5 Ways Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Can Make Us Forget Unity

Rachel Kaser 15-05-2015

Ubisoft has officially announced their latest exercise in historical fiction: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Known for months by the name “Victory,” the story and gameplay details we’d heard rumors about were confirmed in the official reveal. It’s set in Victorian England, stars two Assassins, and will return to the series’ roots where the Assassins are among the downtrodden and disenfranchised of society. It actually looks interesting and we were shown just enough that it seems as if it could actually be good.


But we’re all still stinging from the disaster that was the Assassin’s Creed 2014 launch. Syndicate‘s premiere should have been an exciting reveal of the latest game in Ubisoft’s series of murderous Magic School Bus trips through history. Instead, it was a wary glimpse at a product consumers are no longer sure will be any good.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate Logo

Before the launch of Unity, the Assassin’s Creed series had a reputation for being decent, if not spectacular. Unity was bad enough to erase a lot of that good word-of-mouth. This, combined with a few other Ubisoft missteps in 2014 (Watch_Dogs, microtransactions, etc), made the Assassin’s Creed series the punchline to an embittered joke about the state of gaming Big Game Studios Are Killing the Video Game Industry The big names in gaming—like EA, Square, Valve, Blizzard, and Ubisoft—have a big problem. They've lost sight of their most important market: gamers. Read More .

Assassin's Creed Unity Glitch 1

But, as a longtime series fan, I say it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few things Ubisoft can do to win back the crowd with Syndicate.


Make It Perfect

The launch of Unity was a catastrophe. Bugs, glitches, engine problems, and more were compounded by a blithe non-response from Ubisoft. The game was almost impossible to play on PC, and was only marginally better on consoles. Despite this, the first patch released for the game fixed, of all things, a problem with the in-game credits which facilitated the microtransactions (oh, you can get rid of those in the future, too). It was a mess, and even Ubisoft finally admitted it.

Assassins Creed Unity Microtransactions
There are two ways Ubisoft can begin to regain consumer goodwill with regards to the technical integrity of their games. First, don’t rush Syndicate through QA while the testers are strung out on sleeping pills. That’s the only explanation I’ve been able to come up with for the Unity launch.

Assassin's Creed Unity Glitch 2
Second, take its time. The original Assassin’s Creed isn’t even ten years old The True History of Assassin's Creed Read More , and Ubisoft has already released eight more games in the series. It’s okay to take a couple of extra months to breathe. I understand the need for swift financial returns considering how expensive games are to make, but AC has a devoted core fanbase that is willing to wait. Push another game out prematurely, and the team runs the risk alienating them and tainting the series’ name on the market further. This is one of those occasions when a delay would actually give consumers MORE confidence in the game.

No More Apps

Two popular games came out in 2014 that used companion apps How These 4 Companion Apps Change The Game Want more out of your favorite games? With these titles, downloading the smartphone companion applications will make your experience even better. Read More as a crucial supplement to their gameplay. One was Destiny, and the other was Assassin’s Creed Unity. With Destiny, we gave it a disgruntled pass because the only thing on the app was the codex. Unity, however, tried to make its app a core part of the gameplay. There were a number of chests within the game that could only be opened after you’d completed little mini-missions on the app, which would often fail to work anyway.


Assassins Creed Initiates Logo
We all also got very tired of the intrusion of the Initiates website that invaded via Uplay. While none of the things that were accessible through the Initiates program were essential to the game, seeing them was enough to throw off the game’s already-tenuous sense of engagement. Ubisoft eventually patched the game so that all chests could be opened without reference to either the app or Initiates, so clearly they saw that their little multimedia experiment failed. That’s progress, Ubisoft. Now don’t do it again.

