Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is at Gamescom, and I was able to play a little bit of the latest in the series. Set in the Industrial Revolution, I controlled Evie Frye, the female counterpart of the two siblings that make the main characters for the London-based story.
The demo started off on a boat, at a quiet event. I wandered around a bit to gather my bearings, and then commenced. The first target was a location I had to reach, a vantage point.
Reaching the vantage point wasn't especially difficult. Having played past Assassin's Creed games, the mechanics for scaling the buildings were quite the same. One tool that was added, however, was the rope launcher. I was able to select this, aim at the location I wanted to zipline to, shoot, and get on my way. I was able to zipline upwards.
Of course, you cannot endlessly use the zipline to get to your destinations. It is a sort of "power" that takes some time to recharge. I did get to use it several times throughout the demo, and it was intuitive each of these moments.
Upon reaching the vantage point, I wasn't treated with the usual 360-degree, panoramic cutscene that we've come to expect in the series. Instead, the camera zoomed in on scenes within a certain distance from the player. One of these was a fight being held in a room, where the camera traveled from the player's view to the building, through the window, and then into the room. It was in this scene where I figured out who my target was, a woman named Lucy Thorne.
The demo proceeded with my having to maneuver Evie to another area, where I was presented with three new objectives. These are alternative paths that you can use to help you assassinate your main target, or just skip them altogether, take on a bigger fight, and approach the main target without any help.
I opted for the hostage approach. I approached my contact, who had access to a guard uniform, and he informed me that I had to assassinate two other targets for him, and upon completion of that he would take me hostage as a ruse and walk me into the building, where I could terminate Thorne.
After I completed the requirements, he then took me as his prisoner, and then I had to guide the walking procedure. On the ground is a so-called "detection perimeter," which represented the area around me that I had to avoid letting Templars or guards enter. The faster I'd walk, the larger this circle would get, but if I kept an easy-going pace it would be safer. The idea behind this is clear: It is supposed to seem like the guard is walking you around, rather than you telling the guard where you want to go.
At one point while walking along, another guard was about to enter the perimeter, but I was in a hallway, and the perimeter was wider than the hallway. If I were to walk towards him, as slowly as I possibly could, I'd certainly get detected, and turning around wouldn't help either, because if I walked fast enough for him not to approach me, the detection radius would become big enough to let him inside.
I therefore faceplanted into the wall, which to my surprise did the trick.
Upon reaching the target, a cutscene started. I was prompted to press Square on the PlayStation controller in-time, the main target was killed, and the mission was over.
As far as innovation is concerned, it seems that Ubisoft is sticking to its comfort zone. The multiple methods of approach are something that has been a constant throughout the series, with improvements on each one. That being said, the detection perimeter in the hostage method was an interesting addition. I'm fairly sure that smacking into the wall wasn't the intended solution of evading enemy guards, but it works nonetheless.
This isn't the last time we'll see Assassin's Creed: Syndicate before its October release. There are a few game shows between now and the fall, so we can expect more hands-on time in addition to more trailers.
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Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.