We share a bunch of thoughts and opinions about our time with Ubisoft's latest Assassin's Creed instalment.
"The year is 861 and we begin our adventure in Anbar, in the heart of Iraq.We play as the young pickpocket Basim ibn Ishaq who, with his friend Nihal, makes a living by stealing everything that glitters in people's deep pockets in the bustling city of Baghdad."
"In a desperate attempt to pique the interest of the Hidden Ones that operate in the city, Basim takes on a mission that goes horribly wrong, forcing him to leave everything he holds dear to escape execution.But where one life ends, another life begins, and Basim is helped to escape by the assassin Roshan who helps lead him to safety and takes him under her wing as an apprentice of the Hidden Ones."
"After an introductory period that also serves as a tutorial, Basim finds himself outside Baghdad and it's here that the adventure really takes off.The map opens up and you now have the freedom to explore just as you want with your very own falcon at your side that goes by the name of Enkidu."
"This time the game developers have really listened to many of the previous player's wishes and slimmed down the game world significantly.The city of Baghdad, for example, is divided into four different districts that are each visually and structurally very different."
"Aside from a rather empty wilderness section, that's it, and that's more than enough to discover and explore.In the last few instalments you've been hacking people apart left and right, leaving a pile of bodies behind and not caring in the least about who saw you in your progress."
"But in Mirage, you're punished quite heavily if you don't stay hidden in the shadows and that punishment is enemies absolutely everywhere, which make the missions quite sweaty at times.This is mainly due to the notoriety meter which comes in three sections, first that you have been seen, which means that guards are vigilant about you, but also the civilians around you are too."
"The more your meter rises, the more active the people are in calling for guards, with the guards even attacking you if you pass by them too close.You will recognise the combat system from Assassin's Creed Origins where not much has changed."
"As usual, timing is of the utmost importance if you get into close combat, with parrying and running away being the best way to survive.The missions themselves are actually investigations where each part is a hunt for clues to find new members of the Order so you can execute them."
"Each of these individuals will require you to discover around four clues to figure out their identity, and by eliminating these people, you will discover the identity of the leader of the Order operating in Baghdad.In recent games, new weapons have been thrown at you in every chest you open, but in Mirage, the goal is not to constantly find better equipment, instead the chests you open contain materials that you can then use to improve the weapons you already have in your possession."
"Of course, there are also special weapon boxes that contain weapons, but they are few and uncommon and often difficult to get to as they are often very well guarded.To keep things fresh, there are five different tools to unlock, be it throwing knives, a blow dart, traps and more."
"These five different tools can later be upgraded in the Assassin's Bureau to make them more powerful but also to fit your playstyle.To entertain you beyond missions, each district of Baghdad has lost books to find, valuable items to steal and even mysterious shards to collect, which you can then use to unlock powerful weapons."
"The skill tree that has been so enormous in the last few games in the series has now been slimmed down significantly, gone are the hundreds of different choices and now there are only 23 skills to choose from.The game length is also something that has been reduced and instead of over 100 hours, you now clock around 25-30 hours which was really nice when previous games sometimes felt far too overbearing."
"Yes we have encountered the occasional bug, hopefully these will be fixed before release.Between glitched NPCs and dialogue issues and the occasional visual error to boot, there are a fair few to report on, many of which were fixed by simply rebooting the game or just returning to the main menu and reloading a save file."
"But despite the bugs, we must say that Ubisoft has really succeeded with Assassin's Creed Mirage.Slimming down the experience was a good move to prevent the fatiguing nature that was oh so apparent in the bigger RPGs."
"We'd add Assassin's Creed Mirage to our list as one of the better ones.No it doesn't beat our favourite, Black Flag or Ezio's Adventures but it's a close second.Now things are going in the right direction again, this shows clearly that you don't always have to go all out, just enough is fine."