Assassin's Creed Origins - The Hidden Ones DLC Review: Addition, Not Innovation

Ubisoft expands on the story of Bayek of Siwa and his new Brotherhood.

There are a few ways you can categorize downloadable content for existing games. There's DLC that innovates, providing a new gameplay mechanic or perspective on the game's story. There's the "new coat of paint", taking the existing game and transplanting it to an entirely new environment. Finally, there's the "more of the same" version, where everything that comprised the main game is expanded and added upon. Assassin's Creed Origins' first downloadable content, The Hidden Ones, is very much the latter type of addition.

The Hidden Ones is a direct continuation of Assassin's Creed Origins' story, taking place four years later in the chronology. Bayek is now the Mentor of the Hidden Ones, the prototype of what will eventually become the Assassin Brotherhood. He gets a brand-new outfit that reflects that path, as does his former wife and current co-leader Aya, now Amunet.

The antagonist this time is General Rufio—I can't help but chant "Rufi-o, Rufi-o Rufi-OOOOO"—a Roman soldier who is attempting to undermine Cleopatra's current rule. Rufio is a member of the Order of the Ancients, the faction that will eventually become the Templars. He has taken over the Sinai region, using turncoats and sympathizers within the local population to clear out the Hidden Ones and the rebels they're working with. To take down Rufio, you have to work your way up the chain by killing his three lieutenants.

This is not that Rufio.

Bayek does experience a bit of moral quandary over the course of his new adventure. He's steadfast in his commitment to the idea that The Hidden Ones serve the people and their greater good, but questions whether the incidental costs of this ongoing fight are worth it. Amunet—more symbol than person at this point—and Rufio are at opposite ends of the spectrum; both are convinced the goal is worth the cost, even if their visions of that end goals are different. In one cutscene Bayek asks, "Have we done good?" only for Aya to easily reply "Yes." It illustrates his conflict with their creed and those who will die to achieve it. It's not impressive character work compared to the base game, but it does give Bayek (and players) something to think about.

Past the story, The Hidden Ones is just more Assassin's Creed Origins. It's not a seamless addition to the existing game: to account for the time difference, you jump back and forth between the game's main map and the Hidden Ones DLC map via a new Atlas. The DLC region of Sinai is akin to three of the smaller regions of Origins, with the Red Sea standing as a mostly empty fourth region. It's another 10 percent of so added onto the base game.

The major points of interest include the new city of Arsinoe, a quarry starting area, a massive fortress called the Walls of the Ruler, a larger desert to the south, and an extensive mountain range. Sinai is far more vertically-aligned that most of Origins' base map, meaning you'll spend more time climbing rock formations than you did before. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a new look to it. This is the same desert-rocks-oasis theme you've come to expect from most of Assassin's Creed Origins, without the more interesting marshes or lush greenery to break things up.

This feeling of sameness extends to the gameplay. The Hidden Ones has more Papyrus Puzzles, Treasure Locations, Animal Lairs, and Stone Circles to find. There are a couple of fortresses you can clear out, including one of the largest in the game to date. The roving Phylakes return here in the form of the Shadows of the Scarab, two roving bounty hunters that provide a marginally stronger challenge. The new side quests hold up, but there are no new enemies or animals to defeat in new and interesting ways.

You thought you were something, but I killed all the Phylakes too.

The level cap has been bumped up from 40 to 45, and Ubisoft seems to be more generous with experience and crafting materials like the rare Carbon Crystals. That means if you jump over to The Hidden Ones earlier, you'll level faster than you would in the base, though that would add some difficulty. You can blow the main story of The Hidden Ones in around 3 - 4 hours, while finishing off everything is closer to 10 - 12.

The Hidden Ones is an extra helping of Assassin's Creed Origins. It's not a new flavor or dessert, just another helping of the main course. If you've tackled Bayek's story in Origins and explored every nook and cranny, this will give you something new to do. I'm pretty deep into Assassin's Creed Origins, so more of the same was fine by me.

If you wanted something vastly different, like Assassin's Creed III's The Tyranny of King Washington or Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag's Freedom Cry, it looks like you'll be waiting until March and the release of The Curse of the Pharaohs. That will take Bayek to the Valley of the Kings, fighting against an undead army. Until then, The Hidden Ones will keep you occupied. This is solid stopgap DLC for something bigger, not an entirely new way to play Origins, so set your expectations accordingly.

Assassin's Creed Origins' first downloadable content, The Hidden Ones, takes players to a brand-new region and continues Bayek's story. If you were expecting something vastly new and different from this DLC, temper your expectations, as The Hidden Ones is just more of the same. More fortresses, more targets to kill, more Stone Circles, more treasure, and more levels. It's good enough for the price, but it lacks something new to make it really great.


Tagged with Ubisoft.

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