Assassin’s Creed has a lot of damage control to do after how botched and broken Unity, the previous game in the series, was when it came out. So I think there was a lot of curiosity amongst the gamers attending EGX this year towards the giant stand for Syndicate. Despite how much I disliked Unity, and how little I’ve enjoyed the direction the series has taken in recent years (pirate simulation not withstanding), I know I’ll be picking the game up for a review, so I just had to sit down and play it while I had the chance.

First I have to mention the platforming. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate puts emphasis on scaling buildings, as has been the franchises way since its inception. There has been absolutely not change to this gameplay mechanic whatsoever, and no I don’t count the addition of a grappling hook as a major, gameplay altering factor.

The direction the “platforming” in Assassin’s Creed has taken has been one of my biggest complaints in the series in recent years. What was once a genuine and delightful challenge of environmental puzzle solving is pretty much auto run at this point, and that hadn’t changed in the twenty minutes I got to sit down with Syndicate. You hold the trigger button and push the analogue stick forward, and the game does the rest. When the game is having more fun than you are, that’s an issue, and it’s an issue here.

That being said, there are some new elements of gameplay being brought to the table for Syndicate. There’s a much heavier emphasis on stealth now than there has been for a while. With the game being set in 19th century London you can’t wander around with swords attached to your waist, as you’ve been able to up until now. This makes guards a little more dangerous than in past Creed games, forcing you to be a bit sneakier. Although the demo I played evened the odds significantly considering I was controlling Evie Frye, who can all but turn invisible when she puts her hood up.

The level I played at EGX saw me attempting to break into a room and assassinate someone, and the game offered me a few different ways to do so. I had the option of stealing the key from the head guard, either through killing him and looting it or by pickpocketing him, or I could disguise myself as a guard. What was really interesting about this section was something I noticed while I had been queuing for The Division; different players had been given different options to reach their destination.

As for the gameplay itself, nothing really stood out for me. Except the bugs. I’d normally give most games a pass on buggy builds at EGX, they’re usually early builds that haven’t been optimised or had many bugs squashed out of them yet. Hell I routinely find ways to break games at EGX that are wholly stable by launch. However this is an Assassin’s Creed game, and after the shameful state Unity was in at release, I feel I should mention that I encountered a very uneven framerate, missing audio cues and a few bits of clipping during my time with the Syndicate demo.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is due for release on October 23, 2015 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

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