Is Assassin’s Creed Finally Returning To Its Roots With Mirage?

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Story Highlights

  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage is the next entry to the franchise and aims to take us back to the original beloved formula.
  • Assassin’s Creed’s new direction of adopting a more RPG-centered approach although created good adventures, possessed many flaws and ceased to be a true Assassin’s Creed game.
  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage brings the focus back to stealth action and parkour, reviving what was a long-term desire, and hopefully, the new direction brings back the true experience.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage is the upcoming addition to Ubisoft’s gigantic franchise spanning multiple mainstream and spin-off entries. After completely revamping the core concept in Assassin’s Creed Origins, it seems the series is making a return to its roots, as was leaked earlier. Assassin’s Creed Mirage will be an adventure reminiscent of the first game, utilizing the same nostalgic setting and mechanics.

When the new concept was announced to be implemented in Origins, fans had mixed reactions to it, but we still looked forward to how it would turn out in practice. Although Origins was a great game, it felt more like a standalone title. As further games came out, they brought out the shortcomings of the concept. Therefore, I believe a close to original experience holds considerable potential.

Assassin’s Creed’s Flawed New Formula

Being a long-term fan of the Assassins Creed concept, I was eagerly looking forward to how the new formula would be executed in the Egyptian setting of Origins. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, but the feeling of it being an Assassin’s Creed game was certainly fleeting. It was a foreboding as soon the Assassin concept was nowhere to be found as we moved on to the subsequent titles.

I just want to be an assassin in an assassins creed game. Possible spoilers.
by u/15Shaw in assassinscreed

So what went wrong with the new idea? The games drifted far away from their core idea, so much so that, at that point, they had nothing to do with Assassins anymore. The new extensive open world and RPG elements introduced in Origins were executed quite well and they even made a great game, but you could see it as more of a solid standalone game than an Assassin’s Creed one.

And afterward, we saw a flawed implementation in Odyssey and Valhalla, bringing many problems to the table. One of the major shortcomings associated with a vast open world was a fatal lack of content and excessive repetition. Rather than huge worlds, a rich content-heavy adventure is preferred. Sure the games had gigantic maps, but they were regrettably quite empty with nothing to do, and a bulk of repetitive content to explore.

The gameplay mechanics also possessed many tedious elements. The RPG concept was practically forced upon the players, as you grind for gear and loot to improve your capabilities or suffer a crushing defeat if refrain to do so. It is acceptable to a certain degree, but the implementation of RPG mechanics was poorly executed which made it an absolute chore to continually grind.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey was even more of an RPG than its predecessor
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was even more of an RPG than its predecessor

To further add to the excessive grind, a broken level scaling is also present. The combat itself feels quite hollow and clunky for an RPG, and on top of that, you have to grind levels in order to stand a chance. On one hand, you get pummelled by the enemies if you are low-level, and on the other, just a difference of a few levels makes it a breeze to get through. Another reason why the traditional approach in Assassin’s Creed Mirage is favorable.

Why does one level make such a huge difference?
by u/ferpsalerp in assassinscreed

As soon as you move to a different area with enemies close in level to you, they instantly become sponges, taking everything you throw at them. Though not necessarily difficult, it just becomes boring and tedious. These factors force you to grind or instead pay up to get levels. Honestly, I believe this leveling system puts a lot of restrictions on the fun of gameplay.

The nail in the coffin is how the focus has majorly been shifted away from the stealth concept, which was the start of this series. The modern games play out more and more like an RPG both in combat and all the grind associated with it. You can’t just stealth kill every enemy creatively, as a level difference renders you unable to do so and requires you to get back to the grind.

The Appeal Of The Originals

Before this new direction of the series, there were simpler times. While working on a new concept for Prince of Persia which involved assassins and a great focus on stealth, the idea broke free from Prince of Persia and became Ubisoft’s new distinct IP, much like what happened with Resident Evil and Devil May Cry. It was the unique blend of stealthy and parkour-heavy gameplay, alongside intriguing stories that hooked everyone.

We could see a hint of the Prince of Persia-style combat in Assassin’s Creed as well, but the core formula was quite different. Assassin’s Creed embodied concealing your presence in plain sight and traversing enemy strongholds with none the wiser to your actions. In addition, you could freely climb the many structures across the map and roam around with a decent parkour system, giving you a sense of freedom.

