Assassin's Creed: Syndicate

Syndicate moves Assassin's Creed forward with a solid new adventure, a beautiful London playground and a renewed sense of fun.

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Digital FoundryDigital Foundry vs Assassin's Creed Syndicate PC

Unity is a high-end PC showcase - does the sequel provide the same transformative upgrade over console?

Key events

Assassin's Creed is a series all about history - well, that and stabbing people in the neck. So, for the release of Origins, we thought we'd celebrate by delving into the history of the series. It's a lot less messy than doing the stabbing in the neck thing ourselves.

FeatureAssassin's Creed: the story so far

Everything is permitted.

There will likely never be a better entry point to Assassin's Creed than Origins, released today. A prequel set a thousand years before the events of Assassin's Creed 1, Origins can be enjoyed as your first experience of the series.

Final Fantasy 15 is getting free Assassin's Creed crossover DLC

Dawn the AC cowl as Lestallum partakes in its Assassin's Festival.

Apparently cosplaying as an Assassin's Creed character is such a phenomenon that it's infiltrated the world of Final Fantasy 15. Indeed, Square Enix's popular RPG is getting a free Assassin's Creed-related timed expansion due 29th August and lasting through 31st Jan, 2018.

Assassin's Creed film review

Originally published last month for its initial US release, here's our review of the Assassin's Creed film - which is now showing in the UK.

Like his shiny set of Assassin blades, Michael Fassbender dual-wields the main roles in Assassin's Creed - those of present day thug Callum Lynch and Spanish Inquisition ancestor Aguilar. It means Fassbender is always the film's focus, the sharp end of its blade designed to ensure Ubisoft's biggest gaming series penetrates ever further into the public consciousness. But what a mess he's forced to make to try and get its point across.

Fans of the series should expect a whirlwind tour of the Assassin's Creed greatest hits - splendidly reconstructed historical settings, wall-running and roof-jumping fisticuffs, philosophical meanderings over a shiny Apple of Eden McGuffin - but all of the games' poorer traits make the leap to the big screen, too: weak characterisation, humourless exposition, and a story which exists simply to string one punch-up to the next.

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Everything the Assassin's Creed movie trailer tells us

The Assassin's Creed movie now has its first trailer, which shows off Michael Fassbender's main character, the film's present day and historical storylines plus a brooding Jeremy Irons.

The movie will tell a new story set within the main Assassin's Creed universe.

That said, it looks like the first Assassin's Creed game will serve as a major inspiration.

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Assassin's Creed movie already getting a sequel - report

Assassin's Creed movie already getting a sequel - report

Michael Fassbender is on board for more.

The Assassin's Creed movie won't be out until 21st December, but it's reportedly already greenlit a sequel.

According to The Tracking Board, New Regency has already signed with producers Jean-Julien Baronnet from Ubisoft Motion Pictures, Frank Marshall through his Kennedy-Marshall Company, along with Michael Fassbender and Conor McCaughan through DMC Films.

It's not clear if Assassin's Creed co-stars Marion Cotillard or Jeremy Irons will return. The same goes for director Justin Kurzel. For that matter, it's not 100 per cent confirmed that Fassbender will star in the sequel, but the fact that he's co-producing it suggests he'll reprise the role.

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No new Assassin's Creed this year, Ubisoft confirms

No new Assassin's Creed this year, Ubisoft confirms

Taking time off to "evolve the game mechanics".

Ubisoft has officially confirmed that there will not be a new mainline Assassin's Creed game this year.

"This year, we also are stepping back and re-examining the Assassin's Creed franchise. As a result, we've decided that there will not be a new Assassin's Creed game in 2016," the publisher stated in a new blog post.

"Since the release of Assassin's Creed Unity, we've learned a lot based on your feedback. We've also updated our development processes and recommitted to making Assassin's Creed a premier open-world franchise. We're taking this year to evolve the game mechanics and to make sure we're delivering on the promise of Assassin's Creed offering unique and memorable gameplay experiences that make history everyone's playground."

