A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Assassin's Creed Origins is a third-person historical action game set in a vast virtual re-creation of Ancient Egypt. Players take on the role of Bayek, a police officer on a mission to avenge his son; players also occasionally become his capable wife, Aya. Combat is brutal, with Bayek using swords, axes, spears, daggers, and bows and arrows to stab, slice, bludgeon, and shoot his enemies. Non-interactive narrative sequences can be even more intense, depicting Bayek assassinating victims in vicious hand-to-hand combat. Other adult content includes infrequent but strong language -- including "f--k" and "c--t" -- as well as a scene in which Bayek drinks to excess and another in which Cleopatra requests an opium pipe. There are also instances of nudity involving statues, paintings, and a brothel with topless women. Parents should be aware this game supports microtransactions, though most purchases are just shortcuts to get things players can earn within the game simply by playing.
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What's it about?
ASSASSIN'S CREED ORIGINS delves further back into the past than any previous Assassin's Creed game, transporting players to Ancient Egypt circa the time of Cleopatra. It also presents the series' biggest world yet, allowing players to explore the entirety of Egypt, from Alexandria and the Nile to sprawling deserts, Memphis, and the great pyramids. Players assume the roles of Bayek -- a sort of ancient police constable -- and (occasionally) his wife, Aya, both of whom begin the game consumed with thoughts of avenging their dead son. As the story progresses, they discover that his death was more than the work of just a few people, that there is a secret organization with more nefarious ambitions than they could have imagined. They also learn there's something even more mysterious at play, something they can't understand but that the women experiencing their memories via Abstergo's mobile Animus machine in the present are desperate to know. Play involves plenty of third-person combat against human enemies and exotic animals whose resources can be used for crafting, as well as time spent exploring the vast expanses of Egypt, running through cities, riding across the desert, and climbing ruins to unravel secrets, loot ancient tombs, and solve riddles and puzzles. All of these activities earn players experience and money, allowing Bayek to learn new skills, grow stronger, and equip better weapons and gear.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in the media. Assassin's Creed Origins is at times a brutally violent game. Does this enhance or detract from its story about family, political strategy, and ancient mystery?
Talk about microtransactions in games. Were you tempted to purchase any of the items available for sale? Is there a point to buying things that you can earn just by playing the game?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: October 27, 2017
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, History, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.