Review: Assassin’s Creed Mirage – A Triumphant Return to its Roots

Review: Assassin’s Creed Mirage

Developed by Ubisoft Bordeaux and published by Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is the latest title in Ubisoft’s long-running franchise. What started back in 2007, has grown into a massive and one of the most iconic franchises in the world that has seen many changes in the past few releases. After experimenting a lot with the mechanics and the franchise, with Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Ubisoft is aiming to re-visit the glory days of the franchise and explore those mechanics that really made this franchise so special. This is our review of Assassin’s Creed Mirage on the PS5 in which we explore the beautiful city of Baghdad and become the master assassin.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage follows the story of Basim in 9th century Baghdad who grew up in the streets as a common thief. Basim excelled at pickpocketing people in his days on the streets as a common thief where he worked alongside his aide Nehal while helping out different people in their tasks. Basim always wanted to join the Hidden Ones and situations arose which allowed him to become part of them after The Order of the Ancients came into play. You step into the shoes of Basim and experience his journey from a common street thief to a Master Assassin as he joins the Hidden Ones and plays his role in Baghdad’s history. Assassin’s Creed Mirage’s story follows a linear path where you will complete different missions and progress further to assassinate the threats to the people of Baghdad. This time around, Basim has to be a stealthy assassin rather than a head-on fighter.

Review: Assassin’s Creed Mirage

In Assassin’s Creed Mirage, you will actually feel that it is more stealth-oriented because the enemies are ruthless and if you are surrounded by them, you will not survive for a long time. The main focus of the game is stealth and if you decide to remain in the shadows, you will survive longer and feel more powerful as well. While Basim is equipped with a dagger and a sword and he will actively use both in combat, you will still feel a little powerless against most of the enemies because you need to rely on stealth. Instead of direct confrontations, the game encourages you to assassinate either from the shadows or use the new parrying mechanic and kill enemies after they are stunned. If you parry an attack, you can instantly kill that particular enemy, but this becomes a challenge in groups because instead of one enemy tackling you, the whole group will attack you simultaneously which makes parrying and attacking a little difficult. In such situations, your best bet will be to run away and hide until you can take them out from the shadows.

To further aid in your stealth, you have Eagle Vision which highlights things of interest around you. Enemies are marked in red and friendlies in blue while interactable items are in white. Using Eagle Vision is crucial in the game because it will help you keep track of different enemies around you even through walls and solid objects. You also have your trusted eagle called Enkidu who will be flying high above you and giving you a bird’s eye view of the entire region. You can use Enkidu to mark enemies on the screen, find quest objectives, and see alternate routes to make your missions easy. However, you have to watch out for archers because they are the enemy types who will identify your eagle and take it down. Apart from archers, you have the normal spearmen, swordsmen, and heavies to fight.

There are no RPG elements this time around, so you do not gain XP for killing enemies or completing quests but instead of the level system, you now have an Assassin’s Rank system instead. This represents the power of Basim in the game and as you complete different story quests, you will increase your rank and become more powerful in the game. There are three Skill Trees in the game as well but these are mostly support powers that you will unlock after you gain Skill Points by completing different story missions or side missions. The main quest and the side quests are now in the form of Investigations and are tracked inside a separate Investigations tab. You will have to complete different tasks for completing an Investigation and this will result in story progression. This is pretty much the same format for normal missions in Assassin’s Creed titles however, with this handy menu, you can now keep track of what you have done in the past relating to that particular quest.

Apart from your skills, you have different tools to aid you in combat as well. These tools are mostly for supporting you in stealth as well such as throwing knives, smoke bombs, and noisemakers. You can further upgrade these tools to make them more effective in combat as well. Nearly all of the tools are best in stealth or allowing you to remain incognito such as the smoke bombs which are excellent for allowing you to escape from enemies after they have you cornered. Each tool can be upgraded three times which changes its usage type to suit a different type of approach to different scenarios in the game. Apart from different merchants around the city, you will have a special merchant at the Assassin’s Bureau as well for upgrading your tools. You will also obtain better weapons and gear such as costumes in the game by completing side or main quests and these can be upgraded further to make them more effective as well if you have the right crafting materials. Different merchants around the town will help you in upgrading and customizing the look of your gear.

Probably the best thing about Assassin’s Creed Mirage is its world and how beautiful it is. The city of Baghdad and its different regions are meticulously designed to represent the correct era of the city. The city is bustling with life, and you will find an extreme level of detail as you explore the tight streets and open bazaars of the city. As soon as you start playing the game, you will instantly notice that the game feels exactly like the classic Assassin’s Creed titles. Its map is a lot smaller than the previous three games in the franchise yet it feels complete and more vibrant than ever. You have dense streets filled with houses and people moving around and then you have vast, open dunes surrounding these streets. The dunes have wide open areas for you to explore and look for secrets where you will occasionally bump into a bandit camp or an underground digging site filled with treasures.

If you consider my opinion, I had more fun playing Assassin’s Creed Mirage and exploring its beautiful map than any of the previous three titles in the franchise because bigger is not always better. I hated traveling so much in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey just for side quests and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla had multiple maps which made exploration even more of a chore because you had to move between the maps for missions. These issues are now gone thanks to Ubisoft finally going back to the idea of the original Assassin’s Creed titles where games had a single map, and it was easily manageable as well in terms of doing quests and exploration. This does not mean that Assassin’s Creed Mirage’s map is now too small or too boring.

