I have long thought of the Assassin’s Creed series like fast food. Ubisoft Montreal tried to change that with Assassin’s Creed Origins by evolving the series’ tired gameplay loop with additions largely lifted from games like The Witcher 3 and Far Cry 3. But I am still mostly engaged with tasks which offer short-term satisfaction - filling progress bars, hoovering up treasures, and other quick fixes. It is comforting and pleasurable, certainly, but I cannot escape the feeling that I should probably be playing something else.
I feel precisely the same way about the action-RPG’s next DLC, The Curse of the Pharaohs, after spending two hours with it. It sees Bayek off to Thebes and the Valley of the Kings to unravel more ancient Egyptian mysteries. Leisurely as that sounds, it soon turns rotten, as pharaohs start rising from their resting places, and it is up to Bayek to kill ‘em dead all over again.
Here is how Assassin’s Creed Origins’ Discovery Tour shows the power of gaming can transcend entertainment.
At severals points in my time with this DLC, a notification warns me that one of these mischievous mummies has risen from its sarcophagus to terrorise the living. In gameplay terms, this is the only new thing about The Curse of the Pharaohs that I can detect. I am unsure what you get for dispatching one of these threats as, er, I did not successfully do so once. Before I could deliver the finishing blow, each grumpy mummy returned to the afterlife, either terrified or bored of me. I hope it was the former.