Assassin's Creed Mirage accessibility
Assassin's Creed Mirage is an accessible stealth game and by far the most accessible Assassin's Creed yet! Although parkour can be tricky, the new Assassins Focus ability lets players slow down time, reducing the stress of combat. Closed captioning gives deaf players more support and the screen reader helps blind players find their way. Assassin's Creed Mirage makes it clear that Ubisoft is constantly improving their accessibility with each new game.
- Menu Narration and Accessible Screen Reader
- Fully customizable mouse and keyboard controls
- Auto-Movement and other navigational assists
- Subtitle options and closed captions
- HUD customization available
- Aim Assist with adjustable homing magnetism
- Unintuitive parkour mechanics
- Button configurations require a lot of managing
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a return to form, a true stealth-based action game in the franchise! RPG elements are greatly reduced, bringing back core elements like investigative stealth missions, advanced parkour, and different assassination styles. Although controls could use streamlining, the audio accessibility in Mirage is a cut above the rest.
Set in 9th-Century Baghdad players control Basim, a street thief. He quickly gets taken under the wing of mysterious hit-woman Roshan, and trained to become a deadly assassin. Key members of the corrupt Order of the Ancients must be eliminated to bring peace to the nation. Like previous games, there are a variety of weapons and tools available including smoke bombs, poison darts, and throwing knives. Eagle Vision returns as a stealth mechanic to reveal hidden locations and items. Also, an eagle companion named Enkidu can be used to complete missions by revealing enemies and scouting local areas.
Starting the Game
Assassin’s Creed Mirage begins with a short animated intro showcasing the previous assassins from the last games in the franchise. Subtitles and menu narration are turned on automatically, the latter can be audibly heard once reaching the title screen. Here I could begin a new game, access the Ubisoft store, and navigate the options menu.
There isn’t a designated accessibility tab in the settings. The many options that help the accessibility of Assassin’s Creed Mirage are found in Controls, Sound, Interface, and Gameplay tabs. Alongside typical graphical settings, this is also where third-party programs can be enabled, as well as controllers on PC.
Tutorials and Difficulty Settings
Helping new players, Assassin’s Creed Mirage starts by teaching the basics of combat and exploration with fairly linear tutorial levels. I could choose to look back on and repeat tutorials once the Codex menu opened up in the inventory. They teach players to fight, climb rooftops, blend in with crowds, pickpocket, investigate, and how to use the eagle companion.
There are three different difficulty levels to choose from in the game, which are Easy, Normal, and Hard mode. Easy mode may be the preferred choice for disabled players with fine-motor skill impairments looking for a stress-free experience. This difficulty setting greatly decreases enemy damage and simplifies the button mashing mechanics of pickpocketing. Additionally, Guaranteed Pickpocketing can be enabled in the options to override pickpocket settings and completely skip QTEs.
Controlling an Assassin
Mirage offers a multitude of remappable button commands, including fully customizable controls for mouse and keyboard. Interestingly, the game also allows for a button to have multiple and overlapping commands. This meant I could make the crouch button also activate pickpocketing. Developers rarely give players the freedom to overlap button commands, and it’s great to have that choice here.
With more than forty required commands in the game, I do believe controls could be streamlined further. Having to remember which button does what got a little ridiculous. It does give suggestions with each key binding in the controls tab to let players know of any potential issues with conflicting commands. Still, the game never forced me to revert controls to the default setting.
Button presses can also be customized between hold, single press, double press, or a combination. An option called “Menu Hold Factor” let me adjust how long I had to hold buttons down in menus. Some button presses are grayed out and unable to be altered, but most can be individually customized. I chose to make the interact button a combination of a hold and a single press, depending on the context. For instance, chatting with people only required a single press, while opening treasure chests required a hold.
One of my favorite accessibility features in Mirage is the “Auto Movement” function. When activated, Basim’s character automatically started moving in the direction the camera is facing. It may not seem like much, but for me this button greatly improved the ease of movement! It freed up button space, allowing me to quickly switch between crouching or standing while moving towards my target. “Auto Movement” is exclusively on the PC version, I hope it returns in future games.
Parkour is the standard method of navigation in cities of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and Mirage is no different. The city of Baghdad is considerably smaller in scale compared to other locations in the series. Still, rooftops were the fastest way for me to get where I needed to go or gain better vantage points.
Traditionally, parkour allowed players to automatically climb up buildings while moving forward and pressing the climb button. Mirage ditches this style, limiting climbable surfaces and requiring more precise movements when climbing. Unfortunately, for me this new style feels like a downgrade to the navigational accessibility in Mirage. Worse yet, old issues still persist like accidentally climbing things in closed spaces.
To be clear, I could still climb up most structures with few issues. Occasionally I found buildings that were only reachable from certain angles or specific wall ridges. I much prefer the more free roaming parkour in Odyssey and Valhalla, because it made for faster exploration. Instead, Basim’s movements screeched to a halt when I encountered tall buildings. The game forced me to slowly drop back down just to figure out where it wants me to climb.
Thankfully, a new helpful parkour mechanic was added, called the Pole-Vault. Pole-Vaulting involves interacting with beams placed around the city. Pressing the interact button while running to automatically vault over large gaps between rooftops. Pole-Vaulting during moments my notoriety was up saved me a bit of stress while fleeing the scene of a crime.
