At a recent Ubisoft event, I sat down with the Gamescom demo of Assassin's Creed Syndicate and played through it. It was fairly short – taking around 10 minutes to work through to its conclusion – but it gave a decent impression of what we can expect from the series this time around.
Set in London in 1868, the game features two new characters. Associate Producer Andree-Anne Boisvert takes up the story. "We have two main characters with two different storylines – Evie and Jacob. They have very different personalities and different skillsets. That's something I'm really excited about. Their skills are a reflection of their different personalities. Evie has unique skills – the two I can talk about are Chameleon and Knife Masters. She's more stealth-oriented. Jacob's skills are more fight-oriented. Jacob and Evie want to fight for the poor, and they do it in a very bottom up way. Jacob especially – he builds an army from the streets."
The objective of the game is to take back London from Templar control by infiltrating the London underworld and building an army by uniting the poor and downtrodden.
Andree-Anne continues, "My favorite part of the game is seeing London in the Industrial Revolution. We have trains, carriages and boats you can use. We really wanted to make the game represent London in 1868. If you're in Whitechapel, you know you're in Whitechapel. When you're in the City of London there are wider streets and tall buildings. I think the way we nailed the world this time is really an achievement. We're always truthful to the cities the games are set in, but this year it's really good."
The demo was set in and around the Tower of London. Having walked past that location every day for several years on my commute to work when I lived in England, I was astonished at how realistic it looks.
"It's a tradition for Assassin's Creed that we staff with historians and go on site so that we highlight landmarks in the way that they deserve," observes Andree-Anne.
The objective of the demo was to assassinate a character deep in the Tower of London. There were three ways to go about doing this: a more direct route that involved taking down guards as stealthily as possible, a method that involved stealing some keys and gaining access to the tower, and an option that required you to hook up with a friendly character disguised as a Beefeater (a Tower of London guard) who would then pretend to take you prisoner and march you straight into the tower – assuming you could keep close enough to him that you and he would remain undetected as outsiders.
Jumping and climbing around the Tower was entertaining, and I used the new Rope Launcher – essentially a zip line launcher – to stay mostly up on high, dropping down to kill guards only when truly necessary.
The fighting does seem a little more visceral and faster-paced this time around, and at one point I was able to fire a hallucinogenic dart at a guard and make him fight other guards as a distraction.
Despite the demo being short, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is looking promising. It's absolutely gorgeous to behold, is bringing a far larger environment to explore this time around, and being able to use the two different characters at any time is an interesting new option that adds more depth to the gameplay – and also lets players augment their playstyles with characters that will compliment it.
Ubisoft are going full steam ahead to get the game finished in time for its October 23rd release date. "We have many studios working on Assassin's Creed Syndicate," says Andree-Anne. "It's been worked on for more than two and a half years. My job is working with the studios across the world. In Europe we have a studio in Newcastle, England that's working on just the driving aspect of the game. They specialize in driving. We also have studios in Singapore and China. In a 24 hour day, there's always someone working. So when we get up in the morning, Singapore is just finishing their day – and we get to see everything that's new that's just been put into game."