Assassin’s Creed Mirage Could Be Great News For Old-School Fans

Previews for Assassin’s Creed Mirage, the thirteenth game in the Assassin’s Creed series and first since 2020’s Valhalla, released early on September 12, and they suggest a long-awaited return to the historical fiction series’ roots. That could come as good news—in the 16 years since the first Assassin’s Creed came out, the series has expanded well beyond the bounds of its original premise.

The initial game offered a pinpoint-focus on modern-day protagonist Desmond Miles and his stealthy quest to take down the blast-from-the-past Templars through assassinations and slow-burn stand-offs, but later installments were overcrowded with complicated plots, busy maps full of confusing icons, massive run-times, tons of side quests, and new gameplay features that included tower defense.

But from the stealth-heavy, streamlined gameplay the latest Mirage previews describe, it seems like players should prepare to flip up their cloth hood and wander back to the series’ beginning. Though you won’t be traveling too far back—Mirage also acts as a prequel to Valhalla. It centers that open-world game’s 9th century thief and mythological superhuman reincarnate, Basim Ibn Ishaq, as he and his knives traverse Baghdad.

But, like developer Ubisoft said it would earlier this year, Mirage keeps that story more “intimate” by being both shorter (you could finish it in about 20 hours) and more linear than Valhalla.

Pre-order Assassin’s Creed: Mirage: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Assassin’s Creed stealth is back in a big way

Early reactions, for the most part, seem to think that’s a good thing. After completing a training segment in which Basim becomes a Hidden One assassin, and then entering Mirage’s open-world, “I was told that there were new points of interest to check out,” Kris Holt writes for Engadget. “I immediately opened the map and was pleased to see there weren’t a million icons that threatened to pull me away from the main objectives. There were 15 or so, which feels far more palatable than the overwhelmingly busy maps I’ve seen in previous games.”

For IGN, Nick Maillet says Mirage “brings the social stealth history simulator back to its roots in the best way possible.” Though, it offers some leeway. The game “ensures that the ‘it’s stealth if no one is alive to tell about it’ method works, […] but that pure stealth is rewarded too,” says Joshua Duckworth for GameRant. Classic series mechanic Eagle Vision helped Duckworth “determine what we needed,” while side characters helped introduce “key concepts like throwing knives and the iconic Assassin’s Creed Leap of Faith.”

But Mirage’s combat is a little bare bones

Together, these elements form Mirage’s “extremely simple” combat system, Mike Mahardy writes for Polygon. “It looks flashy, don’t get me wrong,” he continued. “Basim dual-wields a sword and a dagger, giving him some bespoke choreography that we haven’t seen elsewhere in the series. But by and large, melee interactions came down to the same old attack, dodge, parry, counterattack, repeat routine that marked a litany of third-person games in the 2010s.”

And “what skills I did see in my preview session didn’t exactly get the blood pumping with excitement,” agreed Rock Paper Shotgun editor-in-chief Katharine Castle. “The Predator tree focuses on your eagle Enkidu, enhancing their ability to mark up guards and chests and the like, while the Trickster tree lets you carry extra tools and increases the number of potions you can carry. Inventory-based stuff, in other words.”

Still, it overall seems like Mirage’s “story and gameplay feel more like what made AC so popular in the first place,” IGN said. “Its new setting and social stealth-heavy gameplay mechanics feel like the series has finally realized what was promised back in 2007.”

Mirage might be a hard reset for Assassin’s Creed, a welcome change for a particularly distended franchise. It’s out on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows on October 5.

Pre-order Assassin’s Creed: Mirage: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop


PlayStation Boss Jim Ryan Stepping Down Amid Great PS5 Sales

The head of PlayStation is stepping down, Sony announced in a press release today. Jim Ryan, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s CEO, is retiring after just four years on the job. The massive shakeup in leadership comes as the PlayStation 5 breaks sales records and as Sony has doubled-down on prestige blockbuster games like The Last of Us Part 1 and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

“After 30 years, I have made the decision to retire from SIE in March 2024,” Ryan said in a statement. “I’ve relished the opportunity to have a job I love in a very special company, working with great people and incredible partners. But I’ve found it increasingly difficult to reconcile living in Europe and working in North America.”

