Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a fascinating, bold pivot that doesn’t get everything right but brings us back to the verge of franchise greatness

I do feel there’s two sets of Assassin’s Creed players, regardless of what some would have you believe.

Those of us who enjoy the big, grand open world experiences that offer rich potential and vast exploration, which absorb you for hours and offer a variety of activities to enrich their world.

And those who prefer going back to the game’s core essence, of sticking to assassinating targets, staying more localised and confined, with a minimal skill tree and a handful of tools to complete the job.

I loved Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I feel it was the culmination of all the great work Ubisoft have put into the franchise since my all-time favourite, Black Flag. Eivor was a great lead, the world was stunningly beautiful with a nice mix of terrain, there’s plenty of things to keep you occupied and it managed to take the series to new, unexpected heights by merging various fantastical possibilities.

To this day, Valhalla remains one of my favourite games this generation. So it really saddens me to say I just didn’t vibe particularly well with Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Actually, I got pretty bored of it early on and nothing about it ever really changed my mind.

There’s been this school of thought in recent years that people want to go back to what Assassin’s Creed originally was. Keep it simple, straight-laced and relive the glory days with Ezio. I see that, I appreciate that, heck, I loved those games too, but after experiencing Mirage I certainly don’t want it to replace what the series has now become.

Looking at it objectively, I think there’s two reasons why I feel that way. Firstly, those Assassin’s Creed games were very much a product of their times. They revolutionised what the action/adventure could be, they gave us something different, let us explore these massive, glorious cities and take in the beautiful sights, from the rooftops to the sewers. Nothing else was really doing that on this scale before and Ubisoft were able to craft something truly special as a result of it. The rhythm was steady, there was an overarching plot that kept us invested and cool cameos popped up which made us point at the screen and smile.

And the other part, I’ve never particularly been a fan of the Assassin’s Creed stories once we got past the Desmond days. Ezio was a great character, no question, but I was always more interested in what was happening with the Animus and in the present. Now all that has been pretty much scrapped, the plot isn’t the thing that’s drawing me to these games. Most Creed stories follow a similar coming of age arc and eventually come to the same conclusions. Even Valhalla, which has some great quests and narrative links, all plays second fiddle to its enormous sandbox.

This seems to be why people want to strip it all back. They think Assassin’s Creed is too much, too overwhelming now, and its lost its identity. I won’t deny Valhalla has probably given us way too much content, more than most will ever get through – myself included. And it’s no longer about blending in or hiding within crowds, not really, now it’s about axe throwing contests and drinking allies under the table. But I really don’t think Assassin’s Creed Mirage is the answer we’re looking for either.

Don’t get me wrong, in terms of movement, this plays as well as any Creed game. The ease and flow of parkour is great, it is absolutely beautiful to look at, and there’s a great cast of actors in here. Ubisoft have done a wonderful job of doing all but remaking Assassin’s Creed 1 here, stoking the feelings I had all those years ago when the game first released and blew my tiny little mind.

But at the same time, the slower change of pace has given me whiplash and the environment quickly starts to feel overly samey. It doesn’t help that it feels like I already played this game fairly recently with Assassin’s Creed Origins, and when your environment is also mostly sand, I just kept finding myself switching off.

Not to mention, I just didn’t get on with the combat. At all. It’s more stamina focused as you are only able to pull off a few strikes before you tire out. Parrying barely seemed to work out for me and dodging was almost always countered straight away by enemies just being that much faster and hitting that much harder. It’s the least enjoyment I’ve had from an Assassin’s Creed combat system, sadly, and just didn’t work for me in execution. Comparatively, I loved hacking away at enemies with Eivor and felt so much cooler as Kassandra.

So you’re definitely going to want to stick to stealth and fortunately, you’ve got a ton of options back from the olden days, like the benches, crowds, tall grass and little curtained-off areas you can duck into. Be careful though, as enemies are hyper perceptive in Mirage and very sensitive, so you won’t want to be stood around for too long. This is where the game is at its best and is the throwback to old-school AC days, keeping you on your toes, ensuring you make the most of the sandbox.

