Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ Yasuke controversy is going from bad to worse

Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ Yasuke controversy is going from bad to worse
Images via Ubisoft

Written by 

Harry Boulton


17th May 2024 14:10

The reveal of Assassin's Creed Shadows has certainly been tumultuous, with undeserved controversy surrounding one of the game's two main protagonists. Alongside a shinobi woman called Naoe, there's Yasuke, who mirrors the real-life 16th-century black samurai.

There were already grumbles about a black man featuring prominently in a game that's set in this period of Japan's history, and while Yasuke has a place in the actual history books, that's not enough for the most vocal critics. 

It only seems to be going from bad to worse as time goes on, with flames still raging strong and accusations that a 'woke' Ubisoft is pandering to the 'woke' expectations of the modern video game landscape. 

Negative reaction to the trailer

YouTube isn't exactly known for being the most positive or friendly space, and that certainly rings true when it comes to the community's reaction to the AC Shadows trailer.

From a purely analytical perspective, the video currently has 392,434 dislikes to 228,070 likes, which makes up over 63% of the total engagements at the time of writing.

'Fans' are also voicing their opinion in the comments, with one user remarking that "the most heroic thing about this trailer is that they left the comments open," whereas another flippantly remarked that "from an Italian perspective, this looks like pineapples on pizza." Lots of people like pineapple on pizza!

Fans point to former historical 'inaccuracies'

Image of Yasuke and Naoe in Assassins Creed Shadows
Click to enlarge

Things thankfully aren't all negative, as players on the other side have taken to Reddit to argue in favour of this decision - particularly due to the loose historical representations that the Assassin's Creed series is already known for.

User u/Candid_Contract4369 made a post arguing against the outrage, stating "Was Yasuke actually a samurai? No. But assassins and Templar also never actually met, the pieces of Eden aren’t real, and it’s a franchise about ancient hyper advanced humanoids. I don’t get why it’s a big deal when everything is historical fiction."

In a series involving time travel, wild set pieces, and aliens, it seems ridiculous that so many people are up in arms about a character that actually existed within history.

Another comment on the post highlights the double standard when it comes to Assassin's Creed Shadows' other main protagonist, stating that they've "seen so many people complaining that they can't play a Japanese person in Japan like Naoe isn't right f****** there lol."

The same user then goes on to argue that "the real reason people don't see her as the lead [is] because she's a woman," and they certainly might be on to something there, too.

We don't know how much of a role Naoe and Yasuke will take in the story, but the reveal that you play as both instead of picking one or the other indicates that some on the angry side seem to hear and see what they want. 

Harry Boulton
About the author
Harry Boulton
Harry is a Guides Writer at GGRecon, having completed a Masters of Research degree in Film Studies. Previously a freelance writer for PCGamesN, The Loadout, and Red Bull Gaming, he loves playing a wide variety of games from the Souls series to JRPGs, Counter-Strike, and EA FC. When not playing or writing about games and hardware, you're likely to find him watching football or listening to Madonna and Kate Bush.
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