Assassin's Creed Syndicate: The Gamescom2015 Experience
Markuz, August 6, 2015

Yesterday Ubisoft has made available to the press and to fans with restricted access the long-awaited demo planned for Gamescom and dedicated to Evie Frye, the other main character of the new installment of Assassin's Creed, Syndicate. We of course did not miss the opportunity and tried it several times so that we could be able to tell you what happens in it and to give you our first impressions.

At last with Evie, and finally at night, as many were hoping for, the demo consists of a Black Box mission (i.e. the main assassination missions) and has as its target Templar Lucy Thorne. Evie will be inside the Tower of London and will have to find a way to infiltrate the building and assassinate the woman, but it will not be so simple.

La demo

The demo begins on a boat sailing on the Thames and which is conveniently going to stop at the pier in front of the Tower of London. It's in these moments that we could carefully observe Evie's model, who obviously looks more slender than Jacob, but no less intimidating and still very apt for the stealth phases. In particular, as seen from the pictures, as a distinctive element Evie wears a cape on the right, bearing an Assassin insignia that is curiously similar to that of the Italian Brotherhood.
Before jumping off the boat, it's possible to "take a tour" of the boat: we have noticed that the interiors (at least one in the demo) cannot be explored, but on both sides there are two doors inside of which Evie can hide in case she was pursued by guards. Other than that the boat also had several NPCs on board, each with its distinguished animation and, on the opposite side of the pier, it was possible to see in the distance several other boats passing by, demonstrating the possibility to cross the Thames from one bank the other by jumping from boat to boat, as the Creative Director Marc-Alexis Côté told us in our interview at E3.
Jumping down on the pier (if you jump on the boats nearby you can see how the river water moves accordingly) the first thing that Evie finds herself in front to is a group of street musicians who are playing the English national anthem. An appropriate theme, as we are in front of the Tower of London, and an easy way to show the player that music and songs from the street performed by non-playing characters will be back in Syndicate. This, however, does not mean that these are the only music audio tracks of the game: in fact, as shown in the demo, ambience music seems to be back too - and in a big way - to accompany Evie in her infiltration mission.

Since this is a demo dedicated to a Black Box mission, the map is limited strictly to the Tower of London and the road that goes around it, so the only way to continue the mission was trying to find a way to access the area of the building beyond the outer walls. Before doing so, however, we checked Evie's equipment and skills of Evie, in order to prepare for the infiltration. In general Evie's equipment is similar to Jacob's one (Rope Launcher, smoke bombs, hallucinogenic darts, throwing knives, gun, whistle and obviously Hidden Blade), but the demo showed three additions in particular for the female lead of the game. The first was another type of bombs, called Voltaic Bombs or, as shown in the German demo, Galvanic Bombs: they are a device that upon contact with the ground generates some electric discharges that temporarily paralyze the enemies in the area in which it was launched and also deals damage against them.

We tested it on a group of six royal guards and a bomb voltaic was been able to reduce the health bar of each of them to half of it. The second addition was the possibility of throwing knives at a distance, knives with a shape which is reminiscent of (eagle?) feathers and, in a way, of a concept art of the Ezio Auditore's Hidden Blade from AC2.
The third addition, finally, is the Chameleon ability: Evie with this skill is able to become "transparent" if in a stealth situation and if she stands still for a few seconds. It is a very useful skill both while the player is behind a cover while one or more guards are approaching him, and to reduce the chances of being spotted in areas in which the covers are scarce. It remains to be seen how this skill will be explained in the game (is it a Helix glitch? Is it a stylistic effect to represent the fact that Evie was able to disappear from the guards' view?).

After getting familiar with the equipment, it was finally time to infiltrate the Tower of London. As it often happened in Unity, it's possible access the inside of the building (we are talking about the part beyond the perimeter walls and not yet about the interiors) in several ways: by using the almost absent moat, which allows to access a wall that can be climbed and to access to a door which leads on the internal part of the building, by jumping from lampposts to the adjacent walls or by frontally attacking the guards in front of the main gate (that's not really an approach in Evie's style though :) ).

At this point, as indicated in our first short synopsis of the demo, the goal is to reach a synchronization point on the Tower of London in order to activate the sequence through which Evie is able to locate her target and also the opportunities at her disposal: a guard is holding some of the "Queen keys" that might be useful for the rest of the missions; a man in uniform is locked in a cell by two Templars and accuses them of treason and, finally, an ally (probably a member of the Rooks) disguised as a guard discovers a Templar who just knocked out a Royal Guard to take the clothes to disguise himself as a guard (this shows that different Royal Guards in the mission are Templars disguised to the point that while going around the building it's possible to find several bodies of the original guards original, almost denuded).
This way, therefore, the approaches to the assassination of Lucy Thorne are three: finding an entrance to the inner fortress with Evie, get inside and find the target; steal the keys and help the disguised ally; steal the keys and free the man imprisoned in exchange for his help (and there is also an additional objective to assassinate five Royal Guards).
While the first one is a "classical" approach, where the demo shows its best with regards to stealth (with the only help of the indication on the map of where the entrance point is located), the other two are showing two different ways of handling the mission.
In the first case, as we showed in our report, Evie learns that two guards (undercover Templars) have seen her ally, so she should "put them to rest". After that task is done, the girl returns to her ally and the two decide to pretend that Evie has been captured to access the interior of the fortress in order to reach their target without being noticed. While the two start walking it is explained that also the Templars within the fortress could recognize Evie's ally. Because of this, a circle on the ground around the two characters is created,

