Assassin's Creed Mirage

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Oct. 5, 2023


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PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'Assassin's Creed Mirage'

by Adam Pavlacka on Sept. 13, 2023 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Assassin's Creed Mirage goes back to the narrative-driven roots of the series, set 20 years before Assassin's Creed Valhalla featuring a young Basim.

When it comes to lore, the Assassin's Creed games have it in spades. I've played the series since the start, and it's not easy to keep it all connected. While Ubisoft managed to wrap up a number of questions with Assassin's Creed Valhalla by introducing the character of Basim, it also took a bit of a risk in focusing on him.

[Assassin's Creed Valhalla story spoilers follow, so if you haven't yet played that game, stop reading now.]

As explained in Valhalla, the Isu managed to survive a cataclysm by seeding their consciousness into humans. Eivor held the genetic memories of Odin, while Basim was the reincarnation of Loki. Both came to be aware of their Isu history in different ways, with Eivor seemingly Odin's equal, while Basim appeared to be more like Loki personified … including his ancient grudges. This meant that Basim wasn't a hero in Valhalla, and his ultimate victory was bittersweet after having spent so many hours as Eivor.

With Assassin's Creed Mirage, Ubisoft is taking us back to a few years before the events of Valhalla and before Loki awakened within Basim. We're introduced to a young Basim and follow his journey to become an experienced member of the Hidden Ones. Along the way, Basim is troubled by dark dreams of a Jinn. Although we didn't get to explore that path during the preview, I wouldn't be surprised if the Jinn was Loki starting to assert himself within Basim. It would fit with what we already know of Basim's story, as well as the real-world mythology surrounding Jinn.

Design- and gameplay-wise, Mirage feels much more compact than the recent Assassin's Creed games. Unlike the sprawling (and varied) landscapes of Odyssey and Valhalla, Mirage is focused on the city of Baghdad and Alamut, the mountain fortress of the Hidden Ones. While Alamut was somewhat open, the section of Baghdad that I got to explore was packed with buildings, trees, ledges, and boxes — you name it. If Mirage is any indication, historical Baghdad was designed specifically for parkour. It's a noticeable difference from the vast open spaces in Valhalla.

Speaking of history, one of the nifty features within Mirage is the Codex, which is a series of informational facts and background about Basim's world. Covering topics like art and science, beliefs and daily life, court life, economy and government, the Codex was created in collaboration with academics and historians and is sure to please history buffs who want to know more about the Abbasid Caliphate. The Assassin's Creed series has always put effort into delivering educational content, and Mirage appears to be following down that path.

Like Eivor in Valhalla, Basim is handy in a fight, but going hand-to-hand is still a last resort for him. Stealth appears to be the primary focus in Mirage. If you can get in, get to your target, and get out without being seen, you're doing it right. Then again, that's easier said than done. If you do get into a fight, Mirage's reputation system comes into play. The higher your desired level, the more aggressively the guards will track you down. You can lower your wanted level in various ways, including tearing down "Wanted" posters. Take a look around before you rip one down; it's probably not a good idea to do it in front of a guard.

One handy ability that Basim can use to escape is a smoke bomb. If you're surrounded, toss it to the ground and disappear in the confusion.

Scouting out a hostile area before going in can be done with Enkidu, your eagle companion. Enkidu can mark targets and get the lay of the land, unless an enemy archer is on patrol. These opponents will shoot down Enkidu, so you need to take them out before you can let Enkidu fly.

Of course, it's worth remembering that Enkidu isn't the only wild animal in the world. If you happen to run across some captive animals in cages, don't be shy about letting them loose. They may be more than happy to attack (or distract) patrolling enemies for you. Just make sure to stay out of their way.

When facing off against a group of enemies, the new Assassin Focus skill can quickly even the odds. After triggering the skill, time slows down, allowing you to target multiple enemies. Basim then goes in for the multi-kill, swiftly eliminating the group all at once. It's a nifty addition to the traditional set of assassin tools, and it's quite satisfying to use.

In addition to the story-focused missions, Mirage also features missions where you must achieve a goal by exploring the environment and finding clues. Franchise fans who played Syndicate and Unity will be familiar with this style of mission. For example, during the demo, I needed to eavesdrop on a conversation to get some information, figure out how to secure a needed item, and then bluff my way into a meeting with the target. As I made my way through the bazaar, the goal was always clear, while the specific steps needed to get to the goal had a few options.

While most of my time with the demo was spent playing through the available missions, one element that stood out was the sword fighting. Basim's sword fighting skills seem to be an improvement from what Eivor had in Valhalla, with Basim being a bit more nimble. It's still up to you to get the proper timing for parry and dodge, but it may not be as challenging to master this time around.

As far as the story, that's still a bit of a question mark where the details are concerned. We obviously know where Basim ends up, as we see the continuation of his quest in Valhalla. What we don't know is how much detail Mirage is going to dive into as far as Basim's relationship with Loki. There's also no way to know whether we'll see a time skip in the latter half of Mirage to see if Basim has made any progress at tracking down Loki's children or getting Aletheia's consciousness out of the Staff of Hermes. Whatever the case, it's likely that Assassin's Creed Mirage won't be the last we see of Basim. Be sure to check back next month for a full verdict on the game.

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