Assassin's Creed Shadows' dual protagonists look ready to turn the series' recent identity crisis into a strength

Assassin's Creed Shadows: First Look Gameplay Trailer - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube Assassin's Creed Shadows: First Look Gameplay Trailer - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube
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Even as someone who's had a lot of fun with the modern run of Assassin's Creed games, I have to admit they've been having a bit of an identity crisis. The common refrain is "Is this series even about stealth anymore?", and certainly most recent major entry Valhalla, essentially an RPG about a towering Viking warrior, felt about as far from the series' origins as you could get. Shorter entry Mirage was in theory a redressing of the balance, though even that felt oddly tentative about its return to Assassin's Creed's sneaky roots. 

In its first proper gameplay trailer, however, Assassin's Creed Shadows looks ready to turn that divide into a strength. Its two playable characters represent two sides of the series—Naoe is a ninja, expert at quiet footsteps and decisive stabs from behind, while Yasuke is an in-your-face samurai. Between them, they cover all the bases, offering two different playstyles without either feeling incongruous.

Ubisoft has tried something similar before: in Assassin's Creed Syndicate, siblings Evie and Jacob had a similar dynamic. But really the differences between those two were minor, and as characters there wasn't enough contrast between them to sell it. Naoe and Yasuke, on the other hand, look like they each pushed all their character creation sliders in opposite directions. 

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

She's small and slight, and clad in flowing black—watching her run across rooftops you can certainly believe her footsteps would be silent. Yasuke, on the other hand, is a brick wall of a man, covered from head to toe in armour and looming over enemies. He's not your typical samurai—rather than dazzling with his swordplay, he crashes into foes like a runaway train, overpowering whole groups and destroying walls as he goes. 

How well that will actually translate to gameplay remains an open question—I'm hoping switching between them will help the series' split focus feel more in balance than ever, but it'll stumble if each just feels like half a character. We'll be getting a more substantial look on June 10, at least, with a gameplay walkthrough at noon PT—and the game's release date is now confirmed as November 15.

Robin Valentine
Senior Editor

Formerly the editor of PC Gamer magazine (and the dearly departed GamesMaster), Robin combines years of experience in games journalism with a lifelong love of PC gaming. First hypnotised by the light of the monitor as he muddled through Simon the Sorcerer on his uncle’s machine, he’s been a devotee ever since, devouring any RPG or strategy game to stumble into his path. Now he's channelling that devotion into filling this lovely website with features, news, reviews, and all of his hottest takes.