Assassin’s Creed Syndicate features historically accurate politics and pub names

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ACS power station

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is only a month away and I’m excited for the historical tourism mixed with stealthy stabbing gameplay. Rob got to play the game and you can read his words over here. However, we also sent him with a list of questions, and he got answers for everything.

Thanks to François Pelland, the Executive Director of Development at Ubisoft Quebec, we now know that Karl Marx will definitely make an appearance in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, confirming my socialist suspicions about the game. However, it’s about much more than that. While there were political ideologies swirling during the Victorian Era, Ubisoft isn’t trying to judge those things, but simply depict them:

One thing we do in AC is to recreate the setting. We take a lot of pride in working with historians where we have 12 different script writers that work solidly for a month understanding the history. We’re not making editorial statements on what happened back then or what we think happened back then. It is what it is so the characters of that period are there and there is a story around it and we’re not making judgements on what they did.

Of course, the various periods and locations have informed the side activities available. From courtesan missions in AC2 to pirating exploration in Black Flag, it’s the things you can do outside of the main storyline that gives Assassin’s Creed a lot of its personality. Syndicate will also offer some new sandbox fun which fits the period, and adds to that ideological struggle I keep feeling is important in the game.

When we started two and a half years ago, we wanted to have a main narrative or storyline that intersects with the side content activities as well. It’s not so much that its side content, you have to do activities to free up London and this is what we before called side activities. You do have side missions for example, there are specific train missions. It’s all within the idea of conquering London and getting stronger as the character and then freeing up London.

[…] The class difference is something you see a lot and that’s part of conquering London. We have the activities where you have factories where they have child labour, so you see the poor, you see how tough it is and one activity to free up a district would be to take the enemy control away from that factory. It’s part of the narrative but also part of the activities. In Whitechapel, you will see a lot more poor people than in Westminster for example.

ACS Francois Pelland

However, the more modern era hasn’t just impacted on the story elements. We have also been promised a bigger, taller city. We asked if this was only the case from a facade perspective or if buildings were also bigger on the inside this time.

It’s amazing when you get close to a train station for example, its huge and humongous, like crazy big. It’s the same for the St. Paul’s cathedral, so yes you have the scale that’s really nice to explore. You have a large contrast between a borough like Whitechapel and the Strand or Westminster. There is big contrast.

Assassin’s Creed games always made sense in periods further back in history – how else could you justify the use of hidden blades and swords instead of guns? However, as the game has moved into the modern era, it has also meant changing some gameplay elements, and I’m curious to see how it’s implemented. Of course we asked how more modern-era firearms impacted gameplay, and were even complimented on the question.

That’s a good question. The firearm is something that within the aiming or quick shot mechanics we have around it, we had to nail it. It changed the combat style quite substantially, so if someone had equipped a gun or improved a gun, he would be able to change the way he’s going to attack a scenario or sequence completely. So it was a big change for us and it brought in some kind of third person shooter style to the game.

When we prepare these sorts of high level interviews, we always ask the whole team for their questions and invariably we troll each other to no end because it’s far too entertaining. However, Darryn’s troll question actually got us a rather interesting answer about just how authentic the pubs will be in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

What kind of research development went into Victorian top hats? Will they be upgradeable?

(laughs) We have been working with someone who has been amazing and she has guided us through all the research and costumes and clothes. It’s something that we worked really hard on. So she took on the naming of all the pubs and so it was really hard to bring the names of the pubs because we didn’t want to use ones that already existed for numerous reasons. So our writers came up with a list of names and she just destroyed the list completely. Then she came up with names that we cleared with legal and made sense that fit the period in the truest way possible. A lot of research went into the background of the game to make it as authentic as possible.

Is Assassin’s Creed Syndicate sounding unique to you yet, or are you firmly embedded in your franchise fatigue?

Last Updated: September 25, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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