The Assassin's Creed series got its start with a heavy emphasis on stealth, and while it stuck with that formula for many games, it eventually pivoted to a full-on action RPG. Whether you're into the earlier titles, the larger-scale RPGs, or both, this shift has resulted in a somewhat split fanbase. Assassin's Creed Shadows, with its duo of protagonists, feels as though it's addressing this issue head on, with the pair representing these two contrasting approaches.

In a live gameplay presentation, we were shown three different ways of tackling the same assassination. Set in Japan's Azuchi-Momoyama period, a time of great political turmoil, our pair of heroes are tasked with entering a vast castle town to take down an oppressive daimyo. Once you're inside, you're able to begin the mission with either character: Naoe, a nimble shinobi who's best suited to the series' classic stealth approach, or Yasuke, a powerful samurai who's all about the action.

Naoe's gameplay is very reminiscent of older Assassin's Creed titles; she's using a grapple hook to reach rooftops, clambering over walls, and striking from the shadows to take out her target without raising the alarm. This more thoughtful approach is aided by equipment like kunai, which she can use to extinguish lights to stay hidden, and options such as non-lethal takedowns. This portion of the demonstration felt like the AC we remember, albeit in a gorgeous new setting.

Of course, Yasuke's approach through the castle town is very different. His armour and larger stature means he can't flit around like Naoe can, so instead he has to walk the main path, which means ploughing through a whole bunch of baddies. Using his tetsubo, a large blunt weapon adorned with spikes, Yasuke's combat starts off extremely brutal, with slow, heavy blows that smash enemies into the ground with brutal force. Finishers are particularly violent, with heads popping off shoulders and blood staining every surface. He also wields a rifle for some long-range takedowns.

Being a samurai, though, he does of course use his trusty katana, which is a different flavour of combat. It's a fast and efficient weapon, and duels against other samurai will put your swordsmanship to the test. Whatever weapon you wield, enemies will come at you with red and blue attacks you must dodge and parry respectively, which leads to opportunities for some punishment. Yasuke's more overt style of play feels more in line with the more recent games in the series.

In the third run through this mission, we return to Naoe to see what she can do when she goes loud. As well as a sword, she also makes use of a kusarigama, which is a sickle on the end of a chain. This is perfect for crowd control, something that works well with her character if she's just trying to escape. She can also dish out a fast flurry of sword swipes, and uses her agility to get the best of larger foes.

While Naoe may sound like a more versatile character, then, Yasuke is also afforded ways to sneak around, if the conditions are right. AC Shadows features a fully dynamic, procedural weather system, and it has an effect on how well enemies can see and hear you. The perfect example is a heavy storm, with torrential rain and thunder claps aplenty. With this on your side, Yasuke can use the rain and thunder to conceal his movements.

For the majority of the game, you'll be able to choose which of these two characters to play as, while some story missions will be tied to one or the other. From our perspective, both of them seemed really fun in their own ways, and it's that freedom of choice that has us most excited for AC Shadows. If you grow tired of one, you can swap to the other, enjoying the best of both worlds. For that reason, this looks to be the most interesting Assassin's Creed in a while.

Assassin's Creed Shadows takes PS5 to feudal Japan on 15th November, 2024. Are you excited for this one? Sneak up on the comments section below.