Ubisoft had a big showing at PAX this year with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, For Honor, and The Division hogging a large portion of the main expo area. It didn’t matter how much room the booths took up because all of the above games were incredibly popular with fans, some waiting more than two hours to get in some demo time. Because of this, unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try out The Division, which is a shame because it looks amazing, but I did get to try the other two and here’s what I think:
I went in with low expectations for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate because I’m still afraid it’ll be 20% female missions and 80% male missions. I fully realize that’s an irrational response coming out, and I’ve already gone into my feelings on the subject, but if you’re going to advertise a playable female character as a selling point then don’t relegate her to the shadows. Sadly, I still couldn’t get any solid word about what the split would be like between Jacob and Evie Frye, but I did get a chance to play a full mission as the thief, Evie.
It comes as no surprise that AC: Syndicate is a beautiful game and as much as I want to knock the location and time period in favor of something more exotic, I can’t because I love Victorian London. The missions are similar to previous Assassin’s Creed games, some involving more stealth while others encouraging the beat-em-up play style. Some missions, however, have multiple ways to navigate from start to finish. Playing as Evie was just like playing any other assassin character. With time comes more polished controls, naturally, but minus a few exceptions, she feels just the same as any other character in the franchise.
That being said, Ubisoft did add a few more skills to the assassin’s arsenal: the first is the steampunk grappling hook and I have to say that this item felt incredibly over-powered as its reach is insanely long. Ever wanted to play Assassin’s Creed as Spider-Man? Well, now you can. Escaping guards is a total breeze because there’s no way they’ll run the length of the four buildings you just flew over in time to catch your thieving behind. The other addition is specific to Evie and it’s a new stealth mechanic that makes the player invisible to guards if they stand still. It’s good if things start to get out of hand and guards take notice of you, but again, if you really need to get away, just zip on by with your grappling hook.
To sum up, I played for half an hour with my foot in my mouth because dammmmmmit AC: Syndicate was pretty fun.
As an added bonus, Ubisoft released a new trailer today for all our drooling goodness:
For Honor is completely different from the other two Ubisoft titles. It’s a medieval multi-player arena fighting game and if you’ve ever played Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, you’ll understand the concept behind For Honor. Each team consists of four players and the goal is to play capture the flag and gain control of the three “zones” all the while murdering the shit out of your enemies. It’s the kind of game where you HAVE to communicate with your team, otherwise, you’re all dead. Unless you’re fighting the bot enemies, in which case it’s super easy and you’ll kill them all in one sweep of your sword.
There’s a brief tutorial explaining the controls of the game, of which there aren’t many. You can use a basic attack, heavy attack, break, or guard in three stances. Guarding properly requires you to “lock on” to your enemy or else they’ll just hack you to bits. There is a dodge, but it’s very slow and for someone accustomed to fast-paced fighting, it was underwhelming and didn’t do much to save me in the event of a 2v1 fight. Essentially, once you’re outnumbered, you’re dead. Sure, there’s strategy to keeping each of the three zones, the main one being “never go anywhere alone” but there isn’t much fun to the game. On top of that, the controls felt clunky and confusing, even though there were so few of them. Guarding is not a technique easily mastered and if you plan on mashing heavy attack, you’re going to have a bad time.
For me, the game wasn’t as fun as Chivalry, mainly because of a lack of choice. Everyone looks the same, fights the same, uses the same weapons and armor. I did, however, appreciate the option to play as a female character, even if it was the illusion of choice, it made me happy all the same. I wanted something more from the game as we played. I wanted to be able to pick up a halberd or a crossbow or something, anything but a sword. For the actual game, Ubisoft says you’ll be able to play as either a viking, knight, or samurai but, surprise, all three wield swords in promotional art. There is also a single-player campaign for For Honor, but we still don’t know much about it.
Also worth mentioning is that twice while waiting to play, the PS4’s overheated while running For Honor. Not exactly the best vote of confidence, but I’ll concede they were running nearly nonstop for three days by that point.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is set to release on October 23rd, 2015 on PS4, XBOX One, and PC.
For Honor is slated to release sometime in 2016 on PS4, XBOX One, and PC.