In recent years, there have been few franchises you can depend on to appear as regularly as the Assassin’s Creed games. Creed has released titles every year for the last seven years—and sometimes multiple titles per year.
And as such, Ubisoft has pulled back the curtain on 2015’s flagship entry, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. With it comes a new time period, new protagonists, and the hope that the new gameplay changes will help propel the series forward not just in time, but in quality too.
Syndicate focuses its story on London during the Industrial Revolution. The franchise’s overarching villains, the Templars, have for the moment won, but a pair of twins, Jacob and Evie Frye, are hoping to take back the city of London. And they’ll do so the only way they know how—criminally.
Players will be tasked with exploring and taking over seven different districts in London, rising up the ranks of the criminal underworld to form their own gang that will take back the city from the ruling class.
Ubisoft is remaining mum on story details for the moment, and, in an early look demo, only showcased Jacob in action.
The biggest changes to the Creed formula come via the game’s traversal. Players will be equipped with a rope launcher to easily scale buildings. Think Spider-Man in the Industrial Revolution and you have a decent idea of how swift the tool is. It won’t negate the game’s freerunning and climbing gameplay, but rather take out the tedium that would come from having to scale the franchise’s tallest buildings brick by brick.
The other major addition is vehicles. Players can hijack any carriage riding through the street, as well as travel by boat, and the vehicles can also be locations for combat. The nickname Grand Theft Assassin will likely be applied as players actually get their hands on the game.
A smaller, but incredibly important update may be the introduction of sidewalks. Yes, city planning isn’t the sexiest aspect of a game to discuss. But the Creed games have always made walking around problematic, forcing the player to stumble through crowds occupying the streets of older time periods. Instead, the paved roads of London keep most pedestrians out of the way as the player tries to maintain a free-running flow.
Hopping around the world of each Assassin’s Creed game has usually been the most enjoyable aspect, and Syndicate looks to be changing the franchise’s traversal in the biggest way yet. Will it be fun to play? We’ll see, but the snippets of London shown to EW looked beautiful and should be fun to explore at both the street and rooftop levels.
The lack of story content shown, for the moment, appears to be a conscious choice, and could indicate that the game has a strong narrative focus. Side missions tie into the main plot, as doing favors for certain characters will unlock more opportunities to drive their story forward, while gang missions influence how much control Jacob and Evie have in each district. And the lack of any real info on Evie is a great disappointment though likely not a sign of a diminished presence in the game according to the developers who walked EW through the hands-off demo. Hopefully treasure chests, companion mobile applications, and more of the franchise’s most tertiary content won’t hamper the narrative focus in the final game.
Syndicate, like most Assassin’s Creed games this far from release, has plenty of potential to win over players, especially after the dissatisfaction that Assassin’s Creed Unity caused for many. Can Syndicate bring the franchise back on course? It’s far too early to say, but there was enough potential in the demo shown that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate could help right the ship… er, carriage when it releases on Oct. 23 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.
For more, take a look at screenshots from an early version of the game, as well as the game’s box art.