The first “Assassin’s Creed” came out all the way back in 2007 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. A new IP by Ubisoft used their existing franchise, “Prince of Persia,” as its foundation and built on top of it, expanding it in every way imaginable. When the game launched, it was loved by many. Set in an open-world version of “The Holy Land” (now Israel, Palestine, and Syria) during the Third Crusade, the game gave players control of a young assassin named Altaïr Ibn-LaʼAhad. What made this game stand out from its peers was how you interacted with the world, or, in other words, how you traversed through it. “Assassin’s Creed” allowed players to parkour through the city and scale every building they could see on the map. This gave gamers a new way of interacting, as previously, games would limit these kinds of things to set pieces, but now you were free to run, climb, and jump from literally anywhere on the map. As mentioned, the game quickly became popular and was loved by many, but it had its problems—a lot of them, may I add? Most of those problems were overlooked by citing that the game was a new IP and was indeed a unique experience, but if the series was to be continued, then major changes were to be made for its next installment. What did Ubisoft do? They doubled down and released a bigger and better sequel with “Assassin’s Creed 2,” set in Renaissance Italy, and gave players a new protagonist, the beloved and endearing Ezio Auditore. ‘Assassin’s Creed 2″ even to this day, is considered the best game in the series, with improvements made in every department imaginable and a protagonist whom you can’t help but love. The franchise became a mainstay in the industry and cemented its name and legacy with this title.
As the years followed, we got more and more “Assassin’s Creed” on a yearly basis, each taking us to a different time period with a different protagonist, all working under the banner of the Assassin’s Brotherhood, a society of hidden protectors who maintain the balance of the world by fighting another powerful faction hellbent on dominating the world called the Templars. “Stay your blade from the flesh of the innocent; hide in plain sight; never compromise the Brotherhood” are the principles of the Assassins; “nothing is true; everything is permitted,” they say as they work in the shadows. We got different eras, from the American Revolution in “Assassin’s Creed 3” to the Caribbean during the golden age of piracy in “Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag,” from the French Revolution in Paris in “Assassin’s Creed Unity” to the Industrial Revolution Victorian London in “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate,” from the halcyon days of ancient Egypt in “Assassin’s Creed Origins” to The Dark Ages of England in “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla,” each game upping the last and with some ending up being more impressive than the others.
The last three games in the series, namely “Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla,” went full RPG, with dialogue choices (not in Origins), massive country-sized maps to explore, managing level-ups and stats, and so on. This new formula worked for some, while others didn’t like it and wished to go back to the original formula with no RPG elements bothering them. While I am in the camp that likes the new series, even I’d like to see a game using the old formula every now and then, and guess what? Ubisoft is fulfilling our wish with the next game in the series, “Assassin’s Creed Mirage.” Set before the events of “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla,” Mirage will give players control of a young Basim, the antagonist from Valhalla, and give us a glimpse into his life in Baghdad as an assassin before he joined the Raven Clan with Sigurd. Let’s discuss the game a little more and allow me to tell you why I am so excited about “Assassin’s Creed Mirage.”
Let me start with the world, which, in my opinion, is the defining aspect of every “Assassin’s Creed” game. The gameplay is fun, and the stories are fine for the most part, but I personally play “Assassin’s Creed” games to explore the cities and landscapes they have created from different eras of our time on this planet. Call me a big history nerd, but I love reading about different cultures from all across the planet and how these cultures and people lived their lives in different parts of the world. To get to see it instead of reading about it is just the perfect way for me to spend my time. “Assassin’s Creed Mirage” is set during the golden age of Baghdad and will let the players explore its four districts. Now the worlds that the “Assassin’s Creed” games have created over the years have never been slouches, but with this one, Ubisoft is promising an alive and breathing city where the inhabitants will react to the player’s every move. Those are some big words, but then again, it’s possible. From the CGI trailer they showed us; we got a glimpse of a massive city with some verticality and diversity to its name. What I am most excited about when it comes to the world of this game is seeing how dense it’ll be. The last three games that came out had massive countryside with lush forests and sweeping deserts and snow-capped mountains and were mostly not filled with crowds. Even if you visited the cities in those games, like Alexandria from Origins, Athens from Odyssey, or even Lunden (yes, Lunden, that’s how it was written and called before it became London) from Valhalla, they weren’t dense and featured shallow crowds at best. All of this was in massive contrast to how densely packed Paris and London were from Unity and Syndicate, respectively. It’ll be nice to see the massive crowds from Unity or Syndicate return here, as the markets and streets of Baghdad would be densely packed with people going on about their lives. Plus, with the added benefits of this game being released on the 9th-generation consoles as well, this is definitely something Ubisoft will take advantage of.
