Why Assassin’s Creed Shadows is Going to Have a Tough Time Competing with Ghost of Tsushima

Assassin's Creed is finally going to Japan, but with Ghost of Tsushima having already done that so well, it'll have a lot to live up to.

Posted By | On 28th, May. 2024

Why Assassin’s Creed Shadows is Going to Have a Tough Time Competing with Ghost of Tsushima

For about as long as anyone can remember, Assassin’s Creed fans have been loudly demanding a series instalment that’s set in feudal Japan. For what felt like endless years, it felt like Ubisoft had become immune to that particular idea and that Assassin’s Creed would never head to Japan, but at long last, the company has confirmed that later this year, Assassin’s Creed Shadows will finally give fans what they’ve been asking for for years. Set in Sengoku era Japan and making bold promises about its exciting setting, the next instalment in the franchise is looking one of its more promising entries in a long time.

But though excitement surrounding Assassin’s Creed Shadows is high (especially for a game that we’ve seen zero gameplay of), you’ll find that many also share the sentiment that the game’s Japanese setting is going to have a great deal to live up to not only because of how long we’ve been waiting for an Assassin’s Creed game set in Japan, but because for many, there’s one game that already completely fulfilled that demand more comprehensively than anyone could have hoped for. Thanks to 2020’s Sucker Punch masterpiece Ghost of Tsushima’s gorgeous 13th century Japanese setting and its Assassin’s Creed inspired gameplay and structure, for many, Ubisoft’s upcoming open world behemoth is going to have to outdo a game that is widely considered better than the vast majority of Assassin’s Creed games.

This is, interestingly enough, something of a recurring incident. Assassin’s Creed Shadows isn’t the first game that’s being compared incessantly to Ghost of Tsushima. Just earlier this year, Team Ninja and Sony put out Rise of the Ronin, which took more than a few cues from both Ghost of Tsushima and Assassin’s Creed with its mid-19th century Japanese open world setting. Given how pronounced those similarities were and how much the game had to live up to, perhaps those comparisons may have been louder than some may have cared for, but they very much felt like they were merited.

Which, of course, is the case here, with Assassin’s Creed Shadows as well. It is, of course, ironic that Ghost of Tsushima is the benchmark that Assassin’s Creed is going to have to live up to, given how heavily the former was inspired by the latter in more ways than one, but Sucker Punch’s game was just that good, and at this point, it feels like any open world experience that’s set in feudal Japan is going to be compared to Ghost of Tsushima. And when that game is as big and mainstream as something like the next mainline Assassin’s Creed game, you can bet those comparisons are going to be that much louder.

Assassin's Creed Shadows_07

The question, of course, is whether Assassin’s Creed Shadows can fare better in matchups with Ghost of Tsushima than Rise of the Ronin did earlier this year (at the very least). Given the fact that we haven’t seen any gameplay of the title so far, for the most part, we can only speculate- though at least we can do so based on details that have emerged on the game from developer interviews, and from what its own predecessors have done in the past. For starers, Ubisoft is going to have to ensure that Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ map is significantly more interesting than, say, Odyssey and Valhalla’s maps. Sure, those maps were impressive thanks to how mind-bogglingly massive they were, but given their sheer size, they also often felt almost like they were procedurally generated, with the world’s size diluting any of its design strengths.

With Assassin’s Creed Shadows, supposedly, Ubisoft has dialed the crank back down at least a tiny bit in terms of the map’s size, with the world supposedly being about as large as Origin’s map was. Across all of that real estate, we’re hoping that the game will pack dense and intricately crafted cities, awe-striking and visually captivating vistas, and legitimate environmental diversity that truly makes the world feel dense and alive. If Assassin’s Creed Shadows wants to perform respectably in comparisons against Ghost of Tsushima, it’s going to have to craft one of the series’ best and most memorable open world maps of all time.

Just as important, I feel, will be how you traverse through that map- though this, admittedly, is not because it has much to live up to when going up against Ghost of Tsushima, but because it has a lot to live up to as an Assassin’s Creed game. Ghost, of course, isn’t necessarily known for its traversal mechanics. Though there are some light parkour mechanics, especially with Jin’s grapple hook, the majority of your open world navigation is done on horseback (unless you’re a psycho who likes to run everywhere for some reason). So no, it’s not like Assassin’s Creed Shadows will have stiff competition from Ghost in this area.

Assassin's Creed Shadows_11

You do, however, always expect an Assassin’s Creed game to have fun traversal. Parkour mechanics have been heavily dumbed down in the franchise for a while now (even if last year’s Mirage turned the clock back with its parkour mechanics a little bit), though with Shadows, we’re desperately hoping Ubisoft will remedy that. Assassin’s Creed needs to go back to the intricate, detailed, and deliberate style of parkour that it boasted with the likes of Unity and Syndicate– something that feels much less automated and looks much more stylish. Will Shadows make that hard of a u-turn? It’s highly unlikely- but based on what the developers say, the game is going to place more of an emphasis on parkour (including a grappling hook mechanic) when you’re playing as the shinobi Naoe, so perhaps that indicates a relatively greater emphasis on parkour than AC Origins and the action RPG behemoths that it spawned.

There are, of course, many other factors that can and will have a significant impact on how well Assassin’s Creed Shadows can stick the landing, or if it even can. Everything from how compelling its story and characters are to how fun its combat and stealth are to how it handles and balances its progression mechanics to any number of other things are also going to be important pillars of the experience on offer. Obviously, Shadows will be judged based on all of them- but specifically where it’s Ghost of Tsushima comparisons are concerned, I feel that if it can provide a legitimately compelling and gorgeous open world experience, it’s at least going to be able to hold its own against Sucker Punch’s samurai epic. Is it going to be able to beat it? For that, the bar is going to be much, much higher.

Thankfully, Ubisoft has confirmed that it’s going to be completely pulling back the curtain on Assassin’s Creed Shadows with a full-fledged gameplay reveal not long from now, what with the next Ubisoft Forward showcase coming not very soon, so at least we’ll soon have a decent idea of how we should set our expectations before heading into Assassin’s Creed Shadows. Personally, I’m cautiously optimistic- but this franchise has burned me in the past, so I’m not going in with anything approaching blind faith just yet.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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