But what is surely a novelty is that for the first time in a major Assassin’s Creed game, Syndicate will feature a female protagonist. Jacob’s sister Evie Frye will be assisting his brother in his quest to take over London and free the poor and oppressed from those taking advantage of social inequalities to become rich (presumably the Assassin’s hated enemies, the Templars…).
It is great to see that Evie is not merely a damsel in distress but a fully capable action heroine, and her featuring in the game may have had to do with the fact that Ubisoft took a lot of criticism last year when they stated at the E3 show that adding a playable female character to the previous game in the series, Unity, would have “doubled the work”. But this time they look to appease their critics by featuring a playable female character in the game. And it will be possible to switch characters on the fly, in the same way players could in a game like GTA V.
This is not the only GTA inspired innovation in the game, though, as it will also be possible to hijack horse carriages as they travel across London’s streets.
But whatever innovations the game brings to the table, it would be a pity if it ignored the stealth component in favour of the more direct approach to combat seen in the trailer. Assassins are masters of deception and shadow, and an Assassin’s Creed game should not make you feel like an unstoppable killing machine, at least not all the time.
For all its failings, last year’s Unity had good open-ended assassination missions, which put more emphasis on stealth and let you create distractions such as freeing prisoners to cause chaos and make it easier to get to your target. It wasn’t a case of rushing to your assassination target and taking out a small army, you actually had to think a bit, as multiple approaches were possible.
And Syndicate seems to be more about gang warfare, so it is likely less stealth-focused. But still, what has been great about the Assassin’s Creed games is how they take you to another time and place and let you enjoy the sights and sounds of a city, whether that city was the Renaissance Rome of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood or the revolutionary Paris of Unity. And being able to roam about Victorian London, amongst gentlemen with top hats, and climb the city’s Big Ben Tower and perform the series iconic leap of faith is surely something most gamers are looking forward to.
Note: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will be released on October 23, 2015 on PS4 and Xbox One, and fall 2015 on PC.