For Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed Unity is in the past. All the jokes have been made, the dead horse has been sufficiently beaten, and all that remains is to move forward. In that spirit, the publisher brought Assassin's Creed Syndicate to E3 2015. Unlike last year's Unity, Syndicate was actually playable on the E3 show floor. So to get an idea of what's coming, Shacknews went hands-on.
The first thing to note about Syndicate is that, as always, Ubisoft nails the artistic atmosphere of its landscape of choice. This time around, it's London, circa the Industrial Revolution. Merry old England is not only drawn out to reflect the city's architecture, but many signature pieces of the era were also on full display, like trains and stagecoaches. Even the fashion reflects the time, with lead assassin Jacob Frye donning an old-timey stovepipe hat.
But a fancy hat isn't all that the latest Assassin frontman has available to him. The new weapon of choice this time around is the cane sword, a trusty walking stick that acts as a blunt object, but also contains a hidden blade, as most Assassin weaponry does. Jacob will also have a Rope Launcher contained within his gauntlet. This is a tool that allows Jacob to use a grappling hook to latch onto rooftops. The rope then retracts to rappel him vertically in swift fashion. The rope can also be shot across, allowing Jacob to go from place-to-place, as well as set up for assassinations from above.
Jacob also has his share of weaponry, from the standard hidden blade, to throwing knives, to hallucinogenic darts. The idea of turning enemies against one another in Assassin's Creed is not new, but it played out in a slightly more interesting manner this time, with Jacob able to aim the darts at fire pits. That would cause more area of effect damage and cause more than one hostile to go crazy. There was certainly a variety of ways for me to dispatch Bloody Nora's gang members, something that players will have to do quite often to liberate parts of London from their rule.
After drawing out Bloody Nora herself, the chase was on. She quickly hijacked a horse-drawn carriage to make her escape across Westminster. The idea was to quickly hijack another carriage on the street and give chase. As I attempted to keep up, Nora's gang tried to derail my own carriage by ramming it. With the right trigger used to speed up and Square/X used to ram any foes off the road, carriage control wasn't without its problems. Keeping the carriage steady was a challenge, as was aiming with the pistol while on the go. Turning was also a tricky feat, as sharp turns were often where Nora was able to gain ground.
Regardless, the demo took me to the next part of the sequence, one calling "Gang Wars." The idea here was that Nora was being flanked by her gang of hoodlums. Jacob then matched in kind with his own band of merry men, which would kick off an all-out brawl between both sides. The idea, of course, is to help your own side survive. It's an interesting idea, albeit one that didn't show any real depth to the game's combat. It was certainly more violent, with the cane sword slicing at knees and tendons before going in for the kill, but it didn't look any deeper. Regardless, after dispatching the opposing gang, one final cutscene played out with Jacob and Evie recruiting the liberated townspeople to their cause.
It should also be noted that while this hands-on was restricted to Jacob Frye, his twin sister, Evie, will get her own set of missions.
The theme of Assassin's Creed Syndicate is power through the people, which is why a bulk of the game will be spent following Jacob and Evie Frye in their quest to recruit new Rooks to their fold. I'm curious to see if there are any other ways to increase those ranks, aside from simple territory takeovers. More than that, I'm curious into seeing how this plays into the overall narrative of the series, as this takes place well after the Assassin Order was undergoing internal strife.
Questions will be answered when Assassin's Creed Syndicate hits PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in October.