July 14, 2024
Assassin's Creed: Shadows contrasts Yasuke and Naoe gameplay


During Summer Games Fest, Ubisoft gave us an early demonstration of Assassin’s Creed: Shadows’ dual protagonists.

Shadows is set in 1579 during the end of Oda Nobunaga’s rule in Feudal Japan. The title allows players to tackle challenges head on as the samurai, Yasuke, or use stealth and deception as the shinobi, Naoe. Together, these allied protagonists are taking on a corrupt presence at a period of political turmoil.

Explore Feudal Japan as both of Assassin’s Creed: Shadows protagonists.

Yasuke and Naoe fight differently

The team behind Assassin’s Creed Shadows previously made 2018’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey — and it shows. Instead of building your protagonist into an agile fighter OR a beefy tank, Shadows’ dual protagonists allows players to pursue either depending on the mission. However, the team wants players to complete quests and find clues organically, this time around.

Outside of character specific missions, players will select their protagonist — and therefore gameplay style — before heading out. The gameplay preview showcased how both Yasuke and Naoe could infiltrate a castle and assassinate a daimyo.


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With his armor and towering size, Yasuke, charged in through the front door and brutally dispatched enemies. The demo showed Yasuke using both a traditional katana and a kanabo, a spiked war club, alongside a matchlock pistol for range. Shadows features an armor destruction system that Yasuke can take full advantage of. This is a minor gripe, but enemies typically only lose their helmets and shoulder guards when armor is destroyed, rather than showing damage elsewhere.

Yasuke sends helmets and shoulder guards flying.

In contrast, Naoe had more options to consider depending on the conditions. Assassin’s Creed: Shadows implemented a day and night cycle, weather and seasons to challenge players’ tactics. Naoe also has the series’ traditional eagle sense to help players scout ahead.

At night, Naoe can melt into the shadows… as long as servants’ lanterns don’t spot her. The demo also shows her jumping to hide in the rafters and using a bamboo reed to sneak through a garden pond with cover from a storm.

Use the elements and architecture as cover when sneaking around as Naoe.

During the day, Naoe must outwit her opponents and dodge their attacks. Her grappling hook is obviously used for movement, but it also allows Naoe to perform non-lethal takedowns. If you actually want to kill bad guys, Naoe typically uses a kusarigama — a sickle and weighted chain — that gives her both AOE damage and spacing options. She also has an arsenal of kunai, shuriken and smoke bombs to get the job done.

Naoe (and Yasuke) finish off high-value targets with a inky flourish.

The differences between the protagonists shape how players overcome their foes. Naoe does not have the same armor penetrating damage or size advantage as Yasuke. During the demo, an enemy sent Naoe flying with a kick while Yasuke shrugged one off.

Assassin’s Creed: Shadows offers varied perspectives

Alongside their gameplay differences, Yasuke and Naoe offer unique perspectives as they explore the lush countryside and sprawling cities of Assassin’s Creed: Shadows.

Naoe gives players a native Japanese perspective. She comes from Iga, a province of Japan heavily associated with the origins of ninja. While Ubisoft kept the details light, players can expect her to explore finding the balance between justice and vengeance.

On the other hand, Yasuke is a foreigner and the first Assassin’s Creed protagonist based on a historical figure. Formerly an African slave brought to Japan by the Portuguese, Yasuke has risen up the ranks to become a samurai when player meet him in Shadows. Throughout the course of the game, he will confront the themes of honor, justice and belonging.

Ubisoft reinforces that Yasuke stands out in Feudal Japan through NPC reactions.

To emphasize these differences, crowds react very differently to Yasuke and Naoe. While the low-born shinobi can pass without drawing much attention, villagers will respond very differently to the noble Yasuke. Some NPCs will act frightened while others will bow, fearing “Oda’s great giant.” And yes, he towers over most in-game characters. It’s not clear if Yasuke has any stealth options, but he won’t be able to blend into crowds quite like assassins of the past.

Yes, you can pet the doge in Assassin’s Creed: Shadows!

Fans can experience Feudal Japan for themselves in Assassin’s Creed: Shadows later this year. The Ubisoft title launches on November 15, 2024 on Ubisoft+, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Amazon Luna, PC and Mac.



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