Ubisoft finally pulled the sheet off of their new Assassin’s Creed scheduled for later this year. Syndicate takes the series into a more modern era and reveals a more focused attempt to bring the eight-year-old franchise up to speed with the new status quo of stealth action game. Ubisoft released a boat-load of story information, screenshots, and gameplay video, and here's what you need to know about them.
1. Victory (See what I did there?)
Rumored for pretty much ever, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will take place during the late 1860’s in London commonly known as the Victorian Era. Defined by the Industrial Revolution the widening wealth gap between rich and poor because of it, it almost makes the perfect setting for a game series that has been characterized by the struggle between the little guy and “The Man.” The invention of things like trains, telegraphs, and the growing practical usage of electricity will really bring the game into new waters in terms of technology. Horse drawn carriages (or carry-ages according to the narrator of the official 9 minute gameplay video) will also be a dedicated mode of transportation throughout the city. Grand Theft Carriage jokes have already been worn out, thank you.
With the time period comes the requisite cameos from historical figures like novelist Charles Dickens and naturalist Charles Darwin. Who you won’t see are Jack the Ripper or Nikola Tesla, which is actually sort of a relief considering they both made cameo appearances in another recent game set in the city during that era. The Ripper terrorized the city’s sex workers in the mid to late 1880’s, so this game takes place almost 20 years prior. Nikola Tesla would be 11 by the time this game starts, and him having Doogie Howser-style boy genius contributions haven’t really been ruled out, it would seem a stretch considering he was still in Serbia at the time.
2. Double Trouble
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate borrows a page from Grand Theft Auto V’s playbook and offers up a pair of main characters in their newest entry. Jacob and Evie Frye are twin assassins, but reportedly play quite contradictory to one another. Where Evie is a calmer, more well-adjusted person who revels in patience and stealth, Jacob would rather headbutt his problems away. These two approaches are present in their skill trees as well, playing to each character’s strengths and quirks in combat.
The duo are members of the gang “The Rooks” - like rookery, meaning the obligatory bird reference is established early, and the story seems to revolve around their shared desire to stick it to the Templars from the ground up. As the only gameplay so far shows Jacob doing stabby, fighty things, it’s hard to say how gameplay will vary between the two or how you will assume control of one or the other outside of quests designed specifically for them.
3. Leveled Up Combat
Combat is said to have been given a complete overhaul once more. From the video footage, it looks like the focus is on fast paced melee with an emphasis on brutal efficiency a la Batman. There appears to be much less of the counter and kill back and forth that the old games have sort of run into the ground, which is promising.
More specifically, the many tricks up your sleeve to engage the enemy have expanded. The setting sort of discourages the open carry of big blades and conspicuous death dealers, so Jacob (and presumable Evie) are kitted out with more easily concealable weapons. A throwable kukri looks to be Jacob’s go to weapon. It’s quick, lethal, and can be tossed as a ranged option if need be. He also has a revolver, which does exactly as you expect. The difference between this gun and guns in prior AC games is you won't have reload after every shot. Mix that with the new suite of environmental traps and expanded uses of old standbys like the berserk dart, and Syndicate looks to be the first prominent step forward for the series in a while.
4. Gangs of London
As we touched on earlier, sticking it to the Templars from the streets up is Jacob and Evie’s plan for liberating London’s working poor from the shackles of their faceless overlords. In gameplay terms, this will involve taking out the syndicates (wink wink) that control the boroughs of the map. Those boroughs include The City of London, Westminster, Whitechapel, and The Strand to name a few, and each have a Templar boss that needs to be taken out.
Make enough noise within these sections, and eventually you will be able to lead The Rooks into an all out gang war. Like, line up in the streets and put the boots to each other until there’s no one left standing sort of gang war. Scorsese would be proud.
Multiplayer modes and co-op features are absent in this year’s title. According to creative director Marc-Alexis Cote, "The reason we are doing this is to really focus on the roots of the franchise. That’s why all nine studios are focused on delivering this single-player experience.” There were technical reasons for skipping multiplayer, as well. Executive Producer Francois Pelland called out the responsiveness needed in the new combat system and the technical nightmare having a bunch of players riding carriages would present as reasons to shy away from multiplayer.
There is plenty new about this bigger, bolder Assassin’s Creed that hasn’t even been shown yet. What do you think is coming for the franchise? What’s your favorite change they’ve already announced? Leave a comment below or tweet @CurseGamepedia.
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