How Ubisoft Bordeaux Built Assassin’s Creed Mirage’s Golden Age Baghdad


Assassin’s Creed brings players to 9th century Baghdad during the golden age of the city of Mirage. More specifically, the journey of the hero Basim ibn Ishaq in 861 begins in this city, which at the time was the technological and cultural center of the region. After playing two hours of Assassin’s Creed Mirage at developer Ubisoft’s Bordeaux, France-based office, I was impressed with its take on Baghdad.

I love the open world RPGs of the series’ recent years, especially Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey, but I’d be lying if I said I was a fan of the respective cities. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy them, but they weren’t memorable in the same way that Assassin’s Creed II’s Florence or Assassin’s Creed Unity’s Paris were. And I will eventually explore these cities fully as they are included in the monster maps. In Mirage, the majority of the game takes place within the city walls of Baghdad, and already, I can see how well the team has built it into a parkour playground and narrative center for Basim’s training of the Hidden Ones.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Ubisoft Bordeaux Game Informer Exclusive Coverage

For the first time in years with this series, I’ll be able to get to know the city intimately, learn the best parkour routes and master moves across it from both the ground and its rooftops. It’s refreshing and fits well with the spiritual connection between Mirage and the first Assassin’s Creed, which serves as a celebration of 15 years of Mirage. I talked with Ubisoft Bordeaux about how they built Baghdad, especially in light of learning that Baghdad was destroyed by the Mongol invasion in 1258.

“It’s true, there’s really nothing left,” Mirage artistic director Jean-Luc Sala tells me. “But at the same time, Baghdad was not the only city. There were some old cities around, like Sumatra. We went to expert historians and started investigating and reconstructing (Baghdad).”

Sala says the team looked at the writings of people documenting the Mongol invasion, writing about their travels to Baghdad in earlier years and understanding their descriptions of the city. He says the team doesn’t have the physical objects of this Golden Age Baghdad, but there is a lot of literature on it (and most of that literature is scattered around the office on various bookshelves and desks). With him leading the visual charge of Miragh’s Baghdad, he spent much of his time living in the region.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Ubisoft Bordeaux Game Informer Exclusive Coverage

“I grew up on the other side of the Tigris River before (the Iranian revolution in 1979),” he says. “Knowing that I’m going to work in this kind of setting was really intimate for me. It’s not a setting that I know, because I’m not as old as I was in the 9th century, but the sun, the light, the people (…) I know them and I want to be true to that kind of memory. , it’s lost paradise, we’ve lost the city, but I love this part of my life and it had an emotional impact on me – the feelings, the smells, things like that.”

Salah says he and the team are particularly excited to shed new light on a city that, unfortunately, is defined by media tropes and clichés and its place in America’s war in and around Iraq.

“When you work on Vikings, everyone has an idea of ​​what the Viking Age must have been like,” says Sala, explaining the training everyone received to better understand 9th-century Baghdad and the culture of the region. “It’s hard to find some real truth to what (Baghdad) was. Every time it’s idealized or cliché-esque in a way, so it was a really nice challenge to find something fresh and true for people.”

Sala says that to actually build the city in the game, the team focused on density. The studio’s first project it led, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s Wrath of the Druids DLC, was about the vast landscapes of Ireland. But, honoring a city brings attention to the classic Assassin’s Creed Parker.

“It wasn’t an option for us,” says Sala. “It’s just, ‘We want to go to the city.’ It felt like saying ‘boys and girls are back in town’.

Creative director Stephen Bowden says the team knew from the beginning of development that they had to start with the city. “The reality is that Basim’s background was already in the center of Baghdad, and when we started researching Baghdad, we discovered so many things to create an amazing story and an immersive city.”

Assassin's Creed Mirage Ubisoft Bordeaux Game Informer Exclusive Coverage

Sala says that Baghdad’s production also made an easy spiritual connection to the first Assassin’s Creed. Mirage gives the team an opportunity to bring back the Middle Eastern setting that launched the franchise, and in doing so brings the region’s unique architecture and urban design to the parkour adventure. He says Baghdad gives you the familiar feel of Assassin’s Creed’s Jerusalem.

“Everything was already there,” he adds, adding that he thinks Baghdad is perfect for an Assassin’s Creed adventure.

After my time with Mirage, I was impressed with Baghdad. It’s livable, fun to explore, and most importantly, like a city I can remember as Basim. I’ve only visited two of its different districts, and I haven’t been able to go to the Round City at the heart of the massive palace, but I can’t wait to do so next month.

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