The Gangs of London Tussle in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

The Assassin’s Creed storyline is barreling towards the modern day with each subsequent title, and Ubisoft’s latest offering, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate brings the franchise into the “modern” era. With it come a few new tricks and gadgets and, for the first time ever, both a male and female protagonist. Overall, Syndicate is shaping up to be a grittier, more aggressive Assassin’s Creed game.

Set in the late 1800s, with the Industrial Revolution in full swing, Syndicate dumps players onto the soot-covered streets of London. The E3 2015 demo we got our hands on offered just a glimpse into what the game offers and we did get to try out a few of the new features.

As seen in the cinematic trailer, protagonist Jacob Frye comes equipped with a grapple launcher that can be used to ascend builds rapidly and efficiently (think Batman by way of Charles Dickens). It’s also used as a line to cross gaps too big to leap, like the polluted river Thames, where coal-carrying vessels chug by constantly.

In our demo we had to track down a local gang that had kidnapped a few of our members. This gang-warfare motif is the driving force behind Syndicate: Defeat rival gangs, assimilate their ranks, and use them to hunt down Templars. In order to save our comrades, we had to use some of Jacob’s new tools. His poison darts, for example, are handy for making enemies so disoriented that they fight each other. And even better: Throwing one into a fire barrel sends the gas spreading out over a larger area, affecting more than one enemy.

Throwing knives came in handy to dislodge a pallet of stone from its crane… right onto a would-be attacker. And, of course, there’s Jacob’s gun, far faster and more effective than pistols in previous games. It’s effective for taking out a few foes from above before jumping into the fray, as well as disposing of thugs atop carriages and trains, as showcased in the game’s press conference demo.

After saving his friends, Jacob had to chase down the rival gang’s leader through the London streets by hijacking a carriage and racing after her. Vehicles are a new addition to the series, allowing you to drive around and crash into enemy vehicles, or let your horses lead the way while you fight atop the carriage.

The demo culminated in our gang facing off against their rivals, soundly beating, stabbing, and limb-snapping them into submission. Afterward, Jacob and his sister Evie Frye declared themselves leaders in the area, adopting the remaining gang members into the family.

The E3 2015 demo is a grittier, more action-oriented version of Assassin’s Creed, though we imagine that the exploration, stealth, and puzzle solving that have become hallmarks of the series will remain. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate hits Xbox One on October 23.