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I Platinumed Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – It’s an okay game with mostly easy trophies but some are really grindy

Content of the article: "I Platinumed Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – It’s an okay game with mostly easy trophies but some are really grindy"

Hello everyone. Today I want to talk to you about my 16th platinum with Assassin's Creed Syndicate.

Most of the trophies weren't hard, they were just completing the game and its various side activities and collectibles. There are a handful of trophies I missed after my first playthrough and had to grind for with those being very tedious.

Needle in a Haystack: Kill five enemies from within the same haystack.

The only hidden trophy in the game for some reason. Why? There's no real spoiler here. I'm pretty sure even past ACs had something like this as well and it wasn't hidden there. Regardless, this one was actually pretty easy because you can kill an enemy from a haystack in a mission, restart a checkpoint and kill that same enemy again and do this to get the trophy.

Furious: Destroy twenty vehicles by ramming them.

This one is actually pretty reasonable. I reason I had to grind for this was because I almost never rammed enemies during my playthrough. I usually just shot the horses of the enemy carriages or jumped onto their carriages to fight them manually since I found that more efficient. It also appears many people unlocked this naturally instead of grinding for it so I won't complain too much.

Most Unsporting: Shoot fifty enemies before they shoot at you.

When you're in a fight and an enemy tries to shoot you, if you press triangle while doing nothing, you will quickly pull out your gun and shoot them first. And as a bonus, it doesn't consume any ammo. The reason I never got this initially was because if you press triangle while doing literally anything else (e.g attacking, countering, doing a finisher or even doing a counter-shot), you will just dodge the shot without stopping what you were already doing. I like this mechanic. It rewards you for paying attention to other enemies to "prepare" by dropping what you're doing to time your countershot to actually countershot instead of dodging. It can be quite satisfying early on to be fighting a bunch of enemies, time a perfect countershot and then seamlessly go back to the combo. I feel 50 is a bit too much. Bring it down to 20-30.

No Ticket: Kick fifty enemies off of trains.

When fighting on trains, if you are in a correct position next to the edge, instead of doing a regular finishing move when you finish off an enemy your character will kick them off. You gotta kick 50 enemies off and make sure it's completely off the train and they don't land on a back carriage or something. The issue is that there only a handful of main missions on trains and only a handful of enemies at a time so even if kick every enemy off trains when they pop up, you'd get like 20 tops. I feel this should be brought down to a max of 30. I had to play Sequence 5.2 and keep restarting the checkpoint on the train when I threw off the train's like 8 people several times.

Guardian Angel: Successfully escort ten friendly cargo shipments.

This one isn't hard, you just gotta do a few sequences to unlock a contact, talk to them, then buy an ale upgrade for the gang and then these shipments should spawn in areas very far from Whitechapel (about 2km) where you have to drive back to every time which does get tedious after a while but at least it's only 10. The issue is when they spawn. I had very terrible luck getting them to spawn which took forever to do. I spent forever driving around waiting for them. At least I got some other trophies in the meantime.

You Wouldn't Steal a Policeman's Helmet: Hijack twenty police vehicles.

This one sounds easy but is a bit tricky. Normally to hijack a veichle, you press O and your character will throw the driver out and start driving themselves. However, if there are 2 drivers on the car, your character will only throw one off before getting thrown off themselves. This trophy requires you to press O on 20 single policemen driving police vehicles. It won't count if someone else is driving the police vehicle or if the policeman you pressed O on was in another vehicle. I feel 20 is a bit much, should have been 10 max. I had 0 when I started this because it's just way easier to kill both drivers at once with a double assassination or to shoot them and then take the vehicle. But at least this has an in-game tracker to let you know if you did it right. My solution was to play Sequence 5.2 and partway through, there's a section with 3 police vehicles bunched together. My approach was to get on top of one of their rides which would cause one of the 2 to climb up as well letting me press O on the other to get the point. This was a bit unreliable but offered the best results. Sometimes, I got lucky and other carriages would spawn in front of the cops which would cause one to get off to see what the blockage was about giving a free hijack.

