How Assassin’s Creed Shadows Will Blend Two Distinct Adventures in One

Summary

  • We talked with Game Director Charles Benoit about the newly revealed Assassin’s Creed Shadows.
  • Learn more about how the interchange between playing as a Samurai or a Shinobi will work.
  • Assassin’s Creed Shadows will launch for Xbox Series X|S on November 15, 2024.

Many have surmised that the Assassin’s Creed series has been teasing us with a trip to Japan since the very beginning – original hero Desmond was even seeing messages written in Japanese in the 2007 original. Today, Ubisoft finally lifted the veil on a long-awaited Japanese installment of their acclaimed series with Assassin’s Creed Shadows, set for release for Xbox Series X|S on November 15, 2024.

This newest entry, set in feudal Japan, will continue the series’ epic RPG style gameplay from the team behind the amazing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and continues the tale set down in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – check out the reveal trailer below.

Beyond the long-awaited setting at the end of Japan’s Sengoku era, a turning point in the country’s rich history, the other notable feature that makes Assassin’s Creed Shadows stand out from many previous entries will be the ability to play as two distinct characters in one playthrough: a Samurai and a Shinobi.

Having two characters that both dig into the pillars of an Assassin’s Creed game at once is an enticing proposition. As you can imagine, we had some questions. Thankfully, we were able to speak with Game Director Charles Benoit to get some answers.

Benoit has been working at Ubisoft for nearly 20 years, having contributed to projects like Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, For Honor, Watch Dogs, Immortals Fenyx Rising, and now as Game Director on Assassin’s Creed Shadows. In talking with Benoit, we learned more about the decision to set the game in feudal Japan, how the dual protagonist system has been improved since Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and how this newest game will fit within the continuity and evolution of the RPG mechanics from Origin, Odyssey, and Valhalla.

Fans have been waiting for a feudal Japanese Assassin’s Creed for many years – why was now the right time?

Game Director Charles Benoit: After each new installment, we look at a wide range of possible settings and what would make the most sense for the brand, between our past and future projects. We felt that feudal Japan was the best fit right now, with our two core pillars as the focus, combat, and stealth, and how it fit the best with Japan’s unique fantasies of the Samurai and the Shinobi.

This is a familiar setting for gamers – how does this game differentiate its take on the setting?

Benoit: We’re at the end of Sengoku era, in a turning point of Japan history. Assassin’s Creed is well known for its depiction of the history and accurate recreation of the world and it’s what players can expect with Assassin’s Creed Shadows.

We’re showing real historical figures, such as Oda Nobunaga and a lot of events that happened during that time, so you’re not only playing in feudal Japan, but learning about this fantastic time period.

Also, we’re giving the opportunity to the players to live not just one, but the two best fantasies of Japan: the Samurai and Shinobi.

Where in Japan is this set?

Benoit: We chose the center of Japan, since most of the events around the unification and Oda Nobunaga’s territory were around central Japan, and the territories within it. The players will be able to discover landmarks and known cities such as Osaka, Kyoto, as well as hundreds of shrines and temples, which are still possible to visit in our present-day time. Our aim when recreating this world was to keep the sense of scope while making our deepest and most intricate open world to date.

What can you say about the story set-up of this game?

Benoit: Obviously, I don’t want to spoil anything, but I can talk about the global structure of Assassin’s Creed Shadows.

We’re introducing our two protagonists one by one, to help you know where they are coming from narratively, what their story is and what leads them to collaborate.

Once they become allies, the players can pursue multiple stories, some personal to Yasuke or Naoe, and some around their common goals. The world and the story’s structure are open, to let you pick the character you prefer and explore the world how you want.

This is your first dual protagonist system (at least in terms of playing two distinct characters in one playthrough) since Syndicate. What inspired that choice?

Benoit: It came very naturally when looking at feudal Japan setting and what we wanted to accomplish in terms of gameplay. We wanted to have the Shinobi fantasy for sure, since it’s the best fit for an Assassin’s Creed. The Shinobis were the representation of stealth by spying and assassination, so it was a great natural fit.

But at the same time, the Samurai is the Feudal Japan iconic fantasy and we wanted to be able to have it as an experience for players. Having only one character wouldn’t [allow us to] accurately fulfill the Samurai and the Shinobi fantasies, since they are coming from very different places in terms of the way to live, social classes and role in the Japanese society. 

So, we decided to have two characters and uncompromised fantasies. Also, it was perfect to really dig into our brand pillars: stealth and combat. Mapping those gameplay [styles] on two characters allows us to push their strengths more than ever, but also create more adapted challenges for each of them.

