Ubisoft Connect 2023 finally showed off gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Mirage, a spiritual rekindling of the series’ roots. There’s just one problem: those roots are painfully average.
During the showcase for the new Assassin’s Creed game, Ubisoft highlighted similarities to the series’ origin point: 2006’s Assassin’s Creed. However, that’s not exactly a good thing.
Throughout the gameplay demo, everything seemed like a call back to the 2006 game. The environments of 9th Century Baghdad are a colourful reminder of the nearby region of 12th century Damascus. The buildings are similarly built, its routes are similar and even the Assassin’s Hideout is a rooftop-entered hobble.
Even Mirage’s gameplay is a homage straight back to the series’ origin point. From the gameplay we’ve seen, Mirage sees you exploring a small open-world hub, going to the Assassin’s Hideout and being given a target to sneakily take out.
However, just like the original Assassin’s Creed game, Mirage does appear to completely lack the stealth systems that you’d expect from an assassination game. After the open-world affairs of Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla, Mirage’s return to roots does appear to be more basic than many would expect.
There are certainly improvements: protagonist Basim Ibn Ishaq can use a blowdart to send enemies to sleep, scan to highlight enemies in an area and even poison guards. While it’s heavily inspired by the original game, a lot of Assassin’s Creed 2 is here as well.
However, it’s worth noting that the original Assassin’s Creed game isn’t all that good. While it was a mind-blowing visual treat in 2006, it was an uneven experience with some rather dire missions and poor AI — the latter being a long-running trend for the series.
Perhaps our lack of excitement for Mirage comes from high expectations. A return to the smaller scope of past AC games should result in deep systems-driven gameplay, like a more action-packed Hitman. Unfortunately, Ubisoft looks to have settled for recreating the foundations of its series without expanding it at all. It’s Assassin’s Creed as you remembered it, and that’s it.
On the other side of Ubisoft, massive generation-defining projects are underway. For example, Star Wars Outlaws may have a protagonist that loves to yap, but it’s also an expansive and bombastic entry in the iconic franchise that is the game fans have wanted for years. Even Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a seriously impressive title that just wasn’t possible years ago.
As the new start for AC, Assassin’s Creed Mirage feels rather flaccid. It doesn’t install much excitement for anyone other than hardcore fans of the franchise. While we are certainly interested in a much smaller experience than the series’ unfinishable open world entries, we were also hoping for so much more.