Finally, the worst trophy of them all:

Without a Grudge: Destroy 5000 destructibles with your carriage

This one isn't hard but so teduous. It takes a few hours of grinding. 5000 is just way too much. The in-game tracker only tracks you destroying 4 items in 4 seconds or something like that 75 times so once you get that, you know you've done only 300. This should have been no more than 600 max. There's no challenge here. Just wasting hours destroying the entire city of London several times over. Even if you never fast travel and 100% the game while always destroying everything in your way, you're unlikely to get this. My grandmother, who sometimes watches me play, straight up asked me if I was psychotic destroying London and trampling so many innocents. The only solace here was that items respawn extremely quickly. I got the trophy after making what felt like hundreds of laps around Trafalgar Square

And just as an aside, isn't this the least appropriate trophy for an Assassin's Creed game? Doesn't this break the first 2 tenants if my character is destroying so much public property while trampling so many innocents? Then again, Ezio destroyed an entire city and doomed most of its people just to get to one guy. Edward frequently got involved in major ship battles so there's some precedence of Assassins not being subtle but this is still ridiculous.

So if you're planning on going for the plat, I advise you not to ever use fast travel and destroy everything on your way to objectives. Grind for Grudge throughout your journey instead all at the end. Everything else is straightforward enough. Completing all the quests, collectibles and extra challenges is simple enough. And the remaining ones require a few grinding sessions. It's a shame because aside from Grudge, this is a pretty easy and straightforward platinum. I recommend having a podcast or something on hand to keep you entertained during all the boring segments (I used Joseph Anderson's Stream of Ace Attorney 1. It was nice)

For the game itself, Syndicate isn't bad, it's perfectly ok. But that means it's not really worth playing over other AC games who either do its gameplay better (e.g Unity has more interesting sandbox assassinations, Odyessy has much better gear and combat) and its story does nothing out of the ordinary.

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Stealth is largely unchanged from Unity. There's one new mechanic in that you can capture enemies and use them as mobile cover. So you can capture a guard and while holding him, use him to blend past other enemies. He can occasionally try to get attention but you can silence him (and with a later upgrade you won't have to). Syndicate does drop temporary disguises from Unity in replacement of this.

Parkour is largely the same but now you can't make unsafe jumps. You can only jump if your character will not take damage. This often slows down navigation as there were plenty of times I wanted to get down but had to slowly descend whereas in past and later games I would just jump down and take the small health damage. Add in the lack of parallel vaulting and parkour is quite mindless and slow at times. The big new addition is the grappling hook which often bypasses the need for much climbing by letting you scale massive buildings instantly and cross massive gaps and can be used to set up stealth kills. While normally I would complain such a feature hurts the game by removing the need to manually navigate, manual navigation is already quite shallow and unchallenging. So all the grappling hook does here is minimize tedium rather than make the game easy so it ends up being a net improvement. I remember reading that the grappling hook was added because playtesters found it boring to spend so long climbing buildings and dropping to ground level.

Combat is a huge regression. Unity's combat wasn't great, still being basic attacking, dodging and countering, but it had some amount of challenge and chance of being overwhelmed. Syndicate removes all that with a basic button masher. Mash square to attack enemies, occasionally press O to counter an enemy attack and X to break stuns and that's it. It's boring, extremely easy and poses no real risk if you pay even a small amount of attention. There are some wrinkles through upgrades that add some amount of thought. Your 10th hit will instantly bring another enemy to low health, there are some combo moves like Square + triangle that will use your gun to do extra damage to one enemy, the aforementioned countershot and you can instakill multiple weakened enemies together but it's quite minor and you never need to or even can get too much out of it. At least the finishing animations look great but after a while, seeing my character whoop enemies I never even struggled with loses its spectacle.

A new feature is carriages and I feel they were handled decently. I remember when Syndicate first came out, there were these developer diaries on the game's development and the devs said "we designed these carriages to complement AC's 3 main gameplay pillars of combat, stealth and traversal. Combat in that you can ram others and fight on top of them. Stealth in that you can hide yourself or a body in them, and traversal in that you can ride on them and jump to other carriages". And I feel that's a good mentality for this franchise to have. Compare this to ships in Black Flag. Ship combat operates in a completely different system from regular combat aside from the brief boarding sequence. Ship Stealth is boring and silly. And ship traversal is just…… the ship moving on its own requiring no additional input from the player. Ships, instead of complementing AC's gameplay, replaced it for large portions of time.

