The year is 1868, and at the height of the Industrial Revolution, two new assassins emerge to walk the path the likes of Altair and Ezio have paved for them.
Welcome to Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, the latest addition to what has been nothing short of a blockbuster gaming franchise.
With the Assassins’ Brotherhood almost eradicated, twins Evie and Jacob Frye find Victorian London to be controlled by the Templars. They must use stealth and most likely a murder or two to take back the city by uniting the criminal underworld.
One of the most notable and talked-about aspects of Syndicate is its inclusion of a female protagonist, which hasn’t occurred in any of Ubisoft’s eight core triple-A titles before. But this is no mere act of tokenism – both the twins are unique characters who are equally important.
“From the beginning we wanted Evie and Jacob to be able to tell two sides of the story,” says game director Scott Phillips. “I think the way they’ve developed over the past two-and-a-half years has been really cool, and to see people engage with those characters has been great.
“People have been really excited about Evie, and one interesting thing that we found in our playtest was that players are 50/50 between playtime with the twins, which I was amazed by. I think that really speaks to the strength of those characters.”
The respective fighting styles of Evie and Jacob are also vastly different, with each possessing unique skills that will be beneficial during different points of the game.
“In general, Evie is more focused on stealth and Jacob more on fight,” Phillips explains. “In addition to that, the way you see them do combat is also different. Jacob is more chaotic in the way he fights; more [of a] berserker. Evie is more controlled and focused in her motions, which you’ll be able to see in their multi-kills.
A great deal of care and detail has always been placed on the authenticity of setting in the Assassin’s Creed series. Syndicate continues this tradition with its treatment of Victorian London, which almost feels like a character itself, and will make the experience all the more immersive for players.
“This is my first Assassin’s Creed, so I was impressed by the amount of time spent on historical research,” says Phillips. “There was a historian on staff and multiple others who we brought in on contract to focus on what people would have called certain weapons, how they would have described this activity, how they would have said things to each other, what the carriages looked like. Assassin’s Creed is known for that and I think we’ve carried that tradition forward by really delivering on what the overall atmosphere of that era was like.”
Being a horrible person, I found myself immediately treating Syndicate like GTA during my playtest by hijacking a carriage and running the Victorian po-po down immediately. Apparently this is not a unique occurrence.
“People tend to make use of the carriages right away,” laughs Phillips. “They get into them and mix it up with the rope launcher and the parkour, which fit really naturally into Assassin’s Creed and is exactly what we wanted, so I’m really happy to see that.”
But just remember, fellow awful assassins, there will be ramifications for your actions. “The police will respond as well as you getting that reminder that assassins didn’t kill innocents, but you can still act any way to want to act,” the director says.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is out now on PS4 and XBO.