Another year means another Assassin's Creed. Due later this year, Assassin's Creed Syndicate moves the story forward to Victorian London, where two Assassin siblings stand between an encroaching aristocracy of the Industrial Revolution and the common people. Expect refined combat, improved exploration and a lot of extremely attractive hats.
Ubisoft hosted a livestream today (May 12) where it detailed how the new game will play out when it arrives in the fall. After examining some of the franchise's greatest successes (Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed IV and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood), the company turned its attention to the critically lukewarm Unity, which was dogged by software bugs and some complaints that its combat and platforming weren't refined enough. The development team hoped to take Unity's criticism to heart in creating Syndicate.
The result is a game that, to be perfectly honest, looks a lot like Assassin's Creed Unity, albeit in a hopefully less buggy version. You'll still take control of an Assassin (Jacob Frye) who uses a mix of parkour, bladed weapons, guns and gadgets to navigate London and slowly liberate the city from the control of the secretive Templars.
There are a few new features this time around, namely the rope launcher, vehicles and full scale gang warfare. The rope launcher is a bit like Batman's grappling hook from the Arkham games, in that it allows Jacob to scale buildings within seconds and zipline between rooftops, taking down enemies along the way.
Vehicles are not entirely new to the Assassin's Creed series, but this time, you'll be able to drive them, hide in them or fight from them at will rather than just in certain storyline sequences. Vehicles featured in the livestream included horsed carriages and trains, although there may be more in the full game.
Finally, to control territories in London, you'll need to oust the Templar-supported gangs currently inhabiting them. Assassin's Creed Rogue offered a similar mechanic, in which you had to clear out a gang headquarters and cut down its flag in order to claim it. This time, though, you'll be able to send your minions into battle for full-scale street brawls before a neighborhood becomes yours.
Another novel development is the inclusion of Evie Frye, Jacob's sister, as a playable character. Although the Assassin's Creed series has had playable female characters before, one has never shown up in a main-series game. It's not yet clear how much screentime Evie will get compared to her brother, or how her skill set will differ. Still, her inclusion is welcome after Ubisoft's faux pas of not including playable female characters in Unity.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate will cost $60 on the PS4, Xbox One and PC, and will launch on October 23. Tom's Guide will be on the lookout for the game at next month's E3 conference, where we'll have more information to share.