Assassin's Creed Syndicate port impressions

Syndicate

I'm only a few hours into Assassin's Creed Syndicate, so I've got no review just yet—look for it sometime next week. In the meantime, here are some impressions of how it's running on two different PCs.

First, my PC. Ever have a game come along that makes you feel like your mid-range PC is actually a low-end PC? It just happened for me with Syndicate. I've got an Intel i7 980 @ 3.33 GHz, 9 GB RAM (there's three sticks of 2 GB and 3 sticks of 1 GB, just to get that inevitable question answered). I've got an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 and I'm playing at 1920x1080.

When I asked the game to auto-detect the best settings, it set everything to 'low,' and I said "Ha ha, no" because I can usually get away with 'high,' sometimes even 'very high.' But, this time it wasn't far off the mark. Pay attention to the minimum required specs we posted, because they're not messing around.

On medium settings, I get around 45 fps in the highly-populated outdoor areas, which isn't bad, but it really does not look terribly pretty. You can enlarge the image by clicking the top right corner.

Med

Even on 'high,' where I get maybe 30-35 fps, it doesn't look a whole lot better, at least not enough to justify the framerate loss. I've tried tweaking a few things up and down, mainly the anti-aliasing, because jagged lines are the least pleasant things to look at, but each tick up the ladder leads to worse framerates. If I go up to MSAA2x + FXAA it can really start to crawl.

Over at PC Gamer HQ, the team tried it out on a much better PC: Core i7-5960X @ 3GHz, 32GB RAM, and three GeForce GTX 980s. At 1920x1080 on the 'Ultra' preset they were managing 60 fps indoors, but found it dropping to as low as 35 fps outside.

It was easy to fix. Using MSAA2x + FXAA instead of MSAA4x + FXAA got them a solid 60+ fps in outdoor areas. And reducing shadow quality was especially helpful. With settings on the 'high' preset, they were getting a steady 70 fps, peaking at 100 fps. In other words, those highest anti-aliasing and shadow quality settings really are ultra.

As far as glitches, I've had a couple. In the first three hours I was killed (or as the game puts it, desynchronized) by two different bugs. In the first, I attempted to gracefully leap off a train track onto the ground, got stuck, pinwheeled around for a bit, then died.

A little later I attempted to climb off a stagecoach, and fell through the pavement into the white void of the underworld. Dead again.

Apart from the fact that my PC isn't powerful enough to make it look really nice, and those two bugs, I'm having an enjoyable time. I've already met more historical figures than Forrest Gump. Running through crowds and bowling people over—even little kids—is just as fun as it always was. I'm planning to switch to a controller because keyboard and mouse just isn't the best way to play these games and I'm having my usual issues of climbing things without meaning to climb them and not climbing things when I'm trying to.

Syndicate

I'm also liking both of the playable characters, twins Jacob and Evie Frye. Jacob is a wiseass, as many protags are, but he's actually funny and likable, which is a plus. Syndicate is nice enough to give you the grappling hook pretty quickly, and it's fun ziplining around the rooftops (you can even slide up a zipline instead of just down, which is weird but useful). With all of the microtransactions (there's an entire menu of them, where you can spend real money for XP boosts, crafting materials, upgrades, clothing, etc.) I was a little afraid that leveling up and unlocking new skills would feel artificially slow. It doesn't feel that way, though: I've already unlocked a bunch of skills like improved stealth, and then more improved stealth, double-kills, and a few other things, so at the moment it really doesn't feel like any kind of grind.

That's about it for now! We'll have a full review next week. If you're already playing Syndicate and want to help others take a guess at their potential performance, let us know in the comments how it's running on your specs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The first PC game Chris owned was Choplifter in 1982, and since then our staff writer has played at least three other games. He has a love/hate relationship with Early Access survival games and an odd fascination with the lives of NPCs.
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