It is still pretty big, and you have tons of areas to explore looking for treasures, loot, and different collectibles. There are tons of things to explore and learn about the city of Baghdad and its many factions and rich history. The game does an amazing job at this. Different key locations have a ‘Historical Site’ marker which when collected gives you detailed insights about that particular location. You will complete missions in some of the best locations ever featured in any Assassin’s Creed game such as high-security prisons, beautiful mosques, and Palaces. In the middle of the map, you have the main city area where you will find different districts such as the Abbasiyah, Karkh, and Harbiyah. Surrounding these are the Wilderness sections where you will find wide open dunes.

Each of these locations is beautiful in its own way and you will find an unformed architecture following all around the map. The main districts are differentiated according to the people living there and what type of activities are performed there. For example, in Harbiyah, you will find dye factories, docks, warehouses, and other working community locations but in the Round City, you will find lush gardens, beautiful houses, and the main Caliphal Palace and its vast gardens. Each of these locations is beautifully designed and you will easily understand how the rich areas differ from those of the poor areas. Karkh is a market district, and you will find a lot of merchants here doing deals and exchanging goods. The whole city of Baghdad is simply gorgeous, and you will love the overall design of the entire map.

The world around you reacts according to your actions as well. As you complete missions and become well-known in Baghdad, people will start to recognize you on the streets. Different factions are living in Baghdad, and you can help them out to gain their trust and favor tokens. Merchants, musicians, mercenaries, and many other factions in the game will require you to gain their trust first if you want their help during major missions. In certain scenarios, you can hire merchants or mercenaries to help you gain entrance to high-security areas and for this, you will need special favor tokens of that particular faction. Each faction has its own unique favor token, and you can earn them by completing contracts.

These contracts are side activities that you can do in the game, and these are short missions in different categories. These are assigned to you by different members belonging to one of the factions and will range from stealing something to killing someone. Most of these contracts come with different requirements as well such as avoiding detection or avoiding killing anyone. Once you complete a contract, you will gain that faction’s favor token and you can later use these tokens to pay for different favors. For example, during one of the missions, I asked a merchant for a favor to help me get inside a prison complex. The same mission also allowed me to enlist merchants instead who created a distraction, and I got inside the prison complex. These sorts of assists were available in the classic games, and it is great to see them come back as well.

Apart from these side contracts, you have plenty of other activities to complete in the game as well. In each district, you will find many hidden gear chests, hidden loot, special Historical Sites, Mysterious Shards, and Lost Books that you can find and collect for special gear or to learn more about the world. Each of these activities has its own unique challenges and tasks that you will need to complete in order to obtain them. Most of the gear chests are hidden inside hard areas such as well-guarded prisons, palaces, or other military installations; similarly, the Lost Books are hiding behind puzzles that you will need to solve in order to gain access to them. They are excellent if you are looking for a break from the main quest for some time or you can complete them easily after completing the main story of the game as well.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage runs really well on the PS5 where it offers both Performance and Quality mode. I did not play in Quality mode much because it limits the frames to just 30 frames, but the Performance mode is really good. The game looks beautiful, and the frames are silky smooth. Even with its high-speed chase sequences where nearly the whole city was chasing after me, I did not notice any sort of prominent frame drops. Different districts of Baghdad look gorgeous and the amount of activity in them is just brilliant. At no point in the game does the game feel empty. Even in the vast, desert dunes, there are different activities that you can perform and meet different people there. This combined with the stellar sound design of the game; you are in for a brilliant treat.

Review: Assassin’s Creed Mirage

After a very long time, after playing Assassin’s Creed title, I feel like the franchise is now what it used to be. While Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla were excellent in their own ways, Assassin’s Creed Mirage really sets the bar high for the future of the franchise and shows that Ubisoft still remembers what made this game good. I love the fact that the focus is now back on stealth and combat is now a last-resort element when it comes to combat, and the world is just nothing short of amazing in every way. If you were missing the pre-Origins era of Assassin’s Creed, I am happy to say here that you will certainly not be disappointed by playing the new game.

Final Verdict:

After playing Assassin’s Creed Mirage, I am extremely happy to say that Ubisoft has managed to bring the franchise back to its roots. Assassin’s Creed Mirage is what Assassin’s Creed used to be, a stealth assassin game and not a combat RPG. Assassin’s Creed Mirage brings back stealth properly and you actually have to work around your strategy in order to tackle enemies instead of just running in them and killing everyone who comes in your way like a warrior. The world design is absolutely gorgeous and combining that with a stellar audio design, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a step in the right direction for the franchise. There are very few RPG elements found in the game and fans of the classic Assassin’s Creed titles will be very happy to see it. If you loved the original Assassin’s Creed titles when it favored stealth instead of direct combat, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a must-play for you. Highly recommended for fans of the franchise as well as all players who love a good and beautiful stealth assassination game.

Final Score: 9.0/10

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Way of the Hunter.

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