Syndicate also has a gear system carried over from Unity, and it feels out of place here. In Unity, it sorta fit because it had co-op and very difficult co-op missions where needing to optimize and min/max was encouraged even though most of the stat differences were minor. In Odyssey, since it was a full-on RPG, the gear system was expanded to be deeper with more mechanics, perks and aspects to actually consider and affect the player. It's possible for the player to use weaker gear because of how they synergize or for 2 different players to have 2 different builds. But Syndicate doesn't have the difficulty or depth or variety to encourage that. Kinda like GOW 2018, most gear just increases small stats so most players are just gonna wear the stuff with the best stats available at that point which often make very little difference anyway. And even with endgame gear, you don't play any differently than how you did early on aside from having more ammo to spare. I just feel that the game would flow a lot better if you either gut this system entirely or expanded it to be more like Odyssey's because as it currently is, it provides no real value or satisfaction from using it and feels superficial. But at least it's better than GOW 2018's system because your level is dictated by EXP and the game frequently gives you easy gear and it's easy to access. Progression through obtaining new skills is done fine though and I feel that alone would have been enough for Syndicate (and arguably Unity as well). The new gear doesn't even look much different from the regular stuff as the game is trying to have the player characters appear more "normal" than in Unity which had more varied visual customization.

A big new feature is the 2 new playable characters Jacob and Evie who have their own equipment, skills and even specific missions. Unfortunatly, it never goes beyond feeling like a novelty. In something like GTA V, the other characters have their own schedules and wardrobe when you aren't playing as them that makes them feel alive. And from early on, they have their own special abilities and traits that can you want to play as them in their specialized situations even though other characters can perform fine. Like, if you play as Franklin, you can drive better than the other characters starting out and have slow-mo which you may miss if you're playing as Micheal and Trevor in a race. In a shootout, even through Franklin is decent, you may want to switch to Trevor for the invulnerability. In contrast, Syndicate doesn't really have that. Jacob and Evie never do anything on their own when you aren't controlling them. In terms of gameplay, Evie is supposed to be the stealthy one and Jacob the combat-focused one, but for the majority of the game, their differences aren't ever used well. Jacob for 90% of the game is as good at stealthing as Evie and I never had a Stealth section where I wished I was Evie to make stealthing easier. Just as I never was in a fight as Evie had me wish I was Jacob because his unique combat moves would have ended the fight faster because Evie can still fight well enough to end fights relatively quickly. Jacob and Evie do eventually get unique upgrades that are cool. Jacob gets extra damage+health and counter-headshots. Evie gets extra knives and can turn invisible if she stays still for a while but that's so late in the upgrade path that it feels too little too late. They even have the same gear for most of the game so you can't even fine-tune them for stealth and combat until way in.. Maybe if Jacob started the game with counter headshot and Evie with Chameleon already unlocked it would differentiate them early on and encourage people to use them and miss their specialties when they are using the other character. You can't even say this would unbalance the game since combat and stealth are already unbalanced in the player's favour. This would at least make the 2 different characters feel more distinct early on to play.

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There are some other nitpicks with the 2 character system. If you buy a skill like Slayer 1 as Jacob, you can't also buy it for Evie right there and then. Normally, this is because you might want to buy other skills for different characters but both characters share the same skill tree for 90% of the tree and can't unlock more tiers until they buy enough of the prior skills. And you get 1 new skill point for each character every time you get 1000 xp. So the current system requires you to switch back to Evie just to purchase the same skills as Jacob (and likely equip the same gear as well). Honestly, I feel like you could have redone this game with just 1 character. Jacob and Evie don't feel that significantly different to warrant the different skills nor are the skills that valuable enough to use a character. You can do side quests for the Rooks as Evie even when it's established earlier that Evie isn't that interested in them as Jacob is and vice versa for stuff like Dicken's missions. Hell, in early development, the plan was that you could play as either character for even story missions.

