The last major DLC for Assassin’s Creed: Origins, The Curse of the Pharaohs, launched this month, completing the series of story driven DLC with a bang, demonstrating that Ubisoft know that the best things should be saved for last. The Curse of the Pharaohs introduces a whole new region to explore, new skills to unlock, and new crafting for Bayek to grind for. Retailing at £15.99 GBP or $19.99 USD, this expansion to the main game is at least three times the size of the content included in The Hidden Ones DLC, taking me several days of binge playing before finishing to some degree of completion (minus a few side quests and activities). With hours of new story to dive into and a whole new map to discover, the last major expansion to Assassin’s Creed: Origins seems set to finish up Origins on a tremendous high.
The Curse of the Pharaohs not only includes hours of new gameplay, but also a load of new changes that add to the existing game. Like The Hidden Ones, this DLC raises the maximum player level from 45 to 55. What’s interesting about this though is that the maximum player level is not the maximum enemy level, meaning I was facing off against level 58 enemies near the end of the story. In addition to raising the level cap, there’s also new skills to unlock in the skill tree menu. Generally, these skills range from new arrow and adrenaline attacks, to the very helpful auto arrow refill when you’re playing in the duat. Similarly to The Hidden Ones, new crafting levels are also included which raise your hidden blade damage and your max health. As someone who spent hours grinding to max out these upgrades, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to upgrade them further in The Curse of the Pharaohs. The new crafting material, star shards, are needed to upgrade instead of carbon crystals which are much easier to find in the duat or tombs.
Speaking of tombs, in each explorable tomb in the Valley of the Kings is a gateway to the afterlife. These are very easy to find as long as you follow the eerie whispers of the dead as you explore the tombs. There are 4 new hidden regions to explore in the afterlife, each based on the afterlife of the pharaoh whose tomb you were in. Each region includes new side quests and activities to finish for completionists like me. You also get access to a new mount to utilise in the other world, which has an appropriately deathly theme. New creatures are also introduced here, including birds with heads who represent the souls of the deceased. There are new enemies, including mummies, giant scorpions, and dog-headed warriors of Anubis. Each enemy has a twist which makes fighting them feel different than fighting regular Roman or Ptolemaic soldiers from the main game. Scorpions, for example, are impossible to sneak up on since they can detect you in tall grass. Certain Anubis warriors can also resurrect enemies you’ve killed.
The story of The Curse of the Pharaohs follows Bayek as he investigates rumours of a mysterious curse plaguing the citizens of Thebes. The story revolves around Bayek hunting for a mysterious artefact which is being used to summon the shadows of long dead pharaohs. At least once per in-game day, a pharaoh’s shadow will spawn somewhere near Bayek and start attacking civilians. The shadows can be defeated, but if the fight goes on for too long or all the surrounding civilians are dead then they returned to the after life on their own. The shadows act like mini boss battles, sometimes taking quite some time to get their health down. These shadows all mimic the look and fighting style of their pharaoh, so fighting them is quite good for getting an idea of a future boss battle.
One of my favourite parts of this DLC is exploring the individual duats of each of the four pharaohs. Each area of the underworld is different and unique to their pharaoh. These are hauntingly beautiful areas, filled with activities to complete and side quests. The Curse of the Pharaohs also includes a new crafting material which can be collected in the duat by looting or killing Serqet’s monstrous scorpions, creatures which roam the landscape looking for a stealthy player to bother. I spent hours exploring these areas trying to soak up every bit of gameplay they offered just so I could stay there longer. While Thebes and the surrounding regions aren’t as mystical, they still offer a multitude of new side quests and activities to complete which provide hours of gameplay.
The Curse of the Pharaohs managed to take what I loved about Origins and expand on it. As an Egyptology buff, I was chomping at the bit to be able to explore the Valley of the Kings, and dive into Ubisoft’s representation of the Egyptian afterlife. The story is not only compelling, but the perfect length to make this DLC feel like a journey without overstaying its welcome. In a lot of ways, I actually prefer the story of The Curse of the Pharaohs to that in The Hidden Ones and possibly the main game as well. In case you couldn’t tell, I can’t recommend The Curse of the Pharaohs enough. For less than £20, players can easily spend 20+ hours in Thebes and the duats of the pharaohs, making The Curse of the Pharaohs too good an opportunity to pass up for fans of Origins. With brand new quests, activities, skills, and upgrades, any fan of Assassin’s Creed: Origins should definitely not miss out on this DLC.
Review Score: 9.5/10