The Industrial Revolution marked the dawn of the modern era. Technology was advancing rapidly, wealth disparity was rampant, and people turned to lives of crime to save themselves from harsh working conditions. It’s at the tail end of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian London that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate takes place. In the first part of this feature, we’ll introduce you to our two main Assassins, Victorian London and Jacob and Evie’s mission there, and their gang the Rooks. Head over to part two for more details on combat and stealth, weapons, gadgets, and vehicles.
1. Twin Blades
For the first time in Assassin’s Creed you will be able to play as two Assassins – Jacob and Evie Frye. Born in a small town just outside of London, these twin Assassins were raised to follow the Creed. Together the Fryes head to London with the end goal of taking it back from Templar control. However, they both have very different ideas as to how to go about this. Where Evie is tactical and resourceful, Jacob is brutal and impulsive.
“Jacob and Evie represent a different side of the English persona,” says Creative Director Marc-Alexis Cote. “Jacob is a charismatic brawler. He’s going to be the leader of London’s criminal underworld. Evie is much stealthier. She’s really, really intelligent and witty. One of the things I really like about our two characters is how they bounce off each other.”
“A lot of the brand has to do with human DNA, seeing into the past through DNA,” adds Senior Producer Francois Pelland. “Having a brother and sister, twins that share so much of the same DNA, feels like something that plays into the strengths of the franchise.”
The twins will have to use their unique skills to unite the London underworld under one banner and remove the stain the Templars have left on the great city, because whoever controlled London during the Industrial Revolution controlled the world.
2. The Center of the World
At the beginning of the 19th century, London’s population was around one million people. By the time the 20th century rolled around, it had skyrocketed to roughly six million people. “Such a massive and swift expansion is bound to create instability,” Historian Jean-Vincent Roy elaborates. “Certainly this is how it played out for Victorian England. There was huge progress and innovation, of course. But there were also extremely harsh working conditions, child labor, appalling hygiene and sanitation.”
When the twins arrive in London, they are seeing everything for the very first time. They have never been to this city before and must learn all of its secrets alongside the player. “Because the game starts outside London, you reach London on the train with the characters and you see it with them for the first time,” says Lydia Andrew, Audio Director. “So that is a nice moment of revelation and kind of seeing the city through their eyes as well. It allows us then narratively to grow their experiences, grow their relationship. They discover the city and at the same time the player is doing all those things, too. They’re not starting from the point of view of being locals or experts.”
“When Jacob and Evie arrive in London, the Templars are winning,” adds Pelland. “They control all the key aspects of London. You have to remember back then London was the biggest center of humanity, with a quarter of the world’s population living there, and the Templars were on top of every part of that city.”
So in order to remove the Templars from power, the twins will need to make their way through each of the unique boroughs of London, winning over the locals and turning them to their cause. “London really is – and was at that point – a city where the boroughs have very strong personalities,” says Andrew.
“There are very strong visual differences, very strong socioeconomic differences and very strong audible differences.”
Whoever controlled London during the Industrial Revolution controlled the world
As you travel through each of the boroughs, you’ll not only be able to see and hear a difference in your surroundings, you’ll also feel it in the way you interact with your surroundings. Take the local police, for instance. In a wealthy area like Westminster (where you’ll find Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey), the streets will be crawling with police. You’ll need to take your fights into the dark alleys of the city in order to avoid their watchful eyes. But if you head over into Whitechapel, rampant crime has practically caused the police to abandon the area. If you hijack someone’s carriage and kill a few enemy gang members, chances are no police will be around to catch you.
3. Nobody Fresher Than My Clique
In order to take on this massive city, Jacob and Evie are going to need an army. On their journey to wrestle control from the Templars, the twins will unite the street gangs of London under a single banner. The Rooks will be the Fryes’ ears, eyes and blades in the deadly underworld.
“The criminal underworld is being controlled by the Templars,” explains Cote. “That’s how they maintain their control on the city. So Jacob and Evie will call the streets their home and they will rise up and take this criminal underground and unite it under the syndicate of the Assassins. That’s how they’ll take control away from the Templars and give the city back to its people.”
Many of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s activities and side quests will revolve around winning over the various gangs in London’s diverse districts, building influence to help them gain even footing in the war. “Upon arriving in London, Jacob and Evie soon take the side of the impoverished majority, though not necessarily for the same reasons,” says Roy.
“Evie is much more idealistic and closer to the Creed, and Jacob perceives the rugged London poor as natural allies to the cause.”
The Rooks will be the Fryes’ ears, eyes and blades in the deadly underworld
In the demo, we see Jacob taking on a hideout where the Templar-controlled Blighters are hiding out. Once you clear enough of the enemy gang members out of a district and remove their influence, their their Templar leaders will ambush you and challenge you to a Gang War. You’ll face off in iconic locations in one final struggle for control over the district. Take out the Templar gang leader (in our demo this gang leader was a rough-and-tumble woman called Bloody Nora) and the district will belong to the Rooks.
Read onto part two for more gameplay-focused details like stealth, combat, gadgets, weapons and the introduction of vehicles.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will be making its way onto PS4 and Xbox One on October 23 and PC this fall.