Above all, the gameplay mechanics were simple, and that simplicity was exquisite. There were no tedious levels and gear requirements involved, and you could just waltz into any area and an enemy who has not spotted you was just like any other target, as I believe it should be. The RPG style level and gear ruined this level of immersion, as it brought in the pointless grind to the gameplay.

No matter how sturdy the armor you’re wearing, or how good you are in a fight, if someone gets a jump on you unnoticed, he can assassinate you with just a single well-placed hit, that’s how it should be, and these games embodied this concept. Instead of level differences, the difficulty arose with how you chose to approach a particular situation, and it’s good to see Assassin’s Creed Mirage reigniting this idea.

The ability to stealth kill unnoticed without restrictions was the true Assassin's Creed experience
The ability to stealth kill unnoticed without restrictions was the true Assassin’s Creed experience

Since there were no restrictions on approach, you were free to study the enemy movement and placement and plan your strike. You could take the stealth approach, picking enemies off one-by-one, or take the honorable approach and only assassinate your target, slipping away unnoticed afterward. Of course, this will never work in the new formula as you can’t assassinate enemies of higher level, and the mobs spot you from miles away.

You could always take the “no witnesses” approach if that suited you, but that made the encounter much more difficult as the enemies ganged up on you, and foes more versed in combat were tough to take on. Precisely why the stealth approach was favoured and more fun to execute. With an RPG progression, however, you can grind levels and gear to overwhelm your foes.

Moreover, the games presented excellent stories with a meaningful cast and setting. I still fondly remember diving into the first Assassin’s Creed and exploring the wondrous Baghdad. The game masterfully portrayed Altair’s arrogance, his downfall due to that, and how he again started from scratch to reclaim his honor, only to discover the vile conspiracy of his elders. Hopefully, Assassin’s Creed Mirage replicates this.

A similar case can be made with the Ezio trilogy. A highly engaging story until the end and the enormous development of Ezio from just a vengeful assassin to a skilled mentor. The culmination of Ezio and Altair’s story in Revelations was indeed a sight to behold. All in all, the point is these games were a true depiction of an Assassin in their approach and stories, something the modern games have lost.

Revelations masterfully ties in Altair and Ezio's stories in a memorable ending
Revelations masterfully ties in Altair and Ezio’s stories in a memorable ending

Assassin’s Creed Mirage Is A Trip Down Memory Lane

I’m not the only one who considers the new RPG approach to be a lot distant from the Assassin’s Creed formula, as the latest titles faced considerable criticism. To remedy that, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is taking things back to where it all began and throws in a nostalgic trip to the past. It also brings back the original gameplay mechanics with a high focus on parkour traversal and stealth.

From what we know so far about the game, it brings us back to Baghdad, the setting of the original Assassin’s Creed. The protagonist this time around is Basim, a thief who begins his journey to become a master assassin. The trailer showcases the assassinations of the original gameplay returning, and the mechanics shifting to action-adventure gameplay rather than the RPG progression.

There is no longer a level and gear grind involved, as you can approach any situation with an assassin mindset, stealthily picking off your targets with no worry of whether they are higher in level than you, or if your stats are not good enough to tackle the room in question. In addition, the nostalgic map returns in modern visuals to be traversed with the series’ iconic parkour system. 

We saw an evolution of the parkour system over time, and although Assassin’s Creed Unity had considerable problems at launch, it provided one of the best parkour mechanics of the series. Though not on Unity’s level, Assassin’s Creed Mirage promises parkour closer to what was seen in the Ezio trilogy. A setting and story similarity to the first game and mechanics closer to Ezio’s story make up a fascinating combo.

In order to spark up that nostalgia further, the game also brings with it a blue color filter, something present in the original Assassin’s Creed. The return to the roots is complemented by this beautiful homage to the first game. All in all, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is shaping up to be a faithful adventure, something long-term fans have been demanding for quite some time now.

With time, the series has drifted away from its novelty by adopting the trendy RPG approach. I’m not against this idea in any way, as a careful implementation of it makes up a great game, just as Origins has proved. However, I believe it ceases to be an Assassin’s Creed game if it’s not about assassins and a stealthy approach. Modern games had multiple flaws despite a good idea, and I hope this return brings back the Assassin’s Creed magic.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage arrives for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Amazon Luna on October 12, 2023.

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