While little has been revealed since Assassin's Creed Codenamed Red was teased last year, the upcoming samurai fantasy has a lot of momentum behind it. For years Japan has been one of the most heavily requested settings in the series, but it's not alone now with the success of Sucker Punch's Ghost of Tsushima.
For as much as I have enjoyed the Assassin's Creed franchise over the last 15 years, I absolutely adore Ghost of Tsushima. The 2020 open-world game clearly borrowed from Ubisoft's flagship series with its emphasis on stealth and exploration, however, Sucker Punch did something that no title in the long-running historical games had done before and made the combat the best part of the experience.
Even Assassin's Creed Valhalla, which made strides with its further commitment to hit-box combat, didn't do enough to fully commit to the brutality of the Viking setting. In contrast, the melee mechanics in Ghost of Tsushima are top tier as Jin Sakai feels equal parts legendary honorable samurai and a specter in the shadows. He is everything that an assassin should be, and if Ubisoft can take inspiration here then we could see something really special with Assassin's Creed Codenamed Red when it is eventually released.
Be like water
The major strength of Ghost of Tsushima's combat system comes down to the four different stances that Jin Sakai takes when encountering different enemy types. These are Stone, Water, Wind, and Moon which are earned sequentially by taking down Mongol leaders. Similar to how stances work in the Yakuza series, with Dragon, Rush, and Beast, you're able to utilize different attacks and ways to wield your sword to be the most efficient.
Enemy variety is where Ghost of Tsushima shines where the latter Assassin's Creed titles haven't really been able to compare. You've got your standard swordsmen, who can be dealt with with the Stone stance, shieldsmen who are weak to the Water stance, spearsmen who can be countered with the Wind stance, and brutes (the largest and deadliest of foes) who fall to the Moon stance. It adds a layer of strategy to fast-paced combat encounters, as you're typically attacked by groups of all four at the same time. It makes the core gameplay loop incredibly rewarding as battles can be seriously challenging if you face your opponents head-on, but that's only one side of the story.
From the shadows
After the introductory section of Ghost of Tsushima, which sees the majority of the island's samurai wiped out by the vicious Mongol invaders, Jin reluctantly learns how to strike from the cover of darkness as a head-on approach would surely mean death. That's where arrows, bombs, poison darts, and stealth assassinations come into the fold which is absolutely where Assassin's Creed Codenamed Red can excel by going harder in on the guerrilla war tactics.
Sakai is a ghost in more than name, though. As your reputation for brutality grows, enemies can become terrified at the sight of you which causes the Ghost stance to be triggered. The screen flashes red and you're able to slaughter enemies in lightning-fast succession. It makes for a true display of power and can level the playing field, particularly after taking down a boss or string of tough enemies. It sells us on the power of Jin Sakai as his legend grows throughout the island offshore from mainland Japan.
We feel Jin Sakai becoming stronger as his reputation grows with his skill set. There are no unnecessary levels or grind-heavy content, instead, things scale with you dynamically. If Assassin's Creed Codenamed Red can make a stellar combat loop, and focus on the stealth as Assassin's Creed Mirage seems to be then we could see the ultimate Japanese samurai fantasy.
We'll be bringing you more about Assassin's Creed Codenamed Red as more comes out about the game in the coming months. Hopefully, it won't be too long before substantial details can be revealed and we'll know if it's a true Ghost of Tsushima rival.