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Latest Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate DLC Trailer Introduces Jack The Ripper

Ubisoft released a new DLC trailer for Assassin's Creed: Syndicate today. Later this month, players will be able to hunt down the city's most infamous murderer, Jack the Ripper, as Assassin Evie Frye.

In 1888, an unidentified serial killer going by the name Jack the Ripper carved out a reign of terror in the Whitechapel district of London. Taking place 20 years after the events of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, the DLC will release December 15 for consoles and December 22 for PC. 

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Players can purchase the add-on for $ 14.99, or invest $ 29.99 in a Season Pass that includes Jack the Ripper campaign, The Last Maharaja mission pack, A Long Night exclusive mission, Streets of London gameplay pack, two top-tier sets of gear and weapons, and an XP boost. Season pass users will be able to download the campaign December 15. – The Feed

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India And Russia Arrive Early Next Year

Ubisoft first announced the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series as a trilogy of 2.5 D side-scrolling spin-offs, each set in unique locations and eras. The first chapter, China, released April of this year, and the elusive remaining parts have finally gotten dates for next year.

Coming first is Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India. Set in 1841, players control Arbaar Mir (first introduced in the Assassin’s Creed: Brahman graphic novel) who must recover an Assassin artifact from a Master Templar in the midst of the Sikh Empire/East India Company conflict. India launches January 12.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia launches February 9. Taking place in 1918, Assassin Nikolaï Orelov (of the Assassin’s Creed: The Fall and The Chain comics) must complete his final mission for the Order by stealing an artifact from the Tsar’s family home, currently held by the Bolsheviks. While unable to save the captive royal family, Orelov is able to rescue Princess Anastasia and must protect her from the Templars. 

Each game is priced at $ 9.99. Ubisoft is also planning to release the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles Trilogy Pack. This bundle of all three Chronicles games hits PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 9 and for Vita on April 5 for $ 29.99. Check out screenshots of both titles in the gallery below. Be sure to also check out our review of Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China – The Feed

Ranking The Entire Assassin’s Creed Series

The Assassin’s Creed series has been around for eight years – not a lot of time when compared to industry veterans like Super Mario and Metal Gear. In that relatively short timespan, the series has become an annual fixture, reliably hitting store shelves with one new title (at least) every holiday season. As a result, we certainly have no shortage of Assassin’s Creed games, but how do they stack up against each other?

Ubisoft’s stealth/action juggernaut has some excellent entries, but the levels of quality and polish can vary from one year to the next. That’s why we ranked our favorite installments, highlighting the best moments and critical flaws in each.

Note: This list focuses on the titles we consider part of the main series. This means that various spin-off experiments (like Assassin’s Creed Chronicles) and expanded fiction (like the comic books) are intentionally excluded.

10. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (2012)
Even as the lowest entry on our list, we can’t say Liberation is a “bad” game. However, it was originally created for Vita (though an HD port was eventually made), and the system’s limitations are apparent in the design and gameplay. Apart from its gimmicky features and restricted scope, Liberation still feels like an AC game at its core. The combat is a fun balance of offense and defense, and the story does a good job exploring the gray area between Assassins and Templars. Heroine Aveline’s ability to use different personas to navigate New Orleans doesn’t pay off, but Liberation delivers solid action even if it doesn’t take the series into exciting new territory.

9. Assassin’s Creed III (2012)
Ezio would be a hard act for any hero to follow, and AC III’s Connor struggles to live up to his predecessor’s legacy. Without much initiative of his own, he mainly does chores for important historical figures – and is coincidentally at the heart of every noteworthy event of the American Revolution. Narrative plausibility aside, this entry introduces some important and interesting elements, like naval combat and homestead-building. The colonial cities and vast wilderness aren’t as fun to explore as Renaissance Europe, but this ambitious installment tries to provide a wealth of content and and tell a complex, generation-spanning story. It may not succeed at every turn, but you can’t accuse AC III of not trying.

8. Assassin's Creed Unity (2014)
You’ve probably heard the horror stories about Unity, or even experienced them yourself. There’s no diplomatic way to say it: This game was a disaster at launch. Fans playing in the first few weeks encountered so many problems that Ubisoft issued a formal apology. The damage was already done in terms of public perception, but here’s the surprising part: Unity actually got pretty good once the holes were patched up. Today, players can absorb a relatively hassle-free vision of the French Revolution, with fun co-op missions, an interesting levelling mechanic, and an uncharacteristically challenging approach to combat. Plus, the relationship between Arno and Elise is well done, adding a personal touch to the story.

