Looking back on it now, Assassin's Creed Origins really did mark a brand new direction for Ubisoft's long-running franchise when it released back in October of 2017. This truly epic Egyptian odyssey introduced RPG-lite elements to the series, invigorating its core gameplay with tons of loot, weapons and gear, it completely reworked combat, moving away from the clunky "paired animation system" of old to more flexible and intuitive hit-box detection, and removed the need for fiddly precision in its parkour, giving you the ability to scale practically any surface with ease.

Taken together these changes made for a far more engaging and addictive central experience and one that, in terms of pure gameplay, felt like a proper leap forward. No longer were we constantly frustrated by our protagonist's fussy parkour or inability to fight or sneak around without awkwardly looping into precooked animations that saw baddies alerted to our presence ad nauseum. Indeed, Bayek - who for us is still the franchise's most interesting protagonist - traverses this game's incredible world map with a graceful fluidity, he can easily take on multiple opponents at once without getting himself into a right old mess, and the signature stealth here benefits greatly from just how much control you now have, how much more intuitive and responsive the whole thing feels.

Those all-new RPG aspects then feed into this, introducing skills and gear that allow players to customise their combat experience, tuning it towards stealthiness, all-out bloody carnage, or a mix between the two and making for an adventure that's far more replayable than the ACs of old. Throw in gladiator arena battles, chariot races, the ability to scale the flipping pyramids and a brilliant Discovery Mode that allows you to explore the deep history of the game's setting and well...it's a bit of a banger really.

At the time of its release, this was easily the most mechanically sound Assassin's Creed adventure we'd ever been treated to, for sure, it was also the most visually impressive, the biggest, the most astoundingly detailed and atmospheric to boot. The painstaking amount of effort that the developer has taken here, going so far as to call in the help of Egyptologists and historians of the time period depicted, shows in the incredible level of detail you're treated to around every corner as you adventure through deserts, towns, lost temples, multiple vibrant cities and even the Great Pyramids of Giza themselves. It makes for a world that feels absolutely steeped in actual history, one that you want to explore, that feels alive with potential, an ancient Egypt that's jampacked full of secrets, amazing hidden dungeons, lore and a cast of characters - good and bad - who benefit from the real-life stories and legends which the game draws on for inspiration.

In terms of mission design too, it drops the cookie cutter stuff of old, gets rid of that OCD-inducing map full of endless icons and busywork, in favour of multi-part stories and branching narratives populated by far more interesting and entertaining characters. The main thrust of Bayek of Siwa's adventure is full-on bloody revenge, giving the main campaign missions an exciting urgency as you rush towards the next target on your kill list, but the side stuff here is a massive improvement also.

Of course, thanks to the game's brand new 60fps upgrade, all of this wondrous stuff can now be enjoyed the way it was really meant to be back in 2017. This was a game that previously suffered somewhat from technical issues and framerate problems on last-gen consoles, but it's been transformed here into a wonderfully smooth affair that holds fast to its 60fps/2160p target on Series X (a fact that also makes it slightly superior to the PS5's updated version). We're not sticklers for smooth framerates by any means, but Assassin's Creed really is a series that benefits immensely from the extra boost, with traversal and combat feeling noticeably more responsive as a result. We haven't had a chance to go hands-on with the Series S version yet, but multiple comparisons have suggested it runs at a smooth 60fps/1080p with very few framerate drops.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey may have went bigger in terms of sheer size, and Valhalla has gone on to further improve and enhance the flow of combat - but there's no doubting that Origins' majestic setting, its characters, iconic locations and sense of mystery, have yet to be topped. With some absolutely belting DLC to get your hands on once you've wrapped up the beefy main campaign here, this is one game that we absolutely urge to you pick up on Xbox Game Pass. If you've already played it, it's worth jumping back in here for the 60fps upgrade, and if you're coming to this one new, well, prepare for an almighty Egyptian adventure.