In order to live up to its claim of being a return to form for the series, Assassin’s Creed Mirage desperately needs to include some classic Assassin’s Creed gameplay. From social stealth to classic Assassin’s Creed style combat and more, Mirage has 15 years of gameplay to distill down to its basics. By pulling from that decade and a half and distilling what made the games great originally and what new innovations have come since, Ubisoft can distill down to a razor-sharp, tight, and focused Assassin’s Creed experience that will leave players floored.
Beginning with the original Assassin’s Creed in 2007, the series has gone through some huge evolutions that took the series through multiple settings, characters, gameplay styles, and mechanics. The original assassins (the Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood changed names from “Hidden Ones”) focused on stealth and planning in tight, controlled environments to eliminate their targets. They had to execute their plans with absolute precision lest they be attacked by a swarm of increasingly deadly enemies. As the series progressed, the combat prowess of the main characters also evolved, until players wound up with absolute combat powerhouses like Kassandra and Eivor. The recent games in the series focused more on combat and exploration than stealth and assassination, and in doing so lost what made Assassin’s Creed great.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage promises a more focused narrative which includes original series staples such as social stealth, classic combat style, and Black Box mission structure. This return to form is what some fans have been asking for since the series threw its hat into the RPG ring with Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla (a problem the next game could solve). Rather than sprawling narratives and skill trees, Mirage should focus instead on what stood out about the first game and made it unique.
Hiding in plain sight is one of the core tenets of the titular assassin’s creed. Assassin’s Creed games took this to mean using the crowd to the assassin’s (and the player’s) advantage. From the very beginning of the series, players have been able to seamlessly slide into crowds to avoid detection, get past guards, and lose unwanted pursuers. This mechanic has taken a back seat in recent entries as the focus has shifted from stealth to combat, though vestiges of it still remain. In Assassin’s Creed Mirage, the crowded markets of Baghdad will provide a perfect opportunity for main character Basim to practice the creed and hide in plain sight. As it has been stated that Basim is not as much of a fighter as Eivor or Kassandra (though this hardly tells everything known about AC Mirage‘s Basim), he will need to use every non-combat advantage he can, including using the crowds to mask his movement from enemies.
Recent entries in the Assassin’s Creed series have taken a decidedly more combative turn. Bayek, Kassandra, and Eivor all felt like warriors first, and assassins an increasingly distant second. This is because each of them could easily hold their own in combat against multiple foes and come out victorious. Looking back to the previous games in the series, this wasn’t always the case. The original Assassin’s Creed was at its most punishing when players engaged in combat with numerous enemies at the same time. Altair was built for hit-and-run style tactics, not open warfare. Assassin’s Creed Mirage should take the series back to this opportunistic style of combat. An assassin isn’t generally thought of as a tanky powerhouse (like Deimos, one of Assassin’s Creed’s worst characters), but a stealthy infiltrator that ideally only needs to engage their target in combat (if they’re spotted at all). The series has shied away from rewarding that style of gameplay, and for Mirage to truly stand away from its predecessors it must return to this form.
The original Assassin’s Creed followed a black box mission structure. This meant that players were let loose in a city to gather information about their target, the defenses they had, and when they would be most vulnerable. When they had gathered enough information, they were sent in for the kill. It’s an elegantly simple design that got left by the wayside as the series progressed.
Though simplistic in its initial outing, this style of gameplay became the very core of what Assassin’s Creed was for the first few games, before gradually becoming more and more overshadowed by plot and combat in later entries. If Assassin’s Creed Mirage returns to this structure, it will allow players to feel full agency in their actions. They collect the intel, they plan the strike, and they execute the assassination, just like in the first Assassin’s Creed, which has rumors of a remake on the way. It puts players in the driver’s seat and makes them feel like the driving force of the game, as opposed to being driven along by the plot.
Parkour has been a part of the Assassin’s Creed series since the beginning. The ability to outrun pursuers by nimbly climbing, ducking, and weaving through complex and random terrain before performing a leap of faith into a hiding spot is as iconic as the series hidden blades. This mechanic has taken a back seat in recent entries, as the environments have proven less clustered and more focus has been put on navigating between cities and points of interest rather than navigating the cities themselves. With Assassin’s Creed Mirage putting the focus back on one city (à la Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood‘s Rome), that city will receive the time and care to make it a free-runner’s playground, which is confirmed by everything known about Assassin’s Creed Mirage’s Baghdad setting. With some new-to-the-series parkour moves being added to Basim’s repertoire, movement in Assassin’s Creed Mirage promises to be some of the most satisfying and parkour-heavy in the series.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage has the potential to take the series back to its roots in spectacular fashion. By combining 15 years of innovation with the core tenets that made the original Assassin’s Creed a standout, players can finally expect a true realization of that game’s vision. By keeping social stealth, classic-style combat, black-box mission design, and parkour at the forefront of design, Assassin’s Creed Mirage will bring the series full circle and leave gamers clambering for more games like it.