7. Assassin's Creed Revelations (2011)
Up to this point in AC’s lineage, each entry in the series felt like a significant step forward. However, Revelations isn’t much different from Ezio’s other adventures; it has fun gameplay, cool missions, and a cinematic presentation. On one hand, it’s hard to complain about more of a good thing. On the other, that’s how franchise fatigue settles in. A tower-defense minigame is the only noteworthy addition – but it’s terrible and interferes with your enjoyment of the rest of the game, which makes the whole experience feel like a step down. Plus, even though Revelations brings closure to the Ezio/Altair storyline, Desmond’s modern-day arc stalls completely, so it doesn’t convey a larger sense of progress.

6. Assassin's Creed Rogue (2014)
Did you like Black Flag? Then you’ll probably like Rogue, because it is basically the exact same game with different characters and cutscenes. The biggest improvements are removals, not additions; the aggravating tailing and eavesdropping missions from Black Flag are nowhere to be found. Otherwise, the experience is a familiar one – except this time you’re a Templar hunting Assassins. Beyond that twist, Rogue leans heavily on the proven and entertaining parts of the AC formula. You sail around on a ship, deploy your fleet, capture territory, hunt for collectibles, and (of course) perform assassinations. While this stuff is always fun, Rogue plays it too safe to be truly impressive.

Next: Our picks for the top five Assassin's Creed titles. – The Feed

Afterwords – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a step in the right direction for Ubisoft's annual series – especially considering the disastrous release of Assassin's Creed Unity in 2014. However, Syndicate isn't only good because it avoids the pitfalls of its predecessor; it combines some fun elements of older entries while adding its own spin on the formula (read our review). We spoke to game director Scott Phillips about the process of creating Syndicate and the decisions the team had to make along the way. 

Note: Some of the following answers include story spoilers.

Our team talked to you several years back when we did a cover story on Saints Row: The Third. Even though that’s a much goofier series, what were some lessons you learned from it that you applied to Syndicate?
Making sure that the player has fun and focusing on the player experience first was stuff that I brought forward from Saints Row. I tried to remind everyone – game design, level design, art, audio – to make sure to celebrate the players and make sure they’re enjoying their time with the game. Leave a lot of opportunities for them to express themselves and try new things – and to surprise us as developers. I think that comes through in Syndicate.

The perks are especially reminiscent of Saints Row, giving passive bonuses for things like destroying objects or performing assassinations.
That idea is in a lot of games, but taking the actions the player would normally do and providing rewards for them is key. Reminding the player that, “Hey, keep doing what you’re doing! We’re going to reward you constantly!” That’s key to making sure the player is having fun and the experience is positive.

Unity’s issues dominated the conversation about Assassin's Creed last fall. Did those problems impact the culture around development of Syndicate?
We knew, coming from Unity, that we needed to focus and make sure we delivered a polished and high-quality product. We made decisions like not supporting co-op and not supporting a companion app to focus our efforts and make the best Assassin’s Creed we could. [Unity] affected us, for sure. We had to make decisions based on the reception, just as any game would on a previous game. I think we made the right decisions, and I think that shows in the quality of the game we delivered.

A series with as many entries as Assassin’s Creed has dabbled in too many features to include in a single game. How did you identify which old elements to focus on and refine, and which ones to leave behind?
With Assassin’s Creed, it’s really helpful that the series is all about time travel. Because you’re in a new location and a new time period, with new protagonists and antagonists, it allows us to focus our efforts on what we think will deliver that experience the best. If we don’t feel like a feature from a past Assassin’s Creed fits for our setting, then it’s easy to say “No, we’re not going to carry that forward.” On the other side, we also have features that we need to add, so I think things like the rope launcher really speak to our time period and setting. We add and subtract based on the setting, and it keeps it fresh for each entry in the franchise.

Yeah, you couldn’t really implement sailing down the Thames, right?
We considered how we would do the Thames, and when you look at what it was like historically, it was packed full of ships – as we have it represented. It was constantly moving ships, so yeah, it would not have been an enjoyable boat experience.

