Assassin's Creed Mirage: Specs
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: October 5, 2023
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a return to form for Ubisoft’s long-running action-adventure game series. Mirage eschews the enormous side-quest littered maps of the three previous entries and delivers a comparatively stripped-down and focused affair. If you’re been with the franchise since the beginning as I have, Mirage gives you what you’ve been missing.
I recently played Assassin’s Creed Mirage during a virtual event and was thoroughly impressed by what it had to offer. While I’ll need to play through the full game to render a final verdict, I think this has the makings of being one of my favorite games of 2023. Nostalgia is certainly a factor, but even for newcomers, this entry seems like an excellent title to get lost in.
Here are my first impressions of Assassin’s Creed Mirage.
Follow the creed
Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes place in Baghdad in the year 861. While that’s 330 years before the first Assassin’s Creed, the Baghdad setting is reminiscent of the latter’s Holy Land. This was intentional since Mirage is effectively an homage to the series’ inaugural title.
You play as a younger version of Basim, whom we met in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and follow his journey of becoming a member of the Hidden Ones i.e. the Assassins. As the game progresses, you’ll work to uncover and thwart whatever plans the Order of the Ancients (the series' antagonists) is hatching.
During my playthrough, I played three sections featuring Basim as a talented street thief, a prospective member of the Hidden Ones and then as a full member. This journey reminds me of Ezio Auditore from Assassin’s Creed II, which I’m sure was also intentional. I’m eager to see how Basim develops as a character and how he becomes the man we eventually meet in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Back to basics
The last three Assassin’s Creed games (Assassin’s Creed Origins, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla) veered far from the franchise's original formula offering sprawling maps, a near-endless supply of sidequests, and MMO-style color-coded loot. While enjoyable, these titles became unwieldy in terms of available content and playable hours. In short, Assassin’s Creed games had become overstuffed and intimidating.
In contrast, Assassin’s Creed Mirage goes back to the series’ roots with its emphasis on parkour, assassinations and stealth. While gameplay hearkens back to the original titles, some elements of recent entries persist — including skill trees and combat mechanics. In that sense, Assassin’s Creed Mirage offers the best aspects of older and newer installments.
Baghdad, with its dense assortment of large and tall buildings, proves a perfect environment for parkouring around like an acrobat. Like recent games, jumping across rooftops or climbing up the side of buildings is effortless. All you have to do is move forward while holding the parkour button. While I wish parkour controls were more complex as they were in the original titles, I can’t fault Ubisoft for keeping this essential mechanic simple.
Like the older games, you have to gather intelligence on targets before assassinating them. In the demo, this involved talking to folks with information about the target and also sneakily following others around to overhear their conversations. In certain instances, I also had to dress up in different clothing to enter an area I otherwise wouldn’t be invited to. All of this was incredibly enjoyable since it builds anticipation for the inevitable assassination.
Speaking about sticking to the shadows, stealthily taking out opponents remains a viable way to avoid large brawls. I didn’t notice any major changes to stealth compared to previous games, which is good since sneaking up on and taking out unaware guards worked well enough already. I’m curious to see if the final game offers any new ways of sneaking around.
Should enemies spot you, you can either run or face them. From what I played, combat feels reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed II with its focus on parrying, dodging and counterattacking. Mirage offers a wide variety of era-appropriate weapons to use, but in the demo, a trusty scimitar allowed me to slice through my foes. Of course, using the occasional smoke bomb or throwing dagger to even the odds certainly helped.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage seems like the palette cleanser the franchise needs. It'll be interesting to see how the final product shapes up. I'm sure I'll enjoy it, but I'm aware some folks could find it too reminiscent of games from over a decade ago. That could be a negative, but given the excesses of recent installments, a return to form doesn't sound so bad.
Stay tuned for my full review of Assassin's Creed Mirage, which releases on October 5 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.