Assassin’s Creed Shadows: Uniting Two Historical Eras in One Epic Game


Feudal-era Japan is the most-requested setting in Assassin’s Creed’s 16-year history. Now, Assassin’s Creed Shadows is to be the game that finally grant fans their long-held wish. This game transports players to the late 16th century, a time of significant political upheaval that saw the rise of the ninja. Ubisoft recently provided a hands-off gameplay demo ahead of Ubisoft Forward 2024, which showcases how the game’s two protagonists, Yasuke and Naoe, will function in this new setting.

POPSUGAR Australia had the chance to sit down with Associate Narrative Director Brooke Davies to dive deeper into the game’s development, character dynamics, and what fans can expect from this highly anticipated installment.

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Two Protagonists, Two Styles


For those who remember 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the excitement of dual protagonists returns in Shadows, but with a fresh twist. Shadows lets you switch between Yasuke, a powerful outsider samurai, and Naoe, a skilled ninja. Yasuke is inspired by the historical African retainer of the Japanese lord Oda Nobunaga, and offers a more brute-force approach. He can strike the armour off enemies, charge through doors, and intimidate locals with his imposing presence. During the demo, Yasuke was shown wielding various weapons, including a hulking club and a musket-style single-use gun, showing his versatility in combat.

Naoe, on the other hand, is the quintessential assassin. Equipped with a kusarigama (a sickle on a chain) and a wrist blade, she excels in stealth and agility. Her ability to use eagle vision and kill light sources like lanterns adds a new layer to the stealth mechanics. The demo highlighted her agility as she vaulted up walls, kicked off surfaces, and used a grappling hook to navigate the environment, echoing the fluid movement seen in the most recent Assassin’s Creed entries.

“Naoe is a very intense young woman with a strong sense of compassion for the people she helps,” Brooke Davies said. “Yasuke, on the other hand, is more level-headed and thoughtful, providing a balance to Naoe’s fiery nature. Their contrasting personalities and gameplay styles create a complementary and dynamic pair.”

Do These Character Choices Affect the Storyline Direction?


Playing as Yasuke or Naoe offers more than just a change in gameplay style — it adds depth and richness to the overall experience. But will these decisions affect the storyline direction or outcome?

“You have the option outside of Naoe and Yasuke’s personal storylines, because you will have a chance to play through some important personal moments as one or the other, depending on whose story we’re exploring,” Brooke explained. “So you will sort of influence some of the outcome of that and the approach that you take. And some people you talk to in the world too are gonna want to work with one or the other character as well.”

This dynamic approach to storytelling allows players to shape the narrative and influence the outcomes of pivotal moments in the game. Whether you’re exploring the world as Yasuke or Naoe, your choices and actions will have far-reaching consequences, adding a layer of immersion and personalisation to the gameplay experience.

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What Sets Shadows Apart From Other Titles?

Feudal Japan has been a setting that Assassin’s Creed fans have dreamed about for years. So, why did Ubisoft choose now to bring this vision to life? Brooke gave us some insights: “We have this amazing privilege, I think, to have this supportive and engaged community. So, we definitely listen to the community, and I think it was also a passion project for the developers as well. This is a setting that I think everybody has been really excited to visit. So it’s kind of thrilling to be here now and see it all coming together.”

“Players can look forward to our really incredible open world setting in feudal Japan to take a trip back in time to this sort of pivotal moment in Japanese history through our two dual protagonists,” Brooke added.

“So we have two protagonists who bring such different perspectives to this setting, to this time in history, and such unique approaches to gameplay as well. You’ll see the dynamics of the world now is quite something. The team has put a lot of work into the weather and the seasons, and everything is just in motion and so responsive to the gameplay.”

Player feedback from previous Assassin’s Creed titles has significantly shaped Shadows. As Brooke emphasised, “We listen to the community and integrate their insights. This is a setting that everyone has been excited to visit, and it’s thrilling to see it all come together.”

Yasuke’s character, who is inspired by the historical figure who served Oda Nobunaga, adds a unique historical perspective to the game. “Yasuke is our first historical character deeply connected to fascinating figures of the era,” Brooke noted. “Naoe, too, has her own unique lineage as the daughter of the legendary Shinobi Fuji Bayashi Nagato.”

A Detailed World


One of the most striking features of Shadows is its richly detailed world. The game captures the essence of feudal Japan, with villagers going about their daily lives and the environment reacting dynamically to the weather and seasons. As an example, during one of Naoe’s infiltration missions, a sudden downpour added an unexpected challenge, hinting at how weather might influence gameplay.

Discussing the dynamic environment, Brooke explained, “We saw a really cool example of that in the demo because we see Naoe stealth through a pond, but in winter, the water of that pond is going to be frozen. So that’s going to change how you’re going to be able to interact with the environment to sort of achieve whatever objective you happen to have in that moment.”

The seasonal changes and weather effects contribute to an immersive experience, making the world feel alive and responsive.

An Unmissable Gaming Adventure

Assassin’s Creed Shadows promises to be an unmissable addition to the series, offering a richly detailed world, dual protagonists with unique playstyles, and an emotionally engaging narrative. With its setting in feudal Japan, Shadows is poised to deliver an unforgettable experience for both long-time fans and newcomers alike. As Brooke Davies eloquently put it, “We want [players] to feel it all, from the thrill of the gameplay to the deep emotional journeys.”

She added: “The relationship between Naoe and Yasuke, and the community they build, offers a deep emotional core. Players can expect thrilling highs and profound emotional journeys.”

So, whether you’re a long-time fan of the series or a newcomer eager to explore feudal Japan, Assassin’s Creed Shadows looks ready to offer an adventure that’s both thrilling and deeply immersive. We can’t wait to see where Yasuke and Naoe’s journey will take us.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows releases on November 15 for PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PS5.

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