Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate this week, and as expected from the leak months before the reveal, the game is set in Victorian London. The pre-alpha footage that was shown looked gorgeous and with each new installment to the series, new tools for your Assassin arsenal are introduced along with new ways to traverse the landscape and deal with confronting enemies. The game has a cool new style, but will Ubisoft manage to avoid the same drawbacks of Unity?
The story will revolve around twins, Jacob and Evie Frye, who were born and bred Assassins in 1868. Because the game is set in a modern time era, some staple weapons have been removed. Swords will no longer be on player’s hips as the central tool, instead replaced with a curved Kukri knife. Hoods will still be used to blend in with the crowds and the Assassin gauntlet has been gloriously upgraded with many more tricks and traversal treats such as rope launchers. Guns have also been upgraded with the introduction to the revolver; throwing knives, brass knuckles and the hidden blade have all made a return. Fighting brawl style will be at a faster pace than previous entries and with the industrial era comes a major surprise with the implication of trains and carriages. Ubisoft once said there will never be cars or vehicles in their games, but surely enough they have surfaced.
While many exciting things have been announced, we can’t help but be worried. Let’s start with the good; the game will use the same engine as Unit, and the pre-alpha footage looks beautiful so the alpha rendering should look astonishing. The game will be more of an action-paced, strategy stealth game that will feature a Sherlock Holmes type of style to it. Now the bad–
A lot, if not most, of what was announced has already been seen in previous installments to the franchise. The rope launcher is basically just the rope dart, while the fighting system looks and probably plays exactly like Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series. The “new” ability to use the environment against enemies is old and can be done in previous Assassin’s Creed games, which also featured environmental kills. A lot of what the developer’s talked up during the announcement was not really new to the series in the least.
The gameplay trailer portrays a Victorian setting currently trending in games. This era was visited not only once in Bloodborne, but a second time in The Order: 1886; this type of Victorian backdrop is not only being pounded in games currently, but also in movies and television shows like Penny Dreadful and Sherlock Holmes films as well. Either the lack of surprise was diminished from the leak before the games announcement, or the ever-popular steampunk setting has turned into a setting that no longer rakes in the shock factor it once used to.
Assassin’s Creed used to been heralded for taking a moment in history and making it come to life to help bring gamers back in time to these long past periods and story until the last few entries. The story for Unity was a mockery, Black Flag was more than a bit of a disappointment and Rouge was nothing more than an afterthought to ring in the last drops of cash from the PS3 before the jump to the next generation. After the Batman style brawling that the fans had to deal with over the past few installments with this franchise, it seems that the developers at least wanted to try something new and listened to their fanbase more.
It’s the industrial revolution for Syndicate, but is it for Ubisoft? Can their new installment to the franchise revolutionize the series as a whole and make fans excited for Assassins Creed again; will we get a complete game this year without game breaking bugs and cutscenes with faceless characters? Only time will tell and for the sake of the franchise that Ubisoft so desperately wants to be their cash cow.