Assassin’s Creed has seen its ups and downs since it became an annualized series, but with Ubisoft Quebec leading the project for the first time, hopefully some new lifeblood can be injected into the franchise. Director Scott Phillips knows it’s a concern, and the team is dialing it back this entry and not including extras like co-op or multi- player to focus all efforts on the core single-player experience.
“We started two years ago and spent a lot of time working on our tech and polishing the engine that’s there,” Phillips says. “There’s a lot of drive in the studio to make sure we deliver our first entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise very, very strong.”
Recently, I went hands-on with the game, which is set in London during the Industrial Revolution. The demo focused on Evie Frye, a rare female protagonist in a long line of mostly male leads. Evie’s highly skilled at stealth, much more than her twin brother, Jacob. During the game, you play as both with certain missions and story sequences centered on each of them.
The demo showcased a black-box mission, where you choose how you want to achieve your goal. Evie’s destination is the famous Tower of London, which she expects might carry the shroud, a piece of Eden, which is a source of great power. Her mission? Assassinate Lucy Throne, a Templar also hunting for the relic. The map shows various entry points and people of interest to help get the job done. You can choose your own path or tap a person of interest. My options include an infiltration opportunity to get a guard’s master keys, a stealth approach to locate an allied guard, or a mission to liberate the constable for his assistance. I pursue the allied guard.
As I make my way toward the contact, I use Evie’s unique chameleon ability, which allows her to become invisible when in stealth mode to get around patrolling guards. The game has a full skill tree, so you decide what skills you want to invest in.
Once I reach the allied guard, he lets me know that some patrols are disguised as Templars. He offers to sneak me into The Tower of London, as long as I eliminate the Templar guards who already saw him during their patrol. I use the new rope launcher to make my way toward them. The gadget makes exploration much faster, as you can latch on to a far away building and swing right to it. Once I kill the two enemies, the allied guard pretends Evie’s his prisoner and he’s turning her in. When we arrive at Throne’s location, she assumes Evie is captured and lets her guard down. Evie strikes the moment Throne turns her back, ending her life with a brutal assassination. Mission complete.
Black-box missions are much more comprehensive in Syndicate than they were in Unity. Here I felt like I better understood all the paths and what I was getting myself into. Let’s hope the rest of the game continues to improve on its predecessor