Fraternal Twins, Not Identical

There are two different protagonists of this newest AC game: Jacob and Evie Frye, twins who share Assassin lineage and training. Supposedly, players will be able to switch freely between the twins during open-world play, and they will each have their own side missions. We’ll be forced to play as one or the other during story missions, and I hope one doesn’t get the lion’s share of attention at the expense of the other. The problem with these two is that they need to be just different enough that one doesn’t get the idea that they were originally one character split in twain for the sake of diversity.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate Jacob Frye
If you want to make sure that the two of them are equally fun to play, they must make the twins different, but give each essential skills. The two are going to get their own skill trees, with Jacob being more of a brute while Evie is the sneak. As an example of what not to do, compare Aveline’s disguises in AC: Liberation. While each outfit Aveline wore was supposed to have its strengths, these were often cosmetic at best; she could brawl just as easily wearing a fancy gown as she could wearing her Assassin gear. Jacob and Evie must be different yet equally powerful if they’re to stand up together both in the story and the world itself.

Don’t Divide; You Won’t Conquer

There are many, many valid things you could blame the horrible Unity launch upon, and one which isn’t mentioned much is Assassin’s Creed Rogue. Playing both of them at the same time, one gets the sense that they were meant to be one game, thematically if not literally. If you’re one of the many people who forgot about Rogue because Ubisoft refused to give it a spotlight in the marketing, here’s the game in a nutshell: It’s a reskin of assets from AC3 and Black Flag, lacking the visual bloom that Unity has; but it has a better story with more canon resonance and intentional moral ambiguity.


Assassins Creed Rogue and Unity
I don’t know what possessed Ubisoft to make two games in one year, besides a vain attempt to double sales by making sure there was an option for those with last-gen consoles. I’d have been impressed if both games had been functional, let alone good; but Unity was neither and I think Rogue was part of the reason. One things is clear: If Ubisoft wants Syndicate to succeed, they’re going to have to put all of their eggs in this one smoke-blackened, Dickensian basket. Thankfully, Ubisoft has announced that it done with last-gen consoles, so it looks like it aggrees with us on this one.

Main Character = Main Character

Even before the disastrous Unity launch, Ubisoft was taking heat for adding co-op to a game which has always been about lone Assassins. While cool heads pointed out that no one necessarily wanted the multiplayer introduced in Brotherhood and it turned out alright, this was one of those times when the hotheads were right on the money. Ubisoft has apparently taken that criticism very much to heart, because they’ve said that there will be no co-op OR multiplayer in Syndicate.

No co-op or multiplayer means the developers can focus on the narrative, and I hope they won’t miss this chance to do so. The biggest problem with the story in Unity was a lack of focus. Arno was the protagonist, but he had little motivation. The Assassins wanted nothing to do with the French Revolution, and their conflict with the Templars was even more token than usual. All of the interesting characters from the time period aren’t allied with either faction, and some of them even manipulate Arno for their own gain.

Assassins Creed Syndicate Jacob And Evie
This feather-light tale gave the player the distinct impression that Unity wasn’t our story. Arno, and the player by extension, mattered so little that it felt sort of pointless to play. So don’t go aloof on us again, Ubisoft. Make Jacob and Evie the actual main characters of the game. Make us eager to see their story through to the end.


What Would Make You Buy Syndicate?

What would Ubisoft have to do to make their latest Assassin’s Creed game appeal to you? Has the series been permanently ruined, or do you think this stab-fest in Victorian England will redeem it? Let me know in the comments section below!

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  1. Forenzics
    January 11, 2016 at 7:27 am

    As someone who has been playing since the very first game and has completed every single game up to unity. I just got the ps4 so of course i got both unity and syndicate and im old school so ill finish unity before i start the newest one. I must say by far unity is the worst. They took away pretty much everything that made the AC series. Its absolutely annoying and every time i play im more disgusted. Buying skills? Really?! Really no story line that i can tell and im on sequence 8. Not having health regerate is annoying as well. I also have had to restart missions simply because of terrible glitches. Like the time i was climbing a wall, was shot and my guy froze in mid air wailing his arms and refused to move. I had to let myself be killed and then he actually fell to the ground. The control reponses are horrendous. I hit a button about ten times for him to do what i want him to do. And you touched on the co-op multi player so im not going to go on how stupid that is. As a long time fan of the series and really the only reason i got a ps4 was for this series, i really hope syndicate has cleaned up its act and went back to its roots.

