I can’t remember the last time feeling so enthusiastic to explore a world. That’s because the gorgeous, lush open world of Assassin’s Creed Origins is a beckoning to gamers — a bright, alluring light to the curious insects of the gaming world. The vibrancy of its colors, the crisp textures, the sun-soaked lakes, everything is there for your mind to soak in and relish. After 20 hours of gaming, you realize that you’ve only unlocked about one-third of the map.  

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Assassin’s Creed games have somewhat floundered as of late. Not because their open worlds haven’t impressed (I still jump into Unity’s revolutionary Paris every once in awhile), but those games offered little variety to entice the player to broaden their journeys to the very corners of the map. Even Black Flag — as addictively fun and visually stirring as that game was — didn’t extend much beyond jungle islands and open sea.

Origins remedies this problem. It’s ancient Egypt, yes, but there’s far more to it than just oceans of sand and skyscraper-sized pyramids. But is this just yet another instance of style over substance? The world is mesmerizing to be sure, but does the story and plethora of side quests lead you to explore the world?

The answer is a most resounding and unashamed “yes.” While I’ve personally enjoyed my time in Victorian London and the swashbuckling Caribbean in past games, the side missions have lacked that begging to be played. They became dwindled down to stalking missions and “run over there and kill that guy” scenarios copied and pasted dozens of times.

With Origins, even if you aren’t personally feeling convicted enough to help out a poor farmer reclaim his stolen books, you’re at least enticed by the promise of XP rewarded to you at its end. If you do happen to get tired of skinning animals and stealthily dispatching soldiers in a camp or outpost, you can always hop into a chariot in true Ben-Hur fashion or sail down the Nile river or crocodile-infested waters in a boat. Or, if you’re feeling just a tad bit extra adventurous, you can scour your way up a pyramid and venture inside for some treasures stashed away deep within its bowels.

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