Assassin’s Creed may have established itself in recent years as an enormous open-world franchise, but the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Mirage looks like it may not fit in exactly the same mold. The first of several upcoming Assassin’s Creed games and the only one to have yet received gameplay and story showcases, Mirage takes the franchise back to the Middle East in the shoes of the new protagonist, Basim Ibn Ishaq. The setting of the game looks to be as dynamic and detailed as ever, but it may not offer the same scope and explorative freedom fans have more recently come to expect from AC.
The newest Assassin’s Creed Mirage footage comes courtesy of PlayStation Showcase 2023 (viewable in its entirety on the PlayStation YouTube channel), an event held on May 24 to provide new footage and information for upcoming games and hardware. For Assassin’s Creed Mirage, the big news came in the form of a gameplay and release date reveal trailer, showing Basim going about the classic Assassin tasks of parkouring across rooftops, leaping into haystacks, and of course, assassinating. All of this footage takes place within Baghdad, the central environment for the new title. Although it looks like players will have plenty to entertain themselves within the city, it does represent a turn from other recent settings that focus on entire nations.
The decision to downscale Assassin’s Creed Mirage from the massive open-world structure of the franchise was explained in a GamesRadar interview with the development team, who spoke about the change as a product of fans’ wishes. According to creative director Stéphane Boudon, the studio “started hearing the desire for a character-driven story, focused on the core pillars of the first ACs in a more intimate scale.” Assassin’s Creed Mirage represents the answer to that desire, bringing the series back to its roots in an attempt to fulfill the first Assassin’s Creed game’s promise.
Some fans might miss the vastness of games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Valhalla when playing Mirage, but moving away from an open-world structure for this title is ultimately the right call. Although riding a horse across Egypt has its own charms, the larger games lose some of the focus that entries like Assassin’s Creed 2 had, filling out the world with sometimes repetitive side quests and frequently failing to offer uniquely designed stealth or parkour missions. Assassin’s Creed Mirage shows the wrong choices made in abandoning smaller-scale games and sets up the potential for a story that could recapture the greatness of franchise heights.
It remains to be seen whether Assassin’s Creed Mirage can fully capitalize on the promise of refocusing the gameplay and narrative experience, but the footage shown so far is encouragingly traditional. The focus on Basim’s story in Baghdad doesn’t mean the series won’t return to more expansive titles, as the upcoming mainline game Assassin’s Creed Codename Red appears to be taking an open-world approach to the long-requested setting of feudal Japan. If all goes well, fans of both approaches to the Assassin’s Creed franchise can hopefully find plenty to enjoy in Assassin’s Creed Mirage and the games that come beyond.
Sources: PlayStation/YouTube, GamesRader, PlayStation/YouTube