E3 2015: Hands on with ‘Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’ and ‘For Honor’

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Ubisoft captivated E3 attendees with their bombastic booth at this year’s show, with blockbuster titles, awesome personnel, and an atmosphere that felt like a non-stop party. I was fortunate enough to play most of what they had to offer with an in-depth look at two games in particular: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and For Honor.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate:
A five minute presentation before I was handed the controller revealed to me some new features that could potentially change the fluidity of traversal throughout Victorian London. The demo featured our new protagonist using a grappling hook to turn the skies into his parkour playground. Tethering two buildings together, Jacob is able to shimmy across streets and alleys with the capability of dropping upon his enemies and objectives.

Another surprise came in the form of a Grand Theft Auto-style carriage jacking as we witnessed our hero commandeering a horse to chase down his target. Assassin’s Creed players have been vocal for many years about the unrefined controls and uncooperative commands that have plagued the series since its inception. Although Ubisoft still hasn’t effectively responded to the complaints, it seems that the new driving and grappling mechanics will help with proper navigation.

It was made clear to me that I was playing a pre-alpha build of the newest installment of the Assassin’s franchise, so I was pleasantly surprised about how gorgeous certain parts of the environment were. It seemed as though the lingering puddles from recent precipitation reflected the sunlight even more realistically than that of its predecessor, Assassin’s Creed Unity. At first glance, Victorian London felt strangely similar to 19th century Paris (Unity’s setting) but I’m interested see if the story and NPCs will be able to infuse believability and authenticity into an era so rich in culture and history.

The combat system has been refined but not revamped in the way it needs to be. I feel like the same problems will arise when warding off bad guys and the quick switch D-pad weapon change from Unity was ever present. Our new assassin does have a sort of combo meter that will build and result in some flashy kills. In the demo, he successfully shanked a baddy with his sheathed cane sword, removed the sword to kill several others, and re-sheathed the sword while its case protruded from the first enemy.

Assassination missions in Assassin’s Creed have effectively reached a satisfactory level of giving players the freedom of choice. Creating your own approach to the kill in a gorgeous open world with new traversal options will most certainly offer another solid entry into the series, but only time will tell if those refreshments will be enough to once again bottle the Assassin’s Creed magic.

Syndicate

For Honor:
The devs at Ubisoft Montreal seemed concerned that the gaming media wouldn’t find the controls of this game very intuitive at first. They felt it necessary to see us through a 10 minute tutorial that ended up being very handy and necessary. Imagine a medieval setting complete with knights and chain mesh armor, with your sword attacks mapped to the shoulder buttons. Defense is as critical as your attacks and the fleshed out countering system lies at the foundation of this title’s uniqueness.

There are different types of enemies in the game and the smaller infantry men seemed to do little more than serve as a distraction. The player-controlled characters in our multiplayer session could easily mow down a half dozen of them with one fell swoop in Dynasty Warriors fashion. The combat was much more complex against actual people. Holding L2 triggered guard mode, a fighting stance from which players could play both offensively and defensively. With a three-sided shield replicated by three sections of your rights stick’s circumference, you’re able to attack and defend high, right, or left. An indicator shows up for a split second after your opponent commits to one of these areas, giving you the chance to block in that same direction.

We didn’t get much of any insight into a single player mode or campaign for this game but the multiplayer frenzy we championed involved capturing, conquering, and defending certain points of the map to win points for your team of five. The game didn’t match the visuals of Ryse: Son of Rome but the heavier focus on actual skill-based swordplay was something I’ve never seen before. I’m always excited about new IPs and when trusted developers take a fresh approach to one, I’m inclined to follow the game’s path to launch. Stay tuned to PS Nation for more details on For Honor as they become available.

For Honor

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