits and retrieving something and blah, blah, blah. I've been playing the game for a while now, and the formula hasn't changed. The story of the quests are still enjoyable and they have a lot of emotional weight. And that is enough to do the job.
Early on in the game, I rescued a drunk man from crocodiles. After I retrieved him, he told me a lovely, drunken monologue about how got himself in this debacle. Despite the quest being a standard search and rescue, I had a good time with it. Another quest involved me retrieving a Book of the Dead for an old man, so he could reconnect with his dead wife. It broke my heart, and it made me care. The characters attached to these quests are well done, and they do their job. This should be standard, but even large titles like Final Fantasy XV make the mistake of oversimplifying side quests.
When side quests don't work, the main plot makes up for it. You're the last Medjay (an Ancient Egyptian police officer-type), Bayek of Siwa, who is out for revenge. This quest eventually leads him to become a key player in a political counter-coup. Cleopatra is trying to take her kingdom back from her brother, Ptolemy XIII. The story is grand, as they tend to be in this franchise. From it, you learn the origins of the Brotherhood and the Knights Templar, and you get a sensationalized view of the politics of the time. Is it super historically accurate? Of course not, but this is a video game, so what do you expect?
Still, the moments of historical accuracy add a lot to the experience, Why? Ubisoft did the homework. The characters aren't whitewashed, for one thing. This is another nice change to the open world RPG genre, which is generally very white dominated. (I'm looking at you Witcher 3.) And, you get to learn about Egypt as you traverse it. I can't say how accurate the information is. I'm by no means an expert, but it sounds right. You don't walk out of the game with an expertise in all things Egypt, but you have some random trivia for parties!
When you aren't learning fun Egyptian facts, you're taking in the meticulously crafted world. Very few worlds manage to do it this well. Sometimes, worlds are too barren. Others have too much flash and not enough substance. This game had a good balance. I played on my Xbox One, so it wasn't as amazing as it could have been. The game still felt so alive. This is due to both design and its amazing AI system. The NPCs feel like people. The world reacts to itself in unexpected ways, and before you know, you immerse yourself.
Character-wise, Origins brings a lot to the table. As a protagonist, Bayek is a little too righteous at times, but he's also tender. He loves children and his smiles are genuine - which is often missing from RPG protags nowadays. He is a fun character, who has been through a lot, but lives his own life. Yes, he is out for revenge, but that hasn't morphed him into some careless, revenge machine. As much as revenge drives him, he still feels an obligation to his people.
His wife, Aya, is something to behold. She is capable, having already killed a man before we even meet her. She is Bayek's equal in every way. The second I saw her, I wanted to know more. She plays an instrumental role in the plot of the game, and at times, you even get the opportunity to play as her.
The only slip up I can think of is Cleopatra, which Colin Campbell covered in more detail over at Polygon. However, this is a common thing with the ancient pharaoh, and while it's awful - it's not surprising. If you want to read more about it, I would suggest the article above.
These elements are wonderful, but they don't make up for the clunky, familiar gameplay. Don't get it twisted, I do think that the combat system has improved. But, the action-RPG oriented melee system works only works well when you're fighting small groups. The ranged fighting was good - I don't have any problems with that. Most of the problems rear their ugly head when you throw in the fact that you're supposed to be stealthy.
I was expecting a lot more from the stealth in this game, and that was a mistake. They sacrificed more of the stealthier elements to provide more room for action. Usually, that's not a bad thing. In this case, when you're doing a game about stealthy assassins, it sucked. It got a point where I stopped stealthing altogether. You can hide, grapple, and attack from above. But the games new action oriented combat doesn't mesh well - it's better to go in guns blazing. Bottom line, it's clunky and inconsistent, and a real let down for a game about master assassins.
The skill tree was generic at best. It offered some cool abilities, but ultimately, it was nothing new. Still, it was a big step in the right direction for the series. No matter how familiar a skill tree may be - it works as an incentive. And some of the abilities are cool - although I still get annoyed that you have to use an ability point to sit and wait for time to pass.
So, was the change seamless? No, it was not. Origins is still trying to figure out what it wants to be, but that's okay. Was it effective for the series? 100%, even though it's not perfect, this is an amazing move in the right direction for Assassin's Creed. Does it stand up to other RPGs of it's kind? Yes and no. It's no The Witcher 3, but it's definitely on it's way there. It's better than Skyrim, but that's not hard to do. Origins is an amazing first step into a new RPG world, that I hope Ubisoft continues to go in.