As for the Rooks, Jacob's new gang is fine. You get a nice selection of perks for investing in them like carriages (yours get stronger and more common, enemies get weaker ones) and extra goons to summon, discounts, passivly make more cash etc but some don't seem to make much of a difference. Like there's a perk that bribes cops to pay less attention to you but cops already don't care if you run over people or destroy people in front of them. But there's no extra story with the Rooks. In games like AC Rev and 3, you recruited Assassins instead and they had stuff like their own specific stories and missions to help endear you to the group. But here, it feels like the gang are no different than your sword, just another faceless tool. This hurts because this should be a major story aspect but the game skips this. So Jacob basically already starts his journey in London with a decent gang out of the gate instead of needing build one up to take the fight to the Blighters.

The game's side quests are a little boring. Most of it are the same child liberation, Templar slaying and actions from the opening hours you need to do to gain territory for the Rooks. There's nothing to say because it gets repetitive after a while. Some of character specific quests are sorta cool with don't really have much novelty beyond "hey, you're with x historical character". You're gonna wanna use your outside entertainment here.

-The Story

I'm gonna talk about the modern day storyline first. Here, Shaun and Rebecca explore a bunch of places to find clues to get to the Shroud, they fail and the Shroud gets taken by Abstergo and Rebecca is inured by the end. That's it. I know it sounds so brief and many AC fans have complained here…. but is the plot itself to blame? Recall AC Brotherhood, a game said by fans to have a "good modern day section" where "Desmond and co end up in Montergionni and after we spend the entire game in the Animus with Ezio, we learn the password to the vault in the collesium. Desmond and co go there, find Ezio's apple and Juno gets Desmond to stab Lucy before collapsing into a coma". Now while that sounds like a lot more, bear in mind that the entire section in Montergionni is basically filler. Desmond and co do nothing of note there the entire game except find a password they would have found anyway from Ezio's memories. So the entire relevant stuff (as summed up by Revelations) is just the "they found the apple" part and onwards, so only like 10 minutes at most of Modern Day stuff is relevant. What I'm saying is the plot itself isn't any worse than past ACs. If you removed all the filler and padding from 2 and Brotherhood's MDs you get the same amount and quality of story. However, Syndicate presents this story in the most baffling way though. It's presented as these unskippable cutscenes with very little setup or build-up on characters you'd only care about if you played games from at least 6 years prior, on stuff that's very disconnected from the stuff in the Animus. All this makes the modern-day story even less engaging than it normally is. It feels so token, like it was included at the last minute to appease some fans rather than because it's so integral to the experience or even something the company cared about. But the funny thing is, I don't really mind this. The modern-day of most AC games plays, at best, as a diet version of the main game and at worst, an unskippable boring cutscene + walking segments. Even if these segments were playable and as padded as Brotherhood were, I doubt they would be enjoyable or interesting. They likely would be linear and limited slices of the gameplay of the Animus segments. I'd rather just play the main game and get a better experience. Having a few minutes of boring unskippable cutscenes is more desirable than at least 20+ minutes of boring gameplay that are often just filler anyway. But I honestly feel that if Ubisoft isn't interested in the modern day segments of AC games and are only including them out of obligation, then just don't bother including them because nobody really benefits from this half-assed approach. Casual players are going to be confused and not care which would cause Ubi to scrap any real story these segments were somehow able to set-up despite the circumstances. And the fans actually interested in this are just going to get a subpar experience. I know many diehard AC fans resent it when major MD stuff from the main games is resolved in comics and other supplementary materials instead of the games but honestly, it might be for the better. Because at least with the comics and stuff, the writers can be sure the people reading them actually care and are interested in what happens so can go all out whereas the games have anywhere from 60-80% of the playerbase (according to AccessTheAnimus) not caring or disliking the modern-day stuff. Could Ubi have done a better job cultivating interest in the Modern Day as games like Halo have enjoyed success in both its main story and how said stories have drawn even casual players to the expanded media showing it's possible? Yes. But at this point, it would require Ubi to really commit to it as a concept and its possible potential and they haven't shown much interest in it. So might as well scrap it and make all subsequent AC games as "Abstergo's memory research" or something because doing nothing may be better than doing it poorly.

