Assassin’s Creed: Origins hit shelves six months ago with a bang. In the latest DLC (which is the largest to be released so far), we’re catching up with Bayek four years after the original game took place. The DLC has him heading to Thebes after being tipped off another piece of eden is in play.
The Creed formula had been refined, tweaked and given the time it needed to shine once again. Curse of the Pharaohs offers an old style expansion, the region of Thebes is filled with very similar fare to what was in the main game, without going overboard with needless open world padding. If you’ve played previous Ubisoft expansions it’s quite obvious the publisher has a preference when developing post release content and it comes across as a well oiled machine rather than an after thought.
Bayek’s quest through Thebes has you dip into the afterlife with four unique eternities to have a part time jaunt in. These are the areas that allow for some welcome variety in level and art design, along with the strongest storytelling. While Thebes is a direct extension of Origins, the afterlife environments each cater to differing play-styles without punishing too much for mixing it up. I must give you the unfortunate news, the afterlife contains giant scorpions. Nightmare fuel. Thankfully the other staples of Egyptian afterlife pop up more readily throughout Thebes and the afterlife, with mainly Anubis themed foot soldiers and the odd mummy here and there. Phylakes are swapped out for shadows and high level apparitions of those who rule the afterlife, all of which put up a better fight than your standard rank and file.
While the entire region of Thebes looks fantastic top to bottom, the real standouts of the DLC are the afterlife regions. The artists have been unleashed from their semi-realistic tether and each look absolutely breath taking. Rolling fields of grain, a low hanging sun over a water world and desolation landmarks are some of the twisted architecture awaiting you with each giving you more than enough reason to want to keep playing to see what’s next. Graphical glitches are very minimal and most textures look fantastic with the same high quality lighting and shadows we’ve seen before. If you liked how Origins looked you’ll love Curse.
The story of the curse that has befallen Thebes is fairly straight forward and predictable. Lots of talking, going to places and killing things. The writing is enjoyable enough, although the whole afterlife stuff is downplayed considering how Bayek can come and go as he pleases. Overall it’s very solid but missing the attempts at humanisation we had in Origins to connect more with Bayek as more than errand boy killing machine. I found the epilogue to be maddening considering the entire curse story is played straight but these were the only complaints as the justification for my holiday through these environments took a back seat to the fun of experiencing Ancient Egypt again. Included are a healthy amount of side missions that regularly delve into the more hilarious and quirky side of things as we saw in Origins. I definitely would have enjoyed some interaction with those from Bayek’s past and fellow Assassin’s as well.
When all was said and done I had spent about 15 or so hours in Thebes. A handful of new abilities are available with the level cap jump up to 55, none are particularly interesting but do give you even more of an edge during battle which makes sense given an extra 4 years of experience for Bayek as an assassin.
THE PS4 PRO VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
At the end of Curse of the Pharaohs, I was very happy to have spent another weekend in Bayek's world. Ubisoft have offered exactly what you loved about Origins plus some fun twists from the afterlife on the side.