Assassin’s Creed Origins’ latest DLC will kick your arse

Hands-on with Assassin’s Creed Origins: Curse of the Pharaohs DLC shows that aggressive tactics will get you smashed.

Assassin’s Creed Origins’ latest DLC will kick your arse

Assassin’s Creed Origins is pretty damn great. It’s easily the best Assassin’s Creed since Black Flag, and I dare say it may just be the best Assassin’s Creed game. That’ll only likely change if Ubisoft announces it’s recreated Black Flag inside the Origins’ game engine. Please, Ubisoft: consider me already sold on this idea.

I used Assassin’s Creed Origins in 4K to benchmark my PC (around 40–50fps maxed out) and at 1440p (a constant 60fps maxed out), and it’s gorgeous. After sinking around 40 hours into the campaign over the holidays, and I still don’t feel like I’m close to finished (though I’m done with the main campaign), Ubisoft kindly sent me a code for the second lot of DLC. I deliberately avoided the first DLC because I hadn’t finished the campaign, but the allure of the Curse of the Pharaohs pitch was too much for this impatient gamer.

As a fan of the first two Brendan Fraser-led Mummy movies (yes, two; but don’t get me started on the third), there was no way I was going to pass up on playing a game about cursed mummies and putting them back into the ground. The trick is, as a lowly level 40 at the time I installed the DLC, I was obviously going to have an uphill battle against the level 45 (and that’s pretty low for where you want to be) enemies.

Content to grind (read: finish all the side stuff I hadn’t played in the campaign), it was only when I loaded up Assassin’s Creed Origins a second time that I noticed the option to bump my character to level 45. As it turns out, this was actually a relief given that post-rank 40 levelling takes a long time (not that I’d otherwise mind). Normally, choosing a gimme character-level bump would make me feel dirty, but it was offered in such an appealing way: my main save would be duplicated with this artificially upgraded level 45 Bayek and I’d be free to return to my old save.

It’s great because it meant I didn’t have to deliberately go out of my way to grind through higher-XP stuff just to arbitrarily hit level 45 to play the content. That said, even level 45 feels low, unless you’re some sort of godly warrior or know more about how the weapons work than I do. Granted, I’ve stuck with the same sword/spear combo for the last dozen or so hours (they give me health for every kill), and that works for me, so perhaps it was just a lack of versatility that led to my first humiliating defeat.

Early in the DLC, you’ll come up against a Pharaoh’s Shadow: a tough bastard who freezes and preys-on innocent NPCs. In fairness, this was a level 47 threat, but it still felt like a cheap fight. For instance, none of my heavier attacks appeared to stun the Shadow, which meant my best option was to pelt it with arrows from afar or use light attacks, then roll to avoid damage. Rinse and repeat. It didn’t make the fight as much fun as those tougher ones in the main game, and it didn’t help that the Shadows are apparently able to dodge my overpower attacks. You’ll come across plenty of them in the DLC.

Things get trickier still when you square off against groups of other mythological beasties. The new enemy units are great and all actually kinda terrifying, but that’s likely because of my lowly level 45 character. I spent most of my time playing the main path, but likely should have explored the side content to get my level up. Considering there’s a reported 10+ hours on the main path and the level cap has been raised to 55, there’s a sizeable amount of content on offer here. It just goes to show how much The Witcher 3 has been used as inspiration for Assassin’s Creed Origins (which is a very, very good thing).

I had to stop when I eventually came up against a level 50 boss who just shredded me. Like the Pharaoh’s Shadow, he was seemingly incapable of being flinched, plus he was tougher and less tolerant of my cheesy tactics. I’m sure I could have eventually won the fight or found another cheesy tactic to beat this boss, but it was clear that I should return to the DLC once I’ve organically reached an appropriate level.

Thankfully, outside of the punishing combat, there’s plenty to do, see, and explore in the Curse of the Pharaohs DLC. Thebes, the Valley of the Kings, and the glimpses into the pharaoh’s respective afterlives are all fantastic additions to a game whose core product is already teeming with content. While I found the fighting to be more frustrating than fun, I don’t think I’ll feel that way once I’ve organically ranked to level 45 (and beyond) and spent the coin on upgrading my preferred legendary weapons. What I’ve experienced of the story is so on point for this fan of ancient history that I’ll happily replay the handful of hours again once I’ve got my main Bayek to level 45.

Now, I just need to earn the right to fight some of these higher-level foes before I can confidently take the fight to the assortment of Anubis warriors (The Mummy Returns FTW!), giant scorpions, undead mummies, and other mythological beasts that are sure to haunt my nightmares.

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