Assassin’s Creed Mirage Hands On Preview — The brotherhood is back

The number 1 thing that Ubisoft is known for is their Assassin’s Creed franchise, which is coming up on its 16 year anniversary! The original game released back in November 2007, which garnered worldwide fame and was lauded for its stealth parkour mechanics and representation of the historical Order of Assassins. The series has since strayed away from its roots and pivoted into the more traditional open-world RPG formula, as seen with the more recent AC Valhalla and Odyssey.

However, the developers announced last year that they wanted the next installment in the franchise to be a throwback homage to the first few Assassin’s Creed games, and thus the idea of Assassin’s Creed Mirage was born. Developed by Ubisoft Bordeaux, Mirage is set in 9th-century Baghdad during the anarchy at Samarra, and follows Basim Ibn Ishaq as he joins the brotherhood of hooded assassins. The game is much more linear and succinct than its recent predecessors and features an emphasis on strategic stealth gameplay rather than head-on combat.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Hands On Preview - PC [Gaming Trend]

I had the fortunate opportunity to go hands-on with the game through a closed preview event, and from the looks of it, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is shaping up to be a riveting experience for fans and newcomers alike. This preview was done through a streaming service, so I was able to take control of a remote build of the game and experience around 3 and half hours of different parts of the full game. The whole experience was broken down into 3 sections, one focusing on the opening narrative, setting up Basim as a character and his humble beginnings, one focusing on combat, and lastly one focusing on free-form gameplay with an assassination mission.

While the streaming experience did have its stumbles, such as hard crashing on me twice and the default visuals rendering in 1080p, it didn’t deter me from having an absolute blast with the actual game. It should be noted that the full release will be in 4K and likely offer options that prioritize graphical fidelity and framerate performance. I played with a PlayStation DualSense controller on PC, but the game offers support for keyboard and mouse, along with Xbox controllers.

My time with the game started off with Basim having ghastly visions and dreams before being woken up and consoled by his dear friend Nehal. I got a quick introduction to a few characters and learned how to move around and parkour along the way. At this point I didn’t have a weapon yet, so it was all about sneaking around and knocking people out stealthily. I was tasked with a beginner mission of stealing a ledger in a heavily guarded area, filled with patrolling guards. My immediate strategy was to take out the guards on the outer perimeters before jumping over a fence and on top of a building. The ledger was tucked behind a locked door, so I had to find the guard holding the key. Luckily, I had my trusty Eagle Vision which highlights which guard is going to be the unlucky receiver of my swift hands. I was in and out, just like that. Piece of cake!

The next section of the demo took place right as Basim joins the brotherhood, as he trains under his mentor Roshan. This part primarily focused on learning the ins and outs of head on combat. Basim is equipped with both a sword for basic and charged swings, along with a dagger for parries. Basim can also perform dodge rolls against enemy attacks that glow red, which eats up stamina super fast. Normal attacks can be parried, which then reduces the enemy’s stagger bar. Once their stagger bar is depleted, you can instantly perform a kill action on them. It’s immediately apparent that Ubisoft Bordeaux is trying to promote a stealthier and strategic approach in most situations because battling groups of enemies head on is not an easy feat.

Combat for the most part was quite intuitive and responsive, but having more than 3 foes in front of you at once is incredibly challenging and you’ll more than likely meet your death. I found one on one duels to be more enjoyable as I discovered the ebb and flow of parrying and dodging. Aside from close quarters combat, Basim is also equipped with throwing knives for a more ranged and stealthier approach. Speaking of stealth, Basim is truly a master of shadows, as you can instantly assassinate unwary opponents, even if you just walk up to them. Just wait until you unlock more nodes in the skill tree that allow Basim to perform fancier moves like chain assassinations!

Assassin’s Creed Mirage employs the “Black Box” design philosophy, as many missions simply give you a scenario, and it is up to you to figure out the solution. Do you want to climb up the building and find an open window to sneak in, or just barge in the front door? It is definitely giving immersive sim vibes out here. The entire city of Baghdad acts as a playground of sorts, opening up endless possibilities for different approaches. Sometimes you also need to inquire information from various NPCs around town before you acquire enough clues or evidence to reach your target. In fact, during one particular assignment, I had to have a particular currency in order to bribe a vendor, but I didn’t have that item, which forced me to figure out various ways I can acquire one before progressing. Take things slow and calculate your next steps; this is the creed of the older AC titles and it is extremely evident here.

Mirage promises to be a game that is less bloated than previous titles, which take over 100 hours to 100%. I believe this title is aiming for the 20-30 hour mark instead. Modern Assassin’s Creed titles are notorious for having a metric ton of various markers on the map for side missions to do, forts to conquer, NPCs to talk to, vendors to shop at, among other points of interest. Those elements are still present in AC Mirage, albeit to a lesser degree. Baghdad still feels quite open-world from my preview, but to a lesser scale than the previous games. There are plenty of optional side activities to take part in, and you never know who you might run into on the streets.

As I was loaded into the final portions of the preview, the entire city opened up for me to explore. I’ll say one thing for certain: Ubisoft knows how to make a world feel alive in all of their games, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage is no different. Baghdad feels bustling, with various citizens going about their day, conversing with one another, or shouting at you to take a look at their wares. The added ability to pickpocket strangers and blend in with the environment takes immersion to the next level. Mirage also includes elements that you might be familiar with from more modern AC titles, such as having an avian companion that can scout areas, and the ability to “synchronize” an area for points of interest makes a welcome return as well.

Heck, they even added a heat-level system where you increase a “Wanted” meter the more you engage in illegal activity. What constitutes illegal activities you might ask? Making blood shed on the streets, getting caught stealing, or hijacking someone’s camel all count! This is unrelated but I found out that camels can walk in the water while you ride them because of their exceptional height. How cool is that?! Anyways, so how do you lower your heat level? You find Wanted posters of yourself on walls around town and you take them down! The developers have definitely nailed the little details down, and that appreciation goes a long way.

I don’t know about you but Assassin’s Creed Mirage is just my cup of tea. What I experienced is just a snippet of what the game has to offer, but I’m hooked already. It perfectly captures the essence of what made the older AC games so addicting whilst interjecting modern AC elements as well. Basim is incredible as a main character, and I’m glad that we get to explore more of his origins and story after his introduction in Valhalla. The icing on top of the cake is that the entire game is priced at $49.99, which is humble compared to the $69.99 price tag that most triple A titles have nowadays.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage is coming to PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, PC, and Amazon Luna on October 5th, 2023 (one week earlier than before!). Note that Mirage will not be releasing on Steam PC, but rather through the official Ubisoft Store and the Epic Games Store. You can pre-order the Deluxe Edition and receive a special Prince of Persia themed collection to customize Basim and his equipment.

An avid enthusiast of both tabletop and video games, finding endless joy in exploring different realms of entertainment!

See below for our list of partners and affiliates:


To Top