Assassin’s Creed Origins is an overwhelming game, full of upgrade trees and sidequests and all manner of optional stuff. It can be a lot to deal with. I’m here to help.
After finishing the story on PS4, I’ve restarted the game on PC and have been thinking about the things I wish I’d known before I started. Here’s a list of tips to keep in mind as you play.
Update 1/22/2018: This post originally ran on 10/27/2017. Since then, I’ve gone back and replayed the game in its entirety on PC. I took my own advice and slowed way down, taking my time and completing a ton more side content. Sixty hours later, I’ve seen far more of the game. I’ve added some new tips based on what I’ve learned.
Origins’ plot is dense and hard to keep track of, and it doesn’t hold your hand to the same degree as past games in the series. There’s a limited in-game directory to help identify your targets, but nothing like the detailed codex entries from earlier games in the series. The game provides no quick way to read up on the historical figures you might meet along your path. Before you play, I recommend reading a quick rundown of the period and region depicted in the game (Egypt at around 50 B.C.), in particular the story of Cleopatra. Her Wikipedia entry is as good a place to start as any.
Along those lines, it’s a good idea to turn on subtitles in this game. You’ll get translations for a lot of the Egyptian words the characters pepper into their English lines (you might start saying “Nek!” in everyday speech), and also helps with the many names you’ll need to keep straight.
This is the broadest, most important tip I can give. Take your time with this game. See everything there is in a given area. Climb all of the vantage points. Do every sidequest, and find every collectible. I barreled through Origins and while I liked the game just fine, I could tell I wasn’t having an optimal experience. Relax. The game isn’t going anywhere, and it’s best enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
One of Origins’ best features is its included photo mode, which you can activate by clicking both thumbsticks. Set up your favorite shots and they’ll be saved to the game’s servers and will appear in other players’ games. After the photo is saved, it’ll give you a HUD-free option you can screenshot for yourself. When you’re on the world map, look around for the photo icon and check out what other people are doing. People are already taking really good shots in the game, and photos can actually double as hints. If you see that someone has posted a photo in a remote location, chances are there’s something cool hidden there.
Because it’s an action-RPG, Origins places a much heavier emphasis on numbers than previous Assassin’s Creeds. The game expressly warns you off of missions involving enemies more than a couple levels above yours, but it’s possible to attempt missions that are at your level or even one or two above it. My advice: don’t do that. If you take your time, explore, and do sidequests, you should be leveling up fast enough that you can always stay a few levels above your current missions. That makes the game more fun on a number of levels, particularly because you’ll always be doing enough damage to have access to instant-kill bow shots and assassination abilities when sneaking.
Origins has a somewhat odd difficulty curve. On normal difficulty, high-level enemies are still really hard, but lower-level enemies can seem way too easy. I recommend experimenting with difficulty and level scaling to find a combination that fits for you. Level scaling will bring all lower-level enemies up to around your level, which gives a more consistent challenge across the game. I actually like playing on hard difficulty with level scaling on, but there are a few encounters that play better on normal. Fortunately, you can change the difficulty at any time without suffering any penalty or needing to reload. Find what works for you.
There are ton of unlockable skills in Origins, and it can be tough to know which ones will help the most. At the start, just grab all the first few single-point nodes in each of the three branches. Also be sure to get the abilities that let you equip a second bow and melee weapon. There are a few good abilities you should get as you get higher level, most of which come from the Hunter branch:
- Chain Assassination is extremely useful, as it lets you kill two guards without sounding an alarm.
- Enhanced Predator Bow is a ton of fun, since it turns your arrows into remote-control missiles that you can guide manually.
- XP Boost skills are good to get early on, since that’s where they’ll do the most good.
- Smoke Screen is useful if a fight is getting away from you.
- Overpower Combo lets you do waaaay more damage with an overpower attack, which you’ll need in boss fights.
- Overpower Chain Throw is useful when fighting a bunch of enemies, since it lets you quickly clear two from the field.
- Charge Heavy Attack is crucial when fighting enemies with a shield.
- Both auto-loot abilities will save you a lot of time.
- Enhanced Hunter Bow is also helpful in combat, since it lets you stagger onrushing shielded enemies.
- Eagle Harass is both useful and funny.
- Bow Fury is useful as long as the enemies you’re taking on are below your level.
