Assassin’s Creed: Mirage Hands-on Preview
It’s wild to know the Assassin’s Creed franchise has been around for nearly sixteen years. For me, it’s a series with several wins and few misses. Following Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla, Assassin’s Creed Mirage returns to a design akin to the OG titles. The announcement intrigued me. Following the three hours I spent hands-on, I’m happy to say that fans of the earlier games can look forward to much.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage follows the story of Basim in 9th-century Baghdad. He begins as a common street thief and eventually gets the attention of the “Hidden Ones.” He’s like if Aladdin proved himself to serial assassins instead of the Sultan of Agrabah. While I only experienced brief sequences of the game’s opening hours, I got the sense that we’ll see Basim’s entire arc.
The few supporting characters I met along the way; notably his mentor, Roshan, were all interesting, and I enjoyed the dialogue they shared in cutscenes. I can’t share the details of where the story in my experience concluded, but I can say that it left me wanting more.
Return to Form
As gameplay started, I immediately loved the parkour, similar to Unity. Every aspect of Baghdad’s environment and architecture can be interacted with. You can ascend and descend at will and free run endlessly. Mirage features a city that’s both stunning in presentation and game design.
At the start, Basim and his friend Nehal visit a market to steal from some wealthy bystanders. The pickpocket mechanic is simple but fun. It’s similar to achieving an active reload in Gears of War. You have to stop an animation within an emblem that appears on screen briefly.
I then jumped into the end of Basim’s trial with the hidden ones, where I was introduced to the meat and potatoes of Mirage’s gameplay: stealth and combat. In previous Mirage previews, stealth gameplay has shown off chain attacks and other cool abilities, not all of which were seen in the series before. I didn’t have the opportunity to experience those moves, but I did have fun sneaking around multiple compounds and silently taking out targets.
Devil in the Details
It’s a small detail, but I was stoked that Basim is missing a finger for the sake of his hidden blade. I only experienced a few hours each in the last three Assassin’s Creed games. Admittedly, I wasn’t a big fan of the combat. I didn’t love feeling like I was hitting sponges with a Nerf sword. I’m a simple man. Give me the older game’s combat, not unlike Batman Arkham, and sick finishing animations for each kill.
Mirage features combat mechanics that seem to be a combination of the old and recent. Enemies aren’t nearly as spongy, but they continue to attack in more interesting ways that keep me engaged. Attacks prompt you to either parry or dodge. You have a light and heavy attack with different effects and various unlockable throwables, including knives.
It’s pretty fun, but I may end up disappointed by the combat finishing animations. Whether I happened to trigger the same animation dozens of times or the build I played was bugged, I only saw a few different ones. Nine times out of ten, I saw the same simple kill animation. It doesn’t remotely ruin what’s fun about combat, but the repetition did bum me out a bit.
Choose Your Method
Lastly, I experienced the major component of Mirage’s gameplay in a “Black Box Mission” similar to what’s included in Unity and Syndicate. Your target’s located in a wide area, and it’s up to you to figure out how to find and assassinate them. Honestly, I didn’t love every moment of hunting down my target. The few options I chose to narrow down their location were tedious and boring. However, I could tell that these missions will feature variety. The final moments of finding and bringing down my target were a blast and a nostalgic Assassin’s Creed feeling.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the level of customization for Basim in both style and function. His gear can be outfitted in many ways, along with the weapons he carries. Throughout the small amount of time I spent with him, he seemed to be a charismatic character. I’m looking forward to seeing where he ends up in his own game.
I can’t share any conclusive thoughts on the game’s presentation as I experienced it on PC at 1080p through a remote streaming solution. It did run at a high frame rate, and I can confirm that the game will ship with 4K capability. Assassin’s Creed games have always featured stellar soundtracks and the music I’ve heard in Mirage lives up to that legacy.
My time was brief, but Assassin’s Creed Mirage is seemingly a good return to the series’ original form while adopting positive aspects from the more recent games. For more on Assassin’s Creed Mirage, stay tuned to COGconnected.