Assassin’s Creed Origins was a slow burn. The ancient Egyptian adventure didn’t grab me in its earliest scenes, didn’t immediately hook me with its stoic hero Bayek. It felt fine at first. Solid. But it also felt plain. I kept playing and grew to marvel at it.

Across some 100 hours of playtime I discovered its excellence in its scenic details, in its buried side stories and in its breathtaking scope. I found delight in the game’s hundreds of hidden, missable nooks and crannies. I found a virtual world as rewarding to explore as any I’d been in.

Throughout the months I played the game since it launched last October, I took hundreds of screenshots. What follows are some of my favorites.

Early on, I sought out the Sphinx, the better to make an important comparison:

Advertisement

I loved getting lost in the game’s storms...

And finding richly detailed hidden chambers...

Advertisement

I’m a sucker for a stunning vista...

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Origins mostly occurs above ground, but at times I could find beauty below water level...

Advertisement

The main quest in Origins is fine, but I had a better time—and spent far more time—exploring the game’s world off the main path. There I’d find all sort of unusual things, like a big white crocodile who’d fight by my side...

Advertisement

In the south, I found this procession...

Advertisement

Part of what’s stunning about Origins is how much its developers built and how subtly some very large creations exist to serve side activities. For example, the entire island here serves as the location for an easily-missed puzzle involving the location of a hidden object.

This valley with its odd little structures is also the bedrock of a puzzle involving the passing of the sun and the movement of shadows. I’d explored areas near this valley for hours before stumbling across this incredible place.

Advertisement

It’s cliche that massive open-world games made by hundreds of developers are full of odd visual details and unusual places. But it’s true.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

A note about the game’s many creatures.

The bird is cool.

Advertisement

I felt bad fighting elephants...

And lions...

Advertisement

But not so much the snakes...

Nor the undead...

Advertisement

Away from the main quest—and even away from the main sidequest—small pieces of writing tell some of Origins’ most interesting tales. Many describe tragedy and hint at the past of the game’s many still places.

Advertisement

An entire wrecked camp like this...

Advertisement

Might be explained by a note like this...

So much of this impressive game can be missed. So much was created that, to an adventuresome player, can feel like the discovery of a solitary adventurer. It’s an illusion, of course. Millions of people bought the game and trekked through it, though I wonder how many, say, discovered the impressive scenic variety of the game’s many tombs.

Advertisement

I do have a favorite area for sights and for quests. If you played the game and stopped short of unfogging the whole map, I’d urge you toward its northwest, to the Cyrene region, where a network of quests tell a virtually standalone multi-hour story of a group of people finding common cause to resist Roman occupation. There, too, are some surprises, like a girl ready to stand up against Bayek’s aggression.

Just know that as you explore this vast game, some things will seem out of place...

Advertisement

Some things, for better or worse, have probably been patched out by now...

Advertisement

And some things, some very remote things, may not always deliver the best weapon or shield or pile of loot. They’re nevertheless still worth seeing.

Few games I’ve played have given me more amazing sights to find. You just have to explore. Intrigued? I recommend you play, and I haven’t even shown the wildest looking parts of the game’s final expansion.

Advertisement

Update - 4:40pm: I’ve added screenshots from my final weeks playing the game, when I was exploring Origins’ Curse of the Pharaohs expansion:

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Kotaku Game Diary

Daily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.