When I reviewed Assassin’s Creed Origins last year I marveled at the game’s engaging world and how it brought Ancient Egypt to life with its side stories, characters, locations, animals and architecture. Since then we have received several updates, not only to fix various bugs but also add Discovery Mode (a virtual simulation that focuses on education and takes away combat) and The Hidden Ones DLC expansion. The latter has been viewed as a “safe” expansion, not offering much in the way of new content and serving largely as more of the same thing. Thankfully, The Curse of the Pharaohs changes up the story and introduces new ideas that properly expand on the original base game.
The Curse of the Pharaohs is set four years after the main game and sees Bayek travel to the city of Thebes in search of an Artefact. The Artefact in question appears to have been stolen from the tomb of an ancient pharaoh, causing spirits to randomly attack civilians and thus plague the land with the titular curse. Without revealing too much about the core story, the expansion explores Egyptian mythology and beliefs. Players will find themselves entering the Egyptian afterlife, seeking rest for the great Pharaohs while doing battle with their spirits, giant scorpions, human-faced birds and Anubis’s jackal army. It offers a new look at Egyptian culture and expands on the base game immensely.
It’s recommended that you play The Curse of the Pharaohs after completing the main campaign and have reached level 45. For players that can’t wait quite that long, you will have the option to boost Bayek’s level to 45 and start the DLC instantly. The game will create a new save slot if you choose to boost, and give you leveled up weapons and points that can be used to unlock Bayek’s abilities. Even if you’re still early in the main campaign it shouldn’t affect your play through as there’s an enemy scaling feature where the game adapts the difficulty of even the lower tier missions. The Curse of the Pharaohs is a self contained story as well, so spoilers are almost non-existent. It’s a smart move by Ubisoft since the optional boost means players aren’t alienated from reaching a certain completion point, and from a marketing perspective they’re still capturing the entire player base.
Primarily the DLC still sees Bayek running between locations to talk to NPCs or commit assassinations, but it enters unique territory through the Afterlife segments. At certain points Bayek will enter the tombs of the great Pharaohs and be able to warp to the mythical plains of Aru, Aten, Duat, and Heb Seb. In Aru you are greeted with golden fields and have to purify the offerings to Nefertiti. Aten is a beautiful city located just off the water’s edge and enshrouded by the light of the sun; the resting place of Akhenaten. Duat is a sort of dark and dangerous purgatory-like world where the spirit of the boy king Tutankhamun resides. And finally, Heb Seb is a harsh desert landscape where the disembodied spirit of Ramesses II must be restored. In these Afterlife worlds you will encounter the previously mentioned enemies. It’s clear great care and respect has been given to the DLC, taking into account religious beliefs and sensitivities. It’s also interesting to see Ubisoft’s take on these mythical locations, proving they are the wizards of creation.
In the “real world”, Thebes is an interesting locale in its own right. Offering places of worship, market stalls and villas to explore. The city happens to be directly across the Nile from the Valley of the Kings, where players can climb through the mountain ranges and explore the tombs of the ancient pharaohs. Even King Tutankhamun’s tomb has been littered with shiny gold trinkets, practically matching photographs of when the tomb was first unearthed in 1922. If you’re an Egyptian enthusiast, then The Curse of the Pharaohs will not disappoint.
It took me approximately eight hours to complete the DLC’s campaign, but there are plenty of additional side missions and other areas to explore. The level cap has also been increased to 55, and there are new weapons to obtain by defeating the Pharaohs’ spirits. The Curse of the Pharaohs is definitely meatier than The Hidden Ones, and offers enough new ideas that it feels like a natural progression of the main game. It does of course share the same grievances as well – namely frame rate drops and and the not quite perfected parkour system – but overall this is a wonderful treat for Assassin’s Creed Origins fans and should not be overlooked.
- Level Boost option means newer players aren't alienated - Brings new ideas and themes to the main game - Wonderful new locations to explore - A great amount of content
- Grievances from the main game (such as frame rate drops) still persist