Assassin’s Creed Mirage was officially announced on a Ubisoft Forward livestream last September. During Summer Games Fest Play Days back in June, I attended a hands-off demo presentation for the game which left me very impressed and eager to try out the final product.
After spending plenty of time in Baghdad this past week, I’m very pleased to say that Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a much-welcomed breath of fresh air for the popular action-adventure series. By returning to the core roots of what made the earlier entries special, Ubisoft Bordeaux has created an instant classic that fans will love and appreciate. Here are more of my thoughts on what you can expect should you decide to pick up the game later this week.
Started From The Bottom, Now We’re Here
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is the thirteenth major entry in the franchise and takes place in 9th-century Baghdad after the events of Assassin’s Creed Origins. The story revolves around Basim ibn Ishaq, a skillful street thief with aspirations of becoming a vital member of The Order of Assassins. Basim previously appeared in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla as an aid to Ravenclan. This self-contained adventure dives deeper into his backstory and how he became a Hidden One.
From a narrative standpoint, Mirage follows a linear path tied to Basim’s journey and remains compelling until the very end. By showing our main protagonist at his most vulnerable state, we gain a deeper understanding of his fears, motivations, and reactions to everything happening around him. The excellent voicework by Shohreh Aghdashloo as Roshan also adds an important layer to Basim’s character development as he studies under her to become one of the very best. Completing story missions allows you to rank up your character and earn skill points. Lastly, the campaign will only take you between 15-20 hours to complete which is noticeably shorter than recent AC games but perfectly suited for this particular adventure.
A Visually Captivating Playground
AC Mirage was created entirely from the Ubisoft Anvil graphics engine and therefore looks nothing short of great on PlayStation 5. Character models, animations, and the highly populated city of Baghdad are spectacular thanks to the greater focus on details and lighting. The city’s architecture also matches the historical references which in turn makes the world feel alive, ripe, and ready for exploration. There is also a cool AC 1 graphics filter that you can turn on in the settings to get the nostalgic blue tones from the first game.
Your journey spans 9 different areas within Baghdad that are key to the story and filled with various opportunities and non-playable characters to interact with. While traversing across rooftops is the most ideal way to get around the city, you also have access to a camel who can get you to your preferred destination a little quicker. The overall look and feel of the atmosphere coupled with how active everything and everyone is really pulls you in quickly and makes the adventure even more fun.
Familiar Gameplay With A Few Additions
One of the key things that makes Assassin’s Creed Mirage stand out among other recent entries in the series lies within how vital stealth is to the overall gameplay experience. If you ever played Assassin’s Creed 1 or 2 then you know that these concepts were deeply rooted in those games. Mirage honors those traditions and evolves them in many interesting ways.
For starters, Basim has a total of 6 stealth tools at his disposal including a torch, noisemaker, blowdart, throwing knife, smoke bomb, and trap. Most of these tools can be unlocked and upgraded based on a 3 tier system and how you progress through the game. Basim also has a skill for pickpocketing which is an activity that requires precise timing when you see the prompt appear on the screen. Failing to press this button at the right time alerts both the victim and nearby guards. This is where the Notoriety system and Wanted posters come into play.
Every time that you commit an illegal activity or kill someone, your Notoriety bar rises across three specific thresholds. The 1st threshold makes you easily recognizable to civilians who alert officers and wanted posters start to appear in various places throughout the area. The 2nd threshold increases guard awareness and they are able to find you more easily. The 3rd and final threshold unleashes an elite guard on you and the wanted posters attract larger crowds which makes it harder to escape.
You may be able to still blend in with crowds in certain situations but the best way to decrease your Notoriety is to tear down wanted posters and use Favor tokens to pay a musician, merchant, or mercenaries to distract guards. This makes sense because stealth is your key strength in this game. You also have the patented Eagle Vision ability all assassins have along with your eagle friend Enkidu who can scout regions across the map, mark enemies, and reveal key areas of interest.
Despite combat being treated as a last resort in most enemy encounters, Basim is still equipped with suitable weapons that can be upgraded after finding a reliable Blacksmith. The skill points that I mentioned above can also be used to unlock more gear and combat abilities to aid you on your journey. In addition to focusing on the main story mission, there are also various side activities, collectibles, and historical documents to obtain. The mini-puzzles that you had to solve in order to access hidden treasures are still present too and everything appropriately serves the purpose of helping you learn more about the city.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage has a ton of accessibility options across image calibration, gameplay difficulty, control remapping, and more. You can also change the language setting and experience the full game with Arabic voiceovers. Both the musical score and voice acting performances are solid which is something we come to expect in every new Assassin’s Creed game these days.
Simply put, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is the perfect embodiment of all the great things that we loved about earlier entries in the series with a few minor additions here and there. The end result is an outstanding action-adventure game that new and veteran fans of the franchise will thoroughly enjoy from start to finish.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Assassin’s Creed Mirage for PlayStation 5 provided by Ubisoft.