THE HIDDEN ONES
DISCUSSING THE FIRST MAJOR STORY EXPANSION OF ASSASSIN’S CREED ORIGINS.
REVIEW
JANUARY 23rd, 2017

INTRODUCTION

After three months of the launch of Assassin’s Creed Origins, the first major story expansion, The Hidden Ones arrives, taking the protagonist, Bayek of Siwa, all the way to the Sinai peninsula for a new chapter in the foundation of the Assassin brotherhood, then known as The Hidden Ones.

Set four years after the events of the main game, and within those four years, the Creed of the Hidden Ones have grown further, thanks to Bayek who himself has made quite a reputation for himself. Now fully-dressed in a more orthodox Assassin garb, Bayek ventures to Sinai in response to a letter from an old friend, Tahira who informs him of the tyranny of the Roman forces lead by Rufio, in Sinai.

STRONG POINTS

Sinai is a large piece of land that features most of the iconic activities that players grown to love in the main game. Bayek will be able to take on main and side-quests, invade Roman forts, loot their treasures and defeat their commanders and captains, solve puzzles to unravel mighty weapons and gadgets, help citizens, raid triremes, as well as mediating in multiple breathtaking spots, and stargazing.

Without spoiling any crucial plot elements, these activities create a very enjoyable extension to the main experience, in addition to further developing the tenants of the brotherhood and carving its foundation stones in addition to recruiting people into The Hidden Ones. The expansion inherits one very important and enjoyable factor from the main game, which is the motivation it gives to players to finish everything. Exploration is a joy in and of itself, and most if not all of the side quests neither feel chorey nor annoying. Likely due to the beauty of the world, the variety in its atmospheres and the charisma and skill that Bayek further develops in this new chapter.

The story introduces new side characters as well as bringing back those we’ve known from the main game, and it helps further explore Bayek’s relationship with them and his influence on them, and theirs on Bayek. The expansion could’ve used a few more main story chapters to help ease some character transformations or to allow players to have more time with each character.

SETBACKS

The Hidden Ones suffers some slight setbacks such as its own length, as it took about 6-8 hours to finish it 100% with all side quests, activities and trophies, which counts as slightly short, though relatively normal by the standards of Assassin’s Creed downloadable content. Another issue is that the story has absolutely no present day counterpart. You can leave the Animus at any time, that’s for sure. But there’s absolutely no commentary from Layla herself about the experience, nor any convincing reason why she’s exploring that part, other than what we’ve known from her in the main game. Players, especially those dedicated to the lore, would’ve definitely appreciated some dialogue between Layla and William Miles about it, or at least some reason for her to get into the Animus and experience that segment of Bayek’s story. One last setback is that while Sinai brings back a huge number of elements from the main games for players to explore, tombs are missing, as well as First Civilization vaults, which could’ve been a wonderful addition to the game’s lore, even though it’s a bit understandable since this is a DLC story and it’s meant to focus on The Hidden Ones, yet the return or the mere mention of some artifacts or vaults could’ve been quite welcome by fans of the lore.

FINAL WORD

In conclusion, The Hidden Ones doesn’t feel like an amputated element that should’ve been in the main game, and neither does it feel like an entirely new experience. It’s an extension to the game that does its job surprisingly well. It doesn’t do much to add new mechanics, nor does it alter the gameplay, yet it’s a much welcome extension to the acclaimed Assassin’s Creed Origins experience, with its enjoyable gameplay, the beautiful world which invites you to explore it, endlessly, and the way it further develops the plot as well some wonderful surprises that make up for any minor setback. It does so well to give those who already finished the main game 100% a great chance to return to the world of the game and do a considerably good number of major and minor quests. But above all, it further emphasizes on Bayek as the first almost-objectively wonderful Assassin’s Creed protagonist in ages whose story is far from over and is strong enough to carry the wait of a trilogy of his own.

The Hidden Ones is available as part of the season pass of Assassin’s Creed Origins, and can be purchased separately for $9.99.

OBSERVATIONS

The Hidden Ones includes few interesting remarks that could link to subjects the franchise explored, previously or hints at future or potentially unused past concepts.

  1. In The Hidden Ones, Bayek is introduced to Gamilat, a Nabatean leader who is recruiting rebels to his resistance movement against the Romans in Sinai. The Nabatean Kingdom’s capital is the city of Petra with its famous treasury. Interestingly, the treasury of Petra (in present day Jordan), while an entirely different place, is strikingly similar to the Tomb of Solomon, where the Apple of Eden is found by Altair in the first Assassin’s Creed. Petra is also conceptualized by the talented Art Director, Raphael Lacoste and labeled as “early explorations” for Assassin’s Creed Origins. Petra is also mentioned by name in the later parts of The Hidden Ones.
  2. Bayek notices large skeletons of extinct animals, where he confirms his initial disbelief in the stories told about them.
  3. Sinai, the main location of The Hidden Ones, is known to be the place where the Prophet Moses spoke to God in the form of the burning bush (hinted in one of the mirages of the deserts that Bayek seems when exploring for prolonged times in the main game), in some Abrahamic religions. Moses, according to the Assassin’s Creed lore, is a leader/prophetic figure who came across and used a Staff of Eden to part the Red Sea.
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