There is something about Assassins Creed

Is it a Mirage?!

There is something about Assassins Creed

I walk the streets as I look around for my destination. In the distance I hear the call for prayer and realize that it is dawn. The sunlight has yet to reach the rooftops where I parkour my way across. I feel a disconnect with the world. It is night where I sit and yet dawn in the streets.

I had briefly lost myself among the streets of Baghdad and it was the call reminded me of the world outside. It all felt so real and for a moment I wondered at a future where we could have a more immersive experience. This attention to detail is what keeps me coming back to Assassin's Creed.

It started with AC Origins, where I had seen gameplay and reviews of the game and I believed I would be better off not getting the game until I saw it in person. I was sold on the game and the world. When AC: Mirage was announced, I was skeptical of the game esp. how AC: Valhalla turned out. Valhalla was grind beyond measure and I pushed myself to finish the main story (very unlike AC: Odyssey where I went out of my way to platinum the game). Having seen gameplay, I made up my mind that the game was not worth it. The promises of "getting back to the roots" and "more compact story" did not sell me on it.

But then when Mirage turned up in Ubisoft+, I thought I will give it a whirl to see if there was something to it.

Lost in the mundane

After getting through the main opening and reaching Baghdad, I got into the grove of the game. I loved how they gave me certain freedom in approaching missions and it felt satisfying to pull it off my way. I have to give it to Ubisoft for the attention they pay to the music. The background music seemed to fit in with the Middle Eastern setting and that blend with the AC theme was just...

The parkour was better in this game and I found myself on the rooftops many a time (as evidenced by the opening of this article as well 😅). But the streets of Baghdad were so crowded with people that I found myself come down just to experience the atmosphere among the people. I was reminded of the Marrakesh level from Hitman. A most disorienting thing I found though were the gestures made by the merchants (which does not seem to have changed since AC: Origins) and it broke the immersion as I walked through the bazaars.

Back to the roots (kind of)

One of my biggest problems with AC: Valhalla was the fact that you were less of an Assassin and more a Viking. So, the importance of stealth that you come to expect from the game was lost. But in Mirage, stealth is placed at the forefront at most combat encounters, so much so that open combat is quite punishing. In this scenario, early on, the DLC weapons and armor do help in most encounters.


Then, we had the notoriety levels. If Basim did a crime in front of witnesses, his notoriety increases by a level. There are 3 levels to this, with the first being increased awareness, second getting bowman on the roof and the third having a mercenary looking for you. You can either take down your posters, bribe a munadi or defeat the mercenary (if you are at level 3) to reduce/remove your notoriety. This was a whole lot of fun adding a layer of complexity to the planning. If you weren't paying attention to your surroundings, your kills maybe noticed to add to your notoriety.


Another mechanic returning to the game is pickpocketing, which featured an annoying little mini game to pull it off. Fortunately, the devs provided an option to turn off this mini game and that made pickpocketing a lot more fun. The tokens earned or more like stolen in the process did have its uses.


The game also features the returns of tools, which I was really looking forward to trying out. Poison and sleep darts were my favorite tools in AC: Origins. One of my favorite things to do in Origins was to poison enemies. Other enemies would be liable to get poisoned by the corpse. This often led to chain reactions, where many enemies would end up getting poisoned.

However, I did not see such possibilities turn up in Mirage esp. since it took me a while to unlock the poison darts, having not done any contracts that would have given me the components for upgrade.

Assassins focus

One of my favorite new mechanics in this game is the Assassin's focus. It made me feel like a badass when executed rightly. I could use it to transport myself to reach behind fortifications easily and when planned correctly take down multiple enemies in a sequence. I did find a part of this mechanic reminiscent of a similar ability in AC: Odyssey.

Order of the Ancients

As with the recent games in the AC universe, this game features the tree of enemies to be uncovered. There are 5 of the main members of the Order, whose identity needs to be uncovered by taking down members lower down and gathering clues, as expected.

The missions to assassinate the main Order members were set like open sandboxes (kind of) that could be approached in multiple ways. These were definitely the best part of the game. However, the lead up to these missions fell short many a time. It clearly seemed like missions were added to buff up the game, evident in the quality of the missions featuring follow missions and fetch missions. Certain parts of the game felt like it could have been cut out to create a cleaner narrative.

Another similar annoyance this game shared with AC: Valhalla is the way the game is split into regions. So you go to each specific region in the map and do a number of smaller missions that lead up to the big reveal. This created a sort of structured, mechanical storytelling rather than the seamless narrative it could have been.

The Valhalla connection

We talked about the mechanics and the main storyline and what remains is the connection to AC: Valhalla. We all know where Basim is going to go after the end of this game, so I was curious to see how they would handle the transition. What I really liked was that for most of the story the plot was focused on Basim's evolution as an assassin.

References to the other game were sparse until the end of the game, where we come to understand his inner demons and the game delivers the twist (which I did kind of see coming because it seemed the natural course). The ending of the game did leave me dazed for a sec until I looked it up online and confirmed my understanding. Kudos to the developer for delivering a self-contained story and keep spoilers for Valhalla to a bare minimum (almost none I would say). This is evident in the fact that we don't even get to see or hear the present day character, which would have been a dead giveaway to Valhalla's ending.

In Closing

Every AC game seems to build on its predecessor and it is good to see those elements come together in Mirage. The game definitely holds some potential and if this is the direction the future games are going in, I am excited by the possibilities. Mirage is not as bloated as AC: Valhalla and the 15-20 hour storyline definitely has a few points going in its favour.

All in all, if you are looking for a light game for the season, featuring your favorite assassination mechanic, I would recommend giving AC: Mirage a try (keeping in mind a bit of bloat here and there). The streets of Baghdad, the core gameplay mechanics and the overall vibe makes it all worth it.

Originally published on 30th December, 2023.