Developed by Ubisoft Bordeaux, Assassin’s Creed Mirage aims to bring back the franchise to its original story-driven narrative experiences that fans have been asking for since the shift to a more massive RPG structure. Transporting players to ninth-century Baghdad during its Golden Age, Assassin’s Creed Mirage presents an action-adventure experience that’s made to emphasize narrative immersion. This modern rendition incorporates the iconic parkour, stealth, and assassination gameplay elements that have been the cornerstone of the franchise for more than a decade and a half.
With a central design philosophy of “A Return to the Roots”, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is looking to be what the franchise has sorely needed to bring it back to what made it such a global phenomenon in the first place.
We were invited to a private media preview event where we were given a significant peek of Assassin’s Creed Mirage in action. Here’s what we know so far:
Assassin’s Creed Mirage story details
Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes place 300 years before the time of Altair, the protagonist of the very first Assassin’s Creed game that was released back in 2007. A brand new story-focused trailer was shown to us featuring in-game cinematics that delved a little deeper into the narrative we can expect.
We first see our antagonist, Basim, being saved by Roshan, his soon-to-be mentor as he joins The Hidden Ones. We get to see Basim’s first attempt at a Leap of Faith which doesn’t go exactly as planned given that they were also trying to run away from a group who wanted to kill them. As Basim sloppily falls into the waters, a montage of the different characters he’ll meet in his journey is shown alongside a few action shots.
The most significant takeaway from the trailer is how prominent the idea of what The Hidden Ones exactly are as an order and as a belief. We can hear voices questioning whether or not this really should be what Basim devotes his life into. Other games in the franchise have dipped their toes into the lore of the Creed and its philosophies. We all know how they’re not always exactly the good guys. Assassin’s Creed Mirage is looking like it’ll continue that discourse with Basim’s coming-of-age story at the center of it all.
We also saw some brief supernatural elements where Basim comes face-to-face with an unknown humanoid creature. This could be some sort of a nightmare sequence but with all the whimsical concepts introduced in the franchise over the years, it wouldn’t be a surprise if zombies were one of them.
Gameplay details and impressions
The preview event showed us about 7 minutes of gameplay footage where Basim takes on an assassination mission. It begins with our protagonist escaping the guards. During the chase, we can see Basim tearing down a wooden structure to slow down his pursuers. I’m guessing that intractable environmental elements will be more prominent here. Here’s to hoping that there are going to be more dynamic ways to use the surroundings.
Since the release of Assassin’s Creed 3, rooftop traversal hasn’t exactly been the focus. This is largely due to the timeframes the games have been set in. Given that Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes place in the Middle East, we can now finally have dense rooftops back with a fresh coat of modern AAA tech. The environments look dense, vibrant, and brimming with detail. The gameplay showcase has Basim mostly jumping around from one roof to another which is a good thing in my eyes. It was weird having our Assassin stick to the ground for so long.
Once Basim arrives in the Assassin’s Bureau, a cutscene is played where he talks to Roshan and Fuladh as they give him details of his next target. Before leaving, Basim talks to Abu Jafar who then prompts a menu that shows the different tools that can be used. For the showcase, a “Blowdart” was acquired—something that should be familiar to Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag players.
A Contract Board was also shown with a number of missions Basim can go on. Each contract has a “Contractor Request” which are basically optional side goals you can do for extra rewards. This is giving me huge Assassin’s Creed 2 vibes in terms of the side objectives per mission.
Once Basim reaches the mission area, he releases Enkidu, the bird companion for Assassin’s Creed Mirage. However, this is short-lived as Enkidu flees due to a Marksman, a new enemy type, is firing arrows at him. Basim is then forced to go inside without overhead information.
Crowd stealth receives a prominent focus here. What’s interesting is that when Basim was hiding with a group of women, they talked about gossip they heard regarding your target. This led me to think that you can get valuable insights from random bystanders if you lend your ear to the ground. If this feature is done well, pedestrians can be more than just cardboard cutouts and have more depth to their presence.
While Basim is sneaking his way into the compound, he uses a throwable called “noisemaker” which attracts an enemy to wherever you throw it. Basim proceeds to assassinate which alerts a nearby guard. Time slows and another prompt pops up to assassinate the guard from afar. Basim then throws a knife to get the kill. It’s giving Far Cry 3 chain takedown vibes with this move.
I did notice that enemies still have a health bar floating above them but I don’t see any more level indicators. Hopefully, they don’t make a return given how they made the recent RPG Assassin’s Creed games feel more like a grind-fest rather than a story adventure.
After taking down the Marksman, Basim gains back the ability to call on Enkidu which allows us to spot enemies from the air—much like how it is in Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla. Shortly after, Basim uses Eagle Vision which made me question why Enkidu was even needed in the first place. I was honestly a little disappointed seeing the overhead bird mechanic return since I felt like it made scouting an area a little bit too easy. In a perfect world, Mirage would just double down on Eagle Vision like how earlier games did.
A significant moment in the gameplay showed Basim doing some sort of a chain takedown system wherein he first marks 3 soldiers with his Eagle Vision and then proceeds to teleport to them and assassinate each one in quick succession. Think of it like how it is in games like Batman Arkham Knight or Splinter Cell Blacklist. It looked like it was consuming a resource indicated by a bar. I’m guessing this is refilled if you normally assassinate other enemies.
And finally, Basim prepares to assassinate his main target. He throws another throwable called “Trap” on the entrance and jumps onto his victim from above. This alarms surrounding soldiers. One runs towards him to which he quickly parries and staggers, opening up an opportunity to execute. After a brute enemy steps on the trap, he lies on the ground while Basim runs past him and throws a red smoke bomb to distract 2 other guards. He escapes the compound and disappears into a crowd. The camera then pans to give us a gorgeous view of a dense city and the rooftops as far as the eye can see.
While killing enemies and completing the mission, Basim does receive loot like components, steel ingots, and something called Power Favor Token alongside the normal currency which is called “Dirham”. This probably indicates that there’s some sort of a crafting mechanic once again which is pretty normal for a game like this. Hopefully, we get more customization options as well.
And that about does it for Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Overall, the gameplay looks solid. The graphics don’t exactly have the most detailed textures but they are vibrant and dense enough to look good in motion. The story seems to be much more intimate in scope which is a nice change of pace to the quantity-over-quality approach recent AC games have had.
There’s also a confirmed nostalgic visual filter you can turn on which makes everything have a desaturated blue-like tone similar to how games were like back in the PS3 and Xbox 360 era. I see a good amount of potential here. Hopefully, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage will release on October 12, 2023, on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, and Amazon Luna, as well as on Windows PC through the Epic Games Store and the Ubisoft Store.
Players can also subscribe to Ubisoft+ on Xbox, Amazon Luna, and PC through Ubisoft Connect to access the game on launch day.