Origins is a loot game, which (obviously?) means that you should loot everything. Every enemy base, every building you enter, every tomb—activate Bayek’s pulse ability with the D-pad and go mash Y next to everything that lights up. You’ll usually get a bit of money or a crafting item from each container you loot, and it adds up quickly. Most outposts have at least one lootable that gives you 200 drachma, which adds up fast.
Partway into the story, protagonist Bayek shaves his head and his beard. That’s kind of a bummer, since he looked pretty cool at the start of the game. If you want to toggle either his hair or his beard, you can do so in the “gear” menu by toggling the option next to his outfit.
Early in Origins you’ll find a kid marked with a blue camel icon. He’s the daily challenge vendor, and he sells boxes you can buy for in-game currency that reward you with a random powerful item. The boxes are inessential, but he also offers a limited-time quest that you should absolutely do. Most of those quests are straightforward and short, and each one rewards you with a powerful item.
When other players die in their game, sometimes Origins will show you where they died and give you the opportunity to “avenge” them by killing whoever or whatever took them down. A lot of times, these quests turn up in areas you just cleared out anyway, and by taking the quest you can get extra credit for dudes you already killed. In those cases, you’ll just be going back to some defeated enemy’s corpse and confirming the kill. Regardless of the circumstances, avenger quests are almost always easy to finish and give a nice XP bump.
It’s easy to just default to a standard sword and board in Origins, but there are actually some more enjoyable options, should you choose to try them. Dual blades are nice and fast, and scepters provide a quick attack with nice range. Mess around with everything until you find what you like.
Use your bow in combat.
Bayek can quickly whip out his bow in the middle of a fight and take down an enemy or two. If you aim for the head, it can actually be a much faster way of doing heavy damage to big enemies than engaging them in melee combat. Arrows are also helpful against bosses. So, don’t forget your bow.
There are four bow-types in Origins, and each one uses different ammo. If you’re in a fight and run out of ammo on the two bows you’ve got equipped, pause the game and switch to the other two and you’ll get a fresh supply of arrows. Because of that, it’s always a good idea to keep one of each bow-type on you at all times.
Flaming arrows do more damage than regular ones, so if you find yourself wanting to really burn some shit down, you can use any nearby fire source to light your arrow up. That applies to your torch, too, so if you need a flaming arrow on the move, light your torch, drop it, then aim your bow and put the tip of the arrow in the torch’s flame.
By default, Origins only turns on “stick” bow aim-assistance when you’re on a horse. However, you can turn it all the way on. It’ll be a matter of personal taste whether you like that, or think it makes the game too easy. Personally, I don’t really like free-aiming a bow with a thumbstick, and like playing on a higher difficulty but giving myself some aim-assist. Mess around with it and see what you like.
If you get knocked down in combat, dodge to get back up.
Sometimes Bayek will get knocked down in a fight. He’ll lie on his back, and you may just sit there, waiting for him to get back up on his own. He won’t—he’ll just lie there until the nearest enemy comes up and pounds on him. You have to manually hit the dodge button to get him up. Get used to that early, because it can be frustrating to get wasted by an enemy because you didn’t realize you could’ve gotten up and avoided them.
Bayek takes a lot of damage when jumping from a great height, but if you press the dodge button (square on PS4, X on Xbox), he’ll do a roll that mitigates a lot of that damage. Keep that in mind.
The game world is littered with arrow containers that you can quickly loot to completely fill up your arrows and other consumable items. Keep an eye out for those and refill at every opportunity. It’ll save you the time of having to go refill at a blacksmith before undertaking a new quest.
While you can pay a blacksmith to upgrade your individual weapons, you can also upgrade your armor. It’s crucial that you do so, because it helps you keep your damage output matched to the enemies you’re facing. Upgrading all of your gear requires you to farm some hunting grounds (more on hunting in a bit), but it’s worth it. And also kinda soothing.
Any time you have two of something, disassemble the weaker blue item. It’s not a bad idea to hang on to purple and especially gold gear, since you can pay a fee to the blacksmith to bring any of your items up to your current level. But you don’t need blue dupes. It may be tempting to sell your extra weapons at the store, but I suggest breaking them down instead. Over time you’ll accumulate enough crafting materials to upgrade your bracers, armor, quiver and hidden blade, which saves you the time of having to go hunt animals.
As you progress, you’ll accumulate a healthy collection of gold Legendary items. You won’t actually need to keep most purple rares around, aside from a few unique rares that are quest rewards. Once you reach that point, I recommend starting to sell off all your accumulated blues and purples, then using the money you make to upgrade your best Legendary gear.
