Ubisoft Quebec takes lead on feudal Japan-set 'Assassin's Creed Shadows' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Ubisoft Quebec takes lead on feudal Japan-set 'Assassin's Creed Shadows'

Ubisoft Quebec managing director Nathalie Bouchard and game director Charles Benoit at the Ubisoft building, Tuesday, May 7, 2024 in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Ubisoft's studio in Quebec City is perhaps not as established as its sibling in Montreal.

Founded 27 years ago, Ubisoft Montreal is the world's largest video game studio, says Nathalie Bouchard, Ubisoft Quebec's managing director. It boasts roughly 4,000 employees.

Ubisoft in Quebec City has about 600, says Bouchard. "It was probably seen as the little brother," when it was established in 2005.

However, the studio is taking the lead on development of the next instalment in the long-running "Assassin's Creed" series, most of which has been quarterbacked by Montreal.

"We try to encourage development of our core teams in all of our studios," says Bouchard.

It's an opportunity, she says, for the team in Quebec City to lead a project. They took point on 2015's "Assassin's Creed Syndicate," 2018's "Assassin's Creed Odyssey," as well as the action-adventure game "Immortals Fenyx Rising," released in 2020.

"It's very motivating and it helps to develop the skills, the talent of the team," Bouchard says, adding that Ubisoft studios can switch between being leads and collaborators on projects.

Revealed this week as "Assassin's Creed Shadows," the latest game in the historical action-adventure series brings players to feudal Japan, a setting long requested by fans.

"When we start an 'Assassin's Creed' game, we have a lot of ideas on possible settings, but there's a lot of people that contribute to choosing a setting. It's not only the studio deciding it," says Charles Benoit, game director for "Shadows."

Benoit says they looked at data on what players wanted, their own preferences and also what they wanted to do in the future.

"For us, it felt like it was time to go to Japan, and it was something we wanted to do for a long time."

The previous instalment in the franchise, "Assassin's Creed Mirage," marked a return of the emphasis on stealth, and the name of the upcoming game suggests a continuation of that commitment.

With "Shadows," Benoit says, there was an effort to "modernize the stealth experience."

"Enemy perception is more dynamic than ever," he says. "Now we have light and shadow in consideration. It's the first time we have that in the franchise. Also, dynamic weather impacts how (enemies) perceive you ... heavy rain can obstruct their vision."

The game will feature dual protagonists: the samurai Yasuke and Naoe, a shinobi, or ninja.

"If you think about feudal Japan, we really have this image in mind of big castles, samurai and also ninjas," he says. "So we wanted those two fantasies — the shinobi and the samurai — because they're so interesting to dive into and play."

The franchise has a tradition of having players interact with fictionalized versions of famous figures. But this time around, one of the playable characters is pulled from history.

Yasuke was a foreigner recruited to be a warrior for Oda Nobunaga, a powerful 16th-century daimyo, or feudal lord, says Benoit.

"What's great about this character is that we can discover Japan through his eyes, the eyes of a foreigner, and most of the players are kind of discovering Japan at the same time. So we felt it's a great opportunity for us," he says.

The characters of Yasuke and Naoe will have stories that eventually intertwine, Benoit says, and players will gain the ability to alternate between them as the game progresses.

"It feels new in terms of play style because they really play differently. They have different parkour animations, the world perceives them differently, they have different stories," he says. "It feels fresh when you switch between both."

Another reason is it's the first "Assassin's Creed" made for new-generation consoles, says Benoit, referring to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S.

With that technological upgrade come improvements like a world that feels more alive, with a full cycle of seasons, Benoit says.

"We feel there are a lot of components that make this game kind of a new start for the franchise."

It's an exciting time at Ubisoft Quebec, adds Bouchard.

"I'm very proud of the team," she says. "Working with engaged, passionate people is, from my perspective, the biggest asset that you can have as a manager. And that's exactly what I have with the team in Quebec."

"Assassin's Creed Shadows" is set to release on Nov. 15.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2024.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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