I like the more compact environment, with collectibles in fairly easy reach, with some limited puzzles to solve to get them all, and ways to make everything feel like it serves a purpose rather than looking like a reskin of something you saw just a short while before. Some of the collectibles are a bit underwhelming though, like a glitch which basically serves as a wall of text and a minor history lesson without any added effects or anything specialised to make it feel like something special or unique. It’s just like picking up a standard note in the game, which lessens its importance somewhat. But overall, the smaller scale of the game works well.

I’ve also got to give a shout out to the Assassin’s Contracts which offer a lot of mission variety, allowing you to complete the game however you see fit and giving you freedom to go wherever you please, while acting out the role of an Assassin. You have curator requests to give your missions a bit of added flavour, like not taking damage or not killing anyone, and you’ll go from stealing precious artifacts to taking out a designated individual, depending on what the contractor has requested. You’re a work for hire, you’re out to prove yourself and establish a reputation.

And that’s just it – I’ll be the first to admit it – I’ve not felt like an Assassin for a good few years now. I’ve been a Gladiator and I’ve been a bloodthirsty Viking and a Pirate. But an actual Assassin? Not really. And that’s really what Mirage has been designed for. To live up to the billing of the series for the first time in a long time. To be a true hidden one, sticking to the shadows, using hidden blades, taking advantage of distractions, marking targets. If you’re in that camp and you’ve been waiting for this moment, it’s arrived, friends!

I guess I’m just still also in the camp that enjoys taking on those other roles, exploring those other cultures and maybe feeling like the story of the Hidden Ones in its purest form isn’t all that interesting to me anymore. And it certainly feels like a subset of the Assassin’s Creed audience is being appeased here while the other is left baffled. Maybe there’s room for both interpretations in this franchise? Maybe we alternate releases in this way going forward? Maybe this leads to a whole new middle ground being crafted to build an entirely new fanbase.

It’s rare you see such a massive franchise take a risk like this. And it’s odd to even categorise it as a risk considering Ubisoft are merely going back to the series roots in the face of Valhalla being the best-selling game in the franchise of all time. Whichever you look at it, Mirage is a bold risk with its smaller size and scale.

And when we look back at Assassin’s Creed Mirage ten years from now, I think we’ll see this one was the divisive crossroads for the series, splitting the fanbase right down the middle. Some seem to love the game Ubisoft have built here. And some, like me, feel a little bit flat and dejected by it.  But here’s the thing, ultimately, I think Ubisoft might be about to make a massive breakthrough with its next installment. Mirage feels like the necessary pivot to prepare us for the bigger and better things to come. To remind us of how far we’ve come and where we can still go.

My personal opinion? When they strike the balance with Mirage and Odyssey/Valhalla, we might be looking at a best in series and that genuinely excites me. But what Mirage has shown is that uniting the fanbase may be easier said than done.


Assassin’s Creed Mirage has gone right back to stealth-focused basics which seems destined to split the AC community down the middle. It’s as close to a remake as we may ever get for the original and sometimes it’s to a fault. Despite its stunning visuals and seamless parkour, the combat is really iffy, the environments soon become samey and mechanic repetition set in pretty quickly. While it’s welcome to see the hard-focused return on stealth and the Assassin’s Contracts actually make you feel like an Assassin again, the change in pace between games is really breakneck and it’s probably not going to be to everyone’s tastes. 


+ Beautiful depiction of Baghdad
+ The hard-focus on stealth is a welcome return and feels right at home here
+ Assassin’s contracts really make you feel like an Assassin all over again
+ Parkour feels as good as ever


– Combat was frustrating and iffy
– Core loop gets repetitive quite quickly
– Environments feel very samey

Assassin’s Creed Mirage is out now on PC, PS and Xbox

Code Kindly Provided by Ubisoft for review purposes

Played on Xbox Series X

About the author

Sam Diglett

Sam grew up with a PS2, spending hours howling at the moon in Okami and giving students wedgies in Bully. Fortunately, she also likes Pokemon because otherwise life could have been quite annoying for her.
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