Assassin’s Creed Mirage revives the series’ classic stealth gameplay

Assassin's Creed Mirage promises a gripping and concise narrative, immersive gameplay mechanics, and a take on the Assassin's Creed universe that's fresh and reminiscent at the same time

With Assassin’s Creed Mirage, it seems like Ubisoft Bordeaux really dug deep into Assassin’s Creed‘s roots to develop a current-gen game that pays a heartfelt homage to the franchise’s rich history.

Although Mirage is set to release in October, I got to preview it for a little bit in early September.

The title transports players back to vibrant ninth-century Baghdad, where they’ll play as Basim Ibn Ishaq, a young thief shrouded in mystery.

The story of Basim is confusing, to say the least. He appeared in 2020’s Assasin’s Creed Valhalla, which takes place after the events of Mirage.

It’s safe to say that through Mirage, Ubisoft aims to bridge the gap between the two titles and explain how Basim becomes a member of the Hidden Ones, his voyage from Baghdad to Norway, his fateful encounter with Eivor, and the hidden motivations that drive him.

Throughout the game, Basim grapples with haunting nightmarish visions, which are also prominently displayed on the game’s loading screens. The visions were very briefly explored in the preview of the game that I tried, though I’m sure they’ll play a more significant role in connecting Basim’s story between Mirage and Valhalla.

From what I could gather in the short playtest, the game is very stealth-heavy, and going in for combat without a plan, especially in the early stages before developing Basim’s skill set, often leads to a swift death. Fighting head-on is essentially a last resort for Basim, making stealth the preferred path to success.

Mirage is also maller than the worlds in Valhalla and Odyssey; however, Ubisoft didn’t fail to replicate the ambiance of ninth-century Baghdad, which feels very reminiscent of the original Prince of Persia games, with bustling bazaars, melodious Arabic background tunes, and thousands of NPCs who react to all of Basim’s actions.

In addition to stealth, the game places a significant focus on parkour. The map is designed in such a way that Basim doesn’t necessarily need to step foot on the ground to get from point A to point B. With his agility and acrobatic skills, Basim can swing from beams, corner swing, jump across roofs, tip-toe along tight ropes, and more, essentially making it possible to escape from the hoards of guards that attack you if you’re spotted in a restricted area or your notoriety level is high.

Notoriety in Mirage is a dynamic three-stage bar that appears as a bottom-right HUD. Committing visible acts like killing guards will be noticed by NPCs of Baghdad, resulting in an increased notoriety level. As notoriety rises, wanted posters featuring Basim begin appearing across Baghdad. No notoriety means Basim can walk around the city while no one bats an eye, while high notoriety level means heightened NPC reactions to Basim’s every move, and guards relentlessly pursuing Basim when spotted.

Not all weapons were unlocked during the game preview, but from what I could gather, Basim can equip throwing knives, blow darts, smoke bombs, noise bombs and more for stealth assassinations and to avoid alerting nearby guards.

Additionally, a new mechanic making its way to Mirage is called ‘Assassin Focus.’ The feature is essentially a lighting-fast chain assassination move that allows Basim to slow down time, lock onto multiple enemies in close proximity, and execute them all at once.

The move has a gauge that fills up as you acquire stealth kills, rewarding meticulous, planned-out assassinations over head-on combat. It is a move that is satisfying to execute and even more satisfying to look at thanks to its fluid animation.

As the release date approaches, it’s clear that Assassin’s Creed Mirage promises a gripping and concise narrative, immersive gameplay mechanics, and a take on the Assassin’s Creed universe that is fresh and reminiscent at the same time, offering both long-time fans and newcomers an exciting journey through Basim’s story in the ninth-century Baghdad.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage releases on October 5th, 2023 for the Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Header image credit: Ubisoft