This year, Ubisoft actually tried something different with one of their big franchises instead of just another formulaic sequel. Assassin’s Creed helped usher in the modern open world era of tower-unlocking and dozens of map icons before then pivoting to a simplified take on something like The Witcher 3 instead.
Mirage goes in both directions at once, picking and choosing its elements from across the entire history of the franchise — all wrapped in a package that feels like a big AAA game, but with a scope that should actually be manageable for human players with human lives.
Rather than spend years turning out another big 100+ hour epic (don’t worry, that’s coming next year), Ubisoft has instead developed a smaller 20-ish hour game. What’s here is produced at the same quality level that you’d expect from a modern video game, only there’s just a bit less of it. It reminds me of the sadly bygone era when a game could spend 18–24 months in development, launch without multiplayer, and still be considered a “AAA” experience worth picking up.
Now, games often take 4 years or more to come out, and by the time they do launch, who knows if they’ll even be near the zeitgeist of what people want anymore.
Mirage probably had a good boost at the start that helped shorten its development time. There are rumors and stories out there that it began its life as the final DLC for the gargantuan Valhalla, building on those assets and tech instead of starting from scratch. Having played it now, I can totally see it. There’s a lot of Valhalla DNA in this game.
Furthermore, I’d also believe that at some point Mirage was intended to be a sort of reboot/remake of the original Assassin’s Creed. That original game is notably the only one in the franchise that Ubisoft hasn’t attempted to release for modern console platforms. You can play it through backwards compatibility mode on an Xbox, or you can play the old PC build, but in either case you’re still playing the original code from 2007. All the other games, even…