- Assassin's Creed Origins - Wikipedia ›
- Assassin's Creed® Origins on Steam ›
- Assassin's Creed Origins: E3 2017 Gameplay Trailer [4K] | Ubisoft ... ›
- Assassin's Creed: Origins | Assassin's Creed Wiki | FANDOM ... ›
- Assassin's Creed Origins - IGN ›
- Assassin's Creed Origins For PS4, Xbox One, PC | GameStop ›
- Here's Why The 'Assassin's Creed: Origins' Season Pass Is Such A ... ›
Dante Basco Talks About His New Role on "Artificial" and the New Frontier of Interactive Storytelling
Basco talks about his upcoming project and his status as an Asian-American icon, Rufio in "Hook."
Now in its third season, Artificial, the first live scripted audience-interactive sci-fi series on Twitch, has invited actor Dante Basco to be a guest star.
The plot of Artificial focuses on the challenges and consequences of humanizing a self-aware AI —reminiscent of the film Ex Machina, but with the interactivity of the Netflix series Bandersnatch. The episode structure pivots between two different formats: world-building episodes where the audience coordinates with the showrunner to determine what will happen next, followed by story episodes where their decisions are brought to life. A real AI component called LifeScore also changes the music of the show in real time based on the mood of the chatroom, adding an additional layer of interactivity to the experience.
Basco has been a fan of Artificial creator and showrunner Bernie Su's work for several years, and he closely followed his previous projects like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved. Su was even featured as the keynote speaker at the February 2016 meeting of We Own the 8th, an arts collective founded by Basco to support and guide Asian American creatives. Both Basco and Su had been looking for an opportunity to collaborate for some time, but it wasn't until the pandemic that they finally got the chance to work together. When Su asked him if he would be interested in joining the third season—produced entirely remotely—Basco jumped at the opportunity.
The PlayStation 1 era of video games, lasting from 1995 until the PlayStation 2's release in 2000, was defined by its JRPGs.
Unlike most other genres of the era, Japanese role-playing games were largely story-based, weaving epic tales that proved video games could be more than just mindless diversions. Gameplay typically revolved around turn-based combat, relying more on tactics than hand-eye coordination. Due to their reliance on plot and menu-based mechanics, many JRPGs stand the test of time even after decades of graphical improvements. Let's take a look at nine of the best JRPGs that the PS1 had to offer.
Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 8, and Final Fantasy 9<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTUyOTk2M30.e05q_Fr-JXf46sYXCv2P0gzFJ_PPmuqSIaxHG3-5Akg/img.jpg?width=980" id="dfc99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a3f28c9c4dec7e8fea12d81237bdfb0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Final Fantasy 7" />
Square Enix<p>Let's just get the obvious out of the way first. <em>Final Fantasy 7</em>, <em>Final Fantasy 8</em>, and <em>Final Fantasy 9</em> rank amongst the most beloved games history. <em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/how-final-fantasy-vii-remake-redefines-what-a-remake-can-be-2645973706.html" target="_blank">Final Fantasy 7</a> </em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/how-final-fantasy-vii-remake-redefines-what-a-remake-can-be-2645973706.html">redefined what a video game could be for an entire generation of gamers</a>, while <em>Final Fantasy 8 </em>and <em>Final Fantasy 9</em> took big risks, shifting their game mechanics enough to feel completely distinct from every other game that came before them and overshadowing pretty much every other game on the PS1. If you like video games in general, all three of these are must-plays. If you've already played them, they most likely rank amongst your favorites already.</p>
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgxMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTcxMTEzMX0.RHOv48sXCc4tJrqp190WdWdOSybNaTCo-eds-zLpcxA/img.jpg?width=980" id="378f9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1932ee8092fe2272ca693bf8319991d4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Lunar 2 Eternal Blue" />
Entertainment Software<p>Featuring fantastic character designs, full-blown anime cutscenes, and one of the best soundtracks in any video game ever, <em>Lunar 2: Eternal Blue </em>easily deserves far more recognition than it gets. <em>Lunar 2</em>'s gameplay is classic RPG perfection, with each party members' play style feeling incredibly distinct (one of them is a gambler, and his best move hinges on a dice roll). It also had a <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Lunar-Eternal-Complete-Official-Strategy/dp/0966299337" target="_blank">gorgeous hardcover guidebook</a> that would run you a few hundred dollars if you were to buy it nowadays.</p>
The Legend of Dragoon<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgyMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTk1MzA5OH0.2mlVO0qY1KYgdCCqyl1zgkhgEsZ2OaMcKH1i9YF51cE/img.jpg?width=980" id="82d26" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e102d36c0b23d3d3321496d73a1153dd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Legend of Dragoon" />
