Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes the series back to its stealthy roots
Assassin’s Creed Mirage will be with us in October, but how does the latest entry compare to previous games in the series? Here are our thoughts after spending a few hours playing it.
After spending some time with Assassin’s Creed Mirage, we were immediately struck by how similar the game feels to the original Assassin’s Creed in terms of setting and style – if we were to look back at that first 2007 entry with rose-tinted glasses, that is. In truth, while Assassin’s Creed 1 started this epic journey, that original game was lackluster by modern standards, featuring repetitive gameplay, broken stealth, and janky combat, at least compared to what players are accustomed to now.
Of course, AC2 fixed these issues and launched the series into the stratosphere, but Assassin’s Creed Mirage finally delivers on the promise of the original and feels like the Assassin’s Creed game Ubisoft has always wanted to make. Set roughly a decade before Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Mirage brings back the popular character Basim and depicts his origin story as he grows from street thief to master assassin.
Back to basics
The game is also set several centuries before Assassin’s Creed 1 and moves the action to Baghdad rather than the Holy Land. However, it brings back some classic locations such as the Alamut, the Persian fortress where Altaïr was trained, and Ezio visited in Assassin’s Creed Revelations.
The game continues to use the Hidden Ones plotline that started in Assassin’s Creed Origins, so it’s fun to see the prequel series begin to intersect with the more classic elements of the early games.
Of course, the Hidden Ones haven’t become the Assassins yet, and the Order has yet to ‘rebrand’ as the Templars, but it’s fun to see the beginnings of this transition, especially for those who’ve followed the series since the beginning.
Strike from the shadows
One thing we really enjoyed about our time with Assassin’s Creed Mirage is that stealth is truly back. While the game is reminiscent of Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla in many other ways, there is a clearer emphasis on sneaking around to complete objectives, rather than running in and slashing everything that moves. If we were ever spotted and tried to fight our way out of a situation, we were soon cut down, even being outmatched by just two enemies.
Stealthy gameplay was always one of the things that drew players to AC games in the early years, and combat has often felt rather hit-and-miss throughout the series. It actually felt strange to be stealthy as a Spartan soldier or a Viking warrior, but when playing as Basim, embracing the shadows feels natural and rewarding.
We believe this is the correct path for the Assassin’s Creed series to take, but players may still need more incentive to be stealthy, or need to feel more empowered as they silently pick off enemies one by one.
Quality over quantity
Unlike the vast open worlds of previous games, Mirage offers a tighter experience that’s more akin to Assassin’s Creed 1, 2, Unity, and Syndicate than more recent entries. Don’t get us wrong, Baghdad is vast, and the game is still very much a sandbox, but the focus is on urban exploration again rather than sailing or galloping all over the landscape.
We didn’t get to see any naval gameplay or horses in our time with the game, but we had lots of fun jumping between buildings and exploring the city. We’re also happy to report that swimming returns, as do many other features we’ve become accustomed to. Even older features return, such as the ability to bribe a group of thugs to go and pick a fight with the guards.
2017’s Assassin’s Creed Origins felt like a soft reboot of the series in many ways, whereas Odyssey refined the formula before things began stagnating again by the time Valhalla emerged. This is a cycle that seems to play out every few games with the Assassin’s Creed series, so it’s refreshing to see Mirage tweak the formula once again.
We don’t get the same soft reboot vibes that Origins gave us, but it will be interesting to see if Assassin’s Creed Mirage breathes some new life into the franchise. Ubisoft has had to go backwards to go forwards again, but we’re optimistic that Mirage will be a fun change of pace for Assassin’s Creed fans. It may also finally live up to the promise of the original Assassin’s Creed game all those years ago.
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