Over the years, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has become a cornerstone in Ubisoft’s portfolio. With the last few Assassin’s Creed titles, the team has been experimenting with and fleshing out their idea of what an RPG-focused Assassin’s Creed game should look like. They did the multi-protagonist thing with Syndicate, refined the mechanics in Odyssey, and practically hit the bulls-eye with Valhalla’s open-world RPG system. Even after all of that, Ubisoft couldn’t satiate the hunger for an old-school, stealth-based Assassin’s Creed title that reminded us all of Ezio and his adventures.
Amidst all this, two things happened. One, the AC series turned fifteen years old, and second, Assassin’s Creed Mirage was announced. The studio understood that players wanted a game with an actual assassin and stealth-lord at its forefront. Well, after playing Assassin’s Creed Mirage over the last week, I can confirm that nostalgia will hit you in the face hard and remind you of the simpler linear gameplay we have known AC series for in the past. But, does Assassin’s Creed Mirage live up to the expectations? Does it match the likes of Brotherhood and Revelations? Let’s find out in Beebom’s in-depth Assassin’s Creed Mirage review.
Thanks to an early copy provided by Ubisoft, we journeyed through the sandy dunes and walled cities of Baghdad as the master assassin Basim. The game hasn’t made me stop smiling even when I’m writing this review, so let’s dive in!
Welcome to the City of Baghdad
Assassin’s Creed Mirage acts like a prequel to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, where we are introduced to a coming-of-the-age storyline for Basim. This is the same mentor that Eivor and Sigurd took assistance from, and if you’ve played the final chapter of Valhalla, you’ll have a little sense of the reason why we are exploring this particular DNA. Right off the bat, we can confirm there is no real-world event linked to this game, as has been the case with previous titles. It is solely the memory of Basim that we are experiencing in Mirage.
While it uses a character from the previous entry, it follows a standalone storyline. Hence, prior knowledge of AC Valhalla is optional, and you can jump into the game without missing out on any plot points. We follow Basim’s journey through 9th-century Baghdad, starting as a thief and becoming a Hidden One, tracking and killing the elusive Order members. Concurrently, he has his demons to defeat, which gives us the much-needed character arc of Basim.
The introduction of Basim in the previous title is a blessing in disguise. For one, it allowed them to explore and return to the game’s roots. And it rewarded us with the beautiful recreation of 9th-century Baghdad and its neighboring oasis. And, since the team said these locations are historically accurate, I had to do my research. Unsurprisingly, most of the ones in the walled city were accurately recreated. Sure, there are certain creative liberties taken. However, exploring the walled city was nothing short of an experience.
Every structure, be it a mudhouse, river canal, crowded market, or even the occasional greenery, makes the city of Baghdad a joyous place to explore. After finishing the main story, I walked through the alleyways of Baghdad, reveling in the city’s beauty. And if you are like me, who love their history tidbits, there are codex pages to collect from every prominent city location. This is a mechanic that has been revived with this title, where picking up a codex page gives you a nugget of history about the old Baghdad.
Most of the Baghdad map is shrouded in mystery, and to unveil it, you have to do the old-fashioned synchronization. Once done, you will reveal that portion of the map and all the small activities available in that area. These sync points are also the fast-travel points, so doing that is incentivized. I cannot stress how many aspects of Mirage are a great throwback to the older Assassin’s Creed titles.
AC Mirage Story and Characters Lack Depth
While Baghdad is a joyous experience to explore and a focal point, the story has shortcomings. My main gripe is that it barely makes me care about the characters. Be it Basim and his issues or the Hidden Ones, they don’t have that memorable touch the pre-Origins entries had. I felt like there was a disconnect between me and the story. If you ask me to recall a moment from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, I can instantly remember the Castle Siege against Cesare Borgia. Also, the first time Ezio experiences the memories of Altair from Revelations is still etched in my mind.
By the point Mirage ends, I still vividly remember the alleyways and the dense city of Baghdad. However, I barely remember the main story and the struggles of Basim in this game. The game also has the habit of never revisiting scenarios that it begins. I can recount two instances where it happens, and in both cases, the title never re-explores these plot lines.
The characters also don’t help this cause. Whenever Basim and his close cohorts, like his mentor Roshan or his friend Nehal turn up on the screen, a sense of urgency arises. Conversations between them feel natural and well done. When it comes to other supporting characters or the actual order members, that is where it becomes a little lackluster. They do not hold that memorable aura that the previous three games have.
