In the second part of this feature, we’ll take a deeper look into Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s combat and stealth, weapons, gadgets, and the introduction of vehicles. Check out part one for details on Jacob and Evie, the city of London and their mission there, and their gang, the Rooks.
4. Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Lethal
Gone are the good old days when you could walk down the streets with a sword at your side and no one would bat an eye. Concealment is now key. In the world of organized crime, it’s smarter to hide your advantage until the moment of attack. Combat is more about getting in close and fighting dirty. In order to support this brutal new style, the Assassins will need some more clever weapons. Weapons like the brutish brass knuckles and the compact revolver, or the gentleman’s cane sword and the exotic kukri knife. These fiercely efficient weapons come together to form the perfect arsenal for an Assassin in the Industrial Revolution.
“London was harsh and unforgiving to many,” says Historian Jean-Vincent Roy. “Even though progress permeates the city throughout the century, it remains an old city with a long history and many dark corners. Shady back alleys, densely populated slums, layers upon layers of old, crumbling buildings right next to sparkling new ones… This environment makes for close and vicious encounters. In the blink of an eye, a street full of young people loitering about could turn into a highly violent brawl. Fists, knives and sometimes guns would come out in a flash and vanish just as quickly upon the arrival of the Metropolitan police. It was a violent underworld under a skin of respectability, is what I would call it.”
‘It was a violent underworld under a skin of respectability’
You may not see people walking down the streets of London with swords openly hanging at their sides, but you probably won’t see too many people just waving guns around either. Though the 19th century did see incredible advancements in firearms technology, guns just weren’t a very common thing to see in London. They would have been hidden, tucked away under coats. “Firearms weren’t openly carried in London like they would have been on the American frontier, for example,” explains Roy. “Public display of weapons was just not a thing in Victorian London. But this also sparked some pretty creative ways to conceal firearms (and other weapons), leading to a less obvious display of force, but not necessarily leading to a corresponding loss of offensive power.”
5. A Modern Assassin’s Toy Box
The world of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is like no world you’ve ever seen in Assassin’s Creed. Carriages fill the streets, which in turn need to be made much wider to support the new traffic flow. The buildings are taller than ever and dense crowds pack the sidewalks. You’ll need some help getting around the city. That’s where the introduction of the rope launcher comes in. A new addition to the Assassin gauntlet, the rope launcher will propel you to new heights at a faster pace or even let you create a zipline between buildings and avoid the streets altogether. The rope launcher can be used at any time, on any building and becomes a very powerful tool in the hands of either Jacob or Evie.
In addition to the new tools at your disposal, there have also been some changes made to familiar toys. Take the upgraded hallucinogenic darts, for example. In our demo, we see Jacob trying to get rid of a small group of enemy gang members. Rather than use the dart on just one of them, he fires at a nearby fire drum they are warming themselves around. The effect is an explosive shower of hallucinogenic gas that hits multiple opponents, causing them all to attack one another in blind rage.
6. Sweet Rides
Why walk when you can ride in style? Any carriage you see on the busy streets of London can be yours. Yes, even if they are already occupied. You can knock someone out of the driver’s seat or hide in the actual carriage itself to escape from your pursuers. In our demo, Jacob hijacks a carriage to chase after a fleeing target, but is quickly noticed by the local police. After his carriage begins to take too much damage, he makes a daring leap into another nearby vehicle and neatly kicks the driver out before continuing his chase.
Of course, if you can do all these stunts, you can be sure your enemies can as well. They will be able board your ride and rip you right out of your seat for a good old fashioned brawl on the roof of the carriage. Square off against your foes or leap to the relative safety of another carriage top, performing an intricate dance over the vehicles of London.
You’ll also have access to another common sight from the period: trains. This was an era of speed. These marvels of the modern age allowed people, goods and information to travel more rapidly than ever before and they provide a brand new playground for the Assassins. You may find yourself racing down the length of London’s many trains as you take on your enemies.
7. Getting A Stealthy Upgrade
As Jacob enters a restricted area in our demo, he slips effortlessly into stealth mode, whipping off his stylish top hat and pulling up the familiar hood of his brethren. He uses his rope launcher to rapidly propel himself to a nearby rooftop and get a quick layout of the guards in the area. From there, he locks onto a guard patrolling another rooftop, sends a zipline out over the guards head and quietly moves into place above him, before dropping down off the rope and effortlessly silencing the watchman. After that it’s a matter of working his way through the base and freeing imprisoned recruits for the Rooks.
Down on the ground level, Jacob can swiftly slide into cover and make his way through enemy territory. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate moves away from the hard snap cover function of Unity in favor of a more modern, softer snap to give the players a more natural transition from stealth to navigation. Jacob quickly darts around cover as he makes his way through the restricted area, whistling to grab a guard’s attention before noiselessly taking him down and dragging his body to a better hiding place. He then rappels back up to the rooftops and uses a throwing knife to cut down a hanging stack of crates and send it crashing onto a patrolling enemy. The throwing knife can also now be used to create distractions and draw your enemy’s attention away from an area.
When the time comes to hop out of stealth and engage the enemies en masse, you’ll find combat is much faster-paced than ever before. Latency has been cut in half and multiple enemies will attack all at once. When you’ve got a crowd closing in, you’ll have to put your reflexes to the test as you focus on stunning opponents to take them out of the fight for a few precious moments. Luckily, this is Jacob’s area of expertise. “His style is very focused on close combat,” says Cote. “You’ll see him breaking bones and really putting enemies on the ground and taking them down.”
Take a look back at part one for an in-depth introduction to Jacob and Evie, Victorian London and the Rooks.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will be making its way onto PS4 and Xbox One on October 23 and PC this fall.