Assassin's Creed Mirage is tighter in scope but broader in appeal

Assassin's Creed Mirage
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

When it was revealed last year, Assassin's Creed Mirage was sold on its deference to AC games of old. At the time, Ubisoft promised a smaller, more succinct stealth-driven open-world action adventure game. Having now been shown a hands-off demo ahead of Ubisoft Forward 2023, it appears the studio is well on its way to delivering just that. 

It's worth saying here that anyone worried the next AC game will be a diluted, less-committed version of the series now approaching its 15th anniversary should think again. Assassin's Creed Mirage is being brought to life by Ubisoft Bordeaux whose core team is composed of over 400 people. When you fold in the extra help offered by wider Ubi outfits worldwide – a further 11 studios in total – that number breaks half a century, and so while Assassin's Creed Mirage may be smaller in scope, it's definitely as ambitious as anything that's come before it. 

In doing that, Ubisoft Bordeaux aims to build a game that's "both easy to learn and easy to master," says creative director Stephane Boudon.  

Back to basics

Assassin's Creed Mirage

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Assassin's Creed Unity screenshot

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

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Built around three core tenets of parkour, stealth, and assassination, Mirage returns to the middle east where the Assassin's Creed series began. Smaller than the most recent games or not, the slice of Baghdad I'm shown is buzzing, similar in size to Assassin's Creed Unity's Paris map. In turn, social stealth is back with a bang, with sleuth mechanics the devs promise will be reactive and predictive, whether you're stalking a target or investigating an area or both.

Our demo kicks off with protagonist Basim perched above a market bazaar, which immediately gives things an Assassin's Creed 1 feel. Basim's overarching narrative paints a "tragic coming of age origin story", we're told, but in this immediate instance, he's undertaking a side contract. At first, this involves skipping over ledges, and swinging around corners on conveniently placed ropes, before our main man drops down, whips out his dagger, and forces the pointy end into some poor bastard's neck. Aghast, the crowd around Basim begin scrambling for cover, screaming as they go, and a wanted system counter appears in the corner of the HUD.   

After vaulting his way above the panic below, Basim heads to the Assassin's Bureau hub where he'll accept and report on missions, and unlock and upgrade his tool set. Speaking to the latter, Basim can carry five tools at a time – from straight-up swords to blades, daggers, smoke bombs, throwing knives, and more – while his clothes can be customized too via a suite of outfit dyes. Speaking to the former, Basim activates missions from a new Contract Board, where he can take on rescue missions, missions that involve stealing prized objects, and, of course, assassination missions among other ventures. Through this, the quest menu of old have been replaced with a coinciding Investigations Board; whereas a more familiar skills system lets him refine and define his style and areas of expertise. 

Assassin's Creed Mirage

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

"The slice of Baghdad I'm shown is buzzing, similar in size to Assassin's Creed Unity's Paris map"

Back to the demonstration itself, and we're shown Basim traveling to the Prince's Palace to track down and assassinate a target. Movement and parkour in Assassin's Creed Mirage appear quicker than ever before, with the protagonist zipping around rooftops on corner swings, and traveling at ground level on camels. "Legacy assets like these have been reintroduced," explains animation director Benjamin Potts, with verticality playing a much more significant world-building role here than in more recent AC games. 

Once Basim reaches the palace, he moves to release Enkidu – his imperial Eagle used to scout enemies from the air – but must take out a watchtower marksman first. A flurry of smoke bombs and blow darts do the trick, before Enkidu marks out the battlefield with some Ubisoft-signature enemy location icons. Once close enough to his target, Basim activates Assassin's Focus, a time-slowing mechanic that lets him enact a breakneck chain attack, pinballing around his foes with fatal precision. After that, his target is dead, and he's pegged it to the coastline, onto a gondola, and away from the crime scene. 

And with that, I want more. Given Assassin's Creed Mirage is due to launch on October 13 this year, I was a little disappointed we didn't get to go hands-on so close to release, but from what we've seen it definitely feels like it's living up to its 'homage to the older AC games' billing. Assassin's Creed Mirage is focusing on stealth and I'm ready to feel like an assassin again, said GamesRadar+'s own Heather Wald in the build up to this year's Summer Game Fest. And now, having been shown a glimpse behind the velvet curtain, I also think we're in for a treat. 

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Joe Donnelly
Features Editor, GamesRadar+

Joe is a Features Editor at GamesRadar+. With over seven years of experience working in specialist print and online journalism, Joe has written for a number of gaming, sport and entertainment publications including PC Gamer, Edge, Play and FourFourTwo. He is well-versed in all things Grand Theft Auto and spends much of his spare time swapping real-world Glasgow for GTA Online’s Los Santos. Joe is also a mental health advocate and has written a book about video games, mental health and their complex intersections. He is a regular expert contributor on both subjects for BBC radio. Many moons ago, he was a fully-qualified plumber which basically makes him Super Mario.