Following on from the enjoyable, if a little boring The Hidden Ones, Curse of the Pharaohs is Assassin's Creed Origins' second expansion, and it's a lot more ambitious. Once again, protagonist Bayek -- now getting on in years -- is informed of ill happenings off in a different part of Egypt. This time, he's journeying East to a region that's home to the Valley of Kings -- a burial site where many of the nation's most prominent rulers were laid to rest.
In a not-so-historically-accurate twist, four of these pharaohs have risen from their graves and are causing havoc throughout the area, slaughtering townsfolk and giving bandits, overzealous soldiers, and corrupt officials an opportunity to carry out their dastardly plans. Basically, everything's gone to sh*t, and Bayek's going to have to clean up the mess.
If the premise sounds mental, that's because it is. Curse of the Pharaohs almost reaches Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare levels of insanity, with the expansion barely acknowledging the fact that what's happening is completely crazy. The experience is all the better for it, though. For the first time in Assassin's Creed's history, it feels like the developers have been given free reign, allowing for some of the most imaginative design that the series has ever seen.
This is where the expansion's afterlife areas enter the equation. The pharaohs may be causing chaos in the physical world, but in order to fully put a stop to them, Bayek has to journey beyond death. The soul of each awakened ruler resides within their own plane of the afterlife -- whole new locations that are roughly the size of an entire city from past Assassin's Creed titles. Needless to say, this is a pretty big slice of downloadable content.
Each afterlife has its own visual quirk, and they're all a joy to explore. From the golden fields of Nefertiti's realm that seem to stretch on into eternity, to the harsh, ruined deserts of Ramesses the Great, these locations are glorious to behold. As is the case with the main game's recreation of Egypt, the environmental detail on display is often stunning, and combined with some superb art direction, these maps are easily the highlight of an already solid expansion.
That said, Curse of the Pharaohs is still more than happy to stick with Origins' core gameplay blueprint. As accomplished as its main gameplay loop may be, those looking for something fresh on a fundamental level might be left disappointed. You'll still be clearing enemy camps, looting treasure locations, hunting boss animals, and completing side quests, all while following a somewhat disjointed story. You don't try to fix what isn't broken, but outside of the afterlife, proceedings can certainly feel a little stale.
Fortunately, there's a lot of powerful loot up for grabs. Each pharaoh comes with their own unique legendary weapon that drops when they're defeated for good, and several side quests reward you with top tier gear. And honestly, you might need the help. There are some really great boss fights to get stuck into throughout the expansion, and finding the best way to approach them can be tricky at times. But of course, that just makes victory all the sweeter.
Assassin's Creed Origins: Curse of the Pharaohs is a great expansion that does a fantastic job of bringing ancient Egypt's spiritual side to life. Channelling the creativity of a clearly talented team, the DLC breaks the series' historical shackles and provides a memorable adventure packed with cool boss encounters. Curse of the Pharaohs is right up there with the best that Ubisoft's franchise has to offer.
If anyone has any questions about the expansion feel free to ask. Just @ me.
@ShogunRok just started this last night, the first undead thing that spawned took a hell of a beating, my question is, approximately how long is this dlc and is it worth clearing all the areas or just doing the quests
@Dankestdankz It took me around 10-15 hours to see out the story and complete most of the locations. Not too short but doesn't outstay its welcome either.
As for clearing areas, it depends. You could definitely just run through the story, doing the odd side quest here and there, and you'd have a blast. Could always come back to unfinished areas after you've finished the main quests since the loot you find will be better scaled to your level (the new cap is 55).
I do have a question about the season pass.
Curse of the Pharaohs is £15.99, and The Hidden Ones is £8.99.
Season Pass is £32.99, but the only extras I can see is a couple of costume packs and 500 Helix credits?!?!
Seems to me the season pass isn't worth it in this case, do you know if there's more coming?
@Futureshark the educational version where gonads are covered by canabis leaves?
@Futureshark Ubisoft did say it has "more to share" this year, but it's unclear whether that has anything to do with more DLC in particular. I would assume that this is the end of the season pass content, though. I can't see them doing another expansion for it.
@ShogunRok were there new skills added?
@ellsworth004 Yeah, a handful, all of which are pretty useful. One restores your health when you use an overpower attack, for example. There are bow and arrow ones, too, which add extra effects depending on which type of bow you're using.
@ShogunRok sounds good thanks. I already have season pass, just need to redownload game. Guess I'll have to delete something to make room. 1 tb is not cutting it, I need a external hd.
10-15 hours? That's great, I think I've played plenty of $60 that were shorter. Looking forward to this. I liked The Hidden Ones but it was a bit on the shorter side.
Just finished the main campaign and the hidden ones DLC and burnt out a little so taking a break before starting on this one. Good to see such a positive review though.
@ShogunRok Interesting dlc and the review made me consider it more!
Are there new horses like Undead Nightmares?
@AFCC As far as I know there's one new legendary horse, and it's pretty cool.
@ShogunRok Good enough! Thanks
Btw... can you use dlc stuff in the base game?
@AFCC Yeah you can take all the stuff you earn in the DLC and go anywhere in the game with it. The expansion is obviously high level, though, so chances are that you're going to be playing it after finishing the main game anyway. If you wanted to use all the new equipment in the main story you could always do New Game +, too.
Thank goodness it was a lot better than the awful Hidden Ones DLC.
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