World Cup fever is still very high, as is the temperature, but we’re still finding time to game. Here’s what we’ve been up to.
Assassins Creed Syndicate
Yep, you read that right, Syndicate and not Origins. So I’m not a massive Assassins Creed fan to be honest. I played the first way back when on the Xbox 360 and it didn’t really capture my interest to be honest. But I’m a sucker for history, so my attention did get turned slightly on occasions during the series to points of particular interest. Assassins Creed III I was particularly keen on, however it turned out that critically it’s one of the worst, and regardless of historical setting I didn’t enjoy it. Next up for me was Black Flag which I actually really enjoyed. It didn’t seem like the traditional Assassins Creed game, and you could do quite a lot of cool side tasks that made the game feel more like a pirate simulator than an Assassins Creed game. So for me that was the best I’d played. As this generation went on Unity released and was panned as a buggy mess despite how pretty it looked, but again in terms of historical settings it didn’t grab me.
Syndicate came next and being set in Victorian London I was instantly interested. I ended up getting it for Christmas just gone rather than Origins (which I will get I think cause come on, Egypt!), and only just got round to starting Syndicate a few weeks back after finishing God of War and Detroit.
Assassins Creed Syndicate to me feels so different to what I’d expected, it is awesome. The dual characters with different motivations is great, and the open world(ish) London is incredible. I love the gang and territory aesthetic to it while playing as Jacob Frye. Building up your gang of rooks to conquer London is something completely unexpected. FYI, this is unexpected as I tend to not read into the AC games too much during their peak launch hype or after to be honest. I just take a punt on them if I’m honest. So while building the gang and territory up, I like that the activities you do aren’t all stealth based. Like the child labour factories you must free the children. Sure ideally you’d sneak in through the roof, disarm the bell, take down the supervisors on the quiet and then free the children. I have taken this approach on some of them, but at the same time, it’s great fun calling in 5 members of your gang and ransacking the factory and doing it that way.
With regards to the actual Assassins missions too, these are definitely a lot more friendly than some we’ve had to do in previous games (the one’s I’ve played). Sure there might be a special requirement, but they aren’t normally mandatory. I enjoy just sneaking to where I need to be with Evie, using ‘eagle vision’ to see the target, find a way to get as close to said target on roof tops as possible, then if possible just shoot the target with a poison dart which makes them go mental and attack their own gang members, resulting in the target being killed by their own gang.
As it’s been a while since playing Black Flag, I can’t recall the levelling up or character progression all that well, but the approach in Syndicate is again something I’m really fond of. Earn 1000 XP, this earns you an upgrade token, spend the tokens on skills. Sure some of the skills cost 6 upgrade tokens, but I’ve not been having any issues attaining experience points from the side and somewhat fun task that are around London like horse cart racing or fight clubs.
I was also pretty blown away when playing to step through a portal and be transported somewhat to London during World War 1. Some really great scenes and just another wow moment in the game travelling through London with WW1 German blimps and bomb ravaged buildings everywhere. Taking to the anti aircraft guns planted on the Thames and shooting German aircraft down was something I had not been expecting at all, and to bump into Winston Churchill himself? Very surprised.
As with a lot of the Assassins Creed games, I really like the real historical characters that they’ve put into the game too, and doing the odd mission for them. Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens & Florence Nightengale to name a few, it’s a pretty nice addition to the attempted historical accuracy of the setting and game. Of course I’m sure Charles Dickens never met up with Assassins in a pub in London…. or did he? Either way, very pleasantly surprised with Assassins Creed Syndicate. The historical setting, the city, the characters, the tasks to do, the levelling system, it’s all just really clicked and despite not having the awesome boat and pirate mechanics of Black Flag, might have overtaken Black Flag for me as my favourite in the series. (Disclaimer, that’s not difficult having only played 4 AC games in the series.)
I’ve been off of Overwatch for a little while now – I tend to go through stages of playing it. But Blizzard have just announced a new hero and it’s the long awaited, long speculated arrival of Hammond and he’s not a monkey or gorilla like many suspected, he is in fact a hamster… piloting a mech called Wrecking Ball. Yes, that’s right, Hammond is a hamster.
There have actually been quite a few changes in Overwatch in recent weeks, a few tweaks to Symmetra and Sombra, the addition of a commendation system where you can give people you play with a commendation to say they were a good player. You can also now look for a group to play with in game. The group change and commendation addition are in my opinion pretty huge changes mainly because they have the chance to completely change the competitive scene in Overwatch. People are already talking about the positive impact that it’s having and that people are generally being nicer. Season 11 of competitive has just started and I think I’ve missed the last two seasons, but maybe it’s time to jump back in and give it a go!
Back to the hamster though. He’s only available on the PTR at the moment which is only accessible for PC players. I have to say that he is probably the most unique character to be put in the game, and he’s a lot of fun to play. He has twin turrets a bit like D.Va, but they have ammo. He can grapple a bit like Widowmaker, but it can be held infinitely so he can swing around and do damage. He has a ground pound ability that damages nearby targets and launches them in the air, and his ultimate ability is a deploy-able minefield great for area control. It will interesting to see how he fits in when he goes live because right now on the PTR it’s just a mass of 6vs6 Wrecking Ball games because everyone wants to try him out.