Can you switch freely between the two characters?

Benoit: Yes, you can switch between Yasuke and Naoe at any moment in the open world, once they are united. Of course, it won’t be accessible in the middle of a fight or an infiltration, but we’re giving the control to the players to choose their experience.

There are a few moments where we’re forcing one character, like during their introduction, their personal quests, and a few special missions where both are present at the same time, but I would say most of the game is totally free to choose.

With a Samurai and a Shinobi, you’re indulging in a true fantasy for fans. How will you let that fantasy blossom through the gameplay?

Benoit: The fantasies can be felt in multiple aspects. Weapons, gear, and skills are specific to each character to really represent the key strengths of each fantasy: Naoe has the classic Shinobi tools and Yasuke has a wider range of weapons to pick from.

Each character has unique aptitudes. For example, as a Shinobi, you’re faster, more agile and also have access to a grappling hook to be even more competent in parkour. Yasuke, the Samurai, has great physical strength; he’s the only one that can block and parry opponent’s attacks, as well as being able to break doors and carry big objects.

Both characters are unique in terms of playstyle, but also on how they see the world and how the world sees them; crowds for example, can stop and bow in respect to Yasuke, while Naoe will be more blended in with the world.

With a Samurai and a Shinobi, it feels as though you’re allowing for both “kinds” of Assassin’s Creed game experience simultaneously – action and stealth. Is that the intention?

Benoit: Yes, that’s one of the reasons. Assassin’s Creed has been known for its stealth for more than a decade and with the rise of the RPG, starting with Assassin’s Creed Origins, the combat aspect is more and more present.

So, we wanted to make sure to fully deliver on both aspects, knowing that Shinobi were known for their stealth skills and Samurai were highly trained warriors.

How will this game take advantage of new-gen consoles? What makes this a step up from Valhalla and Mirage?

Benoit: We revamped our engine and tech to be able to fully take advantage of releasing on new-gen consoles and not cross-generation anymore. The improvements help us to push the quality of our visuals and create the most beautiful Assassin’s Creed to date.

But it’s not only about better graphics, but we were also able to create a full-year systemic cycle where you can see the whole world changing in all seasons. You can revisit locations in winter seeing the little pond now frozen, the bushes with no more leaves to hide, some deep snow that can reduce enemy perception while you’re prone inside, etc.

We also develop the RTGI tech to improve lighting, to push our Stealth experience further by adding light and shadows into the mix. You can vanish in the dark, you can turn off lights and destroy certain areas, to create your zones of obscurity and stay hidden at night.

Does this game return to the RPG systems of Valhalla and past larger AC games?

Benoit: Assassin’s Creed Shadows is an open world action-adventure RPG, so we’re on the continuity and the evolution of the RPG that we built with Origin, Odyssey, and Valhalla.

We’re taking the experience we had on those past projects, taking what works best and improving what can be better to refine our RPG experience. 

We’re adding new RPG systems that will surprise the players, such as the League that Naoe and Yasuke are building, but more to come on this later!


Assassin’s Creed Shadows will arrive for Xbox Series X|S on November 15, 2024.

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Assassin’s Creed Shadows

UBISOFT

19
$69.99
Pre-order now to get a bonus quest, Thrown to the Dogs. Experience an epic historical action-adventure story set in feudal Japan! Become a lethal shinobi Assassin and a powerful legendary samurai as you explore a beautiful open world in a time of chaos. Switch seamlessly between two unlikely allies as you discover their common destiny. Master complementary playstyles, create your shinobi league, customize your hideout, and usher in a new era for Japan. – Explore the captivating open world of feudal Japan, from spectacular castle towns and bustling ports to peaceful shrines and war-ravaged landscapes. Adventure through unpredictable weather, changing seasons, and reactive environments. – Become Naoe, a shinobi Assassin, and Yasuke, a legendary samurai, as you experience their riveting stories and master their complementary playstyles. As Naoe, use stealth to avoid detection and agility to confound your enemies. As Yasuke, strike your foes with lethal precision and power. Unlock new skills, gear, and progression independently for each character. – Make information your weapon as you explore the world, and build your own network of spies to be your eyes and ears across locations to hunt down your next target. Along the way, recruit new allies with unique abilities to help accomplish your missions. – Create a fully customizable hideout for your growing shinobi league as you train your crew, craft new gear, interact with key characters, and choose your base’s layout, decorations, and accessories.