Assassin’s Creed Shadows – Everything We Know About Ubisoft’s Open-World Japan

Ubisoft is finally taking Assassin’s Creed to Japan with Assassin’s Creed Shadows. The highly requested setting for Ubisoft’s biggest franchise will be explored through two protagonists: the fictional shinobi assassin Naoe and the real-life Black samurai Yasuke.

In anticipation of Ubisoft’s highly anticipated journey into feudal Japan, we’ve put together this breakdown of everything you need to know about Assassin’s Creed Shadows, from its price and release date to its gameplay and story.

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Release DateStory and SettingGameplay Details

Latest Assassin’s Creed Shadows Trailers

Ubisoft has released several trailers for Assassin’s Creed Shadows, the most informative of which — the reveal trailer and the most recent gameplay trailer from Ubisoft Forward — are embedded below.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows Release Date

Assassin’s Creed Shadows will be released on November 15.

It will be playable three days early, on November 12, for those who preorder either of Shadows’ three premium editions (more on these below) or subscribe to Ubisoft+ Premium on PC ($18/month).

Assassin’s Creed Shadows Platforms and Price

Assassin’s Creed Shadows is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC (via Ubisoft Store or Epic Games Store), Mac, iPad, and Amazon Luna

The base version of Assassin’s Creed Shadows costs $70 across all platforms. An internet connection will be required to install even the physical version of the game, though it can then be played offline.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows Story

Plot and Characters

Assassin’s Creed Shadows stars two protagonists: the shinobi assassin Naoe and the samurai Yasuke. Naoe is the fictional daughter of the real Fujibayashi Nagato; Yasuke is based on the real, 16th-century Black samurai of the same name.

Set during the late Sengoku period (or Azuchi-Momoyama era) of feudal Japan, Shadows begins in 1579 during a time of civil war within the country, complete with the era’s samurai, shinobi, Portuguese merchants, and Jesuit missionaries. The two protagonists converge as they find themselves on opposite sides of conflict: Yasuke served as a retainer to Nobunaga, the daimyo who led the Oda clan in its invasion of Iga; Naoe, under the leadership of her father, is part of the Igan resistance.

Here’s the official synopsis from Ubisoft:

Live the intertwined stories of Naoe, an adept shinobi Assassin from Iga Province, and Yasuke, the powerful African samurai of historical legend. Against the backdrop of the turbulent late Sengoku period, this remarkable duo will discover their common destiny as they usher in a new era for Japan.

Like Assassin’s Creed Mirage and the original AC before it, Shadows’ main targets can be assassinated in any order. “One thing that we really wanted is [to make] sure the world feels alive, and those targets are always in the world,” said game director Charles Benoit. “So it’s possible that you’ll encounter some of them without really knowing about them before.

Quests, therefore, won’t point you toward your next target but will “guide” you with hints. “It’s less of ‘follow a quest up to a point’, but it’s much more, ‘I want to do this’ and then you’ll find the way how to do it,” said creative director Jonathan Dumont.

Feudal Japan Setting

Assassin’s Creed is well known for its exploration of different places and eras with each new entry. This year’s game takes players to feudal Japan, specifically 1579 through the early 1580s. Shadows is set during the end of the tumultuous Sengoku period at the height of Oda Nobunaga’s power when the warlord overthrew the Ashikaga shogunate and began his campaign to unify the warring factions of Japan.

Central Japan, where Nobunaga held power, will serve as the center of Shadows. Locations we’ve seen in the hitherto released trailers include the Iga province and Takeda Castle.

Game Length and Map Size

Assassin’s Creed Shadows is closest in size to 2017’s Egypt-set Assassin’s Creed Origins, according to Dumont. “It’s in-line with the latest Assassin’s Creeds that we’ve done,” he said, referring to the series’ post-Syndicate RPGs. “On a scale level, maybe we can compare it a little bit more to the size of Assassin’s Creed Origins.

“We did want to have a much closer to real life scale ratio,” Dumont added. “So because castles took a lot of space, and we really wanted the mountains to feel like mountains, [we’ve made] the environments feel wider in the game. But I would say around the same size as Origins.”

Dumont didn’t comment on game length, though we’ll note Origins main story takes roughly 30 hours to complete, according to IGN sister site How Long to Beat.

Does Assassin’s Creed Shadows Have a Modern-day Story?

Ubisoft has yet to reveal details about Shadow’s potential modern-day segments, though it sounds like there will be one. Assassin’s Creed executive producer Marc-Alexis Côté told Game File, “You are in the Animus,” when asked about the modern day in Shadows. He also revealed Assassin’s Creed Infinity will be known as the Animus hub and serve as a portal to the series’ modern-day sections moving forward.

This section will be updated as more information is announced.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows Gameplay

Yasuke and Naoe Differences

Assassin’s Creed Shadows allows you to switch between Yasuke or Naoe at will, with the exception of introduction quests and character-specific missions.

