June 15, 2024

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Assassin’s Creed Shadows finally takes the series to Japan

Assassin’s Creed Shadows finally takes the series to Japan
Comment on the photo, Naoe and Yasuke are introduced as dual protagonists in the game

  • author, Andrew Rogers and Tom Richardson
  • Role, BBC Newsbeat

In the 17 years since its launch, the Assassin’s Creed series has attracted fans all over the world, from ancient Greece to Victorian London.

But despite numerous requests, it never reached Japan. So far.

Assassin’s Creed: Shadows, previously codenamed Assassin’s Creed: Red, is a long-awaited pivot for the franchise set in the country’s 16th-century feudal Sengoku period.

Game director Charles Benoit tells BBC Newsbeat that for each new Assassin’s Creed game, the team evaluates potential settings and gauges feedback from fans of the series.

“So there are a lot of people involved,” he says.

“We look at some past projects and future projects, and we felt like this time was the perfect moment for Japan.”

Fans got their first look at the game this week through a cinematic trailer that introduced dual heroes Naoe – a female ninja – and Yasuke – who is based on a real-life character often referred to as the “African Samurai.”

Comment on the photo, The subtle approach is encouraged through Naoe’s character

Charles says this allows the team to implement two styles of play. With Naoe, players are encouraged to take a more stealth approach, similar to games like Assassin’s Creed: Mirage, while Yasuke’s more combat-focused approach is reminiscent of the Viking-inspired Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

Its other big release, the pirate-themed Skull & Bones – which started out as an Assassin’s Creed spin-off – was met with generally low review scores.

The Shadow trailer also sparked backlash from some players, who criticized the choice of Yasuke as a main character over the original Japanese protagonist.

Opponents accused these critics of racism, and pointed out that Yasuke was based on a real character.

Charles, who spoke to Newsbeat ahead of the trailer’s release, says the developers “focused a lot on authenticity and making sure we portrayed Japan and the culture correctly.”

“So when we started the project, we had a historian with us from day one,” he says.

He says the team also consulted weapons experts and traveled to Japan to learn about the landscapes and locations in the game.

Comment on the photo, Yasuke’s combat-focused style is reminiscent of the Viking-inspired Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

It’s an approach the Assassin’s Creed series has been leaning towards more and more in recent titles.

Last year’s film Mirage, set in Baghdad’s golden age, includes a real-life recreation of the Iraqi capital in the ninth century.

It also included an Arabic language option, which the developers said was based on the dialect used in the city at the time.

Mirage was a subtle change in direction for the series – a more focused game than the sprawling, open-world Valhalla – that felt closer to previous Assassin’s Creed titles.

Charles insists that Shadows will introduce new features to keep the game fresh, including the ability to crouch that allows the player to crawl towards objectives and “dynamic seasons” with changing weather that will affect gameplay moment-by-moment.

“Heavy rain has a big impact on noise,” he says. “Cover your steps somehow.”

“Perception is also affected by light and shadows.

“You can disappear into the shadows, you can turn out the light. So a lot of different things are affected by the dynamic world,” he says.

Although the game won’t be released for another six months, after fans spent 17 years waiting for Assassin’s Creed to arrive in Japan, will it still be available?

“That’s a tough question,” Charles says.

“There are many periods in Japan that are very interesting. We are now in the late Sengoku period, but the Edo period is also very interesting.

“So I would like to continue this adventure and see other places in Japan.

“Personally, I would like to continue with this,” he says.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.