Assassin's Creed Shadows gameplay shows highs and lows of PS5 gen

Assassin's Creed Shadows' gameplay trailer for PS5 left me feeling like I know exactly what to expect from the new RPG — the same highs and lows as always!

Assassin's Creed Shadows gameplay shows highs and lows of PS5 gen
Kes Eylers-Stephenson

Opinion by Kes Eylers-Stephenson


There is no doubt by the end of the year I'll be collecting those Assassin's Creed Shadows trophies as I always do with every game in the series. I just love history and assassins too much! However, while watching the latest Assassins Creed Shadows gameplay trailer for PS5, I felt like I knew the highs and lows of this PS5 game already.


Assassin's Creed Shadows gameplay felt like a summary of PS5's RPG obsession

Having ranked every Assassin's Creed game so far, I want to continue to play this series as much as possible. Even if I don't love an AC game, completing every entry is a fun voyage for me — it's the only franchise I have that kind of relationship with. However, I'll admit that Assassin's Creed Shadows' latest gameplay trailer has me feeling unsettled because this is the first entry where nothing stands out as new at all.
Assassin's Creed Shadows for PS5 looks like a summation of the highs and lows of this entire generation of RPGs from Origins to Valhalla. That's fine, but after spending so much time in that game style, I don't know that Shadows will be able to sustain the interest of myself or other players. Will it do enough to distinguish itself?

The opening starts with protagonist Yasuke wandering into Fukuyama village, collecting a mission from a villager, beating up some foes, and joining up with co-protagonist Naoe. Straight off the bat, Assassin's Creed Shadows' open world is clearly going to be a stunning representation of Japan, something Ubisoft has been nailing since the first few Assassin's Creed games. The RPG games — Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla — all have awesome depictions of the landscapes, locales, and the cultures therein.

Shadows' looks set to continue that high with popping colors, twisting forest paths, dense villages with busy people, and period-appropriate architecture. Honestly, the world is 50% of the series' appeal, so it's a great start. However, as soon as we entered that RPG in-engine cutscene, I felt like a bit of the energy got sucked out of the gameplay.

AC ShadowsNew world, same combat.

It's not that it looked bad — it just felt like a return to the lifeless dialogue quest-givers we've seen in AC games for a while now. I miss a bit of the cinematic flair and color we get from older games or even Sucker Punch's rival Japan sandbox game Ghost of Tsushima.

Since my Assassin's Creed Mirage review, I've felt like I'm noticing more and more that dialogue in Ubisoft's games all feel weirdly empty. It felt to me that all the same series' lows were back again in Shadows.

As Yasuske battled with foes, I was also reminded of just how little modern Assassin's Creed's combat has grown on me. A low of recent AC games wore me out as simple combat traipsed on well past the 40 hour mark. I saw echoes of Valhalla in the open combat of Shadows, which is not a compliment. That said, I respect that Shadows seems to have improved on Valhalla's combat animations a lot.

AC ShadowsGive me more of this.

Given its Japanese setting, I feel like Shadows has to rectify combat and deliver a clearer contrast between itself and Sony's Ghost of Tsushima. Ubisoft is also using stances (the protagonist swings the sword in different ways depending on body position) which puts it even further in Ghost of Tsushima's line of sight. You know what they say — if you take a shot at the king, you'd better not miss. Sucker Punch's game has some of the best open combat mechanics around and there is going to be a huge problem if Shadows can't match it.

While I have lots of early issues with Shadows' open combat, I have to say that Naoe's stealth combat sections enthralled me. Stealth had been much neglected in Odyssey and Valhalla, and only finally saw a resurgence in Mirage. Here though, Shadows seemed spot on: the grappling mechanics, use of light to create shadows, killing through walls, hitching to ceilings, and swimming underwater with a breathing pipe all feel unique and engaging

This was the highlight of Shadows' gameplay trailer for me — the major high among all the same-y lows I've gotten used to. At least I can hold onto that singular buzz right up to Shadows' PS5 release date on Friday, November 15, 2024. If you want more of my thoughts on recent Assassin's Creed, check out my Assassin's Creed Valhalla review and let me know what you thought of the new trailer for Assassin's Creed Shadows!
Written by Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Editor Kes is our resident expert in PlayStation and Sony news. He writes about PS5 games like LEGO Horizon Adventures, Assassin’s Creed Shadows, Kingdom Come Deliverance II, Concord, and Death Stranding 2 using experience from years of PlayStation gaming. He also covers PS Plus news, as well as his favorite games — The Witcher 3, God of War, and The Last of Us — before an evening swim.
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