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Assassin's Creed Syndicate: Jack the Ripper DLC review

Ubisoft's announcement that it would adapt the murders of Jack the Ripper into a rip-roaring epilogue for Assassin's Creed Syndicate rose some eyebrows. How would the developer handle the gruesome murders? Would you play as Jack during them? After Syndicate's solid main storyline and well-written cast of characters, it was a risky swansong to take on.

Price & availability

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

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Digital Foundry vs Assassin's Creed Syndicate PC

Digital FoundryDigital Foundry vs Assassin's Creed Syndicate PC

Unity is a high-end PC showcase - does the sequel provide the same transformative upgrade over console?

Is the new generation of console hardware holding back creators from fully realising their visions for next generation visuals? It's a question we've been pondering recently with the release of Assassin's Creed Syndicate. There's no doubt that it's an accomplished title, but stacked up against last year's Unity running fully maxed on PC, there's a sense that it feels like a backward step from a technological perspective.

Of course, the sheer scale and scope of Unity's vision had a tremendous impact on the quality of the console versions - put simply, they couldn't cope. But if you own a mid to high-end gaming PC (a modern Core i5 paired with a GTX 970 or better will do the trick), we highly recommend taking Unity for a spin. The gorgeous rendering of 18th century Parisian architecture is beautifully lush; the intricate detail and sheer variety in the cityscape is breathtaking. And of course, there is the intense volume of NPCs in the game: the streets are packed - perhaps not so good for ground-level traversal, but the sheer spectacle is unparalleled by anything else in the series, Syndicate included.

It's rare that we see PC hand in a truly transformative experience compared to the console versions - but Unity delivers. All of which begs the question: does the PC sequel offer anything like the same revelatory improvement? There are certainly areas that could benefit: console performance compared to Unity was a night and day improvement, but Syndicate still sees drops from the target 30fps. There's resolution too - pegged to the same 900p as Unity - and obviously the sky's the limit there, GPU power permitting. But in addition to that, the AnvilNext engine is clearly capable of rendering a higher population, while mid to long distance rendering seems somewhat lacking in detail on console.

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Assassin's Creed Syndicate sales "clearly" impacted by Unity

Assassin's Creed Syndicate sales "clearly" impacted by Unity

But rebounding due to positive word of mouth.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate's launch week sales were "clearly" affected by the underwhelming Assassin's Creed Unity, Ubisoft has admitted.

Speaking last night during an investor call, Ubisoft exec Alain Martinez explained that the negative reaction to last year's Assassin's Creed had sparked a noticeable dip in franchise sales year-on-year.

Unity arrived with an array of bugs and low performance across all platforms, although images taken from the game's PC version - which seemed to fare worst - ended up being most widely shared. Ubisoft issued a number of patches over subsequent months but by then the damage had been done.

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Digital FoundryAssassin's Creed Syndicate time-lapse: world in motion

Victorian London - as simulated by PlayStation 4.

Time of day dynamic lighting has returned to the Assassin's Creed series in its latest outing - and we thought we'd make the most out of it. Over the course of the last week, one of our PlayStation 4s has been attached to a spare capture system, patiently recording time-lapse video of Victorian London while we busy ourselves with other tasks. It's been a fascinating experience - exploring an environment we know so well, finding key locations and comparing Ubisoft's renderings of 1868 with our own knowledge of the city 147 years later.

Face-Off: Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Assassin's Creed Syndicate sees Ubisoft redeem its flagship series after the catastrophic launch of last year's Unity. Our initial impressions painted a promising picture: performance is substantially improved, while the gameplay experience is also more stable with little in the way of bugs and glitches. Some crucial changes are made to the engine and there's the sense that Ubisoft has rebalanced the AnvilNext tech for the new game. In effect, this piece isn't just a comparison between Xbox One and PS4 versions of the title - more fascinating are the compromises and improvements made to the core technology in the wake of the Unity debacle.