indicating the area within which no guard shall step into in order to avoid being spotted. In the latter case, Evie must steal the keys and infiltrate the building where the man had been shut in. This "path" is very stealthy, because it requires an infiltration within an infiltration mission. Once Evie reaches the imprisoned man, she frees him and discovers that he is Constable Miller, one of the leaders of the Royal Guards who still has some of his trusted men ready to follow him (the others were "replaced" by the Templars). Miller gives these men over to Evie telling them to follow her orders as if they were his own: in this way we were able to discover both the recruiting mechanic, which takes place at the push of a button, and the mechanic with which the player to control the team of guards (with "wait" and "attack" orders towards the enemies). In this case, therefore, the infiltration inside the fortress is an attack / conquest in which Evie sends "her" soldiers to attack the Blighters to get to Lucy Thorne by force.

Random new features and additions

There are several information that can be extracted from this demo about new features, abilities and recurring elements from past chapters. We are listing them briefly, before turning to the chapter about the plot:

  • The movement with which the character goes into cover is automatic (and we already knew that) and fluid: unlike what we experienced in the E3 demo with Jacob, in this demo this movement seemed more fluid and natural (although we still instinctively press the button to enter cover as in Unity :))
  • Double assassinations will feature new animationsi
  • The map, as we have seen, is much improved compared to the past ones: it is more intuitive and easier to use, and in particular, during the Evie Black Box mission, it indicates the various opportunities with different icons and colors to distinguish them from one another
  • It's possible to lift the dead bodies of the enemies and then "throw" them forward with the push of a button or place them down slowly with the push of another button. Besides that it's also possible to hide the bodies in the various hiding places provided by the game environment
  • The ammunition crates will make a comeback from Rogue and Black Flag
  • The demo also featured two classic treasure chests, which didn't contain money, but two items for character customization (which could not be done in the demo): one was a belt and the other was simply called " Boudiccas Torque", which according to a brief search, corresponds to the "Boudica's Torc" which was a golden neck ring gold that belonged to Boudica, a queen of the British Iceni tribe, who lived in today's Norfolk area (eastern England) and led a revolt against the invaders of the Roman Empire in 60 or 61 AD
  • Killing of the guards gives directly to the player ammunition without having to loot the guard. It seems we will still be able to loot dead bodies though (it happened at least on the guards who were killed from the distance)
  • The contextual kills (the ones that are done by using elements of the surrounding environment ) show new animations which are as beautiful as they are painful
  • If you point a target in the head, the aim will follow automatically his/her head of the target even if he / she is moving
  • Some characters will have the "R3" button over their head (PS4 version). This will mean that by pressing that button the simulation will stop to highlight that character in the white room to provide some information about him/her, before going back to the simulation


We do not get to learn much of the story through this mission, but the little that is discovered seems to be very important. As it was mentioned yesterday, the Shroud is mentioned in the demo and, we may add, twice. In fact, when Evie reaches the synchronisation point of the Tower of London to see the various opportunities available to her, it's possible to see for a few seconds Lucy Thorne saying that (we are paraphrasing this because we do not have the exact sentence) "The key is perfect for the box that contains the Shroud ", which she believes to be in possession of Evie. In addition to this, when Evie frees Miller, to convince him to help her she tells him that Thorne has betrayed everyone because she is looking for a very important artifact. Miller gets scared because he thinks she is talking about the Crown Jewels, but Evie says that it is something else, quite different and more powerful - that's why Miller decides to help her.

Finally, whichever way the player reaches Thorne, after the assassination it's possible to see the return of the dialogue in the "white room" between the assassin (Evie) and the target (the Thorne) which, among other things , is reminiscent of the dialogues in AC1 because Thorne is seen speaking partly lying on the ground while dying and partly standing (by the way his character for a few brief moments suffers glitches / interferences from Helix). In the dialogue Thorne tells Evie that she has no idea what the Shroud is able to do and to a question by the girl to have more information, she answers with a resounding "No" (which could also be part of a longer dialogue which was cut from the scene ultimately not to show too many spoilers during the demo). Finally, the girl brings a cloth to the bloody neck of Thorne, probably (and for how we understand it) as evidence of her assassination, a real touch of class which suits the character of Evie who is very attached to the Creed, and which reminds of the scenes in AC1 where Altair dyed white feathers with the blood of his targets.
So we have few pieces of information but very concentrated ones, which, in our opinion have given a strong push to the demo in terms of plot and will make the fans happy when they can see it. For our part, this can only tease us while expecting the release of Syndicate :)

Ultimately the demo was presented in a very positive way and it impressed us with several new and interesting aspects. The Stealth that was shown is extremely solid and the character of Evie draws us even closer to the game. It's also impossible, in our opinion, that the story elements from the game that were shown will not attract the attention of the longstanding hardcore fans. In short, it seems that from this demo the Syndicate train is going on the right tracks. We can only hope that it can get to the right destination on October 23, at its launch.

comments powered by Disqus