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Assassin’s Creed Mirage interview: producer Fabian Salomon on going back to the series’ roots

“We really wanted to focus back on a dense city to be able to showcase the parkour.”

Where do you take a historical action-adventure that’s already covered the most interesting time periods imaginable? According to Assassin’s Creed Mirage lead producer Fabian Salomon, you delve back into the past.

That’s what the latest in Ubisoft’s long-running series is doing with Mirage, a game that returns to its roots to rediscover what first drew players in. At the same time, it’s an introduction to a brand new setting most won’t be familiar with: 9th-century Baghdad. These are the topics of conversation with Salomon in our interview.

You can also read our Assassin's Creed Mirage hands-on preview and our interview with narrative director Sarah Beaulieu, where we get inside the story of Assassin’s Creed Mirage.

GLHF: Why the switch from the huge open world of Valhalla to the singular setting of Baghdad?

Fabian Salomon: We had the opportunity to really pay homage and propose a game for the 15th anniversary of the franchise. And to us, it was natural and obvious to come back to our roots, because some people from the community were eager to be able to play as an assassin. So that's why we really wanted to [bring the] focus back [to] parkour, assassination, and coming back to a huge city like we did for our previous games. We felt it was the perfect time.

AC Mirage Baghdad map

There’s a perception that this game is not on the scale of Valhalla. Is it fair to say it's a smaller game?

No, it’s real. It’s difficult to compare this game to Valhalla because Valhalla is really wider. It's more an experience where you will be able to really explore different countries with more wilderness. Cities are a bit less dense, but that’s the purpose of the game. It was perfect for that. Where for us, we really wanted to focus back on a dense city to be able to really showcase the parkour.

In Valhalla, it was obviously more difficult to really experience fluid parkour because it was mainly landmarks where you were able to do it. Density was really necessary to support this pillar.

What lessons in particular did you learn from Valhalla and Odyssey that you’re taking into this game?

Naturally, we were lucky to work on the first DLC of Valhalla in Bordeaux. We were in charge of the Wrath of the Druids. So obviously, we were pretty at ease with the engine first. Secondly, we were also lucky to benefit from the old heritage from the recent opuses like Valhalla, Origin, Odyssey, etc.

So all the comfort that the player can experience in [those] titles –the control, the cameras, the animations, the fluidity, the graphics – we benefited [from] naturally. So that's mainly what we took from recent games. And with the addition of putting all the pillars back at the center of the game, it's a mix of modernity and paying homage.

AC Mirage preview gameplay screenshot

What other settings were on the shortlist before you came up with Baghdad?

As mentioned by Jean-Luc, we explored different possibilities. Before choosing Baghdad, when we thought about the DLC for Valhalla, we wanted to have Eivor visiting all the Holy Lands, obviously to pay homage to the first AC, so Jerusalem, Damascus, etc. This was part of the discussion, but because we switched to having Basim as a main character to [support] the link with Valhalla in the 9th century, Baghdad was a must-have, because at that time Jerusalem and Damascus were not that at their [peak]. I would say Baghdad was really the most interesting and richest city.

What is a small gameplay feature or detail that people might not necessarily notice, but that you want other players to notice?

Well, that's difficult. Sometimes when Basim is sticking to walls, he can [perform] very adaptative animations. You get some very cool finish/kill animations. We have different variations. So the way the player will position [themselves] from an enemy, you can have different ways to assassinate or kill the enemies. We also put a lot of effort on some animation for our civilians. So, a lot of details everywhere if you take the time to take a look.

Assassin's Creed Mirage assassination

You have loads of historical consultants, and you have an Arabic language mode. Would you say that this is the most well-researched game in the series?

To be honest, I wouldn't say that because I know in the past all the teams involved in any AC games really put a lot of effort into researching the documentation, and working with historians. So I won't say Mirage is better than any others.

The challenge was Baghdad, because there's nothing left from [the ancient] city [in modern times], where in other games, you have the opportunity to do some scouting trips, visit some existing landmarks, etc. In our case, there’s nothing left, so it was more challenging. But I won't say we put more effort than compared to others.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage is out October 6, 2023, for PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, and Xbox One.