  2. Aiden
    January 7, 2016 at 4:32 am

    I don't think that AC is ruined by unity, in fact I enjoyed it, however I did purchase it after all the bugs were fixed. But even with the bugs I would have loved it. Finally there was an AC game besides the first game that made me have to sneak around, and the fact that I finally had a tough time in combat was great because it shows that it wouldn't be super easy to fight crowds of people. Sure the multiplayer co-op wasn't so good, but it was optional to do, you didn't have to do it if you sit not want to. Ibis oft actually had the right idea with unity and it will probably lead to many more epic AC games in the future. But as a side note I do have syndicate and it is better than unity, but unity was better than rogue.

    ~A random 13 year old

    • Aiden
      January 7, 2016 at 4:37 am

      Did not want to.* sorry for the typo

      • Aiden
        January 7, 2016 at 4:38 am

        Ubisoft* again sorry it's my autocorrect

  3. David
    January 5, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Unity was one of my favorites, why would I want to forget it?

  4. nicolas
    November 17, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Unity wasn't good? Is that a joke? Ok let's put aside bugs than have been fixed later on. I played the game months after its released and it's the most satisfactory assassin's creed experience I had on since the first episode. why? Because it finally delivers on those ongoing promises of being an infiltration and stealth game and not an hack and slash in disguised. I wouldn't called Unity difficult but in many respects the gameplay has been improved to reflect the original intentions of the series and the level design was smart enough to force players exploring infiltration possibility in the game.

    • A random 13 year old boy
      January 7, 2016 at 4:40 am

      I'm with you on this

  5. Anonymous
    October 27, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    This Time, I AM going to pick AC syndicate because this time Ubisoft is not doing what I hate the most, focus MAINLY on new features graphics, multiplayer, companion app, and they are focusing on only one game this time, This gives me an impression that Syndicate will turnout a HIT like the Ezio Trilogy, I liked Rogue more than Unity though...

  6. Anonymous
    October 18, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Ubisoft ruined assassins creed for me with Unity . I can't trust them anymore , I bought my Xbox one just to play Unity with my friends on multiplayer but I didn't get to do that, not once. I haven't played it since & now they're coming out with a new "better" one & not even going to give a small discount or something for all the unsatisfied customers that bought unity to give them money to make this new one. They even removed multiplayer ? ! Also they have a premium edition for 90$ wtf happened to buying a game that's completed for 60 and not having to update everyday. Whatever , I'm done with AC & ubisoft .

    • A random 13 year old
      January 7, 2016 at 4:35 am

      If you don't want to play any more AC games because your friends don't want to play unity with you or don't have it than your are making the dumbest choice you can. AC is one of the best franchises I have ever seen and has an ever growing fanbase, so I suggest you reevaluate.

      ~A random 13 year old

    • A random 13 year old boy
      January 7, 2016 at 4:45 am

      You don't "need" a discount. The game is only $50 and that's cheap for a next gen game. Plus if you were really that unsatisfied than just return the game or exchange it unless you downloaded it where in that case you could make use of it and play it instead of letting your money go to waste.
      PS.the $ goes in front of the number.

      ~A random 13 year old

  7. Anonymous
    August 7, 2015 at 10:13 am

    i never played unity and missed on the story eventually ill pick it up when its like £10 but for now im not touching it also if theres microtransactions in syndicate im not touching it i already refuse to touch mgs5 because of the supposed microtransactions and the fact kojima got fired and his name scrubbed from mgs5.

  8. Anonymous
    July 9, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    I didn't finish Unity because I got stuck on a rapidly tap prompt during one of the boss fights.
    Upon further investigation I found that I wasn't the only one stuck on this. So I emailed Ubisoft customer services and they came back with the response:

    "Iit's not a glitch it's just really fast"

    My question is, if something is so fast that a large group of people actually think the game is glitching then why make it so fast in the first place?

