Among the reveals at Ubisoft’s Forward showcase earlier today we got our first look at the upcoming mainline Assassin’s Creed game simply codenamed “Red” and set in Feudal Japan. The evocative setting seems like a natural fit for Assassin’s Creed’s never-ending drama of cops ‘n robbers—er, Templars and Assassins.
The game got only the briefest of trailers at Ubisoft Forward, setting the mood with a striking sunset over castles and forests, with a ninja armed with a hidden blade and Japanese short sword landing on a tiled roof before cutting to the series logo and “Codename Red” title. Ubisoft veteran Marc-Alexis Côté described Codename Red as the “future of [Ubisoft’s] open world RPGs,” and the game is being developed by Ubisoft Quebec, the team behind Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
It really writes itself, doesn’t it? Cast the shinobi clans of Iga province as some manner of Assassin Order franchisee, while the world famous warrior nobility of the samurai caste get to be Templars. Even though the historical ninja of the Sengoku period emerged long after the time of the Order of Assassins, that former group has really eclipsed the latter in the popular imagination. “Assassin” may be the Kleenex generic term for an infiltration-focused killer, but try to walk five steps without tripping over a movie, anime, videogame, or homebrew tabletop class paying homage to those covert warriors from Japan.
Ubisoft does face a unique challenge in that a historical Japanese Assassin’s Creed has already kind of been made. It’s called Ghost of Tsushima and it was released by Sucker Punch in 2020. That gorgeous samurai sim owes a lot of its combat, parkourey exploration, and collectathon open world design to Ubisoft’s latter-day RPG-adjacent Assassin’s Creeds like Origins and Odyssey.
There’s definitely room for differentiation here, though, especially if Ubisoft embraces the astounding urbanism of premodern Japan. It does depend on what era Ubisoft plans to focus on, but Tokugawa-era Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto would all make for rich Assassin hunting grounds. Ubisoft’s never been a slouch when it comes to creating virtual cities, and even the Paris of the much-maligned Assassin’s Creed Unity is a feast for the eyes.
I’ve got a beautiful vision in my mind of a seamless rural-urban game world like the Witcher 3’s Novigrad, and I’m excited to see where Ubisoft takes this concept. It’ll be more of a wait, however—this Assassin’s creed seems to be at least two years down the line, if not more.