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As for the story in the Animus, it's just…. there. There's nothing too interesting to note. Starrick is another mustache-twirling bad Templar who's after another magical Isu Artifact backed by his underlings who must be disposed off who tell our plucky Assassins how wrong they are and how right the Templars are. But at least we see Starrick getting frustrated as his underlings fall which is something past AC villains like Ceasre and Rodrigo lacked which gives the adventure some amount of progression. Jacob and Evie have no real arcs or struggles and are just going through the motions (the ending where they just playfully run to their train highlights the lack of stakes or change in the story). The logistics of how these 2 people are somehow able to go toe to toe with the Templars who have controlled London for centuries and conquer territories is never really explored in any satisfying detail or really brought up which somewhat hurts their accomplishments since it seems like any decent Assassin who happened to assassinate just some people would have brought the same progress (the only other AC game that has a similar premise of the protagonist coming into a major urban area to reduce Templar influence and establish Assassin influence is Brotherhood. And in that game, at least Ezio's goal is also to bring the other subfactions of the Assassins together and use their skills to help him locate more targets so it's somewhat of a group effort which sorta makes the 2 sides feel a bit more grounded. It has its issues, sure, but it is a better implementation). The side characters have nothing remarkable about them. The only exception to this mundanity is Sequence 8 with the villain who's basically the Joker and how he interacts with Jacob, it's the highlight of the whole game and it's only decent.

But to me, the biggest change is the change in tone. Syndicate is unusually lighthearted and cheery and "black and white" not seen since the Ezio trilogy. Even some of the developer diaries suggest that Syndicate was made as a way to be "Assassin's Creed 2 again" as one dev said "We choose Victorian London because like Renaissance Italy, it's a relatively peaceful setting with tons of societal and technological innovation". I don't really know about peaceful given the huge amount of wars and conflicts but sure. The issue is that such a tone undermines much of the potential for the setting. We had AC3 show us how brutal the American Revolution could be and how our romantic notions of the war are not accurate as we see how Connor's people's land is sold for example. Black Flag shows how this little pirate utopia wasn't so good after all. Unity shows us how brutal the French Revolution could be (even if it's very historically inaccurate about it). Syndicate if anything, makes Victorian London look a lot better than it actually was by a long shot. We don't really see how Laissez-Faire Capatilaism screwed over so many people as our characters just liberate children and it all seems instantly resolved and never commented on again. Imagine if, our Assassin heroes, after killing a Templar factory owner to free some kids, finds those same kids working for another factory owner because they need the money and killing their employers hurts their situation could have been a decent struggle for our characters. That even though they are undermining Templar influence, they aren't improving society so are they really doing the right thing? This wouldn't even be the first time AC has touched such topics. Freedom Cry occasionally brings up that despite Adewale being a badass Assassin, he's still a former slave in 1700s Haiti and as such is still somewhat limited by this publically. Errant Signal had a great video on this topic. It would give AC more of a bite and make its history hopping feel more connected on a thematic level because as it currently is, seeing the same story of plucky Assassins fighting generic bad Templars gets a little stale with the 9th main game in the series.

To conclude, while Syndicate is not a bad game, but it's arguably the most complacent main series AC game I've ever played and one that's very stereotypical of the criticisms levelled against this franchise. It makes little attempt to push the series forward and even regresses in many areas. Stuff like the grappling hook feel like an odd but helpful form of streamlining but other stuff like combat makes it hard to see the value. It carries mechanics from past games like Gear without really knowing what to do with and only including it because past games had it. Its few innovations and interesting ideas feel like short novelties at best. Its story, both in the past and modern-day, are emblematic of the specific issues those sections have always faced. While its open-world is incredibly detailed, it gives little reason to want to explore it as the stories and tasks it asks often do not justify the effort needed to do them. Being charitable, Syndicate feels like one of those "spin-offs made by a different company to act as a placeholder based on the last game's tech to tide fans over until the next real game comes out". But many of those games had more value despite their situation. Batman Arkham Origins may feel like a poor man's Arkham City at times but its story and characterization added a lot for Batman fans to make it worth experiencing. Borderlands the Pre-Sequel launched with less content and variety than Borderlands 2 but still gives us a great look at the character of Handsome Jack. Fallout New Vegas may have had terrible gunplay but tried its damnedest with RPG additions and factions. All these games brought something to make them worth playing even when you played the last one. But if Syndicate never existed, what would we have lost aside from a mostly easy platinum?


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