Skip to main content
If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Assassin's Creed Shadows is both a samurai and a ninja game, as it borrows Syndicate’s dual-character story

African swordsmaster Yasuke will be the series’ first real-life protagonist

Samurai protagonist Yasuke - one of two playable heroes - in the cinematic trailer for Assassin's Creed Shadows
Image credit: Ubisoft

After being unceremoniously thrown into the spotlight yesterday with a pre-reveal leak, Assassin’s Creed Shadows has been given a proper unveiling via a flashy cinematic trailer, confirming both its leaked November release date and revealing that we’ll be playing as two protagonists for the first time in the series since Syndicate almost a decade ago. One of those heroes will also be the series’ first playable real-life figure: the African samurai Yasuke.

Yes, as it turns out, ‘Shadows’ does indeed mean multiple playable protagonists, making the long-expected ‘Assassin’s Creed ninja game’ both a ninja AND samurai game. Sneaky shinobi Naoe fits into the classic mould of Assassin’s Creed, uh, assassins, specialising in creeping up on targets - helped by the ability to zip around using a new grappling hook - and stabbing them with the familiar hidden blade.

While Naoe is the fictional daughter of a real-life figure of the time, legendary ninja leader Fujibayashi Nagato, Yasuke is himself a real-life person - the first time players have taken control of an actual historical figure in Assassin’s Creed rather than just chatting to them. The African-born swordsman is renowned for being Japan’s first Black samurai, serving under famous daimyo Oda Nobunaga - known for working to unify the country in the 16th century. (Nobunaga’s efforts would ultimately be completed by Tokugawa Ieyasu - the inspiration for Toranaga in recent and very excellent TV show Shogun.)

Compared to Naoe’s stealthy focus, Yasuke will excel more in direct combat - making his playstyle closer to the action-RPG feel of more recent Assassin’s Creed games or the similarly samurai-focused Ghost of Tsushima.

Watch on YouTube

While we don’t see any actual gameplay in the cinematic trailer - nice as it looks and all - IGN wrangled some more details out of developers Ubisoft, including info on a reworked lighting system that will help Naoe to hide in the - ahem - shadows like Sam Fisher, the grappling hook traversal I mentioned above, which can also be used to assassinate like a deadly Spider-Gwen, and a reworking of the underlying Anvil engine that’ll let Yasuke’s samurai sword cut into objects realistically, which made me think of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s still-unparalleled melon-slicing tech. There’ll apparently be the chance to engage in some classic Kurosawa-like samurai duels, too.

The world will also be more dynamic, cycling through the seasons in a way that will encourage the player to adapt. One example given was that a pond you might be able to duck under during summer could be frozen over during winter, removing a hiding spot. Another was that grass might be tall enough to sneak through in spring, but vanishes in autumn. The seasons will affect the entirety of Shadows’ map, which was compared to the size of Assassin’s Creed Origins in its recreation of central Japan.

We’ll see and hear more ahead of Shadows’ November 15th release date sometime next month, according to Ubisoft. As an unabashed liker of Assassin’s Creed, samurai and ninja, though, I’m certainly intrigued.

Read this next