The rope launcher is a great tool. During development, did you have any reservations about de-emphasizing the climbing elements that have been a pillar of the series for so long?
There were concerns, sure. As you said, a core of the franchise has been the parkour. But it’s one of those things where, once you start playing with it, it’s a completely different experience than hearing about it. Trying to play without the rope launcher, I think, is a more challenging experience. To what I mentioned earlier, it’s less fun to just have the parkour; we felt like the rope launch added a lot to the player experience of London 1868.

Do you have to do any coordination with the team making the next Assassin’s Creed game when implementing formula-changing ideas? Or is that managed from a broader brand perspective?
There’s definitely a team that shepherds the Assassin’s Creed brand. They take all aspects of the franchise and look at where it’s going and what it should be. To what I had said earlier, the setting of any game determines the feature set and what is available, so whatever location we’re doing is going to drive what gets in the game.

Carriages, by their nature, aren’t going to be as exciting or control as well as the cars that players are used to driving in open-world games. Was that a point of concern for the team?
We aimed for the controls to be fun, intuitive, and easy-to-use, and I think we delivered on that. In terms of how they move, the carriages are being pulled by living animals. They have their own A.I., so if you jump on top and start fighting, the carriage is going to continue moving, which you can’t really say with a car. So, there are differences in how they function. We wanted to make sure that you could jump right into it…we balanced it toward the “fun” side.

The World War I sequence shows up on the map without much fanfare. Many games would specifically direct players to a sequence like that; why did you decide to have players discover it on their own?
A lot of discussions went on about how exactly to introduce the World War I setting. How you would get in the portal? Would it be a mission? Would it be in the open world? Would we inform you about it? The way we ended up doing it is allowing players to find it. We give you an icon; it’s not necessarily hidden. Not everyone is going to find it immediately, but I think that’s good – it’s good to have things that people can chat about around the water cooler.

Why is Sequence 8 an option from the beginning?
We wanted to allow the player to engage with the open world right away. Because of the narrative setting – Maxwell Roth is the Templar gang leader – the focus of the open world was about destroying the Templar control of the city, so it made sense to allow the player to destroy that control at any point within the experience. And we didn’t necessarily want to say, “You’ve taken over the entirety of London, but there’s still a gang leader Templar out there that you need to wait until this specific point in the story in order to fight him.” We wanted it to be more organic because, for that character, it made a whole lot of sense for him to be available.

But don’t you need to conquer a certain number of boroughs before you can even engage with that sequence?
Yeah, the narrative set-up was that, to even be considered for talking to Maxwell Roth, you needed to show up as a threat. So you needed to take over three neighborhoods to show that the Frye twins were a real threat to the Templar and Blighter control of the city…Having it as “Sequence 8” can lead to some players thinking they should play in a certain order, but we wanted to open it up and let them experiment more with the open world.

Syndicate features more fluid multi-enemy combat than Unity. Was that a specific goal for the game?
One of the pillars of that experience we wanted was crowd control. We wanted you to be able to bounce quickly back and forth between targets. We wanted to move away from the focus on defense and waiting and parrying. We wanted the player to always be on the offensive. To get the best outcome – to earn the most experience and get the most impressive kills – the way to do it is to bring multiple enemies down to near-death and then finish them all off at once. It’s a unique experience with a lot of great finishing moments.

During some of those finishers, enemies just stand around and watch. How do you balance the sense of fighting a group with the desire to let players feel powerful?
Like you said, it’s all about balance, and we want that balance to be in the player’s favor. [Enemies] are not going to attack as much in a frustrating manner. They’re not going to deny you your attacks super-often. It’s a player-focused experience about crowd control and about being really brutal and visceral and violent in close-quarters with the combat. The balance was about making sure the player was always on the offensive, so that was the desired experience.

Previous Assassin’s Creed titles have taken different approaches to weapons, from giving players lots of choices to practically none. How did you land on the three weapon categories in Syndicate?
I think they were iconic weapons in terms of representing London at the time. The brass knuckles are very close-quarters, very violent and brutish. The cane sword is more stylish, maybe more elegant. And then you’ve got the kukri, which brings a little of the Indian culture – the Henry Green style – into the world. So, we felt like those were three relevant aspects to the setting.

