It’s been around six months sine Assassin’s Creed Origins arrived and in that time, the game has proven itself to be one with legs. With Curse of the Pharaohs, the game’s latest and largest DLC expansion to date, Ubisoft looks to keep Bayek’s adventure rolling with a trip to Thebes.
Curse of the Pharaohs picks up some four years after the conclusion of the main campaign. After getting a hot tip that another Piece of Eden is being messed with in Thebes, Bayek beelines for the Grecian city with his usual hyper-masculine gusto. Your journey through Thebes has you dabbling in the afterlife itself, moving through four varied areas or “eternities.” These areas allow for a fresh look and feel for the game, taking you into settings like nothing from the main game at all. It’s a lot of little changes that, while not wildly different from what you encounter in the campaign, are altered just enough to feel a little fresher. Certain enemies, like Phylakes for instance, are traded for shadows and wraiths from the afterlife. It’s a lot of little changes like this. Also, from time to time, you will be attacked by a mummy like something straight out of a Scooby Doo cartoon, it’s pretty great.
The story itself isn’t necessarily any more robust than that of the original campaign — lots of fetch quest style hooks and talking to weirdos who can’t fend for themselves. It doesn’t go to the trouble the campaign did to give Bayek a more humanised character and arc to run through, preferring to fall back on Gruff And Bloody Bayek as a standby. It also seems rather reluctant to explain exactly how Bayek is free to come and go from the afterlife as he pleases. Instead it lampshades the entire set up and moves right along, whistling nonchalantly and hoping you wont notice. “Bayek doesn’t care, why should you?” the game argues.
It took me about 16 hours to clamber through most of the new content in the DLC. In addition to the new main quest line, the expansion adds the new Thebes area, fills it with similar side-quests, collectables and activities found throughout the rest of the game and turns you loose. It also bumps the level cap to 55 and gives you a smattering of new abilities on the skill tree so those of you looking to keep Bayek at his peak will have a bit more work to do. I do feel like the skills on offer a bit on the weaker side, considering its been four years since we last saw Bayek. My assumption was he’d have used the four year gap to pick up a few new moves, deadlier than the last lost, but it doesn’t seem that way.
While there’s a few bumps in the road throughout, Curse of the Pharaohs is nevertheless a fun diversion from the norm for Assassin’s Creed Origins. If you’re not done with Bayek’s adventure yet and could stand to play a little more, this is well worth your time.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: More AC Origins!; Lots of new content
Lowlights: Goofball story; Ability tree updates a bit of a letdown
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC
Review conducted on Xbox One X using a DLC code provided by the publisher.