The Middle East is where this franchise began, and I am glad it’s going back there once more. With how well the AnvilNEXT Engine can render massive worlds, I won’t be surprised to see the beauty of Baghdad captured to the finest of its details. It’s a much smaller game in size and scope, but that doesn’t take away from this game’s potential to be one of the best in the series, and with the setting they are going for this time, and how rich and dense it’s aiming to be, I can hardly wait to roam the streets of Baghdad.
Back To The Roots
This is the one thing that the fans of the series are most excited about, and I am looking forward to this change as well. While I love the new RPG format these games have gone with, and Ubisoft themselves confirmed that more RPG games are on the way, there’s something calming and less daunting about exploring simpler worlds and playing the game without any complex mechanics to worry about. Ubisoft claims that this game will take us back to the roots of the franchise, with a heavy emphasis on the three pillars that built it. Stealth, parkour, and assassinations. I like the sound of that, but despite that, I hope “back to roots” doesn’t mean the games from the 360/PS3 era, as I believe they struck a perfect balance between the original and the modern versions with the gameplay structure that was present in Unity and Syndicate. There will be no enemy health bars, no numbers floating on your screen when you damage someone, no stats or builds to worry about, no gear to hunt for, and all of that, despite me loving the RPG games, is music to my ears. Basim will also be heavily relying on gadgets and stealthing his way across, and combat will be fast, quick, and responsive.
No RPG elements are good, and an emphasis on the tools at your disposal in combination with reliance on parkour and stealth is what gave “Assassin’s Creed” its popularity to begin with, and if everything Ubisoft has told us so far is even half true or accurate, then “Assassin’s Creed Mirage” will quite literally be the second coming of this franchise and maybe even spawn more non-RPG sequels in the future. The simplified nature of this game also excites me because I know I won’t have to spend 100s of hours completing it and can take a brisk, leisurely stroll all the way to completion.
The “Assassin’s Creed” games always focused heavily on their stories and characters, and I’ll be honest here and say that I don’t care for most of them. However, there are a few gems hidden there that I love, like the story of Edward Kenway from Black Flag or the tale of Bayek from Origins. While most stories are decent in their own right, I feel like the stories truly shine when they are character-driven and not about the grander conflict between the assassins and the templars, and that’s the one aspect that excites me about “Assassin’s Creed Mirage.” While Mirage aims to tell the story of the assassin, I reckon this game can strike the perfect balance between the character arc and the assassin’s arc. Why? Because of the two characters they have shown so far, Basim and his mentor Roshan, both of whom immediately looked interesting. While we know a lot about Basim from Valhalla, and he truly is one of the most interesting characters the franchise has ever created, Roshan, despite knowing nothing about her, somehow looks even more interesting.
It’ll be great to see the younger days of Basim and how he went from a street thief to the master assassin we see in Valhalla and get a glimpse into how Loki torments his being as we learn in Valhalla that Basim is the reincarnation of Loki. It’ll also be interesting to see the student-mentor relationship between Basim and Roshan, as she seems like such an enigmatic and powerful figure who shaped his life. Roshan is also voiced by none other than Shohreh Agdashaloo, and I can’t get enough of her voice. We don’t know how the story will shape out or how well these characters and the world they inhabit will be realized, but from what they have shown and told us, it looks very promising, and for the first time in a long time, I am excited about the plot of an “Assassin’s Creed” game.
I’ll just come out and say that “Assassin’s Creed Mirage” is one of my most anticipated games coming out next year. A huge portion of the audience despised Valhalla, but I loved every second of it. Sure, it was extremely and sometimes unnecessarily long, but the journey of Eivor of the Raven Clan across England and later Ireland and France was very enjoyable for me. To learn that the next game will focus on Basim and take us to a densely packed location while taking the series back to its roots is an extremely exciting proposition for me. We’ll get more information about this game soon, but no matter what, this game will be a day-one purchase for me. I’d love to sit here and speculate a bit as to what this game will be like or where it’ll go, but it’s “Assassin’s Creed,” we all know how it’ll be, and I am all for it. I love the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise, and while I am drooling over “Codename RED,” taking place in feudal Japan, Mirage will satiate my hunger till that one comes out. “Assassin’s Creed Mirage” will be out sometime in 2023; I bet the first half for $50, which makes it not a full-price game for the PlayStation 5 and 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC and will most likely be the last cross-gen “Assassin’s Creed” game. I can hardly wait for this one.
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