Assassin’s Creed Shadows gameplay deep-dive looks brilliant

Underwater stealth, fancy assassinations, samurai baseball – Shadows has it all

The June 2024 Ubisoft Forward event featured an Assassin’s Creed Shadows gameplay deep dive that showed off some of the stealth game’s finer details, including how dual protagonists Yasuke and Naoe play. It also gave a closer look at how Shadows aims to balance the action-RPG elements of modern Assassin’s Creed games with the series’ classic sneaky, stabby roots.

First up was a Yasuke segment. The samurai hero arrives in a small town as the cherry trees are in full bloom – and the local daimyo is showing off just how tyrannical he can be. Yasuke picks up a quest that seems pretty much like any other Assassin’s Creed quest: Stop a bad guy from being bad. It’s unclear whether you end up with multiple ways to handle quests in Shadows, but for this segment, Yasuke chose to handle it with his giant, spiky bat.

His combat style with this weapon is slow and tanky, but he can easily shatter enemy armor and send them flying like giant samurai baseballs. He also has a katana you can use when you want to move a bit faster. Ubisoft wants to shake combat up this time with the posture system, where you can hold any attack in a postured stance at any point in a combo and deal extra damage if you land the hit – assuming your foe doesn’t take advantage of your opening and kill you first. Enemies have postured attacks as well, and the Ubisoft team said their goal was making battles feel like deliberate dances.

Naoe, a shinobi, favors quick movements, fast weapons, and a stealthier approach to combat. She uses kunai and a little scythe on a string she swings in circles with devastating effect. You can switch between the two at any point, so long as that point isn’t in combat or during an infiltration mission.

Ubisoft picked Naoe to demonstrate a stealthy infiltration for this deep-dive, and it looked much more like something you’d expect from a classic AC game. Naoe extinguishes lanterns, creates distractions, uses gadgets to climb walls, breathes underwater with a reed pipe while planning her next move, and can use light and shadow to conceal herself from nearby foes. Stealthy takedowns are back, and as long as you accomplish your objective, you can make a messy retreat without harming your chance of success – assuming you don’t get killed in the process.

Basing an opinion on just 15 minutes of gameplay is impossible, but it looks like Ubisoft is at least trying to create an elegant combination of styles that has a bit of everything from the series’ past.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows launches on Nov. 15, 2024, and Assassin’s Creed Shadows pre-orders are open now.

Josh Broadwell