Should You Play Assassin’s Creed Origins: Curse Of The Pharaohs
- 1 Should You Play Assassin’s Creed Origins: Curse Of The Pharaohs
- 1.1 Assassin’s Creed: Origins — Curse of the Pharaohs Review
- 1.2 Should You Play Assassin’s Creed Origins: Curse Of The Pharaohs?
- 1.3 Share
- 1.4 A Land of Legend
- 1.5 Accept The Fantasy
- 1.6 A Lot To Do…For Better And Worse
- 1.7 Big Bosses, Small Returns
- 1.8 Magical or Muddled?
- 1.9 ВИДЕО ПРОХОЖДЕНИЯ ИГР
- 1.10 Assassin’s Creed: Истоки — Проклятье фараонов
- 1.11 Assassin’s Creed: Origins — The Curse of the Pharaohs
- 1.12 The Curse of the Pharaohs DLC for Assassin’s Creed: Origins is Assassin’s Creed at its best
- 1.13 Blessing, not a curse
Assassin’s Creed: Origins — Curse of the Pharaohs Review
Bayek of Siwa: Tomb Raider
Curse of the Pharaohs, the second and final expansion for last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a rather drastic departure from the series’ previous tendency to be mostly grounded in realism with a pinch of sci-fi conspiracy flavor added to it. Depending on how much thought you’d assume the developers put into the effect of this DLC on the wider lore, it’s either a wacky “what-if” scenario of questionable canonicity or an element of the overarching storyline with far-reaching implications.
In terms of gameplay, it’s the same fare as the main game and the Hidden Ones was. Combat is unchanged, and you’ll still be traversing the same kind of terrain between question marks strewn about the map with the same set of random activities. You have your forts, your treasures and animal lairs. The size of the map is significantly smaller than the main Egyptian map, but larger than the Sinai in the previous DLC, and is roughly the size of the one found in Brotherhood by my estimates. As you explore the map, occasionally one of the disturbed Pharaohs will appear in a random location. These encounters function as mini-boss fights which are fairly challenging, and all four Pharaohs have their unique models, weapons and attack patterns. Killing them in the real world only temporarily banishes them back to beyond the grave, but doing so earns you XP and, more importantly, a new kind of crafting material which can only be acquired like this, or in the afterlife, and is necessary for the new upgrades.
That is, of course, not counting the four additional areas which make up the afterlives of the four cursed Pharaohs. These add a whole lot more to raw map size in addition to providing a kind of diversity in biomes that wasn’t present in the main game, the Hidden Ones, nor the real-world portion of this DLC either. The four undead Pharaohs — Nefertiti, Akhenaten, Ramesses and Tutankhamen — each have a unique take on what the afterlife is like, all drawing from representations in actual ancient Egyptian myth, ranging from the field of reeds through an idyllic, spotless city with a huge golden sphere floating above it, a valley filled with magical blue lotuses to a barren desert hellscape with constant sandstorms. These are the true stars of the DLC — while Thebes and the surrounding area are beautiful, they’re much the same as what we saw in the main game.
In these afterlife areas, which are compact open worlds in their own right, you’ll get a variety of the usual question mark activities alongside a new kind, which is an alternative take on the usual papyrus puzzles. Additionally, here the enemies you will face are half-jackal hybrids resembling Anubis, mummies, giant scorpions and the Pharaohs themselves. The storyline will take you through them all, and after the first time you visit one, Curse of the Pharaohs’ variant of the Phylakes will appear in the normal world as Shades of Anubis who roam around trying to kill you for trespassing in the afterlife while still being alive.
All things considered, Curse of the Pharaohs has a lot more content to show for itself than The Hidden Ones did, and the afterlife areas bring much needed variety to the terrain we’ve been exploring for one game and two expansions now. And yet, I feel like the order of the DLCs should have been reversed. Curse of the Pharaohs is the last piece of content Origins is getting, but it isn’t really a part of Origins, or its story, whereas The Hidden Ones is a direct continuation of the plot, and possibly leads on into the sequel. Curse is more like a spin-off, and has no ties to the main story at all. If not for the level requirements, you could play through this midway through Origins and there wouldn’t be any plot discrepancies, whereas the same cannot be said for The Hidden Ones.
There’s also that elephant in the room which I brought up in the opening paragraph. The storyline in Curse of the Pharaohs is interesting, but has absolutely nothing to do with Assassin’s Creed. At all. In any capacity. You’re not really doing assassin-y things, you’re not fighting against the Order of Ancients/Templars, and you’re not contributing to the overall story of the franchise. Plus, the realistic setting of the series so far has been tossed up for zombie pharaohs, mythical afterlives and giant scorpions.
