Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes players on a captivating journey through 9th-century Baghdad, a time and place rarely explored in video games. Set nine centuries after the events of Assassin’s Creed Origins, the game brings us back to the world of the Hidden Ones, the enigmatic group of assassins. This time, our main character is Basim, a familiar face for those who have played AC Valhalla. However, even if you have yet to experience Basim’s story in Valhalla, Mirage is a fully independent and engaging narrative that can be appreciated as a standalone entry in the series.
Assassin’s Training Camp
One of the standout features of Assassin’s Creed Mirage is its unique gameplay style, which revolves around a narrative-driven progression system with three distinct story arcs. These arcs take you on a journey from Basim’s initiation into the Hidden Ones, which unfolds in a sprawling training camp filled with potential assassins. The game has an impressive cinematic training montage that is unlike anything seen in previous Assassin’s Creed titles. It is this journey of exploring the training camp, learning basic moves with Basim’s mentor Roshan before finally becoming part of the ranks that is a refreshing way to be introduced to the game. As you progress through the game’s main story, you work your way up to becoming a Master Assassin, a goal with its own challenges and rewards.
Gameplay in Assassin’s Creed Mirage strongly emphasises stealth and the use of the iconic hidden blade to dispatch enemies silently. Gone are the days of hack-and-slash combat; Mirage demands a more strategic approach. You must carefully move and hide the bodies of fallen foes to avoid detection. This shift back to stealth-based gameplay is a welcome return to the series’ roots and provides an epic challenge for both newcomers and longtime fans.
The setting of 9th-century Baghdad is still the true highlight of Assassin’s Creed Mirage. The city itself is a vibrant and culturally rich hub, teeming with life and opportunities for exciting side missions. The attention to detail in recreating this historical era is also awe-inspiring, as exploring its bustling streets and landmarks is consistently engaging and dense.
Blend into the Background
One notable addition to the gameplay is the Notoriety system, which has been taken to new heights. If you are witnessed committing illegal acts such as stealing, killing, or even a well-executed pickpocket, civilians quickly turn into informants who summon guards or, in some cases, become your enemies, actively pursuing you. Guards, once alerted, go to great lengths to track you down, they will also post “Wanted” posters throughout the city, making it challenging to move around undetected. There are three levels of notoriety, each escalating the threat level and making stealth even more crucial. However, you can use Favor tokens to reduce your notoriety level or blend into crowds and distract guards using musicians.
Missions are structured differently in Mirage, with an “Investigation Board” replacing the traditional Quest Log. This new system is linked to four Assassin’s Creed Bureaus that are scattered across the story arcs. These Bureaus serve as home hubs for accepting side missions, unlocking new tools, upgrading existing equipment, and refilling ammunition.
The skill trees in the game have been streamlined, with skill points awarded for completing main story activities. These points can be allocated to improve stealth abilities, character skills, and your eagle companion, Enkidu. Enkidu plays a crucial role in scouting areas of interest and marking targets, although players must be wary of enemy archers who can take down the eagle.
Combat in Assassin’s Creed Mirage has undergone a significant overhaul, with an emphasis on stealth kills using the hidden blade. Basim’s fighting style revolves around agility, dodging, and well-timed parries rather than brute force. While combat initially feels challenging, acquiring new weapons and gear as you progress allows for a more balanced approach.
Blacksmiths around the city can upgrade weapons, while tailors offer customisation options for Basim’s appearance. However, it’s worth noting that character customisation is limited to clothing and accessories, and Basim’s gender is fixed as male, aligning with the game’s narrative focus on his story.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage also offers various tools to aid in battle, with six options for quick access. The throwing knife, particularly with the poison tip upgrade was my weapon of choice, quickly and quietly taking out enemies, while traps and noisemakers are perfect for distractions when sneaking past large amounts of enemies.
Look the Part
Visually, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is stunning, especially on the PlayStation 5. You can choose between performance mode for a smoother 60fps experience or quality mode for enhanced resolution. The game’s desert landscapes, oasis waters, and the bustling city of Baghdad are meticulously designed and look gorgeous on the PS5 system. Character designs are consistent with previous titles, with no real significant leaps forward in terms of graphics.
A standout feature of Mirage is its customisable difficulty options, allowing you to fine-tune your gaming experience. The pickpocket option, in particular, offers a unique level of control over the game’s challenges. You can also tailor your HUD to display the most useful information.
The voice acting in Assassin’s Creed Mirage is also exceptional, with Lee Majdoub delivering a nuanced performance as Basim. However, the true standout is Shohreh Aghdashloo as Roshan, Basim’s mentor. Her commanding presence and compelling performance elevate the game’s narrative to new heights.
In conclusion, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a remarkable addition to the series. The recreation of 9th-century Baghdad is a visual and cultural delight, while Basim’s journey from novice to master assassin provides a compelling narrative thread. With a wealth of side quests and activities, Mirage offers hours of engaging gameplay. Its performance on the next-gen consoles is impressive, and the customisation options make it accessible to a wide range of players. Whether you’re a longtime fan of the series or new to the world of Assassin’s Creed, Mirage is a title worth exploring. Running on Ubisoft’s Anvil game engine, it’s a testament to the series’ enduring quality and innovation.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Incredible gameplay; Full customisation; Return to form with stealth gameplay
Lowlights: Character designs are similar to previous gamea
Developer: Ubisoft Bordeaux
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Windows PC
Available: 5 October
Review conducted on PlayStation 5 with a code provided by the publisher.