Ubisoft Quebec is the lead studio behind this year’s Assassin’s Creed game and not only are they simplifying development by not including multiplayer, but they seem to have created some key features that could drastically alter the Assassin’s Creed formula. For those who are still touched by last year’s game, it’s time to move on because Assassin’s Creed Syndicate launches in a month and it is looking surprisingly good.
One of the immediate things I noticed about Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is how the game doesn’t seem to be taking itself as seriously as previous games have. From what I experienced, Jacob Frye is pleasantly funny and seems to provide an entertaining contrast to Evie, who is the more straightforward type. Jacob has a unique sense of humor and is more cavalier about things compared to his sister.
Over the course of Sequence 3, I found the interplay between both characters to be strikingly entertaining. Assassin’s Creed does have serious elements and themes, but from what I’ve seen so far, the contrast in humor and tone both seem to add nice balance to the game’s narrative. A full play-through will be able to lend deeper insight how this turns out, but the combination of Jacob and Evie could make for one of the most entertaining plots yet.
During my few hours with the game, I mostly played through as Evie and preferred her over Jacob. Both have unique styles and when you upgrade their skills, certain abilities are exclusive to each of them. This is one of the ways that Ubisoft is trying to establish differences between the two, and hopefully they will translate clearly and meaningfully into gameplay differences.
I do have some reservations about the inconvenience players will face when it comes to switching between one character and another. As it stands right now, in order to switch from Evie to Jacob or vice versa, you must go into a menu and then click R3 to switch characters, though it isn’t always available. GTA V showed the perfect way to integrate a function like this without it really disrupting the gameplay, and I think the fact that you need to go through a menu to play as the other character could deter gamers from using both of them more often.
Conquering a borough in London took me four core missions, plus the culminating Gang War to do. Those missions asked me to assassinate a templar target, free small children who were working at a nearby labor plant, kidnap and then deliver a nearby target and finally, take out a stronghold of enemies. These missions presented a nice breadth of contrast, and they focused on different elements of the core Assassin’s Creed experience, such as stealth and combat.
It was intriguing to note that some Gang Upgrades I could purchase actually influenced the game world. One of the upgrades resulted in a higher density of Growlers, or carriages, throughout London, while another upgrade increases the density of hanging barrels around the city. Tossing a knife at these sends them crashing down on enemies standing below. Past games have allowed players to build-up a city, but they haven’t given players the power to tangibly change the city’s life or AI like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate does.
I immediately noticed that in order to obtain a full synchronization, players do not have to complete all side objectives during each mission. While those are still there, they actually provide bonuses in experience points (XP) and currency. Gamers who have struggled to 100 percent previous games, will be pleased to know a perfect synch is no longer based on each mission’s side objectives. Hallelujah for that change to have finally been made!
Additionally, all treasure chests lying around the city are created equally, meaning you won’t have to complete inconvenient tasks in order to claim all of the chests in the city. Not only do chests award players with currency, but they also provide gamers with different resources that can be used for crafting. Some weapons or upgrades will require certain amounts of resources in order to be completed, but rest assured, crafting won’t be anything crazy like some games can make it out to be. The system seems to be fairly simple for players to understand.
The Rope Launcher is fantastic, as I found myself using it more to get up to rooftops then I did climbing up buildings on my own. The device seems to make traversal more fluid and eliminates the pauses gamers experienced when climbing up tall buildings on your own. The Rope Launcher is incredibly satisfying when ziplining across a gap to then air assassinate an enemy below. It’s shades of the ziplining from Assassin’s Creed Revelations and feels just as rewarding.
The game’s fight club activity is awesome and was a pleasant surprise. During this activity, I went through four rounds of enemies, back-to-back, and upon completion of all four, I was given a nice cash and XP reward as a result. I’m interested to see if this feature only appears a few times throughout the game, or if it is a recurring features. This is certainly a great source of currency and XP if it turns out to be a recurring feature.
Finally, combat has been shaken up with the essential elimination of sword-combat, and while I wasn’t thrilled about this change earlier this summer, I am now a believer in the game’s new combat. Hand-to-hand fighting is a blast, and it actually enticed me to engage in more combat versus stealth because of how rewarding it feels.
The number of consecutive strikes a player lands is counted on the right side of the screen, like they are in Arkham Knight, and countering an enemy’s attack helps keep a streak. This adds an addictive element to the game’s combat that wasn’t there before. The highest combo I chained together was 83. It remains to be seen if the addictive nature of combat lasts or if it becomes stale after a while.
At a glance, the new features and changes coming to Assassin’s Creed Syndicate could have extraordinary impact if fleshed out enough, and that’s what I hope turns out to be the case come next month. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate marks a new beginning for the series, with it being the first core game (not including Rogue) since Assassin’s Creed II to not include multiplayer of any type, and fans should be excited for what is coming. Syndicate could turn out to be one of the best games we see this year, provided these indications of change turn out to be meaningful.