Microtransactions are a business need, not necessarily a thing everyone dreams of putting in their games. How did you approach their implementation in Syndicate?
It’s tricky. We try to get the interface early so we get a sense of how it feels in the experience. We want to make sure that it’s visible but not too visible; it’s always a balancing act. I think some of the stuff we did – you get Helix credits by picking up collectibles – we tried to entice players to use some of it if they wanted to, but they didn’t really have to engage with it any further if they didn’t want to.

In the past, different entries have had close connections – from the Ezio trilogy to the those involving the Kenways. Is Jacob and Evie’s story a standalone tale, or is it the beginning of a new connected thread?
That one I can’t really answer, since Assassin’s Creed has a brand team running it. For me, my focus was solely on Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

We’ve had several games setting up various modern story elements, too. How do you focus on an interesting story in the past while still advancing the present-day arc for the the devoted fans?
It’s a lot of discussion and a lot of back-and-forth. The amount that each Assassin’s Creed game is different; what we did with the WWI time anomaly was, I think, good with allowing players to engage with the Juno storyline and learn more about that. It’s about finding the right balance for new players, for fans of the franchise – which I would consider myself. I love the present-day; I think it’s core to what the series is about, so we’ll always find interesting ways to make sure it’s within Assassin’s Creed.

For more on Assassin's Creed Syndicate, read about how it differs from Unity and check out our beginner's guide. – The Feed

Buggy Assassin’s Creed Unity to blame for slow Syndicate sales, says Ubisoft

Ubisoft execs have explained that sales of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate have suffered because of the negative reaction to last year’s bug-riddled release, Assassin’s Creed Unity. …

Gamasutra News

Five Potentially Crazy Ideas For The Future Of Assassin’s Creed

Annualizing a franchise means having to regularly introduce new ideas to keep it from becoming stale. Each year, Assassin’s Creed introduces a new design philosophy, whether it’s controlling twin siblings, assassinating targets alongside friends, or sailing the high seas, in order to differentiate entries and maintain player interest. 

Below are five unique and potentially divisive suggestions to implement in future Assassin’s Creed titles. Because of how unorthodox they are, each concept is followed with a reason for why it could work, as well as an argument for why it may just as likely fail. We welcome your own opinions in the comments.

Control A Neutral Protagonist With A Choice-Driven Narrative
Assassin’s Creed IV’s Edward Kenway was an interesting departure from traditional series protagonists because he wasn’t truly an Assassin until the last third or so of the game. The pirate captain masquerades in the iconic hood while largely pursuing his selfish goals. Let’s take that idea further with a hero who has no association to either group, but is desired by each. Players could interact with and perform tasks for both factions, providing an alternative viewpoint on both ideologies. Eventually, a situation arises that forces players to permanently choose a side, dramatically altering the events moving forward. This would also provide replay value for anyone who wants to experience the opposite path. 

Why It Works: With exceptions such as Shay Cormac in Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Ubisoft has tried – and mostly failed – to paint both groups as shades of gray. This approach could effectively highlight the differences between the groups while also pointing out the good they each hope to accomplish. Providing an objective viewpoint and allowing the player to side with the cause they deem just may be purest method of capturing the moral ambiguity the Assassin/Templar war is supposed to embody. 

Why It Doesn’t: An interesting hero is crucial for getting invested in the story, but a neutral protagonist could wind up being a boring blank slate that players have to define by their choices. Plus, Ubisoft has struggled with ambiguity; “Assassin” and “Templar” are essentially synonyms for “good” and “evil,” respectively. 

Set A Game In Atlantis
Ubisoft excels at creating compelling period pieces, but instead of keeping things grounded to actual events, what if Ubisoft tackled something a bit more fantastical? Atlantis is the first idea that comes to mind, as it’s one of the most fascinating and storied locations in mythology, plus it’s rarely explored in video games. From a story perspective, the lost continent could be established as being a part of the First Civilization that fell to ruin due to a struggle over pieces of Eden. Naturally, the protagonist would be a First Civilization Atlantean, putting players in the shoes of this ancient race for the first time. 