Naoe plays as a more typical assassin; she’s equipped with a Hidden Blade and the ability to kill stealthily by scaling walls and hiding in foliage. As Naoe, you’ll also have access to throwable kunai and her chained blade, which is swung around to slice through enemies and environments. The assassin is also given a grappling hook to improve traversal; it can be attached to the edges of roofs and other miscellaneous anchor points. “It’s all physics-based, so there’s a little bit of improbability sometimes when using it,” said Dumont. “There’s a danger to using it, but you could also perform assassinations from it.”

Yasuke, on the other hand, has a more head-on approach to combat; the samurai’s heavy armor keeps him on the ground, where he excels as a master swordsman.

Each character has individualized skill trees and gear, though XP, collected weapons, and resources are shared.

General Combat

Dumont says the team’s goal was to make Shadows’ combat feel “spectacular,” and to this end they’ve increased the amount of environmental items that can be carved up or destroyed and reintroduced instant kills with the Hidden Blade. “The thing that shines the most, I feel, in Assassin’s Creed, it’s really the Hidden Blade, the assassination, being able to stay hidden,” said Benoit. “So that’s the core that we want to keep. What we needed to push forward [was to make it] feel a bit more modern in the approach.”

Shadows also adds duels reminiscent of those seen in Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films. “When we have a mini-boss type of fighter, we really want it to feel like a duel,” said Benoit. “So this exchange of blocking, parrying, dodging. So it’s always like a dance.”

Weapons you’ll acquire throughout Shadows include katanas, the kanabō war club, yari spears, shuriken, kunai, and the kusarigama (sickle on chain). Weapons have their own skill trees, and proficiency is increased by playing with each weapon. These can be found or crafted by gathering components throughout the game world. And yes, the ability to transmog is still here, allowing flexibility in the appearance of your gear.

Yasuke and Naoe will also be faced with a new enemy type: servants. These characters exist between civilians and enemies, and are able to raise alarms and call for reinforcements.

Exploration and Traversal

The big addition to Shadows world is a light-dark system, which has a major influence on the game’s stealth mechanics. Powered by an upgraded version of Ubisoft’s Anvil engine, Shadows global illumination system creates dynamic light and shadows that affect enemy vision. You can influence this by snuffing out lamps and taking out torch carriers. The degree to which you are hidden is displayed through a new light meter on the UI.

The light-dark system intersects with Shadows new seasons mechanic, which changes the terrain (and therefore how you interact with it) as spring turns to summer, fall, then winter. Seasonal differences include changes to weather/wind, bodies of water (swimmable or frozen), the height of grass, foliage, enemy positioning, and visibility. “Players will have to adapt constantly to what the environment is giving them,” said Dumont. The seasons will change as you progress through the main quest.

Eagle vision, which allows you to see characters through walls, returns in Shadows, though gone are the drone-like birds used to scout locations in Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla. In an effort to reduce the amount of map icons, climbing to the top of synchronization points no longer unlocks a portion of the map, rather they provide a vantage point from which you can survey the surrounding area for highlighted points of interest. However, these locations still serve as fast-travel points.

Shadows will take you through Japan’s diverse landscape of towns, trading posts, farmland, mountains, forests, and historic castles rendered nearly to scale. Each castle serves as a type of bespoke dungeon, according to Benoit, who added, “It’s so big, it’s like an adventure each time you go in the castle.”

Assassin’s Creed Shadows Development

Ubisoft Quebec is leading development of Assassin’s Creed Shadows. The studio previously headed up development on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Syndicate, and Black Flag, as well as 2020’s Immortals: Fenyx Rising. Over a dozen other Ubisoft studios are providing development support.

Jonathan Dumont, creative director of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, is again overseeing the creative direction of Shadows. Charles Benoit, who served as a game designer on Odyssey, is the game director for Shadows.

Shadows was first announced in 2022 as Assassin’s Creed Codename Red. It was officially named and subsequently unveiled in May 2024.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows Editions, Preorder Bonus

Ubisoft is selling three editions of Assassin’s Creed Shadows — Standard, Gold, and Ultimate — as well as a GameStop-exclusive Collector’s Edition. Preordering any version will net you a bonus quest called “Thrown to the Dogs.”

Here’s everything you need to know about each edition:

Standard Edition

$70 USDIncludes base game

Gold Edition

$110 USDIncludes base gameThree days of early accessSeason Pass

Ultimate Edition

$130 USDIncludes base gameThree days of early accessSeason PassThe Ultimate PackSekiryu character packSekiryu hideout pack5 skill pointsRed dragon filter in photo mode

Collector’s Edition

$280 USDIncludes Ultimate Edition of gameDiorama figurine with dual protagonistsSteelbookHardcover artbookShinobi’s metal tsuba replica with standSilk creed kakemono rollSet of 3 sumi-e lithographs

Separately, the IGN Store is offering a life-sized, officially licensed replica of Yasuke’s helmet. This ultimate collector’s item is now available to preorder, with an estimated ship time of Q4 2024.

Jordan covers games, shows, and movies as a freelance writer for IGN.


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