Jump off a rooftop to dig a hidden dagger into the neck of an unlucky guard, run smoothly across the rooftops of a city in the middle east, edge attack; Yes, we’re partying like it’s 2009 again, when Ezio Auditore di Firenze first unleashed the true potential of the series with Assassin’s Creed 2. Except it’s not 2009; It’s actually 2023 and I just watched the first Assassin’s Creed: Mirage gameplay trailer. It clearly taps into nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ of Assassin’s Creed, when the series was more about parkour, cool killing and sneaky action rather than the squishy enemies trying to emulate The Witcher 3.
In other words, it’s a nostalgic taste, and the 95% likes/dislikes rating on Youtube means it works for most people, but not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m intrigued to see Assassin’s Creed move away from the RPG-lite style that has shaped its last three games. I guess my hope was (and still is) that it would move into a sandbox direction of fun, forward-thinking assassinations like Hitman. But what you’ve seen here looks a lot like Assassin’s Creed Revelations, but with nicer graphics.
My big problem with the trailer is that I didn’t see anything at all new There—same old stealth kills, apt “sticky” parkour, I think I spied Bassem sitting on a bench at some point to “merge” with the environment. Everything feels incredibly retro, harking back to the fighting style of the beloved Assassin’s Creed games of the past. Going back to the roots is great and all, but isn’t the complete lack of futuristic ideas unsettling? Where Are Things shows us that the series takes inspiration from its roots Beside moving forward?
At one point, I was hoping the trailer would touch on “a bunch of different ways you can approach your target,” which would have been neat. Bassem speaks with someone about breaking into a compound, and his friend suggests he “could bribe the guards to look the other way”. Bassem then responds by saying “I’ll see what flavor works for me,” before going back to writing and actually spending the rest of the trailer doing the same thing we’ve seen Ezio, Altair, Edward Kenway, and that guy nobody likes. From Assassin’s Creed 3 they’ve done a million times before.
I was hoping that that moment in the trailer was where the game took us on a little tour of the different possibilities and avenues of approach available to the player, rather than the “classic Assassin’s Creed” highlight reel. In reality Bribing the guards, or did they just put that out there to show that Bassem is too cool for bribes and will stab his way in there instead?
How about finding multiple ways to enter the building? Could there be opportunities to distract the guards so you can sneak around? The water supply is poisoned, a guard collapses, and others rush to his aid? And what’s wrong with disguises and good old fashioned costumes to run your way into the building? I’ve been waiting for years for this series to expand its repertoire in stealth and assassination, but what I’m seeing is still basically the same action game (with a little bit of stealth) as it was years ago.
Don’t get me wrong: all of the animation, smooth fighting moves, and parkour look like the smoothest rendering of that stuff we’ve seen, but it all feels like spit and polish with no meaningful new content. Yes, it’s great that you can do all those things you’ve always done in Assassin’s Creed, but other than graphics, I haven’t seen a single indication there that he’s going to try new things. One news article enthusiastically noted that the ability to dye your clothes different colors belongs to the series (something we haven’t seen since the syndication in 2015), but is this superficiality really something to get excited about? It’s almost as if Ubisoft is hiding a lack of innovation behind a veneer of beautiful graphics and colors (which, in fairness, is par for the course with the publisher).
I hope this is just part of the marketing strategy here. People obviously buy into nostalgia, and that trailer was in spades, so maybe the next trailer is the one where they start digging into the details to show what In reality new. Perhaps Ubisoft will first reassure us that Mirage is clearly not Origins, Odyssey, or Valhalla, before taking a huge leap forward to show us what this game will do. truly be around. I think that’s a start, but if they don’t show us something new in the next trailer, I’m worried we might be looking at a game that was too stuck in the past.
Next: 10 games to play if you love Assassin’s Creed