When most people think of Assassin’s Creed, they picture parkour-aided murders performed by hooded badasses in lavish historical settings. However, there’s another side to the series: the modern-day adventures that provide context for the game’s science fiction trappings. In the first few games, the modern sections stared an Assassin descendant named Desmond, a shlubby bartender who slowly transformed into a capable, if slightly confused, hero in his own right.
The Desmond missions proved to be some of the original Assassin’s Creed games’ most controversial elements. While some fans appreciated the bigger narrative, which tied the different games in the series together under one narrative structure, others found them kind of boring. After all, scuttling around basements and talking to flustered scientists isn’t as exciting as diving off of rooftops and stabbing bad guys with concealed weapons.
Ubisoft clearly agrees: while Assassin’s Creed IV tried to branch out with a series of new Desmond-less scenes set in a covert Templar game development company (seriously), Assassin’s Creed Unity dropped the modern elements almost entirely.
However, it sounds like the modern-day Assassin vs. Templar conflict is heating up again with this fall’s entry, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. According to Ubisoft representatives speaking during San Diego Comic-Con’s Assassin’s Creed panel, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will have more modern gameplay than Unity, and will feature some “familiar faces” as well.
Desmond’s story had a pretty conclusive conclusion at the end of Assassin’s Creed III, and it would be shocking if he returned. However, Desmond had a pretty big crew helping him in and out of the Animus (Assassin’s Creed’s virtual time travel device), and members of that team seem likely to return.
More modern-day gameplay isn’t the only thing setting Assassin’s Creed Syndicate apart from its predecessor, of course. For the first time in the series’ history, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate features two playable protagonists. During the course of their Victorian adventures, players will take control of both Jacob and Evie Frye, siblings who quickly rise through London’s rough underworld. Combat’s gotten an overhaul and is more brutal this time around, and Assassins can now travel via grappling hook and zipline, making it a lot easier to move between buildings.
On a technical level, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate should work better than Unity, too. At launch, Unity was a complete, borderline unplayable mess than practically ruined Ubisoft’s flagship brand. By contrast, the E3 demo that Game Rant got to try felt polished and bug free, although it only covered a small portion of the game. Let’s hope that’s an indicator of things to come, not false advertising; it’d be nice to play a fresh and functional Assassin’s Creed game again.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is set to release October 23, 2015 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.