Now, without spoiling anything, all this mythical nonsense is explained away with the pieces of eden, the deus ex machina convenient macguffin plot devices which have been around since the first game. However, (and also without spoiling anything since this isn’t addressed and is thus mostly speculation) they’re not an apt explanation. This DLC is a huge, convoluted lore-problem for the entire IP if it really is canon. Now, either the whole thing is a piece of eden induced feverdream that doesn’t actually happen, or canonically, in the Assassin’s Creed universe, the ancient Egyptian idea, and really, their entire belief system, is the one which is actually real.
See, unless all the conversations Bayek has in the DLC, all the Pharaohs appearing, all the faffing about in the Duat is a fabrication projected into our brain by these artefacts, Bayek did, actually, physically go into not one but four versions of the afterlife, talk to people there, and take them objects from the real world. In the lore, the pieces of eden have some pretty impressive powers, but willing an entire mythology into physical existence isn’t among them. I do hope Ubisoft addresses this somehow, possibly by making it so that the members of the Egyptian pantheon were from the Precursor Race who made the pieces or somesuch, otherwise as far as Assassin’s Creed is concerned, in-universe the ancient Egyptian religion is the one true religion. But!
But. Even the game cannot make up its mind. Akhenaten was posthumously considered a heretic because he tossed aside your standard helping of Egyptian gods in favor of Aten, the sun-disc. This is quite often discussed in Curse of the Pharaohs too, which makes it doubly weird that his afterlife aligns with his personal beliefs, while the other three line up with the traditional ancient Egyptian belief system. So, in the Assasin’s Creed universe, both are true? How does that work?
Do forgive this tangent, however for long-time fans of the series who might view this DLC as more than just a fun little mythical romp might be bothered by this as much as I was. Lore issues notwithstanding, is Curse of the Pharaohs fun and worth the asking price? Absolutely. Both Origins and The Hidden Ones were heaps of fun to play through and explore with beautiful worlds, fun activities, great combat and well-written plots. Curse of the Pharaohs is just more of all that, plus the additional variety of the four afterlife worlds which are a joy to discover, lore be damned.
ASSASSIN’S CREED: ORIGINS — CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS VERDICT
Don’t let my lengthy rant about the overarching lore fool you — Curse of the Pharaohs is a fantastic, content-rich DLC which takes what already worked well, added a few twists and turns, and gave us more of it. This is a solid
15-20 hours of content if you’re a completionist and explorer with some unique and otherwise underrepresented settings.
TOP GAME MOMENT
I didn’t quite know what to expect from the depictions of the afterlife(s) in the game, so when I first ventured into Akhenaten’s tomb and emerged into a pristine, idyllic, near-utopian Egyptian city rising out of the Nile with a huge golden sphere hovering over it, I was completely awed, and that feeling repeated itself the other three times as well.
Should You Play Assassin’s Creed Origins: Curse Of The Pharaohs?
I’ve been extremely impressed with Ubisoft’s commitment to consistent new content drops for Assassin’s Creed Origins. After releasing a lengthy core game back in October, we’ve seen several smaller events, as well as a story expansion set in the Sinai Peninsula, and the surprisingly deep and rewarding Discovery Tour mode, which turned the game into an educational tool.
The third major expansion just released last week, and it takes us to Thebes, the Valley of the Kings, and the strange happenings of the Curse of the Pharaohs. Based on my playtime, it’s a heftier batch of gameplay than many might expect, with many hours of new zones to explore, quests to complete, and enemies to fight. If you’ve been following along with the game’s expansions up to this point and enjoying the ride, there’s plenty more of what you like to be found here. However, after so many dozens of hours of the Origins gameplay loop, Curse of the Pharaohs also feels like it might be the moment when fatigue and over-familiarity with core systems begin to take their toll.
Here’s what you can expect if you dive into the adventure.
A Land of Legend
Curse of the Pharaohs takes Bayek into Upper Egypt, where the ancient capital city of Thebes awaits discovery, alongside the many hidden tombs within the Valley of the Kings. The new areas are intriguing, setting themselves apart from the base game through a focus on ruins, mysticism and piety from the populace, and an overall mystique born of venerable age and secrecy.
