Yasuke from Assassin's Creed Shadows
(Ubisoft)

‘Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ Is Taking Heat for All the Wrong Reasons

Several gamers have taken to Twitter to talk about their anger over Assassin’s Creed Shadows, but not for the reasons you’d think. It isn’t the $70 price tag of the game or the lack of gameplay footage that has drawn the ire of the worst corners of gaming.

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It was the two main characters—a Black samurai and a female shinobi—that the angry mob went after. According to them, Ubisoft has “pandered” to the “woke” crowd, and this rage is particularly directed towards Yasuke, the Black samurai in question. They argue that historical accuracy is “lost” with this Black samurai and that it’s “racist” to make him central to the game.

When were Assassin’s Creed fans ever so invested in reality? Or historical accuracy, for the matter? Because if this argument has any validity, then we should all be complaining about the previous games in the franchise. Eivor from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla isn’t real, and neither are Kassandra nor Alexios from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Maybe they are, and I’m invoking the wrath of both Odin and Zeus for saying these things. But until lightning strikes me down from the Greek and Norse Pantheons, it’s a clear fact that those characters are works of fiction. They were used to depict periods of history in Greece and Norway that were real, but the characters and events are mostly works of fiction.

So why is it that a character based on a real Black samurai is drawing so much flak? If they’re concerned with “accuracy,” then they should read an actual Japanese history book. I hope they do it in Nihongo, too, so that they never lose anything in translation if they hold the original material to be so sacred. While they’re at it, it would be good for them to read up on Yasuke himself, who fought under Oda Nobunaga’s banner. According to my major subjects in Japanese Studies, this makes Yasuke a part of the warrior class—a samurai.

Racist assumptions about Yasuke

Of course, those making these complaints won’t let actual historical accuracy get in the way of their claims as they move the goalposts and scramble for any reason to invalidate Yaskue, now that they have to admit he’s real.

But make no mistake, Nobunaga himself is a figure that’s larger than life, and several of his retainers would either be remembered for infamy or greatness. Additionally, Nobunaga himself embraced Yasuke for his strength as a fighter. If there is anybody still insisting on reducing Yasuke, it has to be those whose mindset leads them to racist assumptions.

African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan, by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girrard, compiles Yasuke’s journey and history in Japan. It speaks of Yasuke as a man who crossed the seas with Jesuits and became a successful immigrant in a completely foreign country that was in the midst of war.

Nobody has seen the story of this game, and yet these angry gamers are reacting as if they’ve returned after 20 hours of gameplay, and a Japanese history degree, to review how terribly forced this Assassin’s Creed’s storyline is.

It’s especially bold of them considering there isn’t even gameplay footage of Assassin’s Creed Shadows that was released before Ubisoft started advertising the pre-orders for $70. I’m mad, too, but at Ubisoft for having no courage to show us gameplay footage before demanding us to line up for pre-orders. How will I know that the stunning trailer isn’t just a trap to get me to buy a game whose quality I can’t be sure of?

I seriously expected every other gamer to be up in arms regarding this robbery. If I’m paying $70, the mechanics had better be smooth, like how my hidden blades will cut through unassuming NPC samurai. There had better be no bugs when the game is released, because $70 with a six-month waiting period is a long time. I’ll save my review of Assassin’s Creed Shadows for after I’ve fully cleared its main story. But for now, I rally for a sneak peak of the gameplay footage and rage against Ubisoft’s absurd $70 price tag.


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Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.