After the epic events closing the main game and the highly satisfying epilogue from The Hidden Ones, you’re not alone in doubting what more could Assassins Creed Origins deliver. Mere minutes have passed since Bayek & Amunet have resolved the issues in Sinai, yet instead of putting my hidden blade to rest I find myself immediately sailing to the glorious city of Thebes, a land plagued by murderous Pharaohs. It certainly doesn’t follow the otherwise serious and ‘factual’ inspiration behind the 60 hours already racked up behind me, however, this is exactly the kind of adventure I wanted Bayek to take from the very start; the opening quest is called ‘No Honour Among Thebes’ for God’s sake, this is already a little fun.
The Curse of the Pharaohs is the 2nd action packed expansion pack available right now for players yearning for a real challenge in Assassins Creed Origins. Opposed to The Hidden Ones that played more like an epilogue tacked onto the end of the story, Curse of the Pharaohs is more of a 12 hour long side quest that will take you down a very peculiar but hugely enjoyable (and challenging) rabbit hole. In easily the best story told within Origins, Bayek travels to Thebes to search for a recently discovered artefact, however upon docking it’s soon apparent that not all is well in the nation’s capital as the dead are walking the earth. It’s clear that the illusive artefact is somehow responsible for the country’s former rulers to wreak havoc on the sands, and as always it’s our job to clean up someone else’s mess. With brutal new enemies and gorgeous new landscapes playing alongside a highly creative and deep burrowing storyline, Curse of the Pharaohs certainly sounds like a dream for both avid and casual AC fanatics, so should you pick up that season pass and have another stab at conquering Egypt? A thousand times yes!
If, like me, you felt that Origins was the perfect telling of an Assassins Creed story set across 4 dozen hours of addictive, greatly immersive gameplay in a beautifully imagined world, then allow Curse of the Pharaohs to do exactly the same thing in only a quarter of the time. As soon as I arrived in Thebes I was in awe of its beauty, reminding me why I fell so madly in love with this game in the first place. You’d be wrong in thinking that everything looks the same here as it does in the main game, as Curse of the Pharaohs features the most beautiful, surreal and imaginative environments in the franchise’s history. From the gorgeous Thebes harbour, to the dark, perilous tombs in The Valley of Kings, Ubisoft have gone all out to make sure this additional sandy escapade is as different to the rest of Egypt as possible, and that’s before we’ve even visited the afterlife. As you progress through the main campaign you’ll delve into the magical resting places of the country’s most famous monarchs, each of which are simply stunning and truly unique to any place you’ve assassinated in before. Not only does Curse of the Pharaohs take Egypt’s most famed mythology to inspire its story, but also to bring to life the magical realms in which the deceased live on within, and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be more impressed with the franchise’s creative design again.
Unlike The Hidden Ones which continues and nicely wraps up Origins’ epic tale, Curse of the Pharoahs is more like a recently discovered short story that is more about Bayek rather than the Creed. Every quest within this DLC continues to paint a vivid tapestry for one of the best characters in the series to date, and although this adventure is a self contained one, it should not be missed despite it playing no considerable part in continuing the Assassin’s Creed arc. Bayek must travel through the land of the living and the land of the dead to appease the restful spirits of Egypt’s greatest leaders, who each in turn are rocking up to slaughter/punish the living until their treasure is returned. As soon as you step of the boat you encounter your first new enemy, a Pharaoh’s Shadow, the most challenging and deadly opponent so far, and right from the opening 60 seconds you know that this is a completely different animal. Eventually it comes to light that you must storm the tombs of former Pharaohs and defeat them on their evangelical home ground, which is really where this game steps up and mocks your naivety for thinking you’ll be untouchable at level 45; to put it simply, Assassins Creed plus Dark Souls equals Curse of the Pharaohs.
Unlike the previous expansion pack which set you against almost impenetrable fortresses containing more than prepared infantry, in Thebes it’s time to reassess your close combat choices as the Pharaoh’s ain’t messing around. Each Pharaoh possesses a unique weapon of choice, attack pattern and gargantuan health bar that can’t be touched by mere button mashing, so learning from your mistakes, your deaths and upgrading the correct gear will gradually make that 10-20 minute slobberknocker whizz by. This ramped up and unique-to-the-series gameplay truly transcends this content miles above any expansion that has hit the franchise thus far, regardless of the fact that it’s longer than most single player campaigns currently residing on this generation of console.
Curse of the Pharaohs is simply the most surreal, challenging and immersive chapter in the Assassins Creed franchise, making it an absolute must have for anyone with even the slightest bit of interest in it. Whether it’s the thrills or the sheer beauty on offer here, nothing in the base game or series thus far even compares to what you’ll encounter in Thebes, so appease the shadows and empty your wallets immediately FOR YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!