Sony<p>Culturally eclipsed by the release of <em>Final Fantasy 8</em>, <em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/video-games-remakes-2646360023.html" target="_blank">Legend of Dragoon </a></em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/video-games-remakes-2646360023.html">never achieved the mainstream success of its contemporary</a>, but nevertheless picked up a cult following that sings the games praises even to this day. Alongside a great story, the best part about <em>Legend of Dragoon</em> was its Dragoon Transformation mechanic, whereby your characters could temporarily transform into legendary winged warriors with enhanced move-sets and powerful special attacks.</p>
Xenogears<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgyNy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0Mzk1NTUzOX0.VqokfSxeeZ_nAtZWXgJSAXwd3tdE0iPXv9wkPte92NQ/img.png?width=980" id="d95b8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="433b7414dcc9a4e392d26c5c0b4e8a45" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Xenogears" />
Square Enix<p><em>Xenogears </em>was the spiritual predecessor to the <em>Xenosaga </em>and <em>Xenoblade </em>games, meaning that it's all about two things: anime and robots. Okay, that's simplifying things a lot. In actuality, <em>Xenogears</em>' plot is amongst the deepest and most complex in any video game, even standing out amidst a genre that prioritizes storytelling. If you like great video game storytelling, there are few games that will ever even come close to <em>Xenogears</em>.<br></p>
Suikoden 2<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgzMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDc2OTMxMn0.Jfpuiv6GrqlYsj0O4QG-bAXgqhV7BjTM_LnlkilzbRw/img.jpg?width=980" id="d2c99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bd841af76e17ce0d8d2759209b61900f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Suikoden 2" />
Konami<p>While <em>Suikoden 2 </em>didn't make a huge splash upon its release, many JRPG fans retrospectively consider it the single-best title of its era. The <em>Suikoden </em>franchise's big gimmick is that, instead of having a roster of five to 10 playable characters, your character roster clocks in at 108. <em>Suikoden 2 </em>makes great use of the variation in its characters, resulting in a game that can be played over and over again in countless different ways. The old-school, 32-bit graphics, which worked against it at the time of its release, have also served to make <em>Suikoden 2</em> game look a lot better than its 3D contemporaries all these years later. As a side note, if you like <em>Suikoden</em>, be sure to check out the <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rabbitandbearstudios/eiyuden-chronicle-hundred-heroes/description" target="_blank">Kickstarter for its spiritual successor,</a> <em><a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rabbitandbearstudios/eiyuden-chronicle-hundred-heroes/description">Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes</a></em>.</p>
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgzNi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjg2MzY3M30.J7NW173dRiHByU2pR8CpIuzmV0Dp0EIAa5wY5jjft1g/img.png?width=980" id="fa0bd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9ec9fc90447cfff8b1dc940aabd48048" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Persona 2 eternal punishment" />
Atlus<p>Technically the third <em>Persona </em>title, <em>Persona 2: Eternal Punishment </em>is the sequel to <em>Persona 2: Innocent Sin</em>. <em></em><em>Eternal Punishment</em> improves upon its predecessor's unique gameplay mechanics, specifically the rumor-based system wherein rumors spread throughout the city, changing how your character interacts with other people. This would go on to heavily influence the mechanics of future <em>Persona </em>titles. And yet, unlike the later <em>Persona </em>games, <em>Eternal Punishment</em>'s deeply unsettling art style is still in the same vein of the series it spun off from—<a href="https://www.popdust.com/shin-megami-tensei-2646445668.html" target="_blank">Shin Megami Tensei</a>.<span></span></p>
Final Fantasy Tactics<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjg0NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzg4ODc0NH0.CHSi48sL_MHNXOGzLKXUAlgarEWmrTPfPr8d8PfUhMM/img.jpg?width=980" id="f0688" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4b36f1c1829d0676b59995068ba6a181" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Final Fantasy Tactics" />
Square Enix<p>While traditional JRPG combat relies solely on menu-based battle options, Tactical RPGs add on grid-based positioning wherein your units must move around a battlefield in order to confront opponents. These games also typically feature perma-death mechanics, so if a unit dies, they die forever. There have been plenty of great Tactical RPGs over the years, but none have surpassed <em>Final Fantasy Tactics</em>, which boasts an incredible story <em>and </em>the single-coolest unit in any game of its genre—<a href="https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Cidolfus_Orlandeau" target="_blank">Thunder God Cid</a>.<em></em></p>