Why Are Gamers Upset about ‘Assassin’s Creed Shadows?’


It seems like every other week there is a new “controversy” in the gaming world. The loudest opinions always surface first, and people can’t help but ride that hate train.

Fresh off a debate on whether or not Stellar Blade’s censored outfit was a woke move, or if Hades II’s goddess of love Aphrodite is too masculine to be sexy (guys, she is mostly naked, c’mon) gamers have set their sights on Assassin’s Creed Shadows.

The newest entry in the colossal franchise is set to release in November 2024, and though we have nothing beyond the first trailer, gamers are furious – and suddenly experts on Japan’s Sengoku period.

Why are gamers mad about Assassin’s Creed Shadows?

Developer Ubisoft has found itself at the top of players sh*t-list over the last few years for a litany of issues, including price gouging, copy-pasting settings, locking content behind pre-order walls, repetitive gameplay, and, of course, historical inaccuracies.

Back in 2007, Ubisoft moved to rectify some of those immersion breaking errors in chronology, like removing Altier’s crossbow. Even so, the game focused on the assassination of real historical figures, who were obviously not off-ed by a shadow organization of assassins in the real world. More recent entries have seen the studio move away from even the illusion of accuracy in the name a narrative – even if their ancient setting have been used for educational purposes (we’re looking at you, AC: Origins).

Alas, those gamers who missed the shift to a new direction when the god Anubis reared his jackal head in Origins, or when Eivor started riding the giant wolf Hati in Valhalla, are making a stink over the perceived inaccuracies shown in the reveal trailer dropped in mid-May.

The complaints range from decrying the “forced inclusivity” of one of the dual protagonists, the real historical figure Yasuke, an African samurai, to the female co-protagonist, the Shinobi Naoe, not being Japanese enough.

For the record, the character comes from the Iga Province, the home of the Shinobi, and her father is none other than Fujibayashi Nagato the ninja who saved the Shinobi way of life during the 16th century.

But the dual protagonist nature of the game seems to be lost on gamers, who are almost solely focused on the Yasuke of it all, even through the historical figure has 2 anime adaptations, Afro Samurai and Yasuke based on him.

The comments section of the YouTube video is filled with gamers hashing it out.

Image and screenshots from YouTube

One conversation drifting around harkens back to 2009, with the release of Resident Evil 5. The white protagonist, Chris Redfield, is sent to Africa, where he is forced to fight his way through waves of infected locals. At the time, it was controversial for the perceived insensitivity of a white man engaging in essentially mass murder against Africans. Users on Twitter, now X.com, feel that Yasuke cutting his way through Japanese people is much the same.

Streamer Asmongold weighed in as well, and while his “hot takes” about Yasuke were no different than the plethora of others on social media, he did take a second to call out Naoe as, “some girl,” and say that her inclusion ruined the immersion for him because, “there’s not a real situation where a woman is going to be able to beat 3 guys as an assassin.”

Where were those same complaints with Kassandra, Eivor, Evie, or Aveline?

Ubisoft also confirmed that, much like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, players will have their pick of romantic partners, but trolls seem to have yet again forgotten AC precedent. There have been queer characters since Leonardo Da Vinci popped up in AC II Brotherhood and crushed on the dreamy Ezio Auditori.

Assassin’s Creed II Brotherhood

But the icing on the ridiculous cake is the actual editing war taking place on the Wikipedia pages for AC Shadows and Yasuke. Since the trailer dropped on the 15th, Yasuke’s page has been altered 100’s of times, with posters adding and subtracting information to suit their chosen narrative. Its a ridiculous back and forth, and one that will end as soon as the trailer fades from the cultural zeitgeist.

For some, who are more able to articulate their frustrations than others, the core issue seems to be Ubisoft’s political messaging. Fans feel that their preferred historical setting has been overridden by Ubisoft’s “radical progressivism.” When it comes to making games, which is a form of art, its only natural for those involved with development to let their opinions seep into the fabric of the story. At the end of the day, all a consumer can do is avoid engagement – even flaming a trailer.

As an American, I can’t speak to the Japanese reaction to the drama, but there are plenty of Japanese comments on the YouTube channel voicing concern over erasure of their history. There is, of course, a Japanese protagonist as well, but that doesn’t diminish the feeling of being left behind. We can only hope that when the game releases in mid November, it’s good enough for gamers to leave their worries behind as they assassinate some Jesuit-Templar baddies.

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