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Finding the Light in the Shadows - Assassin's Creed Shadows Interview

We sit down with Charles Benoit, game director on Assassin's Creed Shadows, to discuss the game that is a dream come true for fans and developers alike.

Audio transcription

"Hello everyone and welcome back to Gamereactor.
As you can probably tell by the really pretty environment we're sitting in right now, I'm here with Charles, the Game Director of Assassin's Creed Shadows, nonetheless."

"I've just had a very interesting demo of the game, a hands-off portion, where we got to see a bit of it earlier in the Ubisoft Forward, but then you showed us the alternative side of things.
It should have shown off the gameplay in a different manner, so tell me a little bit about that."

"With the dual protagonists, how can Assassin's Creed Shadows differ?
First of all, we have a samurai and a shinobi, so we really want to highlight their capacities.
Naue is more like the shinobi's stealth, agile, and on the other side, Yasuke is really strong and really competent in combat."

"Both can do a bit of both, but we really highlight what they are best at.
And that's what we showed in the demo you saw before.
With Naue and Yasuke being very different in build, obviously they have different weapons and abilities and whatnot, but do they have different play styles as well?
For example, is Naue a bit more weaker in combat while Yasuke has a lot of armor protecting him?
Yeah, that's the idea."

"Naue has a lot of tools to be super good at stealth, so she's the only one to have tools.
She has four types of tools to play with the AI to kill them at distance.
Her weapons also unlock different types of new assassinations.
She's the only one with the Ender Blade, so that makes her a really good character for stealth."

"Of course, she has weapons so she can fight, but the fact that she doesn't have much armor makes her a bit weaker and more risky to go just full-on fight.
And in the reveal trailer you showed, I think it was about a month ago now, we saw Yasuke introduced and Naue introduced in a way where it looked like they were enemies, but now they're friends. So tell me, how does that happen?
Yeah, I can tell some of the stuff, but it's kind of the core of the story and I don't want to spoil the story."

"But obviously, like you saw in the trailer, it's around Oda Nobunaga and the fact he unified Japan, and the Shinobi Inuga was like the last one to survive the unification.
So we tell the story with two points of view, the point of view of Naue that suffers from it and the point of view of Yasuke that sees the greatness and the need of unification with Oda Nobunaga."

"So that's really cool how the story evolves, and there are some things that I cannot tell, we'll unify them and then you can play with both of them, the open world basically.
And we've become quite familiar with dual protagonists in recent Assassin's Creed games, but here they are actually different, whereas beforehand with Ivor and Cassandra and Alexios, they're very much the same protagonists in different ways, but here it's two separate characters that you can play as."

"Why did you decide to go down that route instead of having the similar setup that we saw with Valhalla?
So mostly for gameplay reasons. So for sure, like I just said, with the two points of view, it's super interesting, but in gameplay and also their characteristics, like Samurai and Shinobi scream the two pillars of the franchise, combat and stealth."

"And I always feel to have great challenges, you want impact and consequences.
So if you fail your stealth, you cannot just go and fight and it's over.
You need to think, is it best to handle this in combat or should I go back to stealth by vanishing and trying again?
And we got to see a lot of the Katana swordplay combat."

"It seems to me that there's quite a lot of depth there.
So tell me about how you managed to get that right and some of the different play styles and strikes and whatnot that are involved in the swordplay.
Well, the combat is made with different weapons and each weapon has their own characteristics."

"We go with different types of mechanics also.
So you can see the enemy has armor.
The armor can deny some of the damage and some weapons are better than others to break the armors.
And we introduce a new type of move."

"So at any point when you do a combo, you can hold the attacks, either the light or the heavy attack.
And when you hold it, it strikes a pose that you can use whenever you want, basically, since you can do it at any moment.
And those pose are really critical to inflict massive damage.
Reading the enemy and doing it in the proper timing will make you a lot more deadly."

"Now, obviously, it's Ubisoft Quebec that is leading the development here.
And obviously, that's a Canadian company or a Canadian studio.
And yet this is set in Japan.
So how have you gone about making this version of Japan feel authentic and real?
Yeah, that's a good question."

"So from day one, when we decided to do Japan, we did a lot of research.
We had an historian with us from day one.
So she did a lot of research pointing you on the proper documentation that we should read to start learning.
Because it's like going back to school in a way, you know."

"And we had a lot of experts all around Japan.
We have also teams in Japan like Osaka and Tokyo with the process of validation.
So we make sure in the production we get it right.
Now, you mentioned that a lot of experts are working on this game."

"There are a lot of, shall we say, fake experts on the Internet these days, especially with Shogun being out there.
And everyone all of a sudden taking this massive interest in self-proclaimed experts in the history of Japan.
Has the fame of that show impacted the way that people have perceived Assassin's Creed Shadows?
Have you found that there's a bigger sort of drive and desire for this game now that that show has come out and really sort of boomed and put a spotlight on this part of history?
I don't know if it's really impacted the perception of people."

"But what I can see and I can feel like the show is pretty great.
I love it.
And I think it shows interest in feudal Japan and like massive worldwide.
So it's great news for us that release a game in the same time basically."

"Now, you guys make big worlds.
Have you got a sort of comparison with how big your version of Japan is here compared to previous Assassin's Creed games?
Yeah.
I would say it's around the map of Mirage."

"The big difference with what we did in the past, it's the scale ratio of the world to make sure that when we were in Japan and we returned to Quebec, we were like, OK, the mountains are really steep.
The castle are so big.
If we really want to feel that, we need to change the scale ratio to have a bigger footprint on all those places."

"So it always feel like, oh, wow, it's gigantic.
So make it more credible in a way.
So that's one of the big difference compared to what we did in the past.
Now, Assassin's Creed Shadows is coming out on November 15th on pretty much every platform you can imagine."

"Tell me, with that in mind, what's something that you're really excited for players to experience for themselves when Assassin's Creed Shadows debuts?
I can't wait to see how players will react to the dynamic season that we have, because when they play, they can do any quest with any protagonist in any season.
So when they will speak with their friend, they will say, OK, I was during winter and the other, OK, I was in summer."

"And I get the guy from the pounds.
Oh, yeah, me, I slipped and I had to run.
So it will create some discussion, I think, with the fans.
Well, there you have it."

"Assassin's Creed Shadows.
You'll be able to play it very soon.
It's coming out in November.
So stay tuned for that.
And otherwise, for more information about the game, be sure to check out your local Gamerator region."

"Take care, everyone."

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