I was also satisfied at the number of distinct zones to explore over the course of the expansion. This is a big playspace that features a lot of variety in landscapes, buildings, and monuments. Origins features one of the most intricate and thoughtfully imagined settings I’ve encountered in an open-world game, and it’s great to see more interesting sites within this reimagined world, from the sprawling Luxor Temple to new vistas overlooking the serpentine Nile.
In addition to all these real-world locations, players also visit physical manifestations of several Pharaohs’ afterlives. These bizarre self-contained landscapes are each distinct, but I don’t want to spoil too much about the sites you might encounter there, other than saying that they’re all beautiful and majestic. But each of them has its own appeal, and does the interesting task of telling you more about the pharaoh who resides there, since the environments reflect his or her personality and desires.
Accept The Fantasy
Until now, Assassin’s Creed Origins has flirted with fantastical elements in a way that could largely be reconciled with the rest of the franchise and its insistence on maintaining consistency and realism. Sure, the series has always had a fictional group of ancient beings that predate humanity, as well as the sci-fi conceit of the Animus, but the actual historical sections never saw your Assassin fighting dragons or casting spells. If Origins’ base game began to bend that rule with flaming swords and drug-fueled hallucinations of giant snakes, then Curse of the Pharaohs is the expansion that breaks the rule.
From beginning to end, Curse of the Pharaohs plays as a fantasy. But unlike, say, The Tyranny of King Washington from Assassin’s Creed III, this new expansion to Origins doesn’t hide behind a dream sequence or other mask. Rather, our hero Bayek is fighting undead mummies, traveling into physical manifestations of the afterlife, and engaging in magical rituals that shape the fate of dead souls. The experience can be jarring, especially if you have a long history with the franchise and its insistence on not veering into pure wizardry.
With that said, there’s no denying that these new magical elements add something new to the game. Fighting a giant scorpion is strange and amusing. And entering the afterlife of a long-dead pharaoh and seeing a ship sailing across a sea of open grassland is surreal and visually exciting.
A Lot To Do…For Better And Worse
As a rule, players cheer for game expansions that add a lot of new content, and Curse of the Pharaohs certainly fulfills that desire. There’s a lot to do, and a lengthy story to uncover. But that length may also be the expansion’s biggest problem.
Bayek can level from 45 to 55, which is satisfying and takes many hours of play. Those new levels fuel several new abilities in the power-up tree, but I can’t say that too many of them blew me away, with the exception of one especially powerful ability connected to overcharge use in combat. In short, it feels like we’ve already fully powered up Bayek in the original game, and at this point the new abilities don’t feel meaningful.
Likewise, despite the arrival of some new fantastical monsters to fight, the flow of gameplay in Curse of the Pharaohs is disappointingly similar to what we’ve already experienced for dozens of hours in the base game and its first expansion. Origins was already a lengthy game, and by the time I’d hit level cap, the combat had begun to grow stale, the fetch quests and become routine, and the fort infiltrations had become all too familiar. Those same problems are all the more apparent in an expansion that does little to change the core loop.
Origins is a really enjoyable game, but I’m not convinced that the depth of gameplay and the potential for upgrades matches the time investment that the game asks of its players. That problem is intensified in the lengthy adventure that makes up Curse of the Pharaohs, often leaving me feeling ho-hum about the action and missions, even as I continue to marvel at the beautiful setting.
Big Bosses, Small Returns
More than Bayek’s previous adventures in Egypt, Curse of the Pharaohs doubles down on the potential of big fights against powerful foes. Whether it’s the undead Shadows that rise up in the middle of city streets that must be fought off, or the actual boss fights against pharaohs like Nefertiti and Ramesses, expect to spend a good chunk of time fighting powerful, dangerous foes. These bosses look quite cool, often encased in sarcophagus-like suits of armor, and wielding legendary weapons that become yours when the fight concludes.
Unfortunately, like in the base Origins game, the boss fights simply aren’t any fun. The combat system doesn’t have the depth or complexity to support tight exchanges with powerful foes, and these undead pharaohs boast often absurdly high health bars that can take a long time to chip away at. Meanwhile, the attacks they inflict on you can often be one or two hit kills, which simply doesn’t encourage close and intense melee confrontations. Instead, I found myself constantly looking for cheap tricks to outwit a boss, like charging past repeatedly on horseback and then galloping away, or picking away at a foe with arrows until my overcharge meter was full and I could do a single devastating attack. The final boss fight, in particular, is a tedious slog that I just couldn’t enjoy.
That’s too bad, because the visual presentation and setup for these important fights is often thrilling. But without gameplay depth and precision to match the backdrop, I always came away unimpressed after these supposedly climactic confrontations.
