After a three-year break, Assassin’s Creed returns with Mirage. From a visual and technical perspective, the Ubisoft team has opted for a “less is more” approach. Powered by the latest version of the Anvil engine, Mirage looks stunning, which is often due to the countless features that are still not common in all games or engines, such as: B. Real-time lighting systems that take into account the time of day and global illumination reflectance Bright, dense cities, vast landscapes and vast vistas with rich and colorful flora and fauna.
The bustling city of Baghdad and its narrow streets look authentic and have a strong artistic bent. Sandstone buildings and towering palm trees are shrouded in thick clouds of mist and dim rays obscure the distant view. The same physics-based rendering materials and packed clutter of each location still impress, mixed with atmospheric scattering, sandstorms and a day and night cycle. The NPC count and world clutter are also high, at least on current-gen consoles, and combined with the real-time and pre-rendered cinematics, it rivals previous entries in the series.
Some small updates came in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and remain here, such as per-pixel motion blur, which improves the action but is more beneficial in the 30fps modes. However, the base of the engine is still firmly rooted in its last and greatest technical leap, namely Assassin’s Creed Unity. This leaves a stunning, rich and vibrant world that last generation consoles are proud of, but on the PS5, Xbox Series X, Series S and PC the impact isn’t as noticeable.
There are some negative aspects on the presentation front. I have to mention the aggressive use of chromatic aberration, which clutters up the image, especially at lower resolutions. There are also some substandard textures, material reactions, and at times difficult physics and movement, as well as obvious glitches that can dull Anvil’s shine somewhat. It would be a lie to call it a bad-looking game, where great use of cinematography and storytelling, as well as a vibrant and vibrant world, continue to be highlights. But the roots of the last generation are now more obvious than ever, and from a purely graphical and technical point of view it cannot stand up to other games that only belong to the new generation, such as Horizon Forbidden West.
The current generation consoles and of course the PC are still the best place to play, and that starts with resolution and performance. Dual modes are offered across all three current-gen devices and Quality mode maxes out at 30 frames per second, but has a fixed resolution of 3840 x 2160 on both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, in my opinion . Additionally, both consoles run identical visual settings in both modes, meaning we have full feature parity here.
The performance mode, labeled “High Frame Rate” in the menu, changes little to the visual settings, with most of the reductions related to resolution. These include shadow resolution and depth of field quality, as well as a slight reduction in the level of detail (LoD) and ambient occlusion (AO) of trees and grasses, which remain at the screen distance, as do smaller shadows and reflections. The real difference in this mode is that the frame rate now targets 60fps, but at the expense of dynamic resolution scaling (DRS). We see a recorded high of 3456 x 1944p, but in densely populated areas we can see a low of 2880 x 1620p on both machines – about a 43% reduction from the 2160p maximum in Quality mode. In practice, the reduction at twice the frame rate is relatively small.
The Series S tells a similar story. We see lower settings for LoD, shadow quality, textures and possibly AO and screen space reflections, but the biggest reduction remains resolution. Quality mode seems to use DRS most often at 2880x1620p, but I also counted a slight 20% scaling to 1440p. It still offers a clean and sharp image with the same maximum 30 frames per second as in 4K quality mode. However, the reduction in performance mode is much more obvious, less than half the quality maximum, reduced to 1920 x 1080p, but DRS is enabled and gives us a counted low of 1600 x 900p. Lower pixel density is mitigated by twice the frame rate, but the image is more unstable and soft, and at 1080p or less, exacerbated by aggressive chromatic aberration, can result in a soft and cloudy image. An option to disable this would be beneficial.
Raise the anvil higher – achievement
In-game performance is often GPU-bound when not overloaded by heavy geometric rendering and NPC counts. Larger cities may experience CPU strain, resulting in minor screen tearing on both current-generation Xbox Series consoles. It probably uses adaptive V-sync on PS5, but I didn’t find any areas in my testing. When comparing between Xbox Series Flying like an eagle comes with the Series But the difference between them is less than 2% in favor of the PS5 and is probably CPU related in most cases if this is the case.
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Quality mode is rock solid on both consoles at 30 frames per second, with sharper image quality and slightly better effects. With High Frame Rate mode hitting almost just 60fps on both devices, this is a near-perfect selection of modes, and it’s really up to you which one you prefer.
On the Xbox Series S, things behave largely the same in both modes, but here the choice is more obvious, as the image quality is noticeably cleaner in Quality mode than in Performance mode, although the latter offers a very stable 60fps display in my test sections, compared to 30 fps for the former. The big change from the Xbox Series X and PS5’s High Frame Rate mode is that cutscenes here run at 30 frames per second and are limited to the maximum resolution of 1080p. This means they look slightly worse than in quality mode and don’t perform twice as well, which is understandable since on the Series S they’re probably tied to the GPU. Other than that, we’re seeing the same frame drops and tearing as the Xbox Series X, just a little more common.
Digging up the past
The last generation is not quite as stable. There is only one mode on both the PS4 and PS4 Pro consoles. We see the PS4 Pro launching with a counted resolution of 2560 x 1440p, which may drop with DRS enabled. The image is very sharp and clean and not that far off compared to the Series S quality mode, although chromatic aberration is still a nuisance to the eyes. The biggest trade-offs across all last-gen machines are textures, more pop-in, reduced LoD, fewer NPCs and less clutter in the world to achieve a largely consistent 30fps. The areas of real-time depth-of-field cutscenes can result in a few frame drops, but overall this is a great 30fps presentation of the game, offering much of the same visual splendor and Arabian adventure as the current-gen machines.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage – Official Screenshots
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are next, and this is where the gaps may be largest. The settings are adapted to the PS4 Pro and have the same reductions in all areas in addition to resolution, including texture quality and filtering. Dynamic resolution scaling is in effect and the PS4 scales from 1920 x 1080p to 1600 x 900p. The Xbox One tops out at 1600 x 900p but bottoms out at 1120 x 630p, which severely degrades image quality and the dreaded chromatic aberration can sometimes overwhelm the screen when it drops to that low. Both consoles look soft, and that’s been true of all Assassin’s Creed games since the start of the previous generation.
Performance isn’t sustained by these cuts, as both consoles often drop frames in action, likely due to the CPU, with heavy NPC areas causing framerate drops into the mid-20s on both. Additionally, we can see that GPU requirements go beyond the DRS range and some cutscenes and action segments also drop to similar levels. It’s never as bad as it was back in Assassin’s Creed Unity, but you can expect an inconsistent gaming experience at under 30 frames per second, with much noisier image quality, very low texture quality, more pop-ins, and a sub-HD image both machines, although the PS4 offers a decent, if not game-changing, advantage over the Xbox One.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a strong return to the series’ roots, which is no more apparent than the fact that it looks and runs so well on 10+ year old hardware, although some further improvements would have been nice for current-gen hardware. The visual improvements and 60fps modes are very welcome, especially in the Series S, but they don’t differ from generation to generation. In 2014 the engine was ahead of its time and many others had to catch up, but in 2023 Mirage reflects the series’ previous glory with an iterative update across Origins and Valhalla. It stands out as a great last-gen game that maximized the potential of these machines, but leaves current-gen owners’ hardware an undiscovered treasure.