When Assassin’s Creed Odyssey released in 2018, it established a new status quo for the Ubisoft series. Players were able to control Alexios or Kassandra for the entire game, which meant that for the first time in the franchise’s history, it was possible to complete an entire Assassin’s Creed game as a female character. It also opened up new, queer relationship possibilities through the introduction of romance options — which is something the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will have the chance to build upon and improve.
One could argue that because Ancient Greek society is infamously queer, Assassin’s Creed had to allow LGBTQ romance options by necessity when Ubisoft chose to include romance options in Odyssey. However, LGBTQ people have existed in every society, throughout history — so it could just as easily be argued that the franchise should have had queer romance options in every game, starting with its debut in 2007.
Although queer romances were very welcome in Odyssey, they suffered from being too shallow and largely inconsequential to the overall story. In fact, Ubisoft initially forced players into having a child in a DLC chapter, regardless of what romance choices they had made during the main game. Valhalla — which allows players to complete the game as male or female viking warrior Eivor — has the opportunity to establish better, more nuanced queer relationships that can carry through the entire story.
Whether players choose to run Valhalla as male or female Eivor, it’s very likely the newest Assassin’s Creed title will once again feature NPCs who can be romanced by the protagonist. Establishing and maintaining a settlement are key components of the new game, as well as wielding political influence — all of which are affected by the player’s choices. Though it may seem crude to discuss romance and sex in relationship to political alliances and influence, the fact is that sex and power have long been intertwined. To pretend they aren’t is folly.
In Odyssey, romanceable NPCs could only be found through completing sidequests and they could be written off as one night stands, because neither Alexios or Kassandra ever entered into full relationships with the NPCs they romanced. Given the social and political elements of Valhalla, it seems possible romanceable NPCs will play more of a role in the game and its overarching story. Even if major NPCs aren’t romanceable — or at the very least seduceable — relationships in Valhalla can still occupy a more substantial role in the game.
Since Eivor is leading a group of Norsemen into England in the hopes of securing a new settlement, they could have a romantic relationship with someone in their clan. They could also meet someone in England or perhaps have ill-advised flirtations with political figures. Whatever the romance options in Valhalla, these can and should be affected by Eivor’s choices and should impact overall gameplay.
This would not only increase the stakes for the character, but make relationships feel weightier, especially in a fight for the survival of an entire people. Every relationship would thus be more nuanced, including queer ones, which is ideal not just for representation, but emotional investment on the part of both characters and players.
In addition to more consequential romance options, there should also simply be more romanceable NPCs — for male and female Eivor. In Odyssey, it was possible to romance characters of any sex as both Alexios and Kassandra; the same should be true for Valhalla. That said, it was also possible for players to bypass romance entirely in Odyssey, which should also be an option in Valhalla. Dialogue options will have an impact on the story, which should apply in instances where romance is possible, the same as they would in any other conversation.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is slated for a holiday 2020 release.
Assassin's Creed introduced romance options in Odyssey. Valhalla can incorporate these more and build on opportunities for queer relationships.