Magical or Muddled?
Curse of the Pharaohs features a clear threat (a curse of reincarnated pharaohs) and a path to resolving that threat in the conclusion (assassinating the figure behind the curse). That’s good, because much of the space in between ends up a bit confusing.
Assassin’s Creed Origins has always excelled at bringing Ancient Egypt’s culture to life, particularly that society’s focus on religion, death, and the interaction between mortals and their gods. That dynamic is especially potent in this expansion, as nearly every conversation, main quest, and side quest seems to circle back to issues of life and death, the nature of divinity, or the pain of grief that separates us from those that have passed on.
These are heady concepts to tackle in an action game, and at times, Bayek’s interactions with the people he encounters are intriguing. But it’s easy to get lost in the constant allusions to gods, prophecy, and omens. At times, I found myself losing the thread of the story, simply because almost everything is couched in these otherworldly conceptions of religion and human existence.
Several new characters are introduced, but rather than really flesh them out in meaningful ways, the script often falls back on yet more conversations about belief, heretics, or ceremonies, and potentially compelling character concepts are left to flounder.
I love Origins authentic vision of mysticism and religion at the center of life for these people that might have lived thousands of years ago. But Curse of the Pharaohs makes the case that it’s possible to get a little carried away, losing touch with the narrative by getting lost in the game’s self-imposed mythology.
Strip away concerns about the story or gameplay repetition, and Curse of the Pharaohs is a large and worthy follow-up to the core game. If you were an enthusiastic player of the original game, hungry for new sites to explore, Curse of the Pharaohs has you covered. If, on the other hand, Origins felt like it had begun to wear out its welcome by the latter hours, I suspect Curse of the Pharaohs may not improve your opinion. While dressed in some increasingly fantastical garments, these myths are still very similar to the ones you already know.
Assassin’s Creed Origins: Curse of the Pharaohs is available now as part of the season pass, or separately for $19.99. Like the original game, you can pick up your copy on PS4, Xbox One, or PC.
ВИДЕО ПРОХОЖДЕНИЯ ИГР
- Март 29, 2018
- Эл. почта
Знакомимся со вторым сюжетным дополнением к Assassin’s Creed Origins, которое перенесет главного героя в город Фивы, атакованный проклятием фараонов.
Не считая древних артефактов и уникального оружия со «сверхспособностями», Assassin’s Creed Origins была довольно реалистичной игрой, в которой мистики не так уж и много. «Проклятие фараонов» исправляет этот «недочет» и добавляет в игру кучу новых врагов из загробного мира. С определенной периодичностью рядом с Байеком будет появляться тень одного из четырех фараонов, которую нужно одолеть за довольно короткое время. Исследовав гробницы в Долине Царей, Байек может перейти в один из четырех районов Дуата (загробного мира), где придется сразиться уже не с тенью, а вполне материальным восставшим фараоном. Передвижения по Дуату осложняют большое количество стражей (в отличие от римских войнов в реальности, нападают они сразу) и гигантские скорпионы, любящие плюнуть кислотой во все, что движется.
Как ни странно, упокоение восставщих фараонов не является первоочередной задачей. Байек ищет человека с артефактом, а походы в Дуат, скорее, являются сюжетной прокачкой. К слову о прокачке, даже если уровень главного героя соответсвует рекомендованному для задания, все равно придется попотеть почти на каждой миссии, так как враги при это на пару уровней сильнее (фараоны уж точно). Так что не пренебрегаем побочными миссиями, особенно в загробном мире (за них больше опыта дают).
Как и в первом дополнении, есть в «Проклятии фараонов» и свое подобие фелакитов — парочка стражей, последовавших за Байеком из Дуата в реальный мир. Оба они имеют максимальный для игры уровень, так что приходится оставить эти две битвы на сладкое.
С четырех побежденных фараонов падает легендарное оружие всех основных классов (хопеш, два быстрых клинка, дубина и копье), так что каждый сможет подобрать его под свой вкус. Как ни странно, лучшим лично для меня в течение всего прохождения оказался Идеальный меч из Final Fantasy XV с быстрым набором адреналина, все остальные клинки ему по этому показателю уступали. К нему можно добавить какой-нибудь лук с прокачкой здоровья при попадании. Такой нехитрой комбинацией можно победить любого соперника, даже высокоуровневого.
