Assassin’s Creed Shadow’s Dual Protagonists Open Up a World of Possibilities


With over a dozen Assassin’s Creed games released, it’s crazy to think we’re just now getting to see Ubisoft’s take on the Land of the Rising Sun. It’s fitting, then, that Assassin’s Creed Shadows, is shaping up to be the most beautiful — and perhaps best — entry in the series yet.

We got a glimpse at Assassin’s Creed Shadows at Summer Game Fest, including a look at the game’s world, and the gameplay dynamic between its two protagonists: Yasuke the foreign samurai, and the kunoichi Naoe.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows‘ Take on Japan is Impressive

Set during the 16th century and around Oda Nobunaga’s campaign across Japan, Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ technology makes for a dazzling display of beauty. 

We’re told Assassin’s Creed Shadows features a living, breathing world. Seasons come and go, meaning we can see Japan change before our very eyes. There’s also a dynamic weather system that’ll bring about storms, wind, and the like.

At one point during our hands-off demo presentation, we see a storm roll in from afar. The sky got dark and angry, the wind picked up, and soon rain drenched the castle our character we were encroaching upon.

Our demo began with Yasuke encroaching upon a village via horseback. Visually, it is an extremely impressive display. Ubisoft always knocks it out of the park with its world design, and this instance is no exception.

Workers tolled away in the rice fields and a great number of NPCs populated this humble village; meanwhile, a great, impressive castle loomed in the distance, overlooking the not-so-affluent village and its many denizens.

As we soon learn, Yasuke is quite famous among this village’s people — his exploits as Oda Nobunaga’s famous foreign samurai has spread far and wide. Villagers bowed in respect as the much taller Yasuke walked through the town.

Yasuke from Assassins Creed Shadows

Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ Very Different Protagonists

As we soon learn, a local samurai is harassing this village’s inhabitants. Yasuke gains information regarding this public nuisance, but the developer presenting this demo emphasizes quests only give basic information, and the rest we must find out ourselves.

Soon, though, Yasuke finds this man and engages in combat. The samurai’s cronies approach Yasuke, but they’re no match for his giant club. Animations are especially brutal, and we see a leap and smash ability showcased here.

The combat seems less RPG oriented, as it’s without damage numbers and the two gauges above enemies are strictly for health and armor. While I didn’t play it myself, Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ combat should be familiar to veterans of the series.

Eventually, we see our second protagonist, Naoe, approach Yasuke. They’re already very familiar with each other and seem to be on friendly terms. Their task is to infiltrate the castle and take out a corrupt daimyo. Undoubtedly, the daimyo’s death would benefit Nobunaga. 

In many cases, players can switch between playing as Naoe or Yasuke in the open world. At other points, you’re restricted to one character. Here, we can choose to infiltrate as either of the two.

Yasuke the Samurai from Assassin's Creed Shadows

Infiltrating as Yasuke

Yasuke favors a more head-on approach, while Naoe is all about stealth. Giving players the choice means playthroughs will likely vary, as each assassin comes with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Playing as Yasuke, stealth is most definitely not his forte. We see him walk right through the front gate of the castle, taking down a rather large samurai, and eventually charging right through a barred door leading to the courtyard.

He’s loud and proud, and isn’t afraid to take multiple enemies head-on. Armed with a katana, his club, and even a musket, there’s absolutely no subtlety to this samurai. Eventually, he makes his way to the daimyo and brazenly beheads the corrupt official.

Naoe the kunoichi from Assassin's Creed Shadows.

Infiltrating as Naoe

We get to see Naoe approach the castle not once, but twice — the circumstances of the infiltration vary in time of day, and weather conditions. It’s not clear if players can choose these conditions or not, but it does seem to make a difference.

Naoe’s tools are much more suited for stealth, and as a ninja, she’s armed with some pretty awesome tools. There’s a grappling hook to scale walls. She can cling to ceilings, and hell, she even has a reed to breath underwater.

It seems like Ubisoft is embracing the full ninja experience with Naoe, which should make fans quite pleased. Her weapons are unique, too. One is a kusarigama, a long-ranged scythe-like weapon attached to a chain. 

Naoe from Assassins Creed Shadows

Flinging that kusarigama around, it makes broad sleeps and clips any enemies unfortunate enough to be in its path, and also decapitates some unfortunate vegetation, as well. Of course, she has shuriken, and other ninja gadgets to aid her.

The end result is all the same — a dead daimyo — but the approach is entirely up to the player. The demo took a more direct route, but this castle seemed pretty expansive, and no doubt paths will vary depending on who the player is controlling.

By the end of the showcase, Assassin’s Creed Shadows made me more excited than I’ve ever been for a new entry in the series. The option to control both protagonists opens up plenty of gameplay opportunities, so I can’t wait to see more. 

Assassin’s Creed Shadows was previewed at an Ubisoft event during Summer Game Fest. 


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