In many ways, Assassin’s Creed: Mirage is a return to form for the series. Since taking a chance with Altar in 2007, Ubisoft’s stealthy epic has undergone numerous iterations and revisions, with the most recent entries—Creed Assassin’s Valhalla and Odyssey—placing us in massive open-world historical playgrounds that lean into the RPG genre. After numerous sequels with similar scales, Mirage is taking a welcome step back with a more concentrated action adventure that pays homage to the game that began it all.
There has been a need among AC fans for some variety in the series’ previous open-world offerings. Also, comments from players pleading for a return to the original helped shape Ubisoft’s decision-making process on the development of Mirage.
“Mirage’s creation has been the convergence of several inputs,” says creative director Stéphane Boudon. “Of course, the first one comes from our community: Origins, Odyssey, Valhalla they are all great games with the promise to live an epic journey in a strong fantasy. Their scopes have been calibrated to fulfil those ambitions as they all embrace the RPG mechanics. But amongst our fans, we started hearing the desire for a character driven story, focused on the core pillars of the first ACs in a more intimate scale. It resonates with us as well as developers and this was the starting point of the project.”
According to Boudon, the Ubisoft Bordeaux studio became a “significant production force for Assassin’s Creed and Ubisoft” after the publication of the first Valhalla DLC, Wrath of the Druids, because Mirage gave them the “ideal project” to work on. The development team intended to acknowledge the demand for a smaller-scale solitary adventure by narrowing their focus, iterating on the plot, and polishing essential components that create the experience of Mirage.
An upcoming installment in the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed Mirage will focus on Basim, a character you may recognise from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as he experiences a coming-of-age adventure in 9th-century Baghdad. Basim, posing as Eivor, is a seasoned assassin by the time we meet him in Mirage, but the events that transpired in the 20 years prior to the events in Viking England will be explored in detail.
As a series devotee, I find it intriguing that a new installment is being developed as a tribute to Assassin’s Creed, which was released in 2007. With the use of contemporary technology and Ubisoft’s extensive background in the Assassin’s Creed series, Mirage will deliver a stealthy adventure reminiscent of the original games.
“The increased hardware power and the extended expertise we developed also allow us to have a richer and denser map compared to the first ACs,” Boudon adds, “and it means for us more gameplay opportunities, more interactions between systems, more depth. It also means incredible and immersive details to treat Baghdad as one of the main characters of Mirage.”
Crowd blending, which in earlier games let us employ NPCs in the world to disguise our presence, and stealth capabilities have also been reimagined in Mirage, as Boudon explains: “For the crowd blending for instance, we took a more systemic approach. In AC 2 you could see the pattern of NPCs grouping in their lane, it was incredible at that time, but it was a bit artificial. With the chaos and the vibrancy of Baghdad we wanted, a system like that couldn’t fit at all, so we aim for a more organic one a bit like in Unity where you blend automatically as soon you have three people in your vicinity, it’s more difficult to master and less predictable but way more immersive.”
“For stealth, we also reworked the Stealth tools and their evolutions” Boudon adds, “some of them are legacy tools (the smoke bomb, the throwing knives) you already know well, but the team worked on specific upgrades that will allow you to reinvent them to fit perfectly with your playstyle.”
Assassin’s Creed Hexe, Assassin’s Creed Red, Assassin’s Creed Infinity, and the mobile project codenamed Jade are all under development, making this an exciting period for Ubisoft’s stealth series. But in 2023, we’ll be brought back to the beginning with the release of Mirage, and I for one can’t wait to dive into a more intimate adventure that aims to restore the vintage feel.
“With its more condensed scope and clear focus on Basim and his coming-of-age story, our main goal with Mirage is to provide a total immersion in 9th Century Baghdad,” Boudon says, “and the key events of the time for the Hidden Ones. We wanted this game to be a standalone that everyone could enjoy.”
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