The story and characters of Assassin’s Creed Mirage aren’t bad., they are just lackluster and not memorable. It still provides a well-thought-out storyline that carries forward the legacy of a beloved title. However, it is forgettable compared to the previous entries, for the most part.
Classic, Stealth Gameplay with a Modern Polish
Thankfully, the gameplay makes up for the fumbles in the story and characters, just like the setting. Assassin’s Creed Mirage re-introduces a linear experience where you don’t grind side content to reach a said level. This time, everything progresses with the storyline. This means you get level-up points with each successful story completion for your skill tree.
The city of Baghdad isn’t there just for show and becomes the playground for your parkour shenanigans. The game gets a refined parkour system, thanks to the development team bringing back a denser and smaller world in AC Mirage. Holding X on a controller (or A on the keyboard) and moving towards any structures with hold points will make Basim start climbing.
Continue doing so, and you’ll immediately begin jumping and running from one point to another without any hassle. It creates a nostalgic gameplay system that I couldn’t stop smiling about. Furthermore, things like ground lifts, hooks, and ropes only add to the nostalgia. The developers wanted to pay homage to the older titles, and they successfully did that.
I vividly remember I used to stop following the main missions and aimlessly run across the alleyways and the rooftops in Assassin’s Creed Revelations and Unity. All because of a beautiful parkour system that felt perfect. Mirage recaptures that feeling and in a good way. If you ever wanted to parkour and climb the tallest landmarks in the previous games, you’d feel the same here.
Simple, Linear Skill Tree Progression
Remember, this is a coming-of-age story, meaning we are following the journey of Basim from an initiate to the mentor he becomes in Valhalla. And, to fit those themes, the game has a similar progression system.
Since this game isn’t an RPG, you don’t have a leveling system. What we have is a skill tree that is modest with its options. Another thing available is a gear system that is watered down to the point that the only reason Assassin’s Creed Mirage has is to incentivize world exploration. Let’s first talk about the skill tree.
You have three sub-sections in the skill tree. Phantom, Trickster, and Predator. Each of these sub-sections has further options that enhance the overall gameplay experience. Some increase your takedown, while others allow Enkidu to mark enemies immediately. You get plenty of points throughout the man storyline, allowing you to unlock nearly the whole skill tree. I’ve also noticed that outside of a few options, most of them only add subtle changes to the gameplay. Hence, even if you don’t worry about the skill tree, you can still take out enemies. Though, unlocking them only makes your life a little easier.
The skill tree is where you also unlock your tools. As mentioned previously, they help in the stealth gameplay and are recommended. They have a further three-tier upgrade system, where each tier allows you to pick one improvement. This can be the tool’s capacity or the effectiveness of them.
Since the game doesn’t have a gear system, you upgrade by going to the blacksmith or weapon smith. You still find armors with randomized stats, but they are very negligible. Furthermore, you cannot upgrade immediately. For that, you need blueprints scattered across the map for you to find and obtain. Understandably, this is for exploration. I enjoy roaming the streets of Baghdad, and blueprint hunting isn’t an issue. Many might find this system annoying. Having a unified upgrade system for your gears certainly benefits this game.
It also doesn’t make sense when you consider that you can completely ignore upgrading your gears. At that point, the upgrade becomes useless. This feels like a forced system tacked onto the game for that additional player engagement. Fortunately, they are not intrusive to your experience, making them something you can easily ignore. I can confirm this since I used Blacksmith only after 70% completion of the main quest.
This progression system is welcoming. It isn’t vast and cluttered like the RPG Assassin’s Creed and isn’t disruptive to the point where you have to pay attention to it. Furthermore, it surprisingly ties well to the game’s topics. Overall, gameplay is where Mirage excels. There is barely anything to feel upset about.
Combat Swords, Hidden Knives, and a Skilled Assassin
And while the parkour is wonderful, this isn’t a parkour-first title. You parkour to save your life and travel in mystery. Your ultimate goal in Baghdad is to take out the elusive Order members. Unfortunately, between you and them stand groups of enemies. Fortunately, you are an assassin and come packed with your tools of trade.