Ryan will officially leave the position in April, 2024. Hiroki Totoki, Sony Group Corporation President, COO and CFO, will help with the transition and take on the role of interim CEO of PlayStation once Ryan leaves, and will help with the search for his successor. The news was first reported by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier.

A 30-year veteran of Sony, Ryan was promoted to the top PlayStation job in 2019 after a re-organization saw head of CEO of Worldwide Studios, Shawn Layden, step down, and President of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, transition into a more background role working with indie game developers.

As head of PlayStation, Ryan oversaw the launch of the PS5, which despite pandemic-era shortages, is now on pace to break sales records thanks to an ongoing lineup of first-party exclusive blockbusters like Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarök. His tenure also included the launch of PS VR2, as well as a major pivot by the subscription service PS Plus to more directly compete with Xbox Game Pass’ Netflix-like library of games.

The unexpected departure comes just a couple months after Sony signed a 10-year agreement with Microsoft to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation following the tech giant’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Despite a vicious regulatory fight in the U.S. with the Federal Trade Commission and in the UK with the Competition and Markets Authority, both of which included testimony by Ryan, the historic deal is likely set to close beginning in October.

“Jim Ryan has been a great contributor to our industry and a fierce leader for PlayStation,” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer tweeted. “I wish him the best in what he does next. Thank you for all you’ve done for the community over the last 30 years, Jim.”

Here’s the full press release:

Sony Group Corporation and Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) today announced that SIE President and CEO Jim Ryan has made the decision to retire in March 2024 after almost thirty years with the PlayStation business. To support Mr. Ryan in his transition, Sony Group Corporation President, COO and CFO Hiroki Totoki will assume the role of Chairman of SIE effective October 2023. Effective April 1, 2024, Mr. Totoki will be appointed Interim CEO of SIE while he continues his current role at Sony Group Corporation. Mr. Totoki will work closely with Sony Group Corporation Chairman and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida and the management team of SIE to help define the next chapter of PlayStation’s future, including the succession of the SIE CEO role.

Jim Ryan joined Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Europe-based legal entity, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe (SIEE) — which was then Sony Computer Entertainment Europe — in 1994. Since then, he has held a number of senior positions at the company including President of SIEE, Head of Global Sales and Marketing at SIE and Deputy President of SIE since January 2018, before being appointed SIE President and CEO.

Comment from Kenichiro Yoshida

“Jim Ryan has been an inspirational leader throughout his entire period with us, but never more so than in overseeing the launch of PlayStation 5 in the midst of the global COVID pandemic. That extraordinary achievement made by the entire SIE team has been steadily built on and PlayStation 5 is on track to become SIE’s most successful console yet. I’m immensely grateful to Jim for all his achievements. Respecting Jim’s decision to finish his long career at Sony leaves me with an important decision regarding his succession given the significance of the Game & Network Services business. We have discussed intensively and have determined the new management structure. We aim to achieve Sony Group’s further evolution and growth through bringing even greater success to the Game & Network Services Business.”

Comment from Jim Ryan

“After 30 years, I have made the decision to retire from SIE in March 2024. I’ve relished the opportunity to have a job I love in a very special company, working with great people and incredible partners. But I’ve found it increasingly difficult to reconcile living in Europe and working in North America. I will leave having been privileged to work on products that have touched millions of lives across the world; PlayStation will always be part of my life, and I feel more optimistic than ever about the future of SIE. I want to thank Yoshida-san for placing so much trust in me and being an incredibly sensitive and supportive leader.”

Comment from Hiroki Totoki

“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Jim Ryan for his outstanding achievements and contributions over his 30-year career at Sony, including the great success of launching the PlayStation 5. The PlayStation business managed by SIE is an essential part of Sony Group’s entire business portfolio. I will work with Jim and the senior management team closely to ensure our continued success and further growth. I am also looking forward to creating the exciting future of PlayStation and the game industry together with everyone at SIE and its business partners.”

Update 9/28/2023 2:02 p.m. ET: Added a tweet by Phil Spencer.


Detective Pikachu Returns Has A Great Joke About The 2019 Movie

Detective Pikachu Returns is out on Switch today, October 6, and as someone who considers the original 2016 3DS game to be one of my favorite things Pokémon has ever done, I’m stoked. But Nintendo’s adventure game sequel exists in a weird place, because the 2019 live-action Detective Pikachu movie may have already wrapped up its story.

