The narrative among hardcore Assassin’s Creed fans for the last half a decade has focused on one thing: That the series has strayed too far away from its stealth-assassination roots, deep into the enormous open-world action RPG genre, essentially killing the spirit of the franchise.
Yet after Assassin’s Creed Mirage returned to the roots fans have been raving about, the reception hasn’t been all too kind. Apparently, Ubisoft can’t make a well-received Assassin’s Creed game any more, no matter what it does.
Regardless of your feelings about Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla as games, it’s an objective fact that all three fall under the open-world RPG umbrella. Naturally, old-school fans of the classic Assassin’s Creed games, which were shorter and more focused on stealth, didn’t react too well to the series’ new direction. We’ll ignore the fact this shift was largely a result of poor reception to Unity and Syndicate for the time being, but we’ll get back to it later for the punchline.
Origins was the best received of the previous three AC games, probably because it was the first of its kind, but discontent quickly took over the fanbase with Odyssey and even more so with Valhalla. The latter, despite being by far the most profitable game in the franchise, was picked on as the epitome of quantity over quality.
And we all know what Ubisoft did next. It released Mirage, a 15-hour game with a combat system entirely revolving around stealth in a Middle Eastern setting. Replace Mirage with Assassin’s Creed 1 and this sentence still applies, from the first letter to the last.
You’d imagine the coveted return to the series’ roots would finally spark some joy in old-school AC fans’ hearts, but you’d be wrong. Mirage has been critiqued into oblivion, mocked and memed on by its supposed target audience, with one particularly hypocritical trend taking precedence—comparing Mirage to Unity, highlighting how much better the latter looks and feels. Can you guess what the reception for Unity was at time of release? It too was critiqued into oblivion, mocked and memed by its supposed target audience.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is not some misunderstood masterpiece, it’s a solid 7/10 experience that has major holes in its story design and enemy AI. What Mirage should be recognized as by AC purists is a step in the right direction. If you’ve been crying about the last three games being boring 100-hour loot fests, yet you’re also committed to dunking on Mirage, you’re suffering from a severe case of not knowing what you want.
And nothing Ubisoft does can ever cure that condition.