Assassin’s Creed: Истоки — Проклятье фараонов
Assassin’s Creed: Origins — The Curse of the Pharaohs
Тяжко быть Ubisoft. Вот хочется тебе создать мистическую игру в сеттинге Древнего Египта, кто-то другой может просто взять и сделать — а у Ubisoft этот сеттинг уже использован в историко-фантастической серии. Попробуешь сотворить что-то подобное, но с уклоном в фэнтези — фанаты наверняка примутся строчить гневные комментарии, мол, зачем вы два раза выпускаете одинаковые египетские игры. А если добавить паранормальщину прямиком в Assassin’s Creed… нет, серия ведь про науку, а не про магию, туда так легко не вставишь драки с ожившими фараонами. Или всё-таки получится?
Из The Curse of the Pharaohs вышла бы полноценная большая игра долларов за 45. Но разработчики рискнули (или, наоборот, не рискнули — тут уж как посмотреть) и вставили совсем неподходящий сеттинг в уже выпущенную игру. Будь что будет — а вдруг прокатит? Вдруг геймеры только и ждут, что серия откажется от чего-то привычного и пойдёт дальше? В конце концов, Египет — страна тайн, никто доподлинно не знает, что происходило там тысячи лет назад, вдруг по улицам ходили шакалоголовые стражи Анубиса, а ожившие мумии разоряли города? Ну вдруг?!
О том, что собой представляет дополнение, авторы дают понять с первой минуты. Из воздуха материализуется проклятая мумия и начинает убивать людей вокруг. Это не дух, не видение главного героя и даже не глюк Анимуса, а вполне реальное существо. Данная встреча задает тон дальнейшего странствия по новой области Египта. Не стоит ждать погружения в историю, не стоит ждать особого влияния древней расы. Перед нами концентрированная экшен-мистика в стиле «Мумии» Стивена Соммерса. Разве что юмора меньше.
Но там, где нет смешнявочек, есть масштаб. Новая территория раза в два, а то и в три больше локации из The Hidden Ones. И даже то, что видно на карте, не является всей доступной для исследования территорией. Разработчики пошли до конца и позволили основателю братства ассасинов Байеку свободно путешествовать между привычной реальностью и миром мёртвых, где тоже несколько крупных территорий с побочными квестами и «вопросиками» на карте. В определённый момент ловишь себя на мысли, что The Curse of the Pharaohs более достойно права стать отдельной игрой, нежели Freedom Cry для Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Контента здесь куда больше, а времени на полное прохождение и закрытие всех заданий территории тратится часов 15 или 20.
Что действительно расстраивает в The Curse of the Pharaohs, так это очень странный сюжет, который вставляли в большой новый мир будто бы впопыхах. Задания — вполне привычные «пойди, убей, принеси», но мотивация едва прописана. Есть зачин сюжета, есть развязка, есть финальный ритуал, но между этими событиями будто пропасть из случайных встреч, которые едва ли влияют на приближение к главной цели.
Потому самое интересное, что есть в новом дополнении, — путешествия, в том числе по невероятно красивым мирам мёртвых, и зачистка секретов. Свитков с загадками нет, а значит, и соответствующих проблем не много. Что до поводов всем этим заниматься, то авторы подняли максимальный уровень персонажа ещё на 10 пунктов, позволили дальше качать доспехи и открыли несколько новых полезных умений в способностях.
The Curse of the Pharaohs — дополнение неидеальное и очень спорное в плане сеттинга, но масштабное настолько, что любое другое расширение предыдущих частей серии теперь выглядит крошечным и смехотворным. Играть в это определённо стоит.
The Curse of the Pharaohs DLC for Assassin’s Creed: Origins is Assassin’s Creed at its best
Curse of the Pharaohs took me by surprise. I didn’t really think twice about putting it off—usually Assassin’s Creed DLC is filler, an indulgence I save for the quieter parts of the year. It’s an excuse to jump back in for 5 or 10 hours, and in the case of Assassin’s Creed: Origins I planned to spend some extra time mopping up side content I’d skipped.
I played through it recently though and quickly found out Curse of the Pharaohs is legitimately fantastic. Maybe the best Assassin’s Creed in years. The most creative, at the very least.
Blessing, not a curse
Curse of the Pharaohs is part of the season pass
Assassin’s Creed Origins – Season Pass [Online Game Code]
Set four years after the main game, Curse of the Pharaohs sends Bayek up the Nile to the ancient city of Thebes and the nearby Valley of the Kings. Less visually impressive than the Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings nevertheless plays host to a bunch of tombs dug into the cliffs, including those of Queen Nefertiti and King Tutankhamun.
