Ubisoft is a master of creating historically accurate digital versions of famous cities and lands, and its depiction of Ancient Egypt might be its finest work yet. Assassin's Creed Origins' version of Egypt is almost overwhelmingly huge, providing players with detailed re-creations of everything from the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza to clothing styles and the patterns used on temple tiles. Players will feel like they're really in Ancient Egypt. And since much of this world was created with assistance from historians and Egyptologists, kids may even learn the same sorts of things about its people, religions, architecture, and customs that they would from a textbook or documentary. The level of historical authenticity is unmatched, and made all the more compelling by the stunning visual presentation that transforms landscapes into jaw-dropping panoramic vistas with living skies, sparkling water, sprawling cities, blowing sands, and lush vegetation. This is a game worth playing simply to explore and drink in its world.
It's fun to play, too, though the action and story are perhaps not quite as engaging as other entries in the series. The game's sheer enormity can keep its narrative from feeling tight and well paced, despite introducing us to some fantastic and memorable characters, most notably Bayek and his sly wife, Aya. Players will sometimes need to spend hours performing side quests -- a mixed bag of fetch quests and more interesting story-driven activities -- simply to level up so that they can take on the next primary mission. Combat, meanwhile, has been redesigned for better and worse. Using the right weapons for the right enemies is now absolutely necessary, which can make certain fight sequences much more strategic and rewarding. And planning out stealthy assaults on tough fortresses by using Bayek's eagle to identify enemies, entrances, and objectives is always fun. But there are also some frustrating elements, such as a difficult-to-master parrying system. And chasing down archers who nimbly run around while unloading arrow after arrow at Bayek can grow tiresome. These are far from deal-breakers, but they do remind us that the real reason to play Assassin's Creed Origins is to experience the scope and dazzling awe of its ancient world.