    On the whole I have really enjoyed the AC series so I am willing to give Syndicate it's fair shot. I just hope Uubisoft have learned from there mistakes.

  9. Reouel B. Braude
    June 3, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I wish they could bring back the "safe house" upgrades, But because the game is now focused in one place, it is harder to make a safe house, like Homestead in ACIII, or Monteriggioni in ACII. Instead of a lousy HQ like the Café-Théâtre in ACU, or Tiber Island in ACB. And to bring back the divided shops (instead of one merchant) and that you can progress with the game (instead having all the armor and weapons open from the beginning). when I played I did all the five Café-Théâtre upgrades missions very early in the game, and I had a lot of money and was invincible before before I reached sequence 6. It happened because You had all the weapons from the beginning instead of having them open as you advance in the game (But I guess that if they will drop the micropayments it will return as it was before)

  10. Anonymous
    May 19, 2015 at 5:55 am

    Ubisoft is money hungry

    • Rachel Kaser
      May 19, 2015 at 6:29 am

      . . . which should not be news to anyone. Companies like Ubisoft don't have artistic visions. They have bottom lines.

  11. McFuzz
    May 17, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    I just want to forget Assassin's Creed entirely; lord knows that every subsequent title since AC2 has made me forget that the franchise used to be good.

    The premise was flimsy to begin with, and now that they've killed off all concept of characters outside the Animus but still try to force an uninteresting story about the future templars. It's not an interesting world, and the very mechanics are aged and boring. And now this franchise has forced parkour into all AAA games. Let it die, or continue forcing it with half a dozen games a year, and hope Ubisoft sinks with it.

    • Rachel Kaser
      May 19, 2015 at 6:25 am

      I found the future plot in Black Flag to be amusing purely for how it leaned on the fourth wall. Canadian game developers cranking out semi-historical action games at the behest of an evil corporation holding their leash? If the developers ground that ax any harder the sparks would have flown right out of my computer. And I'd argue that first-person parkour in AAA games like Titanfall and Dying Light is thanks to Mirror's Edge, but you're not wrong about the mechanics in AC.

  12. na
    May 17, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    As a first person shooter-PC only gamer. I will not buy Ubi soft games on PC with steam if I am forced to install their crappy DRM unity software. The whole point of steam is that the games are all stored in one account with one username and password. Why am i forced to install Unity as well. Bugger off Ubisoft, go make games and do what you are good at and stop telling me you think I am a pirate or try to sell me your Crapinity in game purchases, I want to pay for your games so you can make more, but really you are making it hard for me. Uggggh I hate unity and drm in general with a passion.

    • Rachel Kaser
      May 19, 2015 at 6:14 am

      It was particularly bad with Unity thanks to Uplay, Initiates, and the Unity app all intruding on the gameplay. I got the impression that each one of these things came from a different corporate crock pot and were all added at the eleventh hour. I've always assumed Uplay was Ubisoft's attempt to jump on the EA Origin bandwagon without alienating the Steam faithful. Anyone with common sense could have told them how that would go over.

  13. Branden
    May 17, 2015 at 1:59 am

    People have been too hard on Ubisoft lately. Sure the game debuted with a massive amounts of glitches, but it still received positive reception and they worked diligently to fix the bugs throughout the game and apologized for it. Sure some minor things like micro-transactions may have added to some criticisms, but who cares? People are enjoying the game even after all that fuss. Its popular despite everything that happened.

    Every major AC game after the first was made in advance before its successor, Unity began its development shortly after Brotherhood. Clearly it was rushed and some things were overlooked, but no one expected that to happen. How do you think Ubisoft Montreal feels about this? You can't fathom the feeling of putting in four years of work for a highly-anticipated game and get such a horrid backlash from people. They are doing everything they can to make up for it and have apologized and promise to learn from Unity's mistakes to make Syndicate a better game.

