Ubisoft has finally unveiled its next entry in one of gaming’s biggest and longest running franchises. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla will center on Vikings and continue the revamped gameplay and format that Origins and Odyssey pioneered before it.
One of the key features in Origins and Odyssey was how the game incorporated myths and legends of the protagonist’s culture into the story and game play. With the vast world of Norse mythology to draw from, what can we expect when Valhalla launches?
When looking for signs as to what direction the game will head in, one needs look no further than the beautiful cinematic trailer that was released as the announcement for the game. During the climax of the trailer, we see the hero, Eivor, surrounded by the enemy, his army seemingly defeated. He looks around the battlefield in despair, but notices a hooded figure not far away. The person’s face (or any distinguishing characteristics for that matter) isn’t visible, but a raven appears on their shoulder and flies away-leaving Eivor wide eyed and reinvigorated to shout “Odin is with us!” This turns the tide of the battle.
In Norse mythology, Odin is the king of the gods, and he’s often depicted as having raven companions that help him see whats going on in the world. Ubisoft placing Odin so prominently in the very first trailer for the game is an indication that Valhalla will feature mythology at the core of the story.
Adding to that notion is an interview with the narrative director, Darby McDevitt, where he elaborates on the role that mythology will play in the story, stressing that the team’s goal was the portray the culture as authentically as possible. Since religion and worship of the gods was such an important part of their lives, it will be an important part of the game. Darby went on to mention that, with the Viking characters being forced into the British Isles, the British Christian beliefs would clash with the Norse religion, giving faith another role to play in Valhalla.
The team that is bringing this installment in the series to our next generation of consoles is the same one that was behind Origins. This is important because of how that game handled mythology and how it set the stage for its sequel to go even further. From the very opening moments of Origins, Egyptian mythology takes center-stage.
Origin‘s protagonist, Bayek, takes each of his victims to the afterlife and interacts with them as he goes on a quest to find his son’s killer. The Egyptian belief in the afterlife and how it impacts their culture ties into many points of the main story. The game continues to embrace spirituality as Bayek fights Egyptian gods later on in the game. With the same team working on Valhalla, it’s likely the game will embrace Norse culture and mythology in a similar way.
While Origins touched on the culture of Ancient Egypt, Odyssey went further and embraced the mythology wholeheartedly. Odyssey had players hunting cyclops and the Minotaur, and it even went on a seemingly separate tangent with the ancient city of Atlantis. Expect Valhalla to follow the same path, as there is a plethora of Norse Gods and creatures that can be incorporated into the story. The Assassin’s Creed series has strayed away from the historical realism that made the earlier games so popular, but it has found some success in the more fantastical aspects that these time periods have to offer.
The subtitle for the game is Valhalla, which is the place where the Norse believed great warriors went after death. Viking warriors didn’t fear death. They were honor-bound and dedicated to their clans knowing that Valhalla awaited them at the end. The game may decide to further explore this aspect, diving even further into the mythology than the previous entries and perhaps even visiting the fabled afterlife.
Origins had its main character slide into the afterlife for short periods of time, and many of the main story points revolved around what Bayek learned or accomplished there. Odyssey‘s story went straight into Atlantis at one point. This trend will probably continue by having the main character, or possibly fallen comrades, walk the halls of Valhalla.
The great part about Assassin’s Creed leaning into mythology is how they end up tying it together with the advanced technology of the animus. The people in the present day follow the trail the memories leave, and it has lead to quite a few interesting plotlines. And, with the vast world of Norse history and mythology to drawn upon, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla will certainly continue to build the story while exploring another incredible and culturally rich world.
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Assassin's Creed Valhalla is sure to draw from the rich world of Norse history and mythology, just as past games have drawn from their inspirations.