Tackling the state of the conversion work first, core image quality is left untouched with both consoles handing in a 900p presentation backed up by a post-process anti-aliasing solution that gives the game a soft, but smoothed over appearance - no real change from Unity here. The lack of per-pixel sharpness blurs over some of the more intricate texture and normal map details, although this also helps to reduce the appearance of upscale artefacts as the image is resized to full HD. Image quality could be better, but Ubisoft's solution works as an acceptable compromise given the level of detail and accomplished effects work on offer.

Digging deeper into the game, we're looking at an identical looking set of assets and effects on both versions of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, with fairly low levels of AF (our guess would be 4x) utilised across ground surfaces, matching shadows and lighting, and the same textures and normal maps deployed across characters and environments. Rare variances crop up between platforms, but these seem to take the form of incidental, minor bugs. For example, we noticed some lower resolution textures on PS4 in two areas of the game, but replaying the same section several hours later, we saw complete parity between the assets. In another scene, large lightning bolts appear permanently absent on PS4, though the use of alpha effects is identical elsewhere in the game on both systems.

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Performance Analysis: Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Assassin's Creed Syndicate

After the disappointing Unity, how does performance and stability stack up in Ubisoft's latest?

In retrospect, perhaps Assassin's Creed Unity was simply too ambitious from a technological perspective. Ubisoft scaled up virtually every element of the last-gen engine, with enormous increases to environment detail (including building interiors), an NPC count pushed into the hundreds and a cutting-edge rendering engine with sensational, physically-based lighting. Play Unity today on a top-tier PC and you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how beautiful it looks. Unfortunately, on console, it's nowhere near as attractive, blighted by a highly variable frame-rate that's mysteriously worse on PS4 than it is on Xbox One. Combine that with the multitude of bugs endemic in the title at launch and the challenge facing Ubisoft with Assassin's Creed Syndicate is clear. The new game has to be solid, it has to perform well, glitches and bugs must be kept to a minimum. Ubisoft simply cannot afford another Unity.

What's immediately apparent as you play your way through the overly long tutorial mission is that Ubisoft has made little in the way of fundamental improvements to the core rendering technology that powers Assassin's Creed Syndicate. The same AnvilNext engine runs the game, and the same basic compromises we found in Unity are present and correct here - specifically, the utilisation of internal upscaling, with both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Syndicate sporting the same 900p resolution as last year's title. Indeed, there's a fairly compelling argument that Ubisoft has made a play for improved performance this year by scaling back on Unity's giddy ambition.

The online multiplayer modes are gone - meaning that the co-op functionality that debuted last year has been discarded. Bearing in mind that Assassin's Creed Syndicate features twins as its main protagonists, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, it's not difficult to imagine that co-op may well have been a key factor in the game's design brief at some point. On top of that, another major innovation found in Unity - the prevalence of interior locations - has also been pared back, though not removed entirely. Side mission markers for clearing Templar influence and street-corner pubs with collectibles have interiors, while key landmarks such as the Palace of Westminster are also explorable.

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Assassin's Creed Syndicate review

For a series focused on history, Syndicate feels refreshingly free from Assassin's Creed's own. Plenty has already been written about Assassin's Creed Unity, last year's underwhelming entry in the series. The intense negative reaction upon Unity's initial release lingered through its slow cycle of post-launch patches, to the extent that the game's season pass was cancelled and its major add-on was offered free as a result. The whole episode left such an impact on the franchise that any discussion about Assassin's Creed must currently acknowledge it, and any expectations for Syndicate's subsequent trip to Victorian London must be matched up to what came before. Thankfully, after Syndicate, I think Assassin's Creed can finally move on.

