Assassin’s Creed Mirage has fans of the popular stealth franchise excited as it goes back to its roots, and with good reason. While we’ve enjoyed the epic scale and scope of the most recent adventures including Odyssey and Valhalla, there’s no denying that those beasts of games have become a bit unwieldy, with hundreds of hours of quests, collectables, and to be honest, not as many “assassinations” as you’d expect. Mirage is set to offer a more focused, linear adventure, bringing it back to the core that made the series so successful in the first place.
We had the chance to spend four hours hands-on with Assassin’s Creed Mirage ahead of launch, and we’re happy to report that fans absolutely should be excited. This is everything we know and love about Assassin’s Creed, with the modern touches from the previous games making for a smooth and satisfying experience.
Check out our hands-on preview footage below!
Our hands-on time with the game was broken into sections so that we could get a taste of how Basim becomes our new hero, before diving into some of the larger-scale gameplay that we’re used to from the series.
Starting as a street thief, you’ll play as Basim and experience his daily life focused on survival in Anbar. With a friend by his side guiding him, this serves as the tutorial for the game, following your mate through the bustling streets. Even in these early scenes, the level of detail in Anbar, the amount of people walking around, running stores, talking with one another and going about their lives really sets the scene. The engine clearly is being pushed with the amount happening on screen at once, and is impressive in scope.
“Basim comes across as super likable and even relatable, already to me feeling like a character with depth and empathy.”
Learning how to steal and pickpocket is simple, with pickpocketing triggering a small QTE each time. Depending on the value of what you’re stealing and who you’re stealing from, this timing window will change. These early ones were easy, but I encountered one later that needed precise timing, or the guards were called to take me in. Assassin’s Creed Mirage definitely goes back to its roots in the stealthy sense; while Valhalla almost fully expected you to run in axe-first most of the time, the first mission you get here – to steal a ledger – requires you to be more cautious with guards, taking them down quietly, hiding their bodies and remaining invisible.
The second section we played has Basim exploring his new beginnings as an assassin, training with Roshan (Shohreh Aghdashloo, in really fine form here), a Master Assassin and his mentor, just outside of Anbar in the fortress of Assassin’s Alamut. This gave us an overview of the various tools you’ll use, including how to fight and eventually become a true Apprentice. Defending the camp against enemies and learning how to use skill points opens up the large skill tree, where you can prioritise new abilities or strengthen existing ones. Again, it looks to give you a choice of the kind of Assassin you want to be and where to focus your efforts. It serves as a good welcome into this world, its core characters and the journey you’re about to go on. Basim himself comes across as super likable and even relatable, already to me feeling like a character with depth and empathy.
From here, we jumped forward to a section later in the game (and a few targets deep), where we spent the majority of our play session immersed in the lively city of Baghdad. If I thought Anbar was dense, Baghdad is wild by comparison. The markets are full of residents, shopkeepers and guards, the architecture of the city popping with plenty of opportunity for walls to climb and rooftops to leap across. By focusing on a smaller area (instead of the too-big world of Valhalla and others), Assassin’s Creed Mirage has ensured that it’s a proper parkour playground, with opportunities for escape everywhere.
With a target given to us, a member from the Order of the Ancients, it was go-time, but just because Mirage is more linear in scope doesn’t mean there aren’t distractions. I came across some playing children with one in particular who had gotten himself into a pickle, and a noticeboard in your home base has civilians needing help, but it’s a far cry from the gigantic map filled with various coloured dots we’re now used to. It feels more organic and less busy work; the side activities I took part in felt like good little sub-stories that didn’t take up too much of my time, in the best way.
With your main assassination, the investigation board will update as you find clues, and you’ll need to discover a few before you even reveal who your target is going to be. In the footage above, you’ll see I had to kill the harbourmaster (a bit of a sub-boss). While my approach wasn’t the most elegant, with some stumbles along the way, I managed to combine a bit of stealth and a bit of brute force to get the job done. It harkens back to the OG Assassin’s Creed games, where it feels like you can tackle missions in different ways, but stealth is certainly still preferred to cause less of a fuss and be in less jeopardy.
Heading into the Bazzar to find intel on the target, you’ll need to explore, keep an eye out for clues, talk to merchants and figure out the next steps. Part of this doesn’t even have a waypoint to assist you, so you really will need to look around old-school, which I appreciated. We learned that there was a Great Auction taking place, which we would need to attend so that we could get close to our assassination target. At that point, there was a key item that we needed to bid on… if we had the funds.
Once sitting in the auction and the item in question came up, we had the opportunity to bid on it, but I clearly hadn’t done my pickpocketing or theft due diligence, as I did not have enough money to get involved, which felt awkward. So what does a thief do when they can’t buy what they want? Well, steal it, of course. It was confirmed that if I’d had the money, I would have just successfully bought the item and skipped this step, so again, it’s good to see that different paths open up based on decisions made (you might want to save your money anyway).
Once I stole the item, there was another roadblock to get an audience with my target. It feels good to have this multi-phase approach when it comes to assassinating somebody important; they’re not just roaming the streets waiting to die. Finally, after gaining an audience, the option to kill came up, and I took my opportunity. Another journalist in my play session didn’t bother with the cut scene and just ran in for a stabby-stabby, but I enjoyed the banter and pageantry before taking them out. Still, nice to know you can skip the formalities if you’re eager. Then, a fast escape through the Bazzar to safety.
After wrapping up our play session with a bit more exploration and stuffing around, I left Assassin’s Creed Mirage feeling incredibly positive. It really feels like an old-school Assassin’s Creed experience that was the franchises bread and butter for years, but with the extreme polish and quality-of-life improvements that have helped the series to evolve into the modern generation. Basim is likable, the location has been created with a lot of detail, and the investigation board with big assassination moments feels epic, as it should.
If the full release of Assassin’s Creed Mirage on October 5 for PlayStation, Xbox and PC manages to accomplish this, we’re in for a sneaky bloody good time.
Ubisoft flew the journalist to Sydney for this hands-on preview.