    • Rachel Kaser
      May 19, 2015 at 6:07 am

      I’m assuming by “horrid backlash,” you mean a 4.7 user score on Metacritic and everyone from Forbes to me telling them they put out a bad product – which I’d argue belies your assertion that “people are enjoying the game,” as do the rest of these comments. Consumers have come to understand that the AC series is the annual holiday franchise Ubisoft will ride to the bank like a wheezing, knock-kneed nag; and series fans are hoping that, if anything, our backlash might get the higher-ups in the company to realize that this series needs room to breathe.

      You cannot ask me to consider the feelings of an entire game studio. That’s not how empathy works. Ubisoft Montreal also made Child of Light and Far Cry: Blood Dragon, games I found very enjoyable, so I’m not calling them hacks who have never produced quality products. But where Unity is concerned . . . they made a terrible, broken game. It happens. The rest of us are not bullies for pointing it out. Criticizing bad products so the developers can improve is how the market should work. If they improve upon it, and Syndicate turns out to be a brilliant piece of historical fiction with smooth, bug-free gameplay, I will be the first person to cheer.

    • Branden
      May 21, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Well the first mistake there is by using Metecritic and treating them like they matter. In case you aren't aware, not everyone likes them or takes them seriously in the game community. IGN and Gamespot have pointed out their scoring method is out of date and unorganized, and countless others speak out how they are bad for business. Plus they give mediocre scores to games in general.

      So because I'm the minority speaking against what you think I'm wrong? Clearly you are new to the series, if anything you would see that the people know AC to be a fun, best-selling video game series that will always attract attention and still continues to be popular, despite what you don't want to believe. There will always be criticism of any major game franchise, using one's buggy debut as leverage proves nothing here. The game had major bugs and they have been addressed, its all been said and done. It sold well and still received good reception. Its as simple as that really. Obviously no one makes a perfect game and every company has flops, you seem to forget that people actually made the game and hard word went into it. But I can't really ask you to listen to reason can I?

      Well I never asked you for empathy, to which you seem to lack regardless. You aren't a bully, more like how a troll used the glitches as leverage for the overall quality in this case. Syndicate will turn out to be another great game, Ubisoft made it quite apparent they are doing everything they can to learn from Unity's mistakes and have been doing everything they can to make up to fans. I can guarantee you wont be the first to cheer. I'd get familiar with the fans if I were you, actually look into an issue before writing about it.

      • Anonymous
        June 21, 2015 at 7:12 pm

        Unity's story was sub-par when compared to the rest of the AC series. And this is coming from a fan since 2007. I even played Liberations and Freedom Cry(one of the best if not the best ACs ever, despite being a DLC). Let me tell you something. The game was boring in terms of combat, interaction with the Parisians,( I mean, no stealing & picking up bodies/weapons, really?) and even the guns were dumbed down. No separate shops etc. You know, all the other removed features I'm forgetting, from any previous AC game, like say 3, or Black Flag, these were what let Unity down for me. Not the bugs. I bought it when the 1.2 patch came out.

      • Anonymous
        June 21, 2015 at 7:18 pm

        And to add to my comment, th game had no relation with the French Revolution. Day and Night cycle were also almost broken.

    • Ryan Dube
      May 22, 2015 at 3:22 am

      I'm confused how you can be so forgiving, Branden, of an allegedly professional company with allegedly professional programmers putting out a product that was so poorly tested, with so many bugs. You say, "The game had major bugs and they have been addressed..." as though that's the end of the story.

      Doesn't the fact that it prematurely released what is essentially a software product, so poorly tested and with such terribly quality control, that it's indicative of a more widespread, systemic problem within the company's game-development infrastructure itself? Quality control would be the first area to overhaul for starters.

      When I buy a product, whether it's professional office software, mobile software or a game - I expect a certain degree of quality. If that product fails to meet those standards, even once, it's a representation of the company itself, and the overall level of quality you can expect from future products. I'm kind of confused how/why you can just brush off such an important issue as though it doesn't even matter.

