Assassin’s Creed Mirage Preview: Return to Form

With the last few games in the series, Assassin’s Creed feels like it’s lost a bit of its specialness when it launched in the late 2000s. Don’t get me wrong: Odyssey and Valhalla were solid RPGs that offered a vast and unique setting and a definite bang for your buck in the runtime department, but those games weren’t necessarily “Assassin’s Creed.” Because of their huge open-world settings and heavy RPG game mechanics. Fortunately, Mirage, the next installment in the franchise, and based on the time I’ve played so far, is what makes the series so great and brings the social stealth history simulator back to its roots in a great way.

England’s sweeping vistas, Greece’s seafaring and Egypt’s pyramid-scaling make dense and populous Baghdad full of life and vibrancy. That’s not to say that Mirage ever felt small, but from the few hours I spent playing it, I found myself constantly getting lost exploring the latest Creed’s most detailed and fully realized big-city playground. The city of Baghdad, as it should be in an AC game, is its own character this time around. From its dangerous and often congested city streets, to its dense bazaars and connected rooftops, getting from point A to B has never been a chore.

Due to Mirage’s updated reputation system, running a group of undetected guards isn’t as easy this time around. The more trouble you cause, the more enemies Mirage throws at you, such as archers and more powerful guards. The public will react to your presence and point you out in the crowd if you don’t get along, and the guards will alert each other as they do their best to stop you. Bribery and vandalism were easy ways to deplete my reputation meter, and moving between high ground and city streets helped me lose a set of enemies that were surprisingly difficult to fight in groups of more than two. In short, being chased by the Mirage guards in Assassin’s Creed felt like a fun challenge rather than an annoyance — and in some ways helped bring that classic Creed feel to the series.

Being chased by guards in Assassin’s Creed Mirage felt more like a fun challenge than an annoyance.

Mirage Combat, meanwhile, feels as tight and fun as the late series. The general combat mechanics of Odyssey and Valhalla are here, although enemy positions and damage numbers have been removed in favor of health bars, countering, and dodge rolls. While this may seem like a step back to the more easy and simple combat style of the older games, Assassin’s Creed Mirage’s combat is more challenging and reactive. If I didn’t try to isolate my enemies, I was quickly overwhelmed by groups of three guards. While deception and well-timed counterattacks can lead to some pretty sweet kills, it’s nowhere near as easy an experience as some of the older entries — and for the first time in a long time, I’ve seen combat in an Assassin’s Creed. The game is not only challenging but also fun.

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To that end, where Assassin’s Creed Mirage really shines is in stealth combat. Moving around in the shadows and hiding in plain sight feels more rewarding and engaging at the moment, and I try to stay hidden as often as I can, even if it’s on a crowded street or hidden. Shadows. For the first time in a long time, Assassin’s Creed feels like a proper stealth adventure again, much like the early days of the series.

To put it bluntly, Assassin’s Creed Mirage looks set to bring the series back to its roots in the best possible way. The story and gameplay feel like what made AC so popular in the first place, and its new setting and social stealth gameplay mechanics feel like the series has finally realized what was promised back in 2007. Some Are Not So Happy Scaled RPG elements, Mirage’s focused setting, intuitive controls, and fun stealth gameplay have me excited to return to the franchise.

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