Assassin’s Creed Shadows – Finally Set in Ancient Japan

Title: Assassin’s Creed Shadows


PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Windows, Mac (Apple Silicon), Ubi+, Luna





Release Date:

November 15, 2024

With the announcement of Assassin’s Creed Shadows, fans of Ubisoft’s long-running series finally got what they have been asking for for years: an Assassin’s Creed game set in Feudal Japan. In a polished cinematic trailer, the audience was introduced to the two main characters: Naoe and Yasuke, and Ubisoft’s version of late 16th century Japan. My thoughts? Very cool, but perhaps a bit too late. Feudal Japan is certainly vast enough for another game, but I already described the March release of Rise of the Ronin as a sort of Assassin’s Creed in Japan. That game included some typical Assassin’s Creed elements, such as sneaking across rooftops and silently eliminating enemies. This doesn’t necessarily have to hinder Assassin’s Creed Shadows, but the comparison is inevitable.

The game is set in a period where Japan has been plagued by civil wars for years. The various Daimyo, each ruling their own region, are at odds with each other and face pressure from their own subjects. However, it is also a period where Japan is flourishing in certain aspects. During this time, larger and larger castles and even castle towns are emerging. The important structures for the various Daimyo certainly provide beautiful visuals and showcase the achievements of Japanese culture at that time.

A turning point in the unrest seems possible with the rise of Oda Nobunaga, a young and particularly disobedient Daimyo from central Japan, who has acquired his power through clever deals with Portuguese traders and by using their weapons to his advantage. So… 2024 is not only an excellent year for fans of ancient Japan, the storylines you encounter in those games and series also seem to align, as who wouldn’t think of the Disney+ series Shogun with that description? I certainly do.

It is logical that these similarities exist. It is a fact that the Portuguese were in Japan and engaged in trade, so the influence of that trade quickly becomes a factor in such stories. Additionally, Assassin’s Creed has always been a series that relies on true stories. Creative liberties are often taken, but the foundation is always based on historical facts. One of the main characters, Yasuke, is a prime example of this, as he actually existed. Yasuke is the first playable character in the Assassin’s Creed franchise who was a real historical figure. The series usually features such figures as NPCs in games, but now Yasuke is a playable character.

From the setting, you can already deduce several challenges or aspects that will require explanation. We know from previous stories that Oda Nobunaga already has an alliance with the guild of assassins since their presence in Japan, and they are the ones who eventually assassinate him after the Sword of Eden turns him into a villain. We also know that Oda, in his role as Daimyo, was once responsible for wiping out the clan to which Naoe belonged, but apparently, this doesn’t stop her from forming an alliance with Oda. The question remains whether this information is still considered canon. If not, then Ubisoft can take creative liberties and introduce various surprises. If it is, then part of the story is already known, and certain things, like Naoe’s loyalty to Oda Nobunaga, may not be as they seem.