Assassin's Creed: Syndicate will include the long-running series' first transgender character.
A trans male, Ned Wynert is one of several supporting characters that act as quest givers for Syndicate's protagonists, Jacob and Evie Fry.
Ubisoft has also updated Assassin's Creed's standard opening statement, present since the series' inception, which explains that each game was "designed, developed and produced by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs."
Syndicate now opens with the text: "Inspired by historical events and characters, this work of fiction was designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various beliefs, sexual orientations and gender identities."
Ubisoft's decision marks a leap forward for inclusivity in the Assassin's Creed series. Syndicate is also the first game in the franchise to allow players a choice between male and female main characters for many of its missions.
The changes come a year after Assassin's Creed: Unity suffered intense criticism for not including a female character option in the game's co-op mode, despite one initially having been in development.
"Inclusiveness is something that's super important for us as a team," Assassin's Creed Syndicate creative director Marc-Alexis Côté told Eurogamer. "We've made a good push towards diversity and how we approach different subjects in the game."
It would be easy to assume that the inclusion of a transgender character was a quick reaction to last year's PR troubles, that the character was created just to tick a box.
But from the two sequences of Syndicate's story that were available to play, it's important to note that Wynert's story does not involve his gender and, in the scenes we saw, is not even remarked upon. Wynert has also not featured in any marketing to date.
Asked about the series' changed opening statement, Côté said that the move to update it had come "from a discussion with the team".
"It felt like when we first wrote that for AC1 it was something that was very inclusive. But I've had the chance to work with more than 12 different writers on Syndicate. At one point, one approached me and said that we were not embracing diversity fully enough.
"I had reviewed all our crowd dialogue, I was happy with our two protagonists, but they were talking about the statement at the beginning of the game - that it was exclusive of some people. So I asked for them to propose a new statement," Côté explained.
As for the character of Wynert, Côté added that he wanted players to meet the character and form an opinion themselves, but that he was an accurate reflection of "the Victorian era".
Indeed, Syndicate's 1868 setting is two years prior to the high profile trial of Thomas Ernest Boulton and Frederick William Park. The pair were put on trial for 'conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence' after being discovered with Boulton's lover Lord Arthur Clinton while both dressed as women.
Boulton and Park performed under the names Stella Clinton and Fanny Winifred Park as part of a music hall double act, although also lived as women away from the stage. To friends of Lord Clinton and Stella, the couple had lived together until the trial as husband and wife. Boulton and Park were both eventually acquitted, but Lord Clinton died shortly after being charged, and is widely believed to have committed suicide.
Apart from confirming what Côté had said, Ubisoft told Eurogamer that it wanted the game to speak for itself.