Why It Works: If one series could do Atlantis justice, it’s Assassin’s Creed. Previous real-world cities have been phenomenally realized, and Atlantis’ alleged Greek/Mediterranean architecture would be a wondrous sight to behold. Thanks to the First Civilization’s hyper-advanced technology, the sky’s the limit in terms of creative, possibly otherworldly weapons, equipment, and traversal options. Most importantly, players would experience a first-hand account of a piece of First Civilization history.  

Why It Doesn’t: Experiencing an alternate take on real history is one of the primary draws for many fans, myself included. Personally, I’m open to experimentation, but I can easily understand why others would be averse such a drastic departure. Using a fictional setting means Ubisoft will basically have to make up history, which could potentially derail the overarching narrative more than it already has been.  

Completely Rip Off The MGS V Buddy System
Bringing specialized buddies into the field was one of the strongest aspects of Metal Gear Solid V, and a similar mechanic could work for Assassins’ Creed. Instead of just having faceless underlings perform the same duties, players instead have a smaller pool of more fleshed-out characters who sport unique abilities suited to different situations. Perhaps a Quiet-like sniper who neutralizes enemies from a distance or even their own dog that sniffs out memory shards, distracts guards, and, of course, bites Templars in the butt.  

Why It Works: As proven by The Phantom Pain, there’s a satisfaction in choosing the right partner for a job, having them carry some of the load, then watching them progress and acquire new skills. Buddies also present another batch of potentially interesting personalities for players to grow attached to, on and off the streets.  

Why It Doesn’t: Competent A.I. companions are tough to pull off, and the series’ unfortunate history of technical hiccups could make this an extremely risky venture. Terrain and traversal would also have to be taken into account and could be tricky depending on the buddy (can the dog scale buildings too?). Not to mention that fans may not want to be saddled with buddy at all. 

Reintroduce the Truth
The Truth mystery was one of the most exciting and intriguing aspects of Assassin’s Creed lore, and the puzzles surrounding them provided a fun and challenging diversion. Reinserting it back into the series has been requested by a vocal portion of the fan base. 

Why It Works: The Truth was arguably the most talked-about aspects of the earlier titles, igniting a wild fire of fan theories and giving players a plot point to look forward to in each release. If Ubisoft can craft another mystery as gripping as pseudo-sci-fi Adam and Eve fleeing unknown pursuers, they could reinvigorate an excitement around an aspect of the franchise that hasn’t existed since Assassin’s Creed III. 

Why It Doesn’t: The fire has pretty much cooled on the First Civilization mystery /modern-day plotline and what’s present isn’t all that interesting. Fans simply might not be as invested in that element of the story as before, and asking them to solve a ton of complex puzzles centered on it may be asking too much–especially if the payoff winds up just being another narrative letdown.  

Competitive Multiplayer-Only Entry
Assassin’s Creed’s competitive multiplayer was a generally well-received feature in the titles it appeared in. Players hunted each other while blending into crowds and other hiding places, creating a more cerebral variant of traditional online modes that fit within the Assassin’s Creed framework. Syndicate removed multiplayer entirely, but what if the next entry was fully dedicated to it?

Why It Works: Building a full release around the concept could allow Ubisoft to expand on the mode in new, exciting ways. Perhaps they could construct a full-sized city filled with players engaged in a massive (and deadly) game of hide and seek. 

Why It Doesn’t: Multiplayer offshoots of established franchises seem to carry a negative stigma, proven by the less-than stellar reception games like Umbrella Corps and especially Metroid Prime: Federation Force have received. An Assassin’s Creed title adopting the same approach would likely face the same backlash.  Also, the likelihood of such a massive online infrastructure faltering is a concern. – The Feed

Reader Discussion: Have You Played Every Assassin’s Creed?

It's hard to keep up with annualized franchises. Have you played every Assassin's Creed since the original released in 2007?

I played the original, and each of the Ezio entries, but my interest began to wane over the course of Assassin's Creed III. I completed it, however, and started Black Flag, but never made it through the introduction. The same thing happened during my time with Unity. I didn't encounter any glitches in Unity, nor did I find the story or characters unappealing (I enjoy French history!), but I had just hit a point of fatigue. I never even started Rogue. It was time for a break. I haven't started Syndicate, yet, but after reading Joe Juba's review and chatting with him about the game on the podcast, I am excited to start the game, though it remains to be seen if it will reignite my appreciation for the series.

