To say the Assassin's Creed franchise has been going through some growing pains over the years would be an understatement. After a few hiccups with its usual formula, Ubisoft took the popular action-stealth franchise in a bold direction with Assassin's Creed Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla. These games focused on action-RPG elements, and though AC Origins and Odyssey were general successes, AC Valhalla exposed a strong sense of fatigue among parts of the fanbase. To the joy of many, that fatigue has in some way led to Assassin's Creed Mirage, a game that seeks to harness the series' stealth-based foundation.
Gameplay for Assassin's Creed Mirage has already demonstrated all the ways in which it plans to deliver a traditional AC experience. Social stealth plays a significant role once again, and players are back in the robes of an assassin, even if technically a Hidden One, and out of the armor of a warrior. There's one aspect of Assassin's Creed Mirage, however, that fails to fully encapsulate the experience of the first few AC games. It's no shortcoming in raw gameplay, but instead in the lack of a competitive multiplayer mode. Without such a game mode, AC Mirage may be missing out on an opportunity to hook in players who remember it fondly.
In the early days of Assassin's Creed, the franchise was a purely solo experience. When the series reached Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, however, it began to experiment in more ways than one. AC Brotherhood introduced the series' first competitive multiplayer mode, pitting players against one another as Templars in training within the Animus. Players had to systematically hunt each other down, all while weeding out lookalikes, avoiding traps, and evading pursuers. It made for some light fun between story missions, and it was one of the more unique competitive multiplayer experiences at the time.
Ubisoft expanded on AC Brotherhood's multiplayer in future installments, as it proved to be rather popular, and industry trends essentially compelled the developer to implement some kind of multiplayer mode. The developer remained rather dedicated to the game mode, as did fans, with Assassin's Creed's online multiplayer featuring in AC Revelations, AC 3, and AC 4: Black Flag. It was eventually abandoned for AC Unity's co-op, but nothing could quite replicate the thrill of running through city streets while closely pursuing a live target or making a last-ditch effort to avoid a tail.
Assassin's Creed Mirage promises to go back to basics, and part of that should've included reintroducing competitive multiplayer. For many longtime AC fans, part of the classic AC experience was the competitive multiplayer, and bringing it back in some form could've convinced fans to try AC Mirage if they're at all hesitant. If Mirage is going to be a scaled-down experience in terms of how long it takes to complete, competitive multiplayer would have also given players a reason to keep coming back once the credits roll. That way, Ubisoft could've maintained a more steady player base without inflating the story mode with superfluous content.
Assassin's Creed Mirage has been a long time coming for many fans of the franchise. While the previous three entries had their bright spots, they were often criticized for not feeling like Assassin's Creed games. AC Mirage seems to be thoroughly correcting that with its gameplay mechanics and storytelling, but for now, that seems to be all of the game. If Ubisoft wants to provide a truly classic AC experience, a simple, straightforward competitive multiplayer mode could work wonders. Even if it's added to the game after launch, it could help AC Mirage feel like a multidimensional return to form.
Assassin's Creed Mirage releases October 12 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.