Share this article

Unveiling the Creation and Gameplay of 'Assassin’s Creed: Mirage': In Conversation with Benjamin Potts

By Cecil Gao
Jun. 13, 2023 updated 04:14

Ubisoft held the latest Ubi-Forward yesterday and announced the latest news about the next generation of Assassin's Creed, titled Mirage. It has been three years since the previous installment of Assassin's Creed. This time, Mirage will bring the story back to the Middle East, the setting of the original Assassin's Creed, and narrate the journey of the Assassin Basim, who appeared in Valhalla, as he becomes a master Assassin step by step. Two trailers were also revealed during the conference, one focusing on the story preview and the other showcasing core gameplay with an assassination mission. Currently, players are extremely excited about the return of the classic Assassin's Creed gameplay in Mirage.  

"Even the cover image is similar to the classic AC games!""Even the cover image is similar to the classic AC games!"

We would also like to thank Ubisoft for giving us the opportunity to have an early view of the conference and interview the core members of the Mirage development team, including Benjamin Potts, the animation director. During the fifteen-minute interview, we primarily focused on the story and core gameplay, addressing several questions that players are highly interested in. Let's take a look together.

Q: Mirage is undoubtedly a work that returns to the roots, as mentioned in the promotional video, paying homage to the earliest Assassin's Creed. What gave rise to this idea? Please tell us about the birth and journey of Mirage.

A: The birth and journey of Mirage are driven by a combination of the company's business decisions and, more importantly, the voices of the fans. In recent years, our releases, such as Odyssey and Valhalla, have been well-received, but there have been numerous players voicing their desire in the community for us to reset the classic Assassin's Creed games with our existing technology. So, we decided to bring the story back to the Middle East, using the same tones, lighting, and landscapes to recreate the purest Assassin's experience for the players.

In fact, his is not only a tribute but also a celebration. Many people might know that Mirage was initially conceived as a nostalgic DLC for Valhalla. However, when we started developing it, we realized that creating a game that truly embodies the essence of the entire series would require more investment and time. Additionally, last year marked the 15th anniversary of the Assassin's Creed series, and we believed it was the perfect time to release a game that returns to the origins of the Assassins and pays homage to the classics. As a result, Ubisoft Bordeaux officially decided to develop it as a completely independent game, serving as the next installment of Assassin's Creed after Valhalla.

Q: Narrative Director Sarah mentioned that Mirage will provide an unprecedented depth in interpreting the Creed and the role of the Brotherhood. In the trailer, we see conflicts arise, with Basim's friend Nehal seemingly dissatisfied with the Invisible Hand's commanding attitude towards Basim. Can you shed some light on this aspect of the story? How did Ubisoft Bordeaux focus on portraying Basim's character, especially considering that we already know Basim's ultimate fate from Valhalla? 

A: Although I didn't participate in the story development process throughout, I can still assure you that Basim's story is incredibly multidimensional. Players will assume his role and witness his transformation from a brash young man into a true Assassin, a master, while personally exploring his past and future across different dimensions within the Assassin's Creed universe. As you mentioned, the game places emphasis on portraying the internal dynamics of the Brotherhood, depicting how Basim integrates into the organization, understands his mission and sense of self, and undergoes transformations in his relationships with various characters. As seen in the trailer, Basim is plagued by horrifying visions, and unraveling the mysteries behind them is a crucial part of the story.

Q: The gameplay footage showcased in the trailer introduces many new mechanics while also bearing resemblance to elements from previous Assassin's Creed games. Can you tell us about it?

A: Certainly, during the development of Mirage, we have been exploring what we can learn from previous works and incorporate into the new game, such as certain mechanics and world design elements from older Assassin's Creed titles. Over time, the question of "what it truly means to be an Assassin" became an ongoing topic during our development process.

As a reference, we rebooted the Assassins Bureau mechanic from the older Assassin's Creed games, introducing a different design style and adding the Assassin Contract Board, where players can undertake missions involving theft, assassination, and rescue. Many of my colleagues loved using smoke bombs and other tools to deceive enemies and silently eliminate their targets in the older Assassin's Creed games. To bring back those cherished memories, we have designed various tools specifically for stealth and assassination during missions outside of bureaus in the city. In the gameplay demo, you can see examples such as blowpipes, stationary traps, smoke bombs, and gas bombs. 

Movement is also a key focus in Mirage. We have developed brand-new parkour actions, including pole jumps and the ability to knock down the scaffolding to hinder enemies, among other techniques. You can even use the awnings of market stalls or shelves for these maneuvers. Furthermore, we have optimized the parkour mechanics and incorporated various buildings and terrain features throughout Baghdad to facilitate fluid parkour movements. Players will be able to explore this vibrant city with grace and agility.

Q: Speaking of parkour, I noticed in the gameplay footage that there were two instances where a three-segmented red bar-like UI appeared in the bottom right corner of the screen. It seems to be related to escaping. Wanna talk about it? 

A: Actually, what you noticed is the visualized wanted system introduced in this game, consisting of three stages. The first stage is relatively simple. If Basim is detected engaging in activities such as pickpocketing, civilian NPCs will quickly shout and report your whereabouts to guards. The second and third stages occur when enemies officially start pursuing you. They will blow horns and shoot arrows, initiating direct conflicts. This mechanic is designed to encourage players to approach the game using stealth as much as possible, remaining discreet and acting as true assassins. 

Q: In the trailer, Basim didn't use the hidden blade to assassinate his opponent. Instead, he wrapped a rope around his neck and jumped off the building, hanging the target. As for the assassination system, which is the core of the game, how is Mirage doing?

A: The assassination system in Mirage is heavily focused on stealth and encourages players to approach targets covertly. In addition to tactical tools designed for stealth, we have added an indicator to Basim's Eagle Vision that shows the enemy's detection radius. Players can now see the range of enemy awareness and use this information to plan their assassinations more effectively. 

The game features a variety of new assassination animations that add excitement and potential challenges to each mission. The example you mentioned, hanging the target, is one of the major actions in the game's levels. Players can carefully observe enemy movements and numbers during their operations, and choose different routes and methods to eliminate their targets. Furthermore, we have made adjustments to the crowd blending mechanic. Players can actively utilize resources to bribe and control specific groups of people. You may even hear them gossiping about others. This undoubtedly adds more life and depth to the city.  

Q: As a classic comeback, does Mirage still have RPG elements and numerical systems?

A: As a classic comeback, Mirage does not have an extensive RPG leveling system. I can confidently say that "Mirage" is a pure, narrative-driven action-adventure game. While it does incorporate some RPG elements such as equipment upgrades and customization to a lesser extent compared to Valhalla, Odyssey, or Origin, it is a completely different type of game. Mirage focuses more on the core gameplay elements we mentioned in the trailer: investigation, hunting, infiltration, and escape. The emphasis is on the immersive storytelling experience and guiding players through the adventure, rather than heavily relying on RPG mechanics and leveling systems.

Q: Will we have the opportunity to see another Assassin's Creed game similar to Mirage in the future, paying homage to previous classic titles? Many players are worried that if this game does not meet expectations, Ubisoft will completely shift the direction of their AC development towards the style of the Mythology Trilogy.

A: I personally believe there will be. Right now, I can't speculate on the achievements that Mirage will attain because there are still many things I need to do well, so it's hard to say what the future holds. But hey, why not just buy our game? Mirage will definitely be a satisfying piece that will leave you impressed!