Mirage gives an equal amount of focus on combat and stealth. You can sneak around the area, take out only the ones important, and focus on your targets. For this approach, you have multiple methods. You can use old-fashioned tools like darts, crackers, and knives to kill and distract enemies. You also have hiding points like bushes to hide in them and lure enemies towards you through whistle sounds. The trusty eagle vision from older games and a bird companion for recon, this time called Enkidu, returns from Valhalla. These options ensure you are never going in blind. Even if I ignore Enkidu, the tools and stealth gameplay are simplistic. It’s satisfying to finish an encounter in complete stealth, air assassinating people at my whims.
You also have a takedown meter. It works like the system in Splinter Cell: Conviction and Blacklist. Each kill fills up your execution meter. When filled, you mark and execute your opponents immediately. It doesn’t matter what distance the opponents are at. If they are within range, you can execute your enemies. While true, it is out of place, it has helped in emergencies many times. In the end, it grew on me.
However, you have your trusty dagger and blades when things get south. Mirage uses the Valhalla’s combat system, stripping away the level-gated enemies and making them one-shot killable. Yellow attacks are parryable, opening them up for an instant death. Similarly, red flashes are non-parry attacks and demand you to dodge. Simple and effective gameplay. It ultimately becomes a game of how well you can parry an enemy and take them out.
Furthermore, parry and dodge windows are so big that the chances of you missing them are pretty negligible. The developers deliberately ensured that you enjoyed the combat whenever it presented itself. Furthermore, this game doesn’t have boss fights, so you are fighting with your enemies on equal grounds.
Mirage also introduces a notoriety system. Killing any soldiers publicly will fill your notoriety. There are three stages to that, and the world behaves differently in each of them. This system ensures that you only kill when needed, reaffirming once again that stealth is the ultimate focus in this game. It also adds a further layer of difficulty on top of the game, where the highest notoriety level means that soldiers will attack you whenever they see you.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage Performance
Assassin’s Creed Mirage has partnered up with Intel for their PC tech, and while one might think the other system vendors might take the bullet for that, that isn’t the case. This game is optimized to run well above the preferred requirements. We used the following to test the title:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5600, running at base clocks
- GPU: Nvidia RTX 4070 Ti, running at factory settings
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- SSD: 512GB Western Digital SN570
- Resolution: 1080p
Since the game has an in-game benchmarking tool, we used that to check the time graph and performance of the game. It’s well-made and even shows you the per-CPU core performances. We didn’t use adaptive resolution or Vsync for the test. Our first test shows us that the game runs at an average of 101 frames on the above system in max settings. We have 44 fps on the lowest 1% and 12 fps on the lowest 0.1%, with maximum frames touching at 144 FPS.
Over on the CPU and GPU utilization, our CPU or GPU never reached its full 100% usage potential, which is a strange phenomenon. In most cases, the CPU generally stays within 25% usage and GPU at max usage, barring Cyberpunk 2077. However, in the case of this game, the CPU ran at an average of 78% and GPU at 80%. The temperature was nominal, with the CPU at 59 degrees Celsius and the GPU running at 68 degrees Celsius. I am under the suspicion that maybe the 4070ti and 5600 are creating some bottleneck in the game. Outside of that, it runs well. The actual gameplay tests were also pretty similar to the in-game benchmark, with no suspicious changes. Also, on 1080p, the game requires around 6GB of VRAM for everything to run on very high-high. Hence, if you have an 8GB card, you are fairly safe.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage: Does It Have the Magic?
Ubisoft knew what the fans needed and masterfully tapped into the past titles to bring old-school goodness to a modern Assassin’s Creed game. While the story and characters are something that lacked polish and weren’t as memorable, the gameplay and the map are so well-made and simplistic that jumping from roof to roof in Baghdad is indeed a fun experience.
Paying a fitting homage to older AC titles like Brotherhood and Revelations, Assassin’s Creed Mirage brings forth everything you’d expect from an Assassin’s Creed game of the past. No more level-based progression, no more gear grinds, and no more RPG elements. This is the Assassin’s Creed I grew up playing as a kid, who put together his pocket money and got a copy of the second game with his friend. So yeah, playing Assassin’s Creed Mirage fondly took me back to those simpler times.
The focus here is fun, and fun it is. One thing is for sure. Everyone will enjoy this title, regardless of whether you are a returning player to the series or a newcomer to the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Ubisoft couldn’t have paid a better homage to the series. It’s fanservice, and I am here for it. Beebom recommends this game with all our hearts!
Get Assassin’s Creed Mirage ($49,99)