Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ protagonists are perfect and here’s why | Kaser Focus Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ protagonists are perfect and here’s why | Kaser Focus
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Ubisoft officially revealed its latest Assassin’s Creed title, Shadows, earlier this week. The new game is set in Sengoku-era Japan and stars two protagonists: Iga-born shinobi Naoe, the fictional daughter of real-life ninja Fujibayashi Nagato; and Yasuke, retainer to Oda Nobunaga and the first AC main character to be based on a real person. According to the development team, the dual protagonists are intended to offer two different experiences. Personally, I love them both and think they could elevate the game to new heights.

Naoe and Yasuke are both characters who offer different perspectives on feudal Japan: Yasuke, that of an immigrant of high status and Naoe, that of a village-born woman. I’m pleased to see both of them as the leads is because I think they can make Shadows something it might not be otherwise: Interesting. Fans have been asked Ubisoft to make an AC game set in feudal Japan since the series first launched. It seems like such a gimme — stealthy heroes who do their work from the shadows, traffic in information, consist of people from every strata of society and do their best work in times of cultural and political unrest.

But Alex Hutchinson, creative director on Assassin’s Creed 3, said in an interview that the franchise was intended to spotlight lesser-known periods in history and that feudal Japan felt too familiar: “I feel like it would start to look like ‘oh, have I played this?’ You know what I mean – ‘oh, I’ve been a ninja before, I’ve been a samurai before.’” I have been saying for years (here are the receipts if you don’t believe me) that there’s a very easy way to differentiate an Assassin’s Creed ninja game from any other: Make the protagonist a woman. I don’t know that I’ve ever played an action-adventure-stealth game where you can play as a female ninja (except maybe Tenchu Z?).

If you’ll recall the Bloomberg report about Ubisoft, they’ve been on the cusp of making a female-led game for a while, only to chicken out and add a more conventional male lead later. Frankly, there’s still a small part of me that thinks they should have made Naoe the sole protagonist of Shadows. But I understand the need to cater to both the stealth players and the combat players, and Yasuke being based on a real person leads me to suspect he was chosen to be a hero from the start. Naoe and Yasuke both look like they could be excellent new additions to the series, and I hope Ubisoft makes the fantastical piece of historical fiction that is worthy of them.

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Oh right, other things happened this week, didn’t they?

In other news, we got several new financial reports this week that revealed interesting information about the industry: Namely, that Ubisoft has canceled The Division Heartland, Take-Two has put the release date of Grand Theft Auto VI in Fall 2025 and Helldivers 2 is the fastest-selling PlayStation title of all time.

Personal news? Well, I’m not going to have very many chances to play games, since I’ll soon be on my way to California for GamesBeat Summit 2024! We’re putting on another great show and I’m excited to be back in LA to meet up and speak with fun people again. I will, however, be making some time to finish up Nancy Drew: Mystery of the Seven Keys, and as soon as I get back there will be several other games waiting for me — not the least of which is Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

What to play this week

What’s new:

  • Homeworld 3
  • Lorelei and the Laser Eyes
  • Men of War II
  • Die by the Blade
  • Dread Delusion
  • Please Fix the Road
  • Braid: Anniversary Edition

New on subscription services:

  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Chants of Sennaar (Xbox Game Pass)
  • EA Sports NHL 24 (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Immortals of Aveum (Xbox Game Pass)
  • 100 Doors Games: Escape from School (Prime Gaming)
  • The Forgotten City (Prime Gaming)
  • Colony Survival (GeForce Now)
  • Palworld (GeForce Now)
  • Baseball (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Alleyway (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Super Mario Land (Nintendo Switch Online)

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