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Why Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Has Two Heroes

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
is introducing dual protagonists for the first time to the Assassin’s
Creed series. With players able to switch freely between twins Evie and
Jacob Frye throughout the game, Syndicate offers different ways for
players to approach situations.
I
sat down with game director Scott Phillips to discuss the advantages of
telling a story through two characters, expectations for how fans will
receive the game, and more.
GameSpot:
At what point was it decided that there would be two main characters
that you can switch between in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and that they
would be twins? Why twins?
Phillips:
Jacob and Evie were around from the beginning. We always knew we wanted
this ability to tell a story from two different sides, to be able to
have one side, and then show the consequences of what happens when you
do it a certain way with another character. And so it just organically
grew out of that. Their story together changed over time and developed
more, and they became more interesting characters. They sort of bicker
with each other in a sibling fashion, and I think they’re really
interesting characters.
Was it always going to be siblings? Did Ubisoft build the game around the two characters?
I
came on to the project a year ago. So I wasn’t there in the very early
times. When I started at Ubisoft Quebec, there were two characters for
sure.
I’d say the most important thing that the
framework through which everything else came was the London 1868
setting, that time period. From there we developed characters, we
developed what these characters would go through, what the story is we
want to tell, what’s the setting, what’s the world like, what’s the
atmosphere, what other people would exist in that time period, can we
interact with them. It develops organically from that origin of that
time period.


Are
there specific things in the game to which you’re feeling like, “I
can’t wait to see how the internet will react to X and Y”?
For
me, it’s probably a mix of all the things, once you’ve got all the
tools. What players actually do, and who they spend their time playing
as, Evie or Jacob. I was really happy coming off a playtest, we looked
at data of how many people were playing as Evie and how many people were
playing as Jacob. I was blown away, because it seemed like there had to
have been a at least a sixty-forty breakdown, but it was across the
line fifty-fifty. I think that spoke really highly of characters like
both Jacob and Evie that they appeal to different players. I think that
gives us a lot of confidence for the choice to have both playable
characters.
You previously revealed in
past interview that over a thousand people were working on the game,
with teams all over the world. You also said in the same interview that
this is positive because it creates diversity within the company’s
culture. Could you provide any specific examples on how working with a
team that spans the world has been advantageous to Syndicate?

I
think one really good example is the help we’ve received from Ubisoft
Montreal. Being the origin of the franchise, obviously they have a lot
of knowledge about why things have been done, how they have been done.
Ubisoft Montreal took charge of the parkour system, because they have a
lot of that technical expertise. We spent a lot of time with them, and
they would visit us as well to make sure we were making the parkour the
best we possibly could. But nearby them sits the team that are in charge
of the brand as a whole, and so they’re able to tap that sort of
experience that’s within the Ubisoft Montreal studio. For us in Quebec,
that would have been harder for us to communicate with them. That sort
of interaction was easier for them to have.
Why is this Assassin’s Creed game not numbered? Does that make it less relevant to the main storyline?
I honestly don’t know.
I
don’t know why the titles come from everywhere, what things are named
goes through marketing, public relations, the team, everybody gets
involved with it in some way, so I can’t really speak to why it does or
doesn’t have a certain thing in the name.
There
are five different editions of the game that have been announced. The
Standard Edition, The Rooks Edition, Gold Edition, Charing Cross
Edition, and the Big Ben Edition. Why so many?
[Ubisoft PR interrupts] That would be more a question for each Ubisoft local PR person, wherever you’re located.
Phillips: I can’t really answer.
What is something new that you’re introducing to the series that you’re feeling unsure of how people will react?
I
don’t think there’s anything we’re unsure of at this point. We do
hundreds of play tests for months and months leading up to the launch of
the game. We have a pretty good sense of how everything is being used
by players, what their reactions are, how they feel about everything in
the game. We try to get a varied audience in there as well, and we do
these worldwide. We have a very good understanding of what players like,
and something I think players have been really positive about was the
rope launcher. Some people were a bit, “ugh, is that really a part of
Assassin’s Creed?” but so far from people who have played it, the
response has been universally positive. Once they actually get to play
with it and feel how it fits in with the parkour, feel that it has its
place because of the world we built, it fits into the spectrum of all
the pillars of Assassin’s Creed.
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