Brutal Viking World Recreated in New Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
A hair raising, exciting, and emotionally charged game trailer has been released for the next installment of the mega-popular computer game franchise Assassin’s Creed . In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla the action-adventure stealth video game franchise based in massive 3d open-world gaming environments recounts a classic tale of a Viking struggling to find a new home…while raising deadly raiding parties, fighting epic battles, and also creating a community that will flourish.
Unashamedly blending historical facts with science fiction, fusing real-world historical narratives with fictional figures, players traditionally played Desmond Miles, an Assassin Initiate in the present day, who hunted down and killed his Templar enemies. But this new installation is titled Valhalla, in which players take on the role of a Viking called “Eivor” (ay-vor) against a late 9th century historical backdrop.
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The Viking Eivor is looking for a new home in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. ( Ubisoft)
Viking Sagas, Myths, and Legends Brought to Life in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
In the 9th century, seaborne Scandinavian tribes with sharpened steels began invading Anglo-Saxon England and gamers are challenged with leading their people in search of new farming lands. Commanding stealthy raiding parties and fighting in massive and hyper-bloodthirsty battles, in which medieval warriors and knights are circled by soaring ravens, gamers journey through a semi-mystical ancient landscape decorated with the symbols and icons of ancient Norse culture.
The trailer of the new game has just been released (warning – violent content):
The game creators, UbiSoft in Montreal, interviewed historian Thierry Noël who was a content advisor of the Editorial Research Unit on Assassin ’s Creed Valhalla, and they asked him “why the Vikings left Scandinavia in the first place.” The historian said it was in the 9th century that Scandinavians mastered making and using sails, which enabled them to travel all over the world.
Tapping into historical reality, in the trailer, the new protagonist Eivor roars a battle cry to the Norse god Odin while hordes of barbarian Viking warriors charge a line of heavily armored medieval knights - and that happened in England, a lot, towards the end of the 9th century. Another historically accurate aspect of the trailer is that it features King Aelfred (Alfred) of Wessex, who was one of the most important historical figures in English History, famed for having repelled the Viking invasions and rebuilding modern England.
King Alfred of Wessex also makes an appearance in the trailer for the new Assassin’s Creed video game. ( Ubisoft)
A Game Oozing With Viking Motifs, Icons And Symbols
Seeking a second opinion on the quotient of facts and fantasies in this new game, Ancient Origins emailed Iain Maclean, a founder and director of the Caithness Broch Project, and a master stonemason committed to "preserving, promoting and ensuring a lasting legacy for the archaeology of Caithness,” according to the project website. During the 9th century this northeastern Scottish county was a frontline in the Viking invasions of northern Britain and Iain thinks the new game trailer is “a brutal eye-opener to what looks to be a spectacular pop culture rendering of the Norse age.”
When asked if he spotted any diagnostically Viking symbols , icons, or motifs in the new game trailer, Mr. Maclean said he saw “Graven warrior idols” which were inspired by one of the Lewis chessmen, and also “shield motifs alluding to the legendary talisman - the Raven banner - famously unfurled in the mythical tale of Siguard the Stout, a Viking leader mentioned in the Orkney Inga Saga (1192 and 1206 AD), which is a historical narrative of the history of the Orkney and Shetland islands and their relationships with the rulers of Norway and Scotland.
Maclean noted “Graven warrior idols” in the trailer for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. ( Ubisoft)
Historian Thierry Noël told UbiSoft that part of the game is “archaeological and the other part is from historical sources from that time, from all kinds of chronicles and texts… including the Viking Sagas and myths,” which he reminds were passed down through oral traditions for centuries. And when asked if anything in the research surprised him, Thierry Noël said “Oh, totally. The gap between the reality of Norse society and the image we have of the reckless Viking was really interesting to me.”
Is a Blood Soaked Fantasy a Healthy Intro to History?
There is no doubt the new game will have many features based on day to day life, and conquest, in ancient Norse culture, but we asked