Assassin's Creed Mirage Plays To Your Nostalgia, Emulates The Feeling Of Freerunning In AC1, AC2
Plus, it seems like Basim's teleport ability is less supernatural and actually just a glitch in the Animus.
One of the major pillars of Assassin's Creed's gameplay is parkour. Or at least it used to be before taking a bit of a back seat with Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla. All three games feature huge open worlds where buildings are often far apart instead of the more condensed and intricate city settings the Assassin's Creed series was known for, meaning freerunning from rooftop to rooftop isn't a major part of those games. Assassin's Creed Mirage seems to be a return to the series' roots, featuring a city playground as its setting with parkour at the forefront.
But which system of parkour is it? Long-time Assassin's Creed fans will tell you that the series has featured a variety of freerunning systems over the years. Each system is usually used in a few games with minor iterations before being tossed out for a completely new one. The core of the original game's parkour system was used up to Revelations, for example, and Assassin's Creed III introduced a new core system that was used in the franchise up to Rogue.
In Mirage's case, it seems like this will be another jump, building a parkour system that--though it feels like what's come before--is brand-new and distinct from the rest of the series. "The parkour system we have in Assassin's Creed Mirage is really its own thing," creative director Stéphane Boudon told GameSpot. "It has not been built to reproduce exactly a former system--it has been designed to reproduce a feeling, a nostalgia we wanted to share with our players."
Boudon specified that Mirage was built "as a tribute to the first [Assassin's Creed] games" from the get-go and so its parkour system will both look and feel most like the first few games in the franchise. However, if you were to play Mirage back-to-back with these early games, you'd be able to tell the difference.
"It was for us natural, not to emulate but be inspired by those early games," Boudon said. "Altair and Ezio's journeys are for many fans--and many developers in the team--reminiscent of this first thrill we all had facing the freedom to parkour a city-scale world map."
According to Boudon, playing off players' nostalgia was only one of the key pillars of Mirage's parkour system. Beyond honoring the legacy of Assassin's Creed, the new system is designed with both fluidity and comfort in mind.
"The fluidity has been reached mainly by reworking Basim's animations and speed," he said. "Basim is light and agile, and we removed weight with the [idea] to keep the momentum ongoing. You can quickly reach a destination while the level design [gives] you the agency to find the most efficient path to do so."
The question of Basim's speed has been a subject of contention within the Assassin's Creed fanbase since the Mirage gameplay reveal during Ubisoft Forward. It's sometimes tricky to get an idea for a character's speed just by looking at a trailer and though Basim looks faster than the guards chasing him, it's difficult to tell if he'll feel nimble when actually playing as him.
When I asked for a comparison of Basim's speed to other Assassin's Creed protagonists, Boudon said that Ubisoft has not calculated which one is the fastest (it's got to be the Frye twins though, right?). He did tell me that the team is putting effort into ensuring that Basim will at least feel fast though.
"Globally, we have sped up the pace of the parkour so players feel agile and empowered when traversing the city," Boudon said. "What's important for us is what you feel with your controller in hand, and we continue to tweak and polish the parkour of Assassin's Creed Mirage to bring this specific experience to players while keeping a good balance between control, comfort, and speed."
In terms of what "comfort" means for Mirage's parkour, that seems to be where a lot of the new stuff comes into play. Much as Ubisoft Quebec implemented a rope launcher to make it easier for players to parkour over the wide streets of London in Syndicate, Ubisoft Bordeaux is adding new tools into Mirage to better create new "parkour highways."
"The comfort is fulfilled thanks to the addition of parkour highways across the city, breadcrumbed by the iconic white clothes, but also thanks to new mechanics such as the pole vault that Basim can use to cross big gaps and obstacles," Boudon said.
"What was critical for us was to capitalize on level design based on verticality to bring back the feel of the first AC games," he added. "Like those, Assassin's Creed Mirage takes place in a dense city, Baghdad, that's really adapted to the type of experience we want to offer. You will have lots of opportunities to run, jump, and hide on the rooftops."
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That Ubisoft Forward extended gameplay trailer also provided us with our first look at Basim's Assassin Focus ability, which allows him to seemingly teleport throughout a space and assassinate several marked targets in a matter of seconds. It looks a whole lot like a reinterpretation of Kassandra's Rush Assassination ability in Odyssey or Batman's Fear Takedown skill in Arkham Knight.
Assassin's Creed is no stranger to giving its protagonists supernatural abilities when it comes to combat or freerunning, starting with an all-knowing Eagle Vision in the very first game. (And who can forget Connor being able to transform into an eagle and fly across the rooftops in Assassin's Creed III's The Tyranny of King Washington DLC?) With that in mind, I wanted to know if Assassin Focus is a supernatural ability and, if so, whether Basim has any more.
"Without spoiling anything, Basim is one of a kind--he's a resourceful character with extraordinary abilities," Boudon said. "But the Assassin's Focus is much more a representation of his efficiency and his quickness in a way that even the Animus simulation can't follow him [rather] than a supernatural power."
Assassin's Creed Mirage is scheduled to launch for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC on October 12.