THOSE of you who regularly read my features or follow me on social media will know I’m a big history enthusiast.
That also carries over to video games, where I’m a big fan of anything which really lets me get stuck into historical settings – Civilization, Victoria II, the historical Total War games, and of course, the Assassin’s Creed series.
It might come as a surprise, but I wandered into the Animus relatively late in the proceedings – Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was my introduction, since the whole “Victorian London” plus “Assassinating Members Of A Shadowy Cabal Threatening The Realm” ticked a great many “Things I like the sound of in a video game” boxes.
I really enjoyed that game and started to explore the series more (I loved Black Flag, but noped out of Assassin’s Creed III hard because I didn’t want to help the American Colonists win the War Of Independence against the British), but it was Assassin’s Creed: Origins which really dragged me in (Ancient Egypt! Yay!) and it just got better and better from there.
Despite being a big fan of (most) of the series, I’ve never quite gotten around to Assassin’s Creed or Assassin’s Creed II – my backlog of games is second only to my backlog of books, and there’s a limit to what I can devote my “not-doing-this-for-work” playtime to.
By all accounts the first two games were a much more focussed, stealth-based experience – less leaping off a building to stab someone in broad daylight then get into a brawl with their guards in the middle of a public plaza, more using crowds to provide cover as you quietly eliminate your target and then vanish.
There was a lot to go through during the Assassin’s Creed 15 announcement, with the centrepiece being the announcement of Assassin’s Creed: Mirage, set for release at some currently unspecified point next year.
Set in Baghdad about 20 years before the events of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, the game is about Basim Ibm Ishaq (who plays an important role in Valhalla) as he rises from a street thief to the influential member of the Hidden Ones (AKA the Assassins) under the tutelage of Roshan, an older assassin.
The developers have explained Mirage will represent somewhat of a return of the series to its roots (ie, as a more stealth focussed game, taking place in a single city) and have a more focussed narrative, but will still have elements of player choice regarding in which order to tackle missions and (obviously) how to approach them.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage senior content director Stéphane Boudon said for the series’ 15th anniversary, the developers wanted to offer something special to players and the community. “Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a tribute to the franchise, and notably to the original game,” he said.
“We are bringing a modern take on the iconic Assassin’s Creed gameplay experience, as well as a deep dive into the rituals and tenets of the Hidden Ones, something we think both longtime and new fans alike will be eager to play”.
I’m certainly intrigued by this, especially given the massive scope of the more recent games. As much as I enjoy the huge open worlds of the most recent trilogy, I totally understand the desire to shift to something a bit more focussed and as a fan of narrative in games generally, am looking forward to seeing what the story is and how it plays out.
I was pleased to see an announcement for a concluding chapter for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, too. I remain surprised at how much I enjoyed the game (Vikings have not traditionally been one of my areas of interest), but it feels like the game has been going on for years now (it has; it launched in 2020) and is likely to run into the same content expansiveness problem that its predecessor had – whereby someone coming in cold is going to realise they need to invest literal weeks of full-time play to get up to speed on it all and may not bother as a result.
As least now we can look forward to a The Last Chapter – and I hope it explains why Eivor is buried in the New England region of what is now the USA, in an area historically not visited by Europeans until about 600 years after the main events of the game.
I have enjoyed the big open-world settings of the most recent trilogy (Origins, Odyssey, Valhalla) and Black Flag, but given the massive scope of the games now, I do agree it’s worth dialling things back a bit for a more focussed experience – which is what Mirage appears to offer.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some questions about Codename Red, since someone else basically already did “Assassin’s Creed: Feudal Japan” in the form of Ghost of Tsushima, which was not only an outstanding game but hailed as an instant classic and one of the best games made in the past decade or so.
Don’t get me wrong, I very much want to play Codename Red – Feudal Japan is obviously a natural setting for an Assassin’s Creed game, and I have no doubt the development team will put the same high levels of detail and care into it they have with the other entires in the series – but that doesn’t change the fact everyone is going to compare it to Ghost of Tsushima, either.
Codename Hexe involves something about witches (likely in the 16th Century or thereabouts), and given it’s the next main game after Codename Red is likely a couple of years off. I don’t have enough information on it to form any strong thoughts other than it’s an interesting idea for a setting and I’ll be interested to see more as it develops.
Codename Jade – a mobile game set in Ancient China – also seems promising; it certainly looked to be more of the modern iteration of mobile games which offer a ‘proper’ AAA game experience on a mobile device.
Ubisoft have described history as a playground – one the Assassin’s Creed games take full advantage of – and that very much matches with my own interests and wants from video games. With that in mind, I will be keeping a close eye on the upcoming additions to the Assassin’s Creed series; I am really looking forward to seeing what Ubisoft develop for us to experience.