UPDATED: Ubisoft Unveils ASSASSIN’S CREED SYNDICATE
UPDATE: Ubisoft just posted a walkthrough video featuring live gameplay. We’ve put it under “A Different Kind of Fight.”
Ubisoft just revealed the next installment to their stealth/action franchise, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, formerly codenamed “Victory.” In a live presentation, the game developer went into detail about what Syndicate will be about, where and when we’ll be transported, who we’ll be playing, and more. This is our very first impression of the new game. After what happened with Assassin’s Creed Unity, they have a lot to make up for with the gamers.
The live stream announcement started with the devs at Ubisoft actually addressing Unity. They took the criticisms in stride and considered them as they while building the new game. All in all, it was at least nice that they decided to address Unity at all. After that we’re immediately transported to Victorian London (weeeee!) in 1868, smack dab in the middle of the Industrial Revolution.
“World that is ruled by money”
The monarchy is all but ended, and the upper class is now controlled by the business and factory owners of the new industrial age. Money is the new power. But there is no respectable upper class without a lower class to exploit and abuse. And so organized crime was born, also known as syndicates.
Street gangs control the boroughs of London. Behind each gang there is a Templar controlling them. But that’s not all they control. They have their hands in the industry as well; they practically own this city. As we know, where there are Templars, Assassins are not far behind to undermine their influence over the innocent and take them down.
Enter Jacob and Evie Fry, twins. Jacob is hot-tempered and impulsive while his sister, Evie, is calm and considers her options more carefully. They were born into the Assassin way of life and seek to stake their claim in London by severing the Templar’s control.
In the preview, you play as Jacob. One of the missions you take on is to gain control of each borough using your own gang called The Rooks. Each designated area is ruled by an opposing street gang. You do this by seeking out the leader of each gang, start an all-out street brawl with your own guys, take out the leader, and absorb your enemy’s resources (i.e. more guys for you). The in-game footage footage shows Jacob going up against a Templar gang leader named Bloody Nora. Yes, it’s not just the men who are taking up arms against you.
A cut scene shows that Evie has something of a presence as well. An enemy points his gun at Jacob who is busy fighting someone else. Before the bad guy is able to pull the trigger, Evie throws a knife at his hand and saves her brother. The twins exchange nods and resume their work.
Now before you start throwing up your hands about there not being a leading female assassin AGAIN, Ubisoft does say that Evie is a playable character. In fact, throughout the game, you’ll be able to switch roles. Each sibling will even have separate missions you can play. They’re highlighting Jacob now, but Ubisoft plans to give us more details concerning Evie’s role later this summer. My guess is that she’ll get more of a spotlight during Ubisoft’s press conference at E3.
You’re given a new arsenal of toys with which to kill your enemies (see picture above for quick details). As you can see, the Assassin Gauntlet features an additional component not seen before. Sitting right next to the iconic hidden blade is a rope launcher. This tool is much more than a fancy killing contraption. You can also scale all of London’s rooftops Batman-style. From the ground, you can quickly reach to the top of the building by rappelling upward, you can zip line to a distant lower rooftop or climb to a higher one, and you can be “death from above” by securing your line to stalk your prey.
Additionally, you can now use the environment to your advantage. I’m not just talking about hiding in bushes or closets to wait for your enemy to come to you, I’m talking about the game giving you the ability to use your throwing knife to cut a suspended pallet of heavy-ass barrels and watch it drop on your target.
A Different Kind of Fight
Since your in Victorian London, the environment is more claustrophobic. Fighting is more close-quarters and hiding in bushes isn’t exactly an option anymore. In other words, your stealth has been adjusted to suit your urban surroundings. There are still bales of hay for you to land in, but I doubt they’ll be as effective as they use to be. I don’t know. That’s not totally the point though. To supplement the lack of bushes and random groups of people you can blend in with, you’re given the option to duck and crouch behind objects. You can even stay crouched as you sneak to your next point for optimal stealthiness. And judging by the brief gameplay, notoriety may be a thing of the past. People around you knew you might be up to something; they react to your presence and get out of the way. Again, I haven’t played Unity so I apologize if that was already tossed out. Overall, if stealth is more your bag in these games, you’re going to have to change your usual tactics a bit. Whistling at your target to draw him closer to you is back as well.
When you do find yourself in an open confrontation, the fighting system seems more fluid than in the past. In gang fights, it’s no longer you versus everyone else and your guys are just there to fend a few of them off. Some individual enemy NPCs will ignore you and head straight for allies. In other words, this will look like a real gang fight.
The fighting system isn’t the only thing that’ll change how you play. As I mentioned before, you can use your environment to thin the herd. That also includes carriages. Your new mode of transportation is a horse and carriage. This becomes useful for when you need to get to a location quickly or when there’s a chase. You can acquire a passing carriage GTA-style and mow down any passerby dumb enough not to get out of the way. Your move, Grand Theft Auto. Let’s see some Victorian Age hijackings.
You’ll also be able to fight and leap on top of the carriages. Oh yeah, you can do the same thing on a moving train. Maybe even a a boat or two.
Honestly, despite my lack of enthusiasm for the franchise when Unity was announced, I’m actually excited to get back on the Assassin train once Syndicate hits stores. This may have enough to bring back scorned players. Here are just a few more images from the live presentation to get you pumped up for Syndicate: