Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Best of an era

I really, really, really, really, like the Assassin’s Creed video game series! I love that each one is set in a unique historical era and setting, I love that you get to climb all over famous monuments from that location, I love the combat that encourages combos against mobs of enemies, and I love the super weird, completely incomprehensible storyline that carries through them all. Having said that, I never play them when they come out. I typically pick these games up a year to two years after they come out, so I’m always behind and have been since the third main entry in the series.

Assassin’s Creed 3, which was set in the NE during the American Revolution burned me out, and I fell off the series for a bit, but a few years ago Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, set in the Carribean in the age of piracy, pulled me way back in! The amount of fun I had with that game convinced me to go back and play 3, but it still wasn’t great! Rogue, which was set in the NE again but carried over the sailing mechanics from IV, was a lot of fun, but super short.

Then there was Assassin’s Creed Unity. Unity is very bad. Well, it’s not very bad, it’s just that there’s way too much going on! It suffers from having an overload of stuff to do in the open world which means that as you’re trying to explore the world and experience the story there are constant distractions that don’t really net you much in terms of an improved experienced, they’re just there. Eventually, I pushed myself to finish this entry by just focusing on the story, and telling myself to ignore every other thing that popped up, which was really difficult to do. In the end, Unity wasn’t great but it was OK… I had fun with parts of the game, but I spent more time feeling like I was doing a chore than having fun. This left me hesitant to start up the Victorian-England-based Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, even though I’d heard it was a phenomenal entry into the series.

Last night, I finished up Syndicate. And you know what? It was completely awesome! It is now, I think, my favorite Assassin’s Creed game! It had a lot of quality-of-life improvements that made it a much better experience – including a grappling hook to let you quickly scale buildings – and it filled the world with side missions that actually felt like they meant something. There’s a gang system in this game, where London is divided into different neighborhoods, and doing the side quest to fight off the evil Templar Order in each one increases your gangs hold on the city, piece by piece. So, while the map is still filled with an insane amount of stuff to do, but all it feels like it’s progressing towards a final goal; eradicating the Templar’s hold over London.

In fact, the only thing that would’ve made this game a better experience for me would have been sailing! Being on a boat is what made me love Black Flag and Rogue so much, and I’m really sad that the series moved away from them for both Unity and Syndicate.

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And now, since I’ve been Syndicate, it’s time to start thinking about playing the next game in the series, Assassin’s Creed Origins, which is set in ancient Egypt. I’ve heard that Origins marks some pretty drastic changes for the series, which leaves Syndicate as the best of the first era of this series for me. I’m not entirely sure what to expect out of it, but I see this year-old game as a stepping stone towards Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which comes out later this year, is based in Greece, and seems to have a big focus on those good, good boats!

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