How about you? Have you played all of the Assassin's Creed games? Are you a die-hard fan, eager to play each entry? Or are you ready for a break? Let us know in the comments below. – The Feed

Watch Us Play Almost Two Hours Of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Update: We recently streamed a whole lot of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and now the archive of the stream is available to view online.

You can check out the stream below with Andrew Reiner and Joe Juba, who reviewed the game. We jump to a later point in the game, and play for just under two hours.

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Original Story: As you can tell from our review of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, the latest game in the series is a bit of a redemption for the series after last year's stumble with Unity. We wanted to share in the excitement of today's release alongside some fellow Assassin's Creed fans with a live stream! Game Informer's Joe Juba will be checking out the game alongside some other editors as we climb and stab our way through a bygone London.

The stream will run from 4-6pm CST on Game Informer's Twitch and YouTube channel, so tune in and join the fun! – The Feed

Don’t Hate Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Just Because You Hated AC Unity

The knives were out for Assassin's Creed Unity, some justified and some not, leaving many with a bad impression of the game. Regardless, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is not only a new experience separate from Unity in several ways, but it's definitely a step up in many departments. If you didn't like Unity or are worried about its impact on Syndicate, don't let last year's game interfere with your enjoyment of Syndicate.

Here are some key areas where Syndicate improves on Unity's feature set and makes Syndicate worth checking out. For more on the game, take a look at Joe's review and be sure to check out his 10 spoiler-free tips for players.

The Fast Flash of a Blade
One of the deserved criticisms of AC Unity was that combat wasn't very fluid as you tried to strike multiple foes. This wasn't helped by Unity's propensity to drop frames and its revised approach to combat. Syndicate's contribution to the series' fights improves Unity's multiple issues.

Encounters are noticeably smoother than the last title, both in how they look and how it feels to execute your moves. The timing window for counters is communicated via a yellow indicator; sometimes the enemy you're countering is close or far away. Regardless, tapping the circle button (B on Xbox One) once to counter during the window does the job. This creates an easily understandable and reliable rhythm to fights. I concentrated on putting in my combo attack strings and threw in counter commands when I needed to (including pressing Triangle/Y to dodge projectiles). Things can get hairy and quite difficult when you're surrounded by a blood-thirsty gang, but you can trust Syndicate's combat to see you through.

Syndicate's altogether improved character movement, a big part of its fights, also aids general world traversal. Climbing into windows  an adventure in itself in Unity  is now easily executed by hitting L1 when prompted by an icon.

The City at Your Feet
Unity's online integration was a mess, and Syndicate avoids this completely by not only axing multiplayer, but also by doing away with a companion app or other connectivity. Apart from any unintended bugginess, the online components may have caused in Unity, it feels great in Syndicate to be free of any frustration with the map or what you see in the world. Thankfully, a chest is just a chest again, and if you see it, you can access it. Speaking of chests, the removal of the Nomad missions and chests gives players access to that feature's equipment rewards via normal side missions. A large map, an inviting city, and an urge to explore  this spirit is definitely back in full force for Syndicate.

Crafting New Meaning
The worlds of the Assassin's Creed franchise have never lacked for things to do, but Syndicate introduces a crafting wrinkle that gives new impetus to take on the game's many side missions. Crafting supplies are earned across four categories, and you must have the requisite items to create and unlock specific weapons and upgrade your gang (more on that below). Furthermore, crafting is also how you unlock important character upgrades such as being able to carry more medicine punches, bombs, knives, etc.

Giving players a reason to play the series' many side missions has always been a challenge, and the integration of crafting components gives players more of a reason to take many of them on. You are also encouraged to take on side missions since helping out allies will sometimes give you specific weapons or equipment beyond the normal XP and money.

Skills for Any Situation
I wasn't as annoyed by Unity's skill tree  where you had to spend points to learn even fundamental aspects of the Assassin craft  as some players were, but there's no doubt that Syndicate's version of the skill tree is simply better.

Like any good skill tree, Syndicate's gives you the freedom to pursue the avenues you see fit while unlocking some impressive and useful abilities along the way. It's broken into three sections: Combat, Stealth, and Ecosystem (which includes skills like becoming a faster driver, gang options, a bigger Eagle Vision cone, and more). There's simply more variety than in Unity, and this dovetails nicely with the Frye twins.

