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Assassin's Creed Shadows boss explains why he ignored Elon Musk after backlash over African samurai Yasuke

"It's sad, he's just feeding hatred."

Samurai Yasuke in Assassins Creed Shadows
Image credit: Ubisoft

Assassin's Creed boss Marc-Alexis Côté has spoken on the discourse surrounding Assassin's Creed Shadows' co-lead character Yasuke, an African samurai.

When Ubisoft unveiled Assassin's Creed Shadows in May, there was backlash directed at the inclusion of this historical character, with many overly-vocal individuals on the internet affronted by the game's supposed 'wokeness'.

This discussion was amplified when controversial owner of social media platform X Elon Musk joined in. Replying to one user suggesting Ubisoft should delay its release of Shadows "in response to widespread backlash over the game's injection of DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion]", Musk quipped: "DEI kills art."

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Of course, this exchange was not missed by the Assassin's Creed team. However, Côté chose not to rise to Musk's post, and instead ignored it.

"That tweet generated emotions, that...the first thing I wanted to do was go back on X - that I had deleted - and just tweet back," Côté told Stephen Totilo's Game File. "And I just took a step back. I have a mindfulness app on my phone. And I did a bit of mindfulness to try to explore the emotions that this tweet created.

"For me, Elon, it's sad, he's just feeding hatred. I had a lot of three word replies that came to mind."

Côté said he knew that replying to Musk at that moment would not help Ubisoft's case. "By attacking someone like Elon... I will not convince people about our point of view as a team," he said, before adding: "Yasuke is very, very grounded in the history of the franchise and how we make our choices."

The Assassin's Creed developer added when the Shadows' team did their initial research, "Yasuke kept surfacing", and soon things clicked into place. "We've got a super-mysterious historical character from which not much is known about. And for us, it was what we want in [Assassin's Creed]," he explained.

Elon Musk X post stating "DEI kills art"
Image credit: X

"What Elon says is not the game that we're building," Côté continued. "People will have to play the game for themselves. And if, within the first 11 minutes and 47 seconds, they are not convinced of what we're doing, we can have the discussion."

The developer did not state why this particular moment in the game will be so crucial, simply adding: "I was reviewing the game very recently, and I was like, 'The answer is there!' I just hope and wish that people can keep an open mind about this and see the game for what it is.

"It's an Assassin's Creed game, and I believe the best one we've ever built."

Assassins Creed Shadows gameplay screenshot showing Yasuke stroking a dog
Image credit: Ubisoft

In addition to talking about Yasuke, Côté also revealed Assassin's Creed Infinity - the series' upcoming video game-adjacent experience described by Ubisoft as an interactive hub - has got itself a new name.

Côté said the next series entry Shadows will launch from the Animus, revealing the hub's new name in the process - the rather apt 'Animus hub'. This hub is where the series' modern day segments will now be accessed from going forward. The studio exec promised we would get more details on this "later", so stay tuned.

Assassin's Creed Shadows launches for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S on 15th November 2024.

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