Fourth Runner Up: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a game that is much better than it had any right to be. Now that may sound like a slight against the series, but please rest assured that it isn’t. The AC franchise is a solid one, sure it’s had its hiccups, but it’s also delivered some of the most memorable video game experiences in the past 10 years. Yet even with that in mind, Syndicate just manages to be truly great.
Much like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the reasons for this are numerous. And while they are not truly game-changing individually, they come together to create one of the best entries in the series thus far, even rivaling the tales of Ezio (arguably the greatest assassin). Characters, world design, period, combat, and general gameplay all received just the right amount of tweaks to make something very familiar yet still new.
Industrial Revolution London brings fans closer to the modern age as an assassin than any previous entry. The world has entered a new age and has brought with it new ideas for society and civilization. Everything moves non-stop as modern technology takes root in one of the world’s largest cities, Templars now play with the lives of others in more intricate ways, and then there’s you. You’re thrust into a city with you knowledge and tools of the assassins of old, and you quickly realize that they’re not enough. This new world means you must be a new warrior. One who can adapt and find new ways to move about and bring pain to all those who cross you.
And all of that is done through not one, but two of the greatest protagonists to grace the series. Jacob and Evie Frye – twins, assassins, badasses. Ubisoft moved away from cookie cutter protagonists with a chip on their shoulder and an eye for romance instead of integrity. The Frye twins make you care about them and their mission in London. They’re funny, intelligent, and with their own missions and approaches to action it becomes difficult to choose a favorite.
With all of these elements coming together, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate brought something to the table that the series had been struggling with for some time: wonder and intrigue. It’s a game that drives itself as you become gripped by the urge to do and see more. It’s not very often that you get to see a game with annualized releases blossom as if it were something new, but Syndicate gave us just that.