    • Giovanni A
      May 27, 2015 at 1:33 am

      I agree with Branden and with you on a couple of things and hopefully give some balance to this one sided article. The game was a total mess at launch due to bugs and not being a finished product. Which no surprise pissed a lot of people off. Even I was angry, but I also think that many critics and gamers at the time of its launch couldn't separate the technical issues with game itself. I think if the game came out and wasn't broken a lot of these gripes with gamers wouldn't exist and the only gripes would be from people who didn't enjoy it and that's fine because not everyone is a going like the same thing. but unfortunately it came out broken and was the thing to shit on back in November of the last year. Today it is not the same game. I played it after it was patched up. And I can say that I enjoyed it. I loved the Re creation of revolutionary Paris, meeting historical figures, I thought side quest were the best yet. I enjoyed the parkour system and the more challenging combat. And I liked the story especially Arno and Elise but. My major gripe with the game is that I read the book which is from Elise point of view. And after finishing it i realized they put everything that should have been in the game in the book. Video game book should only have extra things but the unity novel was the total opposite. Too much of the story is in that book and not in the game. The only way sadly you get the complete picture is by reading it and playing the game. Which by no means is right no should have to read the book to get the full experience. My hope is that we will see one day it told in an expansion where we play as Elise from things that happened in the book.Because there relationship is essential to Assassins creed franchise.I think Ubisoft made a lot of stupid and greedy decisions. Especially by putting the story in too many different products instead of it one complete experience. And the game paid for it. But most of these issues have been resolved which is why its different game today. For me syndicate will be good as long as these same decisions aren't made again.

    • Anonymous
      June 10, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      I think the biggest thing you fail to adress in this comment is the optimizasion! The game needs a monster-rig to run post-30! For alot of gamers like me, who dont have the money to buy the newest and best graphics card every year, it is impossible to play this game. You say that "Its all been said and done" but why is it not fixed? If they see what is wrong and want a happy playerbase, why have they not made the optimizasion good enough to not need the monster rig? Of course! They have made it better, alot of the bugs are gone and it runs "better", but they can definetly do better. If companies like Ubisoft are just going to see that their 4-year project didnt work out like they wanted, and just throw it away like that, I cannot trust them with my money!

  14. Karnnie
    May 16, 2015 at 1:49 am

    I think they need to get back to their roots, which they seem to be doing. Along with that; don't change the controls! They are ingrained in our muscle memory, don't fix that which isn't broken!

    • Rachel Kaser
      May 16, 2015 at 8:40 am

      The controls have changed radically with almost every iteration, at least on PC. I remember doing a nostalgic binge-play of most of the series a few summers ago and was astounded how different the controls for 3 are from the controls for 1. Still, of all the things that could be called "broken" in the AC series, you're correct that that's not really one of them.

    • Anonymous
      June 10, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      What are you talking about Karnnie? The controls, yes while they are functional and integrated. Ubisoft should really do something about it, the controls along with the fighting of the game are way to easy and simplistic to execute! People like me who have been playing alot of the AC series are really losing intrest in a control scheme and a fighting mechanic who makes you a killing machine that can kill 40 people alone. If you ask me the biggest change this game franchise needs is a difficulty increase! Both in the controls and the fighting, mabye also in the parkour part. I want a bigger challenge!!

  15. Doc
    May 15, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    "5 Ways Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Can Make Us Forget Unity"
    Are there also 5 ways Syndicate can make us forget Ubisoft, and how horrid it has become? DRM woes and half-finished games are kind of hard to forget, let alone forgive.

    • Rachel Kaser
      May 16, 2015 at 8:36 am

      I don't know. Ubisoft is a massive company, and you should never trust those to have the consumer's best interests at heart. On the other hand, I'm not willing (yet) to bluntly dismiss the company that's given me Assassin's Creed, Prince of Persia, Far Cry, Splinter Cell, Beyond Good and Evil, Rayman, Child of Light, Valiant Hearts, and Just Dance (don't judge). I suppose it depends on their releases for the next year or so.