Assassin’s Creed Mirage looks great. Somehow I think I’m in the minority by saying this, but it’s exactly what I want for the series. It’s a return to its stealthy roots, with plenty of parkour and assassinations galore. It doesn’t look like it’s got a skill tree, and there’s certainly no open warfare on display in the early trailers, so consider me happy. This is exactly what I wanted for the series, and I thought it was what everyone else wanted, too.

However, the trailer that debuted at last week’s PlayStation Showcase had a mixed reception. Our own Tessa Kaur, a staunch bastion against modern Assassin’s Creed games and longtime hopeful that the series would creep back into the shadows it was born in, felt that the trailer was too similar to the original game. I get where they’re coming from, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

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Firstly, the original Assassin’s Creed game was great. It’s not my favourite in the series, but it’s definitely up there. From the setting, to the protagonist, to the approachable stealth gameplay, it was perfect for young Ben to experience his first game in what can often be a niche and frustrating genre. A lot of the same mechanics are returning in Mirage. You can creep in shadows, blend in with crowds, and disappear in clouds of smoke. Some see this as a downside, but I see it as a positive.

Basim climbing away from some guards he covered in powder

You see, the problem with Assassin’s Creed is that it’s janky as heck. Movement is sluggish and rarely matches your inputs, so controlling Altair is like trying to wrangle a toddler into a bath made of all the vegetables they threw out of their high chair. I replayed it – or should I say, attempted to replay it – before Valhalla came out, and I couldn’t finish. I hate to admit it, but it’s aged like milk. It’s just not fun to play any more. I’ve still got those memories to hold onto, but I might never play the first Assassin’s Creed again.

That’s why I’m excited for Mirage. It’s not a remake of the original game, but it looks like it will modernise all those mechanics we fell in love with, the ones Ezio’s games built on further to carry his trilogy to its place in the gaming pantheon. I can think of no better way to experience a new Assassin’s Creed game than diving back into all those glorious stealth mechanics with none of the jank. Basim will be a smooth operator, gliding across my screen as fluid as the Tigris through Baghdad. We know little of his character, but we can hope that an Ubisoft with nearly two decades more experience will give us a more polished affair.

Altair Assassin's Creed Cropped

In an industry awash with remakes, Mirage seems like a spiritual successor to the original Assassin’s Creed, as if Altair passed his cowl onto Basim and those weird RPG ones were all a virus in the animus that’s since been expunged. A spiritual successor is exactly what I need, and exactly what the series needs. A functioning stealth game in a new setting with new characters: the freshness comes from the narrative and exploring the city of Baghdad, the comforting nostalgia comes from the gameplay we’ve spent years pining for.

I don’t know what else you could want from an Assassin’s Creed game. Do you want it bigger but not as big as Origins? You want it stealthy but not as stealthy as the original? You’re asking a lot of a game that represents Ubisoft dipping its toe in the water to see what public opinion of a more classic AC game is. Mirage is sticking to what the series knows, what many of us thought the series would never go back to. This could be the game we’ve wanted for years, so sit back and enjoy the wait until we find out.

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