The Hidden Ones is the first of two planned expansions that will be releasing this year, so does The Hidden Ones add anything new to justify its existence? Not really, but hopefully that won’t put you off reading the rest of this review.
Many people billed Assassins Creed: Origins a return to form for a series that had lost some/most of its appeal and charm. That isn’t accurate as Origins instead changed the form of the Assassins Creed formula. Origins was a transformation for the Assassins Creed series in a full blown action RPG. It was a welcome change and Origins was one of the highlights of last year. Ubisoft have been constantly updating the game as well as having some fun events in game, with a view to keep people playing. It has been an effective strategy so far.
The new area is quite bland aesthetically and that is disappointing, the majority of the area is taken up with tall pillars of red rocks
Expansion or Just Leftovers?
The Hidden Ones story takes place on the Sinai Peninsula 4 years after the end of the plot of Origins. Bayek is contacted by Tahiri, a member of the Assassin order, to appeal for his help. Members of the assassins and several villagers were killed during an attack by Roman soldiers that are currently occupying the area.
This is an unsurprising and ho-hum adventure
The Same Old Story
This is the beginning of a fairly unsurprising and ho-hum adventure where Bayek has to assassinate several lower level soldiers before finally going after Rufio, the big bad one, i.e. the plot of every Assassins Creed game since the start of the series.
There are side quests here, and the high bar for side quests set in Origins is maintained here. All of the side quests have some weight to them and any time the player decides to go speak to someone with an exclamation mark over them the player can rest assured that what follows will be a well written and well implemented side story that feels like it has a place in the larger setting.
Ubisoft’s game-worlds are always quite well designed, there are some spots here that look great.
The gameplay is the same high standard as the main game, fun, tactical combat, with a wonderful flow. There have been legendary weapons, outfits and mounts added to the game, nothing ground-breaking but still it’s appreciated. The level cap has been raised to 45, so there is some new challenge to be found here, but it is the same challenge that the player already experienced in Origins.
The new area is quite bland aesthetically and that is disappointing, the majority of the area is taken up with tall pillars of red rocks. Certainly some players may enjoy it as this design does bring some verticality back into the gameplay. Since this is an Ubisoft game, and to give credit to them, their gameworlds are always quite well designed, there are some spots in the map that look great. Standouts are the enormous fort which is a lot of fun to infiltrate, and the pyramid and temple in the town to the north of the map that the occupying Roman forces are in the process of deconstructing.
Origins is a solid base to build upon, it’s just a shame Ubisoft didn’t build a bit higher
Some Bugs Are Present
Origins was a very stable game at launch, no detectable framerate drops, it never crashed at all in my almost 80 hour playthrough. There also weren’t a flurry of patches released in the weeks that followed which were the result of the developer frantically trying to patch the game into working. Because of this I was surprised when I encountered a few bugs and issues in the Hidden Ones, the game froze and crashed several times when I brought up the menu, a quest I had received to kill some bandits kept freezing and then warping me to the starting town, while the bandit camp appeared to change location several times. This is a game that is a lot of fun so the frustration never built to the point where I quit out of it, but it was a part of my experience that bears mentioning.
More To Come
There really isn’t that much more to say about The Hidden Ones, Origins is a solid base to build upon, it’s just a shame Ubisoft didn’t build a bit higher. This is advertised as the smaller of the two expansions so the safe prediction is that The Curse of the Pharaohs will add a lot more to Origins. From the newly added atlas feature in the world map the player can already see that the level cap will be raising again to 55, or the new expansion will just be more of the same, but that still isn’t a bad thing.