So I’m back in the desert again, with a flaming sword in one hand and a piece of sharp metal grafted onto my wrist in the other. Oh, and my middle finger is missing. Ah yes, it’s Assassin’s Creed time again. But why am I back? I’ve killed Caesar (sorry for the spoiler), founded the Brotherhood and have travelled the seven seas. Well, now there is something supernatural afoot and all the buried pharaohs are appearing as mummies in city centres, slaughtering the public. You know who you’re going to call? Yep, it’s your faithful man Bayek of Siwa, back for one last roll of the dice.
I loved Assassin’s Creed Origins when it released in November 2017 and was rather fond of the first DLC add-on that followed. I’m still amazed at the Discovery walking tour and I’m sat here hoping that the next piece of new content for Origins – that of The Curse of the Pharoahs – can round off a very good six months for Ubisoft. Well, the answer is a big yes. Let me tell you why.
It’s good to back in the shoes of Bayek. More time has passed – around four years in fact – and you’re about to embark on a new area of the Origins map – the bustling city of Thebes, with loads of smaller settlements around it, whilst across the river is the Valley of the Kings with the temples of Luxor and Karnak. The spirits of the pharaohs are angry, coming into the real world because people keep stealing and abusing artifacts from their ancient tombs. So it’s up to you to find out the source of the problem and stop the dead rising. In a way, The Curse of the Pharaohs reminds me very much of the Undead DLC in Red Dead Redemption, where they just pulled the rug out from underneath this huge world they created.
This addition has some fantastic new locations that not only look superb, but bring some new architectural environments to the game design. But the biggest change is when our hero ventures into the afterlife in four different locations to battle the dead, discovering the intimate secrets they hold. These worlds that the development team have created are an amazing piece of game design, letting them leave the shackles of the “real” behind, to instead let their creative juices flow. We see giant scorpions, boats floating across fields, dog-faced guards, statue-faced birds and amazing landscapes straight out of a piece of surrealist art. There are four of these amazing afterlife worlds and each one ends with a big boss fight against the spirit of the pharaoh lording over the realm. These are rock hard and I found myself spending a lot of time learning their attacks and carefully planning out each move.
Every single one of the main missions included in The Curse of the Pharaohs is excellent with a great story once again pushing though. There is a whole load of variety included and they’ve managed to crank the difficulty up for the seasoned players amongst us. The level cap has also been raised to 55 and reaching this requires you to take in all the side missions as well, which in keeping with the rest of the DLC and main game are wonderfully designed, rather than just being added as filler. This whole expansion will take you into double figure hours to complete, which is good value for a chunk of extra goodness – but I don’t want to look at the hours I’ve thrown into this game since release because it’ll no doubt leave me feeling a little bit sick inside.
Ubisoft have once more done a sterling job with Pharaohs, and on the whole, there aren’t any major problems with the game. I did however dislike one mission that basically left me waiting around for a pharaoh to spawn; this got a bit boring especially when I had to keep repeating the mission. But apart from that, it’s very solid and excellent fun with the same high standards that we’ve all come to expect from a wonderful Assassin’s Creed title.
The game still looks stunning too, with the best use of light I’ve ever seen and the afterlife worlds look amazing with their surreal design; I particularly loved the armies of the dead crushed into the desert, masked by huge statues looking on in the Rameses world. The new temples are stunning too, with lush pools and a great level design.
The Curse of the Pharaohs rounds off a great Origins season pass with a big chunk of content. I loved this adventure and will mourn not going back to Egypt for a while. But for now, I will fondly remember all my adventures in the land of the pharaohs and will look forward to some free DLC with the fantasy battle challenges.
If you’re a fan of Origins then this package is a must buy.