There are many instances in the game where it does not matter which Frye twin you're controlling. The game even encourages this by allowing you to switch freely between them when you're not in a story mission, but the skill tree is the one area where who you control actually matters.

You can effectively create two different character builds for the two characters, tailoring Jacob and Evie towards specific needs. For instance, I didn't spend points on lockpicking or other stealth-related skills for Jacob. However, that's not to say that I didn't buy combat skills with Evie. However you do it, be sure to investigate the six character-specific skills (three for each) to unlock their true potential.

Eventually you will earn plenty of skill points if you do enough of the side missions to unlock all the skills for both Fryes, but in the early and middle parts of the game, you won't have to waste points on branches of the skill tree you're not interested in.

The Fryes' adventures around London have also made them leaders of the Rooks gang  who have their own extensive skill tree. Apart from improving your gang (which costs money and craft items), you can also direct up to five members in the world. Although you can't command them to kill instantly like in AC: Brotherhood, they're handy in a scrape and remind me of the franchise's heyday.

Whereas the skill trees are about choice, Syndicate's 29 perks are passive upgrades unlocked according to how you play the game. For instance, if you perform 50 multi-counter kills you'll get an increase in your counter attack damage. These let you feel even more like a lethal assassin, something that Unity didn't always do. – The Feed

Where Assassin’s Creed Should Go Next: The First Civilization

 Now that Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is out in the wild, we wanted to revisit this conversation to get your thoughts on the current state of the Assassin's Creed franchise. This article was originally published on May 9, 2015.

I'm growing disenchanted with the Assassin's Creed games, a series that once dazzled me with its melding of period piece storytelling and secrets tied to an ancient civilization possessing technology far beyond ours today. Ubisoft's focus is now mostly on exploring the past, something they do quite well, but I'm finding that, without the mystery, the experience is different and and not nearly as engaging. Part of its DNA missing.

As much as I enjoy suiting up as an assassin and exploring landmark events in human history, such as the French Revolution or Italy during the 15th century, the big hook for me, which took root in Assassin's Creed II, was searching for "The Truth," secrets, messages, and images that pointed to a much larger story unfolding. This hunt for clues tied to that ancient civilization was one of the best optional objectives I've ever come across in a game.

In Assassin's Creed II, I was absolutely floored by the secret video that showed Adam and Eve leaping across a futuristic cityscape (which you can view below). I watched it frame by frame, and overanalyzed every little clue within it, hoping that I would uncover more of that world. I was just as engaged with that story line, as minimal as it was, as Ezio's. Ubisoft had a great thing going. It reminded me of the TV show Lost. I thought the setup moving forward would be each game delivering two stories: the primary being the assassin in a historic setting, and the secondary being about the first civilization.

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That never came to fruition, and yes, maybe it was more my wishful thinking than anything else. What followed was game after game of confusion and disappointing plot points tied to the first civilization. As it stands today, I couldn't tell you what happened. Juno is a computer virus? Maybe she's the Lawnmower Man? We can argue over what happened all day long, but I think we can all agree that Ubisoft dropped the ball with a story that could have been a pillar for the franchise.

And it still could. Rather than sticking with the dumb "game development" story line, why not send players into the distant past? What better way could there be to shake up the series than traveling to a world where anything is possible. We saw what the "apple" was capable of. We saw what Minerva could do. Think of what that world would be like. Think of the gameplay that could come from it.

Yes, I love the attention to detail that Ubisoft puts into each historic setting, but the gameplay isn't changing. We're still stabbing people in the back of head and climbing on walls. The first civilization could produce a wealth of new ideas that change up the assassination game. The idea is there. We've seen it. We want it. Well, at least I want it. Why not go there? Why not open up that plot thread again and make it count this time?

Should the first civilization be the primary location for a game? Maybe not, but it would make one hell of a place to visit. I enjoyed playing as Desmond in the sequences set in the near future. Just imagine what it would be like to play as Adam or Eve or a different character in a world that is brimming with science fiction possibilities. Go nuts with it, Ubisoft. At this point I'm more interested in your fiction than the stories that come from history books. – The Feed