While the circumstances are a bit different, the Detective Pikachu movie does the whole “Game of Thrones” thing of ending a story that wasn’t quite complete in the source material. Did its ending end up spoiling the video game sequel that wouldn’t launch for another four years? As I play Detective Pikachu Returns, I assume I probably know what’s going to happen at the end. However, I’m not totally sure, because the game has a cute scene that references the movie and affirms that the game is doing its “own thing.”

The scene in question takes place maybe 30 minutes in. Protagonist Tim Goodman is speaking with his mother Irene and sister Sophia about his detective adventures alongside the titular Detective Pikachu. Apparently, the mystery-solving duo has become so well-renowned for their work that they’ve made a movie about the first game’s case. Sophia says she thought the movie was “pretty good,” but laments that she and her mom don’t show up in it at all. Tim says he has “no idea, but movies usually do their own thing, don’t they?”

Buy Detective Pikachu Returns: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Sophia says "Yeah, I thought that movie was pretty good, but how come Mom and me didn't even show up in it?"

Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

2019’s Detective Pikachu movie follows a lot of the same plot beats as the 3DS game it was based on, such as Tim and Pikachu being able to talk to each other while they search for Tim’s dad Harry. But Irene and Sophia don’t appear in the movie at all; Sophia doesn’t even seem to exist in the film’s continuity. Her now being upset about that in Detective Pikachu Returns, and Tim’s nonchalant response, is a cute meta reference to the real movie and the liberties it took with the source material.

Tim’s mother, specifically, is very different in this new game, because she was long dead in the film’s chronology. Harry grew distant after Tim’s mother’s death, leading to tension between the two. But she is alive and well in Detective Pikachu Returns. Does that mean she gets a happy ending now? To be determined.

Whatever happens, the most comforting thing I’ve experienced playing Detective Pikachu Returns is its repeated insistence that your mystery-solving electric mouse isn’t a cop in the games; in fact, they’re actually pretty at odds with Ryme City law enforcement so far. We stan a private investigator vigilante king.

Don’t Sleep On These Great Steam Halloween Sale Deals

An image shows characters from popular creepy games standing together.

Image: Capcom / Remedy / Devolver Digital / Kotaku

It’s nearly Halloween, so it’s once again time for Valve to throw a big ol’ spooky-themed Steam sale. And this year there are plenty of great deals on new and old games, most of which are scary and perfect to play on Halloween night. Also…

BOO! Did I scare you? Probably not. Let me try again. *Clears throat* We live in a rapidly declining civilization that is being destroyed by powerful corporations and dangerously disruptive technology that will, quicker than most people realize, make it nearly impossible for folks to earn a living and live a comfortable life. Scared? Well, I can’t stop all of that but I can help you save a few bucks for the future with some of the best deals currently available via Steam’s “Scream: The Revenge” Sale.

Check out our list below for some highlights, and don’t wait too long to grab some of these creepy classics, as the Halloween sale ends November 2.

  • 7 Days To Die $6 – ($25)
  • Alan Wake – $3.75 ($15)
  • Batman Arkham Knight – $4 ($20)
  • The Callisto Protocol – $24 ($60)
  • Cult of the Lamb – $15 ($25)
  • Darkest Dungeon – $5 ($25)
  • Days Gone – $17 ($50)
  • Dead By Daylight – $8 ($20)
  • Dead Space remake – $36 ($60)
  • Dredge – $19 ($25)
  • Project Zomboid – $14 ($20)
  • Resident Evil 2 – $10 ($40)
  • Resident Evil 3 – $10 ($40)
  • Resident Evil 7 $8 ($20)
  • Resident Evil 4 & Separate Ways DLC – $40 ($60)
  • Resident Evil Village – $16 ($40)
  • Strange Brigade – $2.50 ($50)
  • The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series $12.50 ($50)
  • Weird West – $10 ($40)
  • The Quarry – $15 ($60)

And good luck to everybody with the robot AI overlords and the fall of humanity and all that. Perhaps share in the comments below any good deals you find on Steam during this Halloween sale to help distract us from the doom and gloom of the future.