Over the weekend, Ubisoft Forward took place, where the studio looked toward the future of the Assassins Creed franchise, which is arguably the cash cow of the French company. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the series has had quite the run, with some truly exceptional titles in its library. But the franchise has also somewhat lost its identity over the last few entries, opting to focus on massive (and bloated) open-world RPGs, rather than the tight stealth/action entries that launched the series. That’s why the next title in the franchise, Mirage, could be a welcome breath of fresh air.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage started as DLC for Valhalla, but the project grew in scope that surpassed that of a standard expansion, much like Rogue was to Black Flag. As such, the game is said to come in with a smaller price tag of $ 50 USD and a shorter runtime too, of around 15-20 hours of gameplay. Those who have been with the franchise from the get-go, or those who have gone back to explore, will know that the first Assassins Creed game was similar in length. Likewise, Mirage will also feature a Middle-Eastern setting much like the original game, taking place in a singular city (Baghdad) as opposed to a large swath of countryside. The city will bring the return of parkour traversal, social stealth and a more methodical approach to gameplay, one that’s been replaced with an emphasis on going into battle swords blazing (sometimes literally).
Mirage will take place some 20 years before the events of Valhalla and will be an origin story for Basim Ibn Ishaq, Eivor’s mentor. The story will focus in on Basim’s transition from petty thief to an agent of the Assassins, working under the tutelage of Roshan, who will be voiced by The Expanse’s Shohreh Aghdashloo.
Baghdad will be split into four distinct regions and due to being focused on one large city (plus Alamut, the Assassin’s HQ), we’ll be able to traverse the landscape in a way that’s felt largely absent since Syndicate: by parkouring over rooftops and using the environment to our advantage, whether in stealth or in an escape. Ubisoft has stated that the parkour will be faster and that some classic moves, such as corner swings, will return. With these familiar gameplay mechanics being added, the RPG system that debuted in Origins will be removed. There’ll be no more levels, enemy scaling or action-heavy combat. Honestly, this is a big win for me, as I was growing tired of the rinse and repeat combat found in Odyssey and Valhalla. It was refreshing in Origins and that game still had some stealth elements, but they went off the wall in the sequels. The eagle system will transition to Basim’s gameplay, but Ubisoft has stated that your flying companion can be shot out of the sky from archers, so you can’t rely too heavily on this mechanic, which is a nice touch.
But this simplified direction isn’t the new direction for Ubisoft. Also during the Forward event, the developer unveiled Assassin’s Creed Infinity. Infinity isn’t the next game in the franchise, but rather the next step in the franchise. Infinity is described as a hub where future games will get linked together. I really hope that Infinity isn’t a subscription, that would be awful, but Ubisoft has said you can buy future titles individually. The next two games under the Infinity umbrella are codenamed Red and Hexe. Red will be set in Feudal Japan, a much-requested setting from the fanbase, and Hexe. Not much is known about it, but Jason Schrier’s leak states it’ll be set in the Holy Roman Empire and involve the Witch Trials. While Red will be an open-world RPG, it’s unknown what identity Hexe will take on but Ubisoft has stated it won’t be an RPG and the beginning of something new. Considering we’ve already had the excellent Ghost of Tsushima, I’m more intrigued by Hexe and hope it embraces a stealth gameplay system considering the supposed Witch-trial theme, which would have your Assassin navigating a pretty dark moment in our history. I don’t think going in swinging would be the right course of action. Also, I think a female-only protagonist would be appropriate, considering the subject matter. Oh, there’s also a mobile game coming, codename Jade, but it’s a mobile game sooo.
That’s an awful lot of content coming for Assassin’s Creed and one has to wonder if it’s too much content. But the development time between games is said to be slower than before, which would hopefully mean that there’ll be a higher quality of content coming and less burnout on the development teams. Red and Hexe, it should be noted, are not being developed by the same teams. Mirage is set to release in 2023. If you’d like to see my ranking of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, check out that article here.