Yasuke and Naoe in Assassin's Creed Shadows
Image via Ubisoft

Who are Yasuke and Naoe in Assassin’s Creed Shadows?

The series has always creatively used historical figures. But were either of the new main characters real?

A new Assassin’s Creed means there will soon be a new historical period and place to explore, with Shadows taking players to feudal Japan. But the game’s two main characters, Yasuke and Naoe, have some fans wondering if they were real, historical people or not.

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The Assassin’s Creed franchise has always liked to dabble in famous historical figures. Who can forget Ezio using a flying machine made by Leonardo da Vinci, or Edward Kenway meeting up with Blackbeard? Fans of Western history will know those figures well as real people, but they might not have as good of a footing with Japanese history, which will be on full display in Shadows.

So, what do we already know about the two characters you’ll get to play as? And were either of them more than just a character on a script?

Assassin’s Creed Shadows: Was Yasuke a real person?

Yasuke attacks an enemy in AC Shadows
A towering figure—and a real one. Image via Ubisoft

Yes, Yasuke the samurai was a real, historical figure and warrior who lived and fought in feudal Japan.

Yasuke is striking in the Shadows premier trailer for several reasons. He appears to be the only non-Japanese person revealed in the trailer, and his dark skin, dreadlocks, and accent reference the real, historical Yasuke, who was most likely African. In a video released by Ubisoft, associate narrative director Brooke Davies notes that not much is known about the historical Yasuke, but there are several recorded details about him in the game, including his arrival in Japan in 1579 with Portuguese merchants and Jesuit missionaries.

Yasuke’s historical early life is made up of plenty of guesswork, but popular theories pin his origins in Mozambique or Sudan, where historians think he was likely abducted to be made into a slave and later trained as a warrior.

When he eventually made his way to Japan with the Portuguese, he towered above most other men in the country, and he soon became a confidant of Oda Nobunaga, warlord and leader in the unification efforts of Japan that serve as the backdrop to Shadows. Oda is also prominently featured in the trailer alongside Yasuke.

So, while it may seem fanciful or like the developers were twisting history to their own devices with an African samurai, this time the character himself is completely real. Now, the historical Yasuke probably didn’t get drawn into a shadow war between Templars and Assassins, but he did exist.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows: Was Naoe a real person?

Naoe aims a kunai at an enemy in a Japanese garden in AC Shadows.
HIstory? It’s more like guidelines. Image via Ubisoft

No. Naoe is a fictional character Ubisoft created for Assassin’s Creed Shadows—but even she has some historical accuracy about her backstory.

The shinobi character of Shadows, Naoe wasn’t a real person. But her father is none other than Fujibayashi Nagato, master ninja of the Iga clan and one of the most prominent shinobi in Japan’s history. For the purposes of Shadows, Naoe is the fictional daughter of Fujibayashi Nagato, who has presumably learned the ways of the shinobi from him and takes his lessons into her fights as an Assassin.

So, even though Naoe wasn’t real, she does have some real history intertwined with her story that should make her and Yasuke’s adventures a treat for the history buffs out there—or just make them pull out their hair at the inaccuracies. This is an Assassin’s Creed game, after all.


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Adam Snavely
Associate Editor and Apex Legends Lead. From getting into fights over Madden and FIFA with his brothers to interviewing some of the best esports figures in the world, Adam has always been drawn to games with a competitive nature. You'll usually find him on Apex Legends (World's Edge is the best map, no he's not arguing with you about it), but he also dabbles in VALORANT, Super Smash Bros. Melee, CS:GO, Pokemon, and more. Ping an R-301.