And it’s from Tutankhamun’s tomb that Curse of the Pharaohs gets its name—or rather, the popular appraisal of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Certain Egyptian tombs were inscribed with a curse, something along the lines of “Anyone who disturbs this tomb will die.” Paraphrasing here. The idea of the curse was popularized after a handful of those involved with the unearthing of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the early 1900s died in mysterious ways.
Curse of the Pharaohs takes this to the extreme, with Bayek finding Thebes terrorized by the spirits of the pharaohs themselves. Nefertiti, Rameses II, Akhenaten, and Tutankhamun aren’t resting as peacefully as one might like, and Bayek suspects someone is using a Piece of Eden to resurrect the ancient rulers. It falls to him to reclaim it.
IDG / Hayden Dingman
Yes, this is Origins’s “wacky” expansion, like The Tyranny of King Washington in Assassin’s Creed III and Syndicate’s Jack the Ripper missions. Another reason I initially passed over it.
Curse of the Pharaohs is much more ambitious though. To start, this is an expansion to the vast open-world recreation of Egypt from the base game, and Thebes doesn’t disappoint. From the winding streets of the city itself to the landscape-dominating Temple of Hatshepsut to the dusty Valley of the Kings, it’s a dense and varied region, as packed with impressive vistas as it is small details to admire. Like Origins proper, the amount of work put into this living-history version of Ptolemaic Egypt continues to amaze me, and as a side note, I really hope Ubisoft expands the superb Discovery Tour mode into the Thebes map. I’d love to explore the Valley of the Kings in a pseudo-academic fashion too.
In any case, the real surprise is that Thebes is only half the map. Curse of the Pharaohs’s central gimmick, and what makes it a must-play, is that Bayek adventures into the afterlife.
IDG / Hayden Dingman
Origins dabbled in these ideas of course, with Bayek chatting with his assassination targets after he’d stabbed them through the heart—a throwback to the original Assassin’s Creed, where Altair’s victims had similar on-death’s-doorstep monologues to deliver. Origins’s were way more stylish, with elements of the Egyptian pantheon interjected into the fray, or symbols of an unwitting villain’s sins rendered larger than life. They were some of the best parts of the game, to be honest.
Bayek stayed on his side of the barrier though. He escorted his victims to the Duat, the realm of the dead, but always returned to Egypt after leaving them to Ma’at’s judgment.
In Curse of the Pharaohs, Bayek crosses over. Early on, you recover an artifact stolen from Nefertiti’s tomb and are tasked with returning it to where it was found. Easy, right? Except it turns out “where it was found” is actually a glowing doorway, a portal into Aaru where Nefertiti resides—a vast field of golden reeds, dominated by statues of the famed queen (modeled after the famous bust in the Neues Museum). Take a look:
IDG / Hayden Dingman
It’s incredible, an outlet for all the knowledge of the Egyptian afterlife that no doubt informed Origins proper but had to play a background role to Bayek’s more serious and down-to-earth revenge story. Here, real-life Thebes takes a back seat to a realm of the imagination.
Assassin’s Creed never gets to do that. It’s a series built on historical accuracy, or at least the appearance of historical accuracy, and so it’s refreshing to see Ubisoft’s veritable army of world-builders let loose on something more fantastical. There are 12-foot scorpions to fight, plus jackal-headed guards in the shape of Anubis. Your horse is made of corroded bronze. The birds have human heads, and will shout at you as you run past.
IDG / Hayden Dingman
And yet for all its fantastical elements, it’s also clear a painstaking amount of work and research went into the Duat too. Larger-than-life it may be, full of weird imagery and symbolism, and yet even here the majority of what you see is inspired by actual tales of the Egyptian gods and rulers, or contemporaneous descriptions of the afterlife. It’s not history maybe, but it’s religion and myth and legend rendered as if they were historical.
Over in Akhenaten’s tomb then, the ancient Pharaoh’s heretical belief in Aten—an early pseudo-monotheism—is played up by the presence of a massive floating sun-disk in the sky. Nefertiti’s realm is dotted with references to Nut, the sky goddess, and her role in moving the sun and moon across the sky. Ramesses II, warrior-king, lords over the silent battlefields of Kadesh, forever surrounded by the corpses of friends and foe.
It’s historical Egypt woven together with religious rites and stories, and all of it treated with the same reverence. It’s hard, striking the correct balance for that type of magical realism, but Curse of the Pharaohs pulls it off.
The result is one hell of an expansion. More than once I’ve been reminded of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s expansion, The Shivering Isles, which also dealt with its pantheon (albeit an invented one) in a decidedly down-to-earth fashion.