I've really enjoyed Assassin's Creed's transformation into a massive RPG series, but after spending hundreds of hours hoofing it across Norway, England, Ireland and France in Valhalla, I'm really looking forward to just chilling in Baghdad in Assassin's Creed Mirage.
Like Morgan wrote after the Mirage presentation, it's exciting to see the return of the classic Assassin's Creed approach, but it's not just the return to sneaky shenanigans that's piqued my interest. The reduction in scale also sounds like it can only be a good thing. Speaking to Easy Allies last week, Ubisoft compared the scale of Mirage to Revelation's Constantinople and Unity's Paris, which feels like a welcome departure from the country-sized escapades of the last few entries.
Now, Paris is more than double the size of Constantinople, and we're not sure where Mirage fits in that spectrum, but it's reasonable to assume we're looking at around 2km2, which is by no means a tiny space for a game. I still remember leaping around Paris years ago and being amazed by the scale of the thing. But it's certainly a lot smaller than the modern incarnations, which offer up hundreds of kilometres to explore.
I've really missed exploring cities, though, and while the likes of Valhalla and Odyssey do serve up a variety of urban environments to murder our way through, most of those games were taken up by the wilderness and countryside—big open spaces where there's nothing to do but stare at pretty vistas, punctuated by random fights. These places have excellent screenshot potential, but leave less room for stealthy assassinations. I just wanna leap from rooftop to rooftop again, jumping onto my targets and then blending in with the crowd.
What's been missing so far, however, is the massive Unity-style crowds. In Ubisoft's facsimile of Paris, we got a heaving throng of flesh undulating through the streets, forcing Assassins to push through a sweaty mass of protestors, rioters and pedestrians whenever they hit street level. I'm sorry, I've made it sound gross. But the density of the crowds has stuck with me for a long time, and contributes to Paris feeling like the series' most well-realised space. That ambition, unfortunately, was undone by technical issues, and Ubisoft has scaled back the crowds ever since. I thought the return to a more focused setting would give us back the huge crowds, but so far no dice.
Still! I'm really looking forward to exploring Baghdad from the streets and the roofs with my good buddy Basim. And, crucially, spending more time doing meaningful stuff rather than just riding my horse from A to B across huge distances.