By pressing down on the D-pad, you can sell all your generic “loot” items to the blacksmith. It’s easy to forget to do that, so… don’t forget to do that. It’s basically free money.
There are a couple of abilities that let you buy crafting materials from vendors, but it’s never worth it. Instead, go hunting using Senu to spot “high value” animals and couriers carrying the materials you need. Four pelts will cost you 360 Drachma, and that adds up. You can snag four pelts from a single lion in about 30 seconds.
When you decide to do some hunting (and you’ll need to, if you want to upgrade your gear), do it from horseback. Assuming you’ve upgraded your arrow capacity, you can really quickly ride down every animal that Senu identifies as high value—they’re the ones with icons over them in Senu-view. You can loot from horseback, and even pick up any arrows that hit. Same thing goes for guards who are carrying around iron and bronze; just shoot them off their horse, ride over them, and you can quickly snag whatever they were holding.
Bayek’s bird Senu is an integral part of the game’s overall design, and you should use her whenever possible. She’s good at scouting out enemy encampments, but also at locating things like Papyrus Puzzles and loot chest locations in temples and enemy compounds. The game makes it clear when Senu needs to locate a yellow quest objective, but less clear about how she can also locate white, optional collectables. When looking through Senu’s eyes, you’ll sometimes see a white ring begin to appear. Hone in on the object just like you would a yellow quest objective, and a treasure crate or other object will appear in your HUD.
When flying around as Senu, you can make her do a barrel roll by spinning the left thumbstick. Do this often.
By holding down the jump button while on a mount, you can set Bayek’s horse or camel to automatically follow a road to your destination. When you do that, pop out to Senu-view and fly along with Bayek from up above. It’s a relaxing way to travel and soak in the scenery, and the some of the best music in the game.
Each enemy fort can be “completed” by taking down its commander and looting a chest or two. Sometimes you’ll have an objective within an enemy base that doesn’t actually require finishing the base in order to progress the quest. My advice is, if you’re already in the base, take the time to finish it. That usually means taking down the base commander, possibly a captain, and looting whatever treasure boxes are hidden around. If you’re higher level than the base, it shouldn’t be hard to take down the commander and captain. Use Senu to spot the treasure locations, and those will be easy as well. You’ll get an XP bump from every outpost you complete, so get ‘em done. If you need a reminder of what objectives you have left, hold down the left thumbstick.
Once you get to Giza, you’ll begin to find tombs Bayek can explore. Each one has a tablet that gives you an ability point and some puzzles, and each one is based on a real-life tomb. As you explore each tomb, you’ll find glowing pieces of silica that you can collect. I won’t spoil what those are used for, but you’ll want to collect as many as possible to see every secret hidden in the game, and the biggest one will require 50 silica to unlock.
Two quests follow Bayek throughout most of his time in Egypt: Bayek’s Promise, which asks him to visit every stone circle in Egypt, and Phylakes’ Prey, which asks him to defeat ten high-level named enemies patrolling the map. Both quests are great, for different reasons. Bayek’s Promise shares some lovely small conversations between Bayek and his lost son Khemu, while also explaining each of the gods worshipped by the Egyptians you meet throughout the game. Phylakes’ Prey gives you a series of fun and challenging boss encounters (provided you don’t cheese them and fight them straight up). Both quests have satisfying narrative conclusions, and both give you a pretty cool Legendary outfit as a reward.
Take the time to do some Papyrus Riddles.
These are a nice change of pace from the sneaking and fighting in the rest of the game, and almost all of them take you to some interesting or beautiful place you otherwise wouldn’t have gone. When you’re in a town and see a papyrus location, use Senu to spot the location of the papyrus and pick it up. Then, when you’re between missions, go solve it.
Assassin’s Creed Origins has no mini-map, which is a welcome step for this kind of open world game. The HUD can still be a bit cluttered, however, so I suggest taking the time to mess with the HUD presets in the gameplay menu. You can’t tweak individual elements of the HUD, but there’s still probably a HUD setting that works best for you. And if you’re playing with “minimal” HUD, remember that you can use Senu to spot objectives, because his eagle view shows more HUD elements than Bayek’s view from the ground.
When you get to Giza, you’ll quickly see the famous Great Sphinx. Climb up onto its face and take a screenshot, of course. But also be sure to explore inside of it.
And that’s what I got. If you have any other tips, I hope you’ll share them in the comments.