In my review of Assassin’s Creed Origins, I praised many things. I mentioned that for me, this was the best Assassin’s game since Black Flag and how the additional year in development worked wonders for the amount of quality content. I also must mention the post-release support of the game which I absolutely love. Constant updates with meaningful additions, new quests, events and gear that made me come back to it even after 100+ hours of game time. Now an expansion has been released and it brings more of that + the continuation of Bayek’s story. So let’s dive right into it.
STORY & GAMEPLAY
The main game was a classic revenge story. Bayek, as the country’s protector, was already sensitive to social injustice when the game began, but events of the game took that to a whole new level and it basically ended with the foundation of what will one day become the assassin’s brotherhood. In the expansion, we pick up with Bayek, 6 years after the events of the base game – all suited up in an outfit that’s more in line with the classic assassin white as the leader of the titular hidden ones going to a new region, Sinay to eradicate the ruthless Roman rule that’s using the inhabitants as slaves.
The Romans here serve more as a necessary antagonist while the real star of the show is the brotherhood itself and as with most of the final act of the base game, it’s great seeing events that inspired some of the later traditions and philosophies of the brotherhood we all know and love. It’s more of a story of assassin’s finding their identity as the introductory mission already raises questions about who do the assassins serve, what do they fight for and do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Most of these questions weigh heavy on Bayek despite his absolute determination in a sense that no matter the answer, he knows it all boils down to cutting off the head of the snake – which is the essence of every Assassin’s game thus far. He remains a solid protagonist and has plenty of badass moments with one, in particular, being the most awesome thing ever in an Assassin’s game.
The expansion follows the base game system of eliminating figureheads of the Roman regime in Synai. The few new characters are not particularly memorable but luckily Aya, Bayek’s wife, saves the day as she is a strong presence. I loved the few moments that showed how conflicted both of them are in placing the creed above their relationship. Overall, the story is good, and while it doesn’t offer many surprises it still manages to end on a surprisingly high note, even throwing in a Star Wars reference if you can believe that.
In terms of actual stuff to do – where previous titles had their expansions throw a curveball in the way the game is played or switched perspective, here, there are no new mechanics or skills. The level cap is increased to 45 only to accommodate facing higher level enemies that sprinkle the region. Speaking of which, Sinay is a compact region that visually doesn’t differ much from what you already saw in the base game. Side quests, however, benefit greatly from the reduced size as it doesn’t take a long trek or fast travel to get to your objective.
They become a bite-sized treat as you encounter some of them organically, without talking to an NPC first. It helps that most of them feel meaningful and tied into the story of the region as well as the assassin brotherhood. There is new gear as well as generous rewards of crystals to upgrade your existing gear to the new level cap. It will take you roughly 10 hours to finish the story and side quests which is more than enough for a $10 DLC in what is already a great game.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
As I said in my Origins review, the game looks absolutely stunning and this holds true in the expansion. While great visuals don’t make a game I found myself playing and enjoying the game more due to them. It’s a rare sort of situation where I never felt any sort of tedium or sense of hurry to finish a mission by using fast travel because of how pretty everything looked and felt. A sensation that previously only the likes of Witcher 3 could invoke in me. On the sound front, not much has changed. I would still commend the voice work of the main cast as it immersed me even further into the game despite it being historically inaccurate.
Hidden Ones expansion is more of the same in the best sense of the term as anyone who played and enjoyed Origins will welcome it with open arms. So to answer my question from the beginning of the review – No, it doesn’t offer anything new mechanically but it most certainly does story-wise. And when your base game provides an excellent foundation any excuse to go back is fine by me. Sure, it could have taken a few more bold steps but thanks to the transparent post-launch schedule we know that bold is the name of the second expansion which will take things in a more fantastical direction.
|+ Solid story continuation||– More of the same in terms of gameplay|
|+ Amazing visuals|
|+ Engaging side quests|