Assassins Creed Mirage is out now, following the Viking Epic Valhalla from 2020, which I reviewed and enjoyed immensely. Looking back and recently playing Valhalla again, it doesn’t really feel like an AC game and I feel that Ubisoft could have started a whole new Viking IP with Valhalla, rather than putting it in the AC universe. As we all know Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla broadened the whole scope of Assassins Creed with HUGE open worlds and many icons/points on the maps to explore and see and adding strong RPG points.
The promise of Mirage was to take the series back to its roots that were forged back in 2007 with the release of the original game… Ah the memories!
So, we have Basim, who we seen in Valhalla taking the helm and leading the charge this time, but this is pre-Valhalla and his origin story.
As per the usual Assassins Creed, you have the Hidden Ones (Assassins) and The Order of the Ancients (Templars). There’s bad goings on in the city of Baghdad, so the newly appointed Assassin Basim has to follow instruction and start taking out key enemies.
Once you get through the opening Assassins camp area which is essentially your tutorial, you arrive outside of Baghdad in the desert. Rather than a huge scrolling map like what we have seen in the prior three games, we have a more compact streamlined experience. There’s the desert area with a few places of interest and small exploration areas, but the main city of Baghdad is a sprawling open metropolis where you can venture freely but being careful, as the different districts are recommended for different levels much like Paris in the now-fixed, awesome Unity.
You do still have RPG elements allowing you to upgrade either stealth, combat or your eagle. Unlike the three prior games, again, the upgrades are more compact with around 9 skills available in each, some of which are earned during the progression of the story. The combat has the same ebb and flow as the original games in the series which, going back to, can feel a little clunky until you get used to it again. Additionally, going all-out combat will likely get you killed pretty quick if you have attracted more than two guards. Stealth is key to success, given that you can tag and track enemies again – which I sorely missed from Valhalla. This gives you the option of taking out many guards in a stronghold, without ever being seen if you plan what you are doing, and I feel a better way to play the games. For me, Assassins are supposed to be sneaky and stabby!
Notoriety is also back, with a few levels before you are actively hunted by a tough enemy akin to the mercenaries on AC Odyssey. To remove a wanted level, the posters are back and rife for the ripping, but I did find they can be few and far between when you are being hunted. One poster will remove one notch from the wanted bar. Thankfully, you can pay for a speaker which uses a token. To get said tokens, you actually need to do the additional missions which are on the board in the headquarters.
On top of the main storyline, which will take around 15-18 hours to complete, there is a multitude of missions offered on the job board. These are usually sneak in somewhere and steal something, assassinate someone, or lead someone to safety. On top of these objectives – much like the older games – you get additional conditions, such as not getting hit or spotted, and if you do manage to do them, you will get more tokens etc for completion. You also have various artefacts to collect, which are being carried by someone and they’re tied to an underwater vault that has a few weapons to unlock. Plus, there are a few Baghdad stories linked to real world people, which usually involves finding something nearby, and then fighting off opponents who also want the object or don’t like what you are doing!
Visually, Assassins Creed Mirage looks similar to the very first game and Origins with the city layout, but the beautiful updated visuals that we have been getting from a Ubisoft title. I love that you can enter the Assassin Headquarters via a door at the side, or the same way as you did on the very first game via an opening in an overhead mesh, and once you drop down there is the water bowl against the wall. It makes you feel a bit nostalgic for the series if, like me, you have played and enjoyed them all.
Yes, Mirage is a lot more streamlined than the last three games, but this laser focus is a breath of fresh air. There are still plenty things to see, do and collect in Baghdad, but it is not overly crowded to the point your head starts spinning when opening up new areas with the usual waypoints.
For the performance on my PC – which is a Ryzen 7 5700X, 32Gb DDR4 3200 Ram, Crucial SATA 6Gbps 3DNand SSD and a Gigabyte RTX 4070 Eagle running at QHD – and everything set to Ultra using DLSS Quality and 100% resolution scale and sharpness (Motion Blur and screen shake disabled), I get a steady 110-120fps, so it scales nicely with hardware.
Overall, I truly love Assassins Creed Mirage. Basim is a likeable character, and the Middle East is always interesting to explore. The smaller open world is excellent, and not overly bloated and enjoyable to explore and a welcome return to original form.
Thanks to our friends at Ubisoft for the review code.
- Developer: Ubisoft Bordeaux
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Players: Single player only
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!