4 things Assassin’s Creed Mirage needs to revitalize the series
If you’re anything like me, the announcement of a new Assassin’s Creed game doesn’t inspire any semblance of excitement. It’s been sixteen years since Ubisoft introduced us to the millennia-long struggle between Assassins and Templars, with the combat affecting players more than just in-game, as the franchise has lost its way trying to reinvigorate itself.
However, Assassin’s Creed Mirage seems to mark a notable shift in Ubisoft’s tone for the series, as it’s reportedly much smaller and focused on a narrative experience. It’s been a few months since Mirage was unveiled, and with Ubisoft reportedly targeting a 2023 release date, details on what to expect in Mirage have been relatively unclear unless you visit frequently official page.
It’s no secret that Ubisoft has been at an impasse lately, with French publisher Skull & Bones delaying and canceling unannounced titles for the millionth time. It’s disappointing to say the least, especially for a studio that has had a massive impact on gaming.
While Mirage feels like it could be a joyous moment for fans, it also feels like a lot will depend on how this game performs. The little snippet of information Ubisoft shared on Mirage’s direction sounds great, and with that in mind, here’s what Assassin’s Creed Mirage needs to deliver on all fronts to revitalize the franchise and restore order to the free world.
Revitalize the open world
As the age-old saying goes, open-world games give and take away. For every Elden Ring, and there aren’t many, there are millions of soul-sucking experiences that will make you wish it were game over. Despite the studio’s vast portfolio of open-world titles that feel inherently similar, the Far Cry franchise has created some unique unforgettable moments that make you appreciate what the studio was able to do.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is one of the studio’s best games of all time. Ubisoft created a blueprint for a sensational open-world game that would eventually become the concept for Skull & Bones. But after Black Flag, it focused on absurd amounts of inflation, with Assassin’s Creed Origins making the switch to “more.”
Playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Valhalla had to be the most life-sapping experience ever, as the move to “more” meant a billion quest pins and content that felt lifeless. Don’t get me wrong, there is good stuff in these titles, but to experience them you would often have to spend hours digging.
Mirage’s protagonist Basim from Valhalla finds himself in the beautiful city of Baghdad as a young man trying to climb the ranks of the Assassin’s Brotherhood. Given that Mirage is set to be smaller in scope, this allows Ubisoft to reconsider its approach to open-world design. If the goal is to deliver a condensed world, give players more meaningful experiences in that world.
Mirage might be the perfect time to rethink the tried-and-true open-world design and breathe some life into it. Overhauling the quest design should be a key goal, making it full of seamless experiences, a la Red Dead Redemption 2, where there’s a healthy balance between the player’s reactions to the world and vice versa. We already know what Ubisoft can do; Mirage should focus on creating a real, breathing version of Baghdad, something that challenges Ubisoft to rethink its approach to world design.
Rework the RPG elements
Following 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Ubisoft entered a period of self-reflection where the studio wanted to reconsider how it approached the following entries. Origins was the first of the revamped formula, with Ubisoft introducing RPG elements to the franchise and stretching the open-world approach to astronomical heights.
It might be a slightly unpopular opinion, but I didn’t enjoy this shift. My train of thought at the time was that Ubisoft saw the rise of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and tried to replicate that formula in Assassin’s Creed. However, it felt clumsy and pinned instead of feeling like a true design choice. Along with the world design, it became particularly troublesome as you encountered areas guarded by powerful enemies.
If Mirage is to retain any form of RPG elements, it needs to have meaning and not feel like an afterthought. Basim is a young thief-turned-assassin trying to upgrade his arsenal, aka the perfect opportunity to redesign the RPG elements to make them feel meaningful.
I don’t expect anything in a scale of RPG’s deepest titles; Something much simpler like God of War Ragnarok would work perfectly. Santa Monica Studio has successfully managed to get players to rate their build of Kratos in order to maximize their chances of destroying the Norse pantheon, especially in the most difficult of situations.
Build your version of Basim the way you want, with the improvements widespread and feeling impactful, not some sort of afterthought that only allows you to take on the hardest areas of the game.
Build on the Unity blueprint
After the first Assassin’s Creed game, the series steadily evolved into a power fantasy as the Assassin would take on waves of enemies and leave none behind. The protagonist is an assassin, but as the franchise evolved, it became more of a label than an actual lifestyle.
Of course, games are evolving and moving beyond the identity that sets them apart, for example Resident Evil and Dead Space have become increasingly action-packed since their survival horror debuts. The only exception to this identity evolution in Ubisoft’s track record is Assassin’s Creed Unity, and this is the title that should influence the direction of Mirage.
Before I continue, Unity was a flawed title for sure. When it launched in 2014 it was badly bugged and I despised such a shift of the very core of what Ubisoft had created. However, I revisited Unity later and found that I enjoyed it. It felt like an Assassin’s Creed game in that it created a blueprint for the franchise.
Mirage could be the evolution to Unity and build on the Unity blueprint by presenting a stealth-focused version of Assassin’s Creed that is the master of assassination. Ubisoft has mentioned that Basim’s experience will focus on gathering clues on targets before assassinating them. So why not go further and really embrace the shadows like Agent 47 in Hitman?
Keep Mirage focused on stealth as opposed to the tanking nature of recent games, perhaps throw in multiple ways to defeat an enemy such as: B. Environmental destruction, and make it feel like a challenging/rewarding experience. Anything that creates the ultimate fantasy of being a true assassin on the rise is an absolute win in my opinion.
Along with the previous vibe, Unity had some of the best moves in the franchise. If Mirage can capture a fraction of that or extend that movement, that’s another win in my book.
Leave the animus in the past
A little over sixteen years ago, Seventh Generation players met Desmond Miles, a man kidnapped by a pharmaceutical company that forced him to relive older memories through the Animus. Desmond would learn that he is a descendant of a legendary member of the Assassin’s Brotherhood. He would also discover that the Brotherhood is locked in a millennia-long struggle against the Knights Templar.
Sixteen years later I can’t tell you where the story is. Origins had a good story about how the Assassins started, and it lost me from there. I will be open; I’ve always hated the story centered around the Animus, as it prevented Ubisoft from focusing on an insane sci-fi storyline that increasingly takes place before and after Desmond’s saving the world in Assassin’s Creed 3 worsened. I would even go so far as to say that the story left me unsatisfied by the end of the first Assassin’s Creed title in 2007.
This point may be ambitious, but given the opportunity, Ubisoft should ditch futuristic technology and modern Animus users entirely. Basim’s story will focus on the Assassins before they took the title name, with this narrative focusing on his growth twenty years before Valhalla and the Hidden as they were known.
Now would be the perfect time to ditch the sci-fi act and focus on the Order’s rise through history, with Mirage beginning as the franchise’s narrative “rebirth.” Tell a more grounded narrative that focuses on the combat between Assassins and Templars throughout history, with each subsequent game focusing on a different historical setting while abandoning the sci-fi aspect.
Either that, or if Ubisoft is committed to the time-travelling Inception-like storyline, revamp the overall narrative to make it more cohesive. The end-of-the-world concept that was a core part of the series really balances out how cool the time-traveling battle between two ancient factions could be.
Perhaps this list is overly ambitious, but what’s there to lose when Assassin’s Creed’s future is guaranteed for quite some time?
https://twinfinite.net/2023/01/things-assassins-creed-mirage-needs-to-revitalize-the-series/ 4 things Assassin’s Creed Mirage needs to revitalize the series