It's no secret that Assassin's Creed Unity was a bit of a misstep for the franchise. There were some good ideas buried beneath the boring story and glitches — they just never got a chance to shine.
With Assassin's Creed Syndicate, Ubisoft isn't just fixing Unity's bugs and releasing another game. Grappling hooks, stagecoach chases and gang wars are just a few of the new pieces in the Assassin's Creed Syndicate puzzle — however, despite how fantastic they look, they're not necessarily the most important.
That honor goes to the game's dual protagonists, Jacob and Evie Frye. Previous Assassin's Creed games may have featured multiple playable characters, but Syndicate is the first game in the series to be built from the ground up with two playable characters in mind. It's not just a big change when it comes to gameplay, but how Syndicate focuses on world-building and story: Unity may have been a snooze-fest, but judging from the GamesCom 2015 trailer, Syndicate's tale could be a big step up for the franchise:
First things first: while it's clear that Ubisoft turned the contrast up to 11 for this video, Syndicate looks far better here than anything fans have seen yet. Character models are intricately detailed, environments are beautifully cluttered — even the muddy ground is pretty. Granted, it's probably best to take it all with a grain of salt — Unity also looked pretty before release — but from what's in the trailer, Syndicate is looking good.
Of course, it's not just the visuals that impress: there's a sense of atmosphere in the trailer that's simply been absent from the franchise. If Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag nailed the pirate aesthetic, then it looks like Syndicate may nail the dirty, rotten Industrial Revoltion-era London. A lot of the credit should go to the narration: it's not just blabbering about the story, or how London is a messed up place. Ubisoft uses the trailer to present us with to similar, yet vastly different characters — it's not an easy thing to do in under two minutes, but they pulled it off.
After Unity, it's tough to get one's hopes up for another game in the series, especially so soon after. However, Syndicate is looking to be the Assassin's Creed game that Unity should have been — let's just hope that's the case when the game launches this October.