Ubisoft needs Assassin’s Creed Syndicate to be good. Unity was a mess of a game, despite its well intentioned mechanics and storyline. The glitches angered players, and I’d imagine the pre-order and day one purchase rate for Syndicate and potentially most games in the series moving forward will both suffer.

Right. Syndicate needs to succeed.

I played it here at E3. I was free to roam the city in a vertical slice of a single mission moment. I approached a stronghold, murdered all within, chased a stronghold leader of an opposing gang (a female, by the way, but more on that in a second) and free roamed my way to a gang war.

Yes, ladies are front and center in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. There’s the sister Evie of the sibling duo that makes up the playable heroes. There’s the gang leader I just mentioned. The really interesting thing? There’s even female thugs in the streets. Like, actual enemies in strongholds and gang wars are women. It’s not just a blanket of bad dudes. London is a city of bad dudes and bad women alike, and I find that neat for one major reason.

Look, I’m all for games being inclusive, but I’m not waving any sort of social justice flag here. The reason I bring all this up is because it’s clear that Ubisoft is listening. Finally. Folks griped about the missing women in Unity, and they bemoaned all the bugs and glitches. Ubisoft responded to both by adding women to the game in spades and offering a title that, hopefully, works.

I didn’t hit any glitches in my play. No clipping, no pop-in, no insane framerate drops, nothing. It was stable, and we’re months away from release.

I’ve watched a lot of previews from Ubisoft over the last few years. Assassin’s Creed, ever since Assassin’s Creed III, quite frankly, has been a mess at trade shows. Crashes, bugs, characters getting stuck in the environment, I’ve seen it all happen.

Here? Not so much. That, to me, is the single most promising thing about Assassin’s Creed Syndicate coming out of E3. The demo flipping worked, praise the video game gods.

As for the play? Ubisoft has nailed the style of combat and free running for years now, there’s no question about either in my mind. That continues to work here in Syndicate. Fighting does feel much, much more brutal and intimate, and that’s in line with the London thug theme at work.

The zipline feature is also super cool. You can run up to buildings and zip to the top at the press of the L1 button. It’s dynamic the way you climb up, too, and it looks great. It also works to cross the larger streets in London. The buildings are spaced so far apart that Ubisoft needed to make a way to bridge the gaps. This is that way, and it works.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate could be a total mess at launch. I have no idea. What I played here is better than anything I’ve seen from the series at shows months in advance in a very long time. That alone is promising for me.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will launch for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC platforms on October 23, 2015. We’ll have more on the game as it comes.

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