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Everything we know (and can guess) about Assassins Creed Syndicate

Assassins Creed Syndicate details

I have made no secret of my love  for the Assassin’s Creed series. I’ve played them all (at least all the console games, plus Liberation on the PS Vita). I have a little Connor action figure I prize, my wife bought me an Assassin’s Creed hoodie similar to one Desmond wore in the games, and I had serious conversations with a mechanical engineer buddy about making a rel-life hidden blade (it turned out to be wildly illegal). If you’ve followed the site, you probably also know that I am an anglophile.

That kind of makes this Assassin’s Creed game the ideal way for me to waste the end of October, and a significant chunk of November.

Although the game was originally leaked back in December, Ubisoft has remained quiet about this year’s iteration of the series. We knew – or heavily suspected – that the series would have a release later this year, but Ubisoft wasn’t ready to talk about it until now.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has officially been unveiled. The game will be released on October 23, for PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A PC version is on the way as well, but it has a vague Q4 2015 release date.

The reveal also came with a synopsis, a gameplay walk-through, and a neat-o looking trailer. Not to mention a few questions.

Introducing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

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First, the synopsis:

Developed by Ubisoft Quebec in collaboration with nine other Ubisoft studios*, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is an epic single player experience set in London during the height of the Industrial Revolution, an incredible age of invention that transforms the lives of millions. During this time, the gap between the poor and the rich expands exponentially, making workers’ lives little more than legalized slavery. The lower classes fight for survival by forming a new kind of family – gangs — and adapting to a life in the underworld.

The game takes place in 1868 (and probably other years). The primary setting appears to be the seven boroughs that make up Victorian London and its surrounding areas. There may also be more locations to explore, but we probably won’t know that for a while to come.

In a new twist on the old formula, you play as two assassins, a brother and sister known as Jacob and Evie Frye. The twins both fight against the Templars, but through different means. Jacob is described as “a determined, hot-headed and rebellious leader of an underground gang.” His sister Evie, however, is described as a “master of stealth and control.”

The characters are described in a way that seems to suggest one may be more meant for attack, while the other is better with stealth. That may not translate into gameplay though.

Check out the gameplay trailer below, then let’s compare notes.

A tiny addition makes a major change

ACS zipline

To begin with, the assassins are able to use a new “rope launcher” to propel themselves around the city. With it, you no longer have to climb up buildings. You simply look at your target and shoot the line straight up. You can also use this to create a zipline between buildings.

This may seem like a minor addition, but it fundamentally changes the way the game moves. There may be some limitations on this new tool, otherwise it will require a complete overhaul of how the missions are laid out.

In previous Assassin’s Creed titles, climbing was frequently used as a puzzle. It wasn’t just a way to travel, you needed to find the right way to travel. It’s a huge part of the game. Eliminating this, giving players the ability to shoot form location to location changes the type of game it is. Think of how movements work in Dishonored, or Dying Light. You can shoot across the maps in no time at all, and that type of movement defines those games.

That could very much be for the better, but it could make Assassin’s Creed a different type of series.

“The ability to lead an underground gang, commandeer any vehicle on hand and use modern tools to take on an expansive and fast-paced Victorian London sets this game apart,” Marc-Alexis Côté, the game’s creative director said in a press release. “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has been in development for more than two years and this new modern take on the living open world will please Assassin’s Creed fans and newcomers alike.”

Capture the Templar

Territories return, this time designated by seven boroughs, each overseen by gangs operating under Templar control. It’s a familiar trapping for the series, regardless of what the new twists on it are.

The general idea seems to be that you find the gang headquarters and slaughter your way through. Once you have done that, you’ll need to chase down the Templar in charge of the area, then take them out during a gang battle between your side and theirs.

It’s a familiar idea, but the gameplay is spiced up by a few new features.

Other additions

Along with the rope launcher, there are several other new additions to the series. These may prove to be significant, or they may be a minor tweak. We’ll have to see how they are used.

  • You will be able to travel in “vehicles,” like carriages. This may make up a major addition, or it could simply be another convenience to make travelling through a massive world easier. Trains will also be included.
  • There will be more environmental assassinations. These seem to be scattered around the map, and are likely triggered at the proper time.
  • Boroughs will be a mix of rich and poor. That seems to echo Unity, but there may be more diversity in each area.

What’s missing

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Although the reveal answered several questions, it was still fairly skin deep. There are a lot of questions still to be answered. More will come, but these are the most pressing questions for now:

  • There’s no mention of multiplayer of any kind. In fact, the game is specifically listed as “single-player.” That reveal could come later, or it could mean that both the competitive multiplayer from previous games, as well as the co-op functionality of Unity are gone.
  • This game will take place (at least in part) dozens of years after Unity, the most modern game, chronologically speaking. There will likely be some connection between the twins and the previous assassins, but it’s not clear how. The most direct link would likely be some connection to Unity’s Arno, or possibly Shay Cormac from Rogue. Of course, the Kenways are from England as well.
  • Ubisoft seems to be sticking to a single Assassin’s Creed game this year. The story of Rogue left plenty of room for a sequel, but if that happens it may not be this year.
  • What is the “Syndicate,” and what does it mean? In pop culture the word usually carries negative connotations, especially in video games, so it may relate to the antagonists.

Closing thoughts

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Although I spent a whole lot of time playing it, I was a little disappointed with Unity. The setting of Revolutionary Paris was incredible, but it didn’t use that environment properly. Paris its people were just props, and the revolution was just scenery. It was almost impressive,  how a game about the French Revolution mostly managed to ignore the French Revolution. Hopefully Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will build off the world and make it a truly immersive place that belongs to the time it emulates.

It will be a shame to see the co-op and the multiplayer both disappear. Unity’s co-op was entertaining, but underdeveloped; it was a distraction to keep you playing, where it could been a major part of the package. It would be interesting to see co-op developed a little bit, and become more than a 4-player race to see who could stab someone first. The competitive multiplayer was starting to find its footing too after a few years of polish before it disappeared. Bringing back one – or both – would be nice.

All that said, I will play the hell out of Syndicate, no matter what. We should see more about the game in the coming weeks, especially following E3.

Check out the official trailer below.

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Founder and DBP boss. Ryan likes the Kansas Jayhawks, long walks on the beach, and high fiving unsuspecting people.
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