Old Assassins, New Tricks
As the story unfolds, more corrupt leaders come to light. Basim first must fight many guards and subordinates in order to expose them. Fighting consists of light and heavy attacks, with a focus on dodging and parrying in close combat. Armored guards are the toughest they’ve been in the series, completely invulnerable unless struck from the back. Striking down groups of guards can be a breeze, add one armored guard and the fight stops dead in its tracks.
For added convenience, there are tools to unlock that help take out enemies from afar. I could upgrade these tools as I completed missions. Poison darts, smoke bombs, and mechanical traps are just some of the tools available to distract or throw at guards. Mirage has a great aim-assist, with an adjustable magnetism slider that helped me quickly lock-on to targets. This came in handy when I was using throwing knives to take out multiple guards.
When it comes to all new combat abilities, there is now the ability to slow down time! Using Assassin’s Focus, Basim can slow time for a few seconds, a huge advantage in combat. The ability has a recharge meter and can be upgraded to increase the timer. Another new ability I liked is Chain Assassination. This ability let me slow time, mark targets, and stealthily assassinate all of them while pressing one button near enemies. Using this ability, I took out multiple guards at once and even bypassed armored guards’ defenses. Once the game opened up, I was surprised how often I could choose my own path and style of assassin.
Your eagle companion
When looking for clues or trying to find secret locations, my eagle companion, Enkidu, never let me down. Eagle companions aren’t new to the franchise, Odyssey also had an eagle, and I believe Valhalla had a Raven. But the abilities are expanded on even further in Mirage. By pressing a button, I could call Enkidu and get a sky vantage point of the location below. Pressing another button, I could use Enkidu to slow time and tag enemies, landmarks, treasure chest, and reveal hidden entrances.
Although Enkidu cannot be killed, he can be attacked by guards. Once in a while, calling him causes some guards to get suspicious and try to shoot him down. From there, he becomes unusable until taking out some of the archers in the area. Thankfully, this didn’t happen too often and the game never puts a time limit on these challenges.
Accessibility through Eagle Vision
Enkidu really does become an essential partner when completing stealth missions. He isn’t available all of the time, but when he is it makes progressing so much smoother. I can remember several times he revealed important information I would never be able to find searching on the ground. There’s also the benefit of using Enkidu updating the map, expanding the scope of Eagle Vision.
Eagle Vision is another signature ability of the assassins to scan environments and reveals things that are otherwise invisible. This mode highlights enemies in red, allies in blue, objects in yellow, and removes color from the environment. Mirage greatly improved the visuals of Eagle Vision with better defined silhouettes. It can essentially act like a high contrast mode. Its range can be upgraded and there’s no time limit. Interactable objects became much easier to see, even through walls, so I utilized this mode often. It’s a great feature adding to the visual accessibility of Mirage.
Visual and audio accessibility
There are also more traditional options for visual accessibility in the Interface tab of the options menu. Every aspect of the HUD can be customized or removed. From the compass, pop-up messages, loot, or notoriety level; to the health bar and the aiming reticle. The aiming reticle has alternate colors to choose from as well, including blue, green, cyan, yellow, pink, and black. Sometimes the peach colored compass icon can blend into the background. Thankfully, HUD backgrounds can be enabled, that include the compass, with adjustable opacity.
Menu narration and navigation
Mirage has even more accessibility with a menu narrator that also works as a solid screen reader. Narration can be customized with a male or female voice and adjustable volume levels. Quest updates or mission objectives are narrated in menus, as well as map icons and inventory items. In game, contextual hints are narrated, like when a door is locked or when to press a button to speak.
Interestingly, Mirage tries to incorporate navigational assistance into Menu Narration. It announces main story objectives if they have a waypoint, and turns the camera until it’s facing the waypoint. After that, the game narrates the quest title and the distance in meters.
There are also collision sounds that can be enabled, letting players know when Basim gets stuck. It doesn’t narrate how to get to each destination. But on a horse or camel, I could press the Follow Road button and automatically travel to the waypoint destination. This is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to helping blind players explore open world areas.
Silent, but deadly
Mirage shows the series improved a lot in deaf accessibility, considering the first Assassin’s Creed didn’t even have subtitles. Mirage has more subtitle options than ever before. There are nice bold subtitles with an optional dark background, three adjustable sizes, and color coded speaker names. Individual sound levels can be customized for dialog, sound effects, music, and the master volume. I could even turn certain music off or adjust the frequency of songs while exploring towns in the game.
Deaf players have very consistent closed captions that can be enabled at any time. Describing sound effects or contextual information, they can be positioned in the center or top right corner of the screen. The captions have helpful arrows that point in the direction of the sounds. I did notice that the captions would sometimes appear much sooner than the actual sounds.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is an accessible stealth game and by far the most accessible Assassin’s Creed yet! Although parkour can be tricky, the new Assassins Focus ability lets players slow down time, reducing the stress of combat. Closed captioning gives deaf players more support and the screen reader helps blind players find their way. Assassin’s Creed Mirage makes it clear that Ubisoft is constantly improving their accessibility with each new game.
A review copy of Assassin's Creed Mirage was provided by the developer / publisher.