First things first, here are all the things Assassin's Creed doesn't have this year. There's no bolted on multiplayer mode or any co-op options. It doesn't have any connections to a broken web service. It doesn't require you to play a companion app to acquire everything in the game. It's like a human being actually sat down to design a game with the simple requirement that it felt fun, rather than it being a £50 experience designed by a committee to link up a web of interconnected transmedia nodes. It's a huge relief. Next, here are all the things Syndicate adds back to the series' sandbox - simple things such as picking up and hiding bodies, whistling to attract attention - as well as several new methods of traversal to reinvigorate the game's parkour gameplay.

Syndicate's new grappling hook - a brazen but welcome lift from Rocksteady's Arkham games - streamlines your rooftop exploration and stretches it out over vast distances. It lets you quickly zip between the towers of the Palace of Westminster or rappel down from St Paul's and stop midway to drop vertically onto the heads of two Templar targets. Alternatively, it works as a faster connection between two buildings during a chase - there's no need to find a rope linking rooftops or climb down from your stalking zone when tracking targets. Assassination missions become cat and mouse affairs where you can zip in and out of sight, losing your pursuers only to drop down and silently snuff out another.

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I'm sat in Wapping Power Station at half nine in the morning listening to Ubisoft talk about Assassin's Creed Syndicate. The surroundings are fittingly Victorian, dotted with industrial machinery that likely once ran on adorable orphan labour. Creative director Marc-Alexis Côté is telling us how the game introduces its two main characters, Jacob and Evie Frye, and why his team are excited about Syndicate's London setting. But everyone sat listening really has just one question they want answering - can Syndicate revitalise the franchise following Assassin's Creed Unity?

VideoVideo: Sony conference roundup - Tokyo Games Show 2015

Aoife and Martin bring you the latest from Japan.

After dodging the limelight at this year's Gamescom, Sony finally gave us the press conference we were expecting back in August. Whether it was the conference we were hoping for, of course, is another matter entirely. Thankfully, in case you missed it, Aoife and Martin have gone over the biggest announcements and are ready to bring you up to speed.

In many ways, producing video for the internet is a lot like soothsaying. We spend a lot of time reading the tea leaves (or fish guts, depending on your preference) to try and divine what videos will do well. Is the subject matter engaging? Have we tagged the video properly? Is this a game people want to see more of?

Assassin's Creed Syndicate will not have companion app, Ubisoft confirms

Assassin's Creed Syndicate will not have a companion app, the publisher has confirmed.

This year's Victorian London-set adventure will be the first in several years not to have an extended mobile experience.

Fans of the series will likely welcome the news. Among the criticisms of last year's Unity was its tactic of locking access to treasure chests and costumes behind hours of app progression.

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Digital FoundryDigital Foundry on the Assassin's Creed Syndicate reveal

Has the Unity disaster forced Ubisoft into a more conservative technological approach?

Was Assassin's Creed Unity simply too ambitious for its own good? Revolutionary Paris - densely populated, rich in detail - looked beautiful on a high-end PC, but the experience didn't translate well to less capable hardware, including PS4 and Xbox One. Riddled with bugs at launch and suffering from severe frame-rate problems, our sense is that Unity's heart was in the right place, but its execution was brand-damaging stuff. From what we've seen of its successor, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, perhaps Ubisoft is executing a course correction that could see tangible improvements in stability, but the question is whether it comes at the expense of the raw ambition behind the core technology.

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate launches 23rd October on PS4, Xbox One

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate launches 23rd October on PS4, Xbox One

But later on PC. UPDATE: First gameplay footage inside, and everything we know so far.

UPDATE 5.20pm: Assassin's Creed: Syndicate will launch on 23rd October for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and then later in the autumn for PC.

In today's reveal Ubisoft confirmed much of what we already knew - Syndicate is set in London, in 1868, and star twin brother and sister Jacob and Evie Frye.

The story once again has those pesky Templars causing trouble and persecuting the poorer folk - which you can corral into organised gangs of criminals - syndicates - to do your bidding.

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