Assassin's Creed Mirage began with a hearty dose of nostalgia. Ubisoft added a small montage of previous characters celebrating the franchise's fifteenth anniversary. Then the actual game started, and the adventure felt familiar, yet new. Assassin's Creed Mirage returns to the original formula with the franchise mixed in with concepts from the more recent games. This approach results in something fans will enjoy as Baghdad opens up and the tale of Basim begins.
The last few iterations in the Assassin's Creed franchise have had a massive scale, each one bigger than the previous. Assassin's Creed Valhalla, the most recent entry, had hundreds of hours of things to do both in the baseline game and the multiple pieces of downloadable content. Ubisoft made Assassin's Creed Mirage much smaller and more in line with the series' origins. The estimated time to do everything in this game hovers around 30 hours, a far cry from the 300 hours spent on the previous entry. Not everything goes back to its roots, though, as some of the systems in Assassin's Creed Mirage return from the most recent entrants into the franchise. This has led to a hybrid experience where the fans get a lot of what worked in the last few games without all of the excessive padding.
Over the past few years, accessibility has become more important to companies like Ubisoft. Assassin's Creed Mirage features a lot of options in this regard. The development team put in a colorblind mode, ways to customize the control scheme, and more. The developers also included ways to make the gameplay more accessible, such as bypassing the pickpocketing quick time event and whether or not there will be aim assist. Options dealing with exploration, the interface, and the sound also allow more customization options to further enhance the experience.
A New, Yet Familiar Tale for an Assassin
Basim's tale starts in Anbar, where he lives in poverty. He believes his destiny revolves around doing great things and doing whatever he can to improve the situation. One night, he goes to a palace to investigate something and stumbles onto a critical event. This turns into a life-changing experience, and so his story begins. The team over at Ubisoft does an excellent job setting up these events. Still, we won't give any more story specifics to avoid spoilers.
When putting together the story, Ubisoft decided to go the investigative route. The story focuses on one big investigation with several smaller adventures that will provide clues to the bigger mystery. Assassin's Creed Mirage has different bureaus to find, each with its own mystery and investigation. As more investigations get solved, the bigger picture starts to come into focus. At that point, the identity and location of the main villain become more apparent. Completionists will rejoice that the development team also put in some side stories that tie into some of the collectibles found throughout the game.
Though smaller, the world of Assassin's Creed Mirage still has many secrets to find, items to collect, and mysteries to solve. Running through the streets of Baghdad has a nostalgic feeling thanks to its resemblance to the original Assassin's Creed game. Some of the collectibles in the game include gear chests, lost books, historical sites, mysterious shards, and more. These all serve an essential function in the game, including upgrading gear, getting more backstory, or helping a person regain something lost.
A Hybrid Approach With Some New Ideas
Fans returning to the Assassin's Creed franchise will immediately recognize the basics of the combat system. Basim has a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. Then, of course, he has a hidden blade for assassinations. The development team decided to go a different route with the tools in the game. Players must earn skill points to unlock them, which means a decision presents itself. Which item will offer the most benefit at first? The throwing knife, blowdart, and smoke bombs fill three of the six spots available. Once an item gets unlocked, players talk to someone at the bureau to upgrade the different tiers. The blowdart, for example, can cause a guard to go berserk, but that perk resides in Tier 3.
The skill tree also becomes an important place to spend the skill points. Compared to the last three games, the size difference became immediately apparent, though the team has simplified it a great deal. The tree has three categories that deal with offense, building Basim's arsenal, and improving his abilities. The inventory system works similarly to the last few games, with the upgrade materials on the main screen. That quick-reference available information makes it easier to plan what items get upgraded.
Though Assassin's Creed Mirage has many great elements, the game does have some hiccups. While exploring the world, the framerate drops a bit at times. This glitch only happens for a moment, but it becomes obvious nonetheless. The icons on the map also disappeared every so often as well, though it might be more of a design decision than a glitch. Still, an icon disappearing right before arriving at the destination doesn't work well. Assassin's Creed Mirage also features some different coins to find. For example, the game requires a scholar's coin to bribe a scholar. Designers probably should have confined this to regular coins, since finding specialty coins poses a challenge unto itself.
Ubisoft has decided to take a new approach with the Assassin's Creed franchise. The development teams will alternate between the two different formats. Assassin's Creed Mirage features an intimate experience, similar to the original games. The next rumored title in the franchise, Assassin's Creed Codename Red, will feature more of an expansive experience, similar to Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Alternating in this manner and serving both audiences will help keep the franchise fresh for those who only enjoy one of those game styles. For those who simply enjoy Assassin's Creed, regardless of whether the game demands 300 or 30 hours, Ubisoft has a lot in development to get excited about. Assassin's Creed Mirage returns to the franchise's roots and largely succeeds. If the last few games felt overwhelming, check out this new entry in the franchise. Comparatively more of a bite-size experience, it still reminds everyone why this series remains one of the biggest in the industry.
Rating: 9/10 Specs
Please Note: A code for Assassin's Creed Mirage was provided by Ubisoft for the purposes of this review. We reviewed Assassin's Creed Mirage on the Xbox Series X.
Brandon Hofer is a California-based writer who covers the entertainment industry. More specifically, Brandon has covered the gaming industry since 2006, attending and covering the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) every year. Brandon has also attended the Games Developer Conference, Penny Arcade Expo, and various events put on by publishers and developers. Brandon has worked with numerous studios, including Xbox Game Studios, PlayStation, Nintendo, Ubisoft, THQ, Activision, Electronic Arts, and more. Over the years, working with those studios has also allowed Brandon to work with iconic franchises such as the NFL, WWE, and the UFC. Thanks to that experience, Brandon also covers what goes on in the world of sports entertainment, primarily WWE. Brandon's work has appeared on MSN, Muck Rack, Flipboard, GameCrate, Wealth of Geeks, and more.