There is no doubt when you think of the more recent entries in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, specifically Origins, and Valhalla, you would be remitted to talk about the overwhelming size of those games. Whichever way you look at it, it can be a lot to take in, and while some players think of it as bloat, there really is no shortage of things to do, but at times, it can be very daunting to want to play one of those entries in the series. So many fans like myself praised the idea of returning to basics for the next entry, and now that I have played roughly three hours of Assassin’s Creed Mirage, I can tell you it did precisely that.
Our play sessions were divided into three early parts of Assassin’s Creed Mirage. The first one had us learning about Basim’s past and his life on the streets. This was mainly used as a way to teach us a few of Basim’s abilities. The first one being able to pickpocket, which during our later mission would come in handy. This is done by walking up to an NPC who has a bag that is highlighted in gold when using Eagle Vision and hitting the Y button on an Xbox controller, during which a little quick time event will pop up, and you just need to hit Y again when the outer circle moves into the blue circle. It is a small mini-game that adds a little more weight to the stealing ability, as failing will cause them to notice you.
Also, here we get shown how to sneak, which is unchanged from the last few games, although since Basim seems a little on the squishier side of things, there is a more significant emphasis on stealth. We also get to see the free-flow movement in action, and just like the game mechanic premise of the whole game itself, it feels much more in tune with the original and its sequel, which made climbing feel more strategic and integral to planning than it has in the past few entries.
The second part was during Basim’s initiation to the Brotherhood. It also served as a tutorial that focused more on the combat system present in Assassin’s Creed Mirage, which has evolved again. This time, it feels more like a marriage of the older games’ attack and parry and the newer games’ brutal ferocity. We also got to test out the side items, like throwing knives and smoke bombs. This section was more of an exposition piece showing Basim’s tenacity to join the Assassins and his character growth.
The final part was where all of our previous training and rewiring into the mindset of the older style of Assassin’s Creeds games was put to the test. We were mostly set free in a section of the city where we had to track down and assassinate the Treasurer. We would have to figure out how to get into the market auction area and what our target looked like. It was here that the nostalgia for Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed 2 really started to sink in. Gone is the overwhelming map with tons of markers to get lost in, and it really felt like a defined and well-planned out part of the city.
“…Assassin’s Creed Mirage treated us to one of my favourite things about the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which is the postmortem conversation with the targets.”
During our information gathering time, we used our pickpocket ability to get some look to fence, later on, to use at the auction and buy some healing items and side items like smoke bombs. Then we had to infiltrate this section of the city that had information on the Harbourmaster, who would give us what we needed to hunt down the Treasurer. This was where Assassin’s Creed Mirage puts the focus on stealth. It is possible just to run in and murder everyone, but it will be incredibly difficult.
You will have a much easier time waiting and plotting or even taking the guards out individually. Eventually, after some missteps, I found myself relying on my smoke bombs to help me escape and hiring some brutes to run into the encampment and try and fight the guards while I snuck around gathering the info I needed.
Fast-forward to the auction, and because I was able to steal and fence my items, I managed to get enough money to buy the hairpin we found out the treasurer was after. I will be interested to see how Assassin’s Creed Mirage handles someone not getting enough money and if that would mean tracking down the person who did end up with it and having to steal it from them. Then, all we needed was a seal to show the guard to get to the Treasurer and take their life.
“Assassin’s Creed Mirage will feel like an excellent return for fans of the older games and a fantastic evolution for fans of the newer entries.”
During this information gathering, I managed to gain a lot of notoriety from the guards. This meant bystanders would first notice me and get guards, and then the guards would notice me on sight. I could never make it up to the highest level of notoriety, but it made it seem like they would break out the big guns and have heavily armoured guards coming after me. You can lower this notoriety by either ripping down wanted posters or paying scryers around the city, which is very in line with Ezio and how he dealt with it during Assassin’s Creed 2 and its trilogy of games.
This involved trailing someone, which hit me with a lot of nostalgia for the first game, which led to an environmental puzzle to reach a higher-up place, which tied it back into the more recent entries. After getting the seal, we were back on track to kill the treasurer. After showing the seal, the guard led us right to our target, where we presented them the hairpin as a ruse before making known what was about to happen. As we took the treasurer’s life, Assassin’s Creed Mirage treated us to one of my favourite things about the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which is the postmortem conversation with the targets. While I won’t spoil that conversation as it had a big hook in it that has me chomping at the bit to see what comes next.
There were a few big takeaways from my time with Assassin’s Creed Mirage. The toned-down nature of its open world immediately made it feel like a more intimate story in the universe. The return of some of the older mechanics, like how they are handling the tailing system along with the more realistic free-flow climbing, but at the same time bringing things from the newer entries like environmental puzzles and the visceral combat makes it feel like a great way to marry the two styles of games. Not to mention, the story of Basim is fascinating, and his dreams and visions have me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what comes next.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed Mirage will feel like an excellent return for fans of the older games and a fantastic evolution for fans of the newer entries. Between the marriage of mechanics, the more petite but more toned feel of the world, and snippets of a great story, I can’t wait to play more Assassin’s Creed Mirage when it comes out October 5th for PC, Xbox Series S/X, and PlayStation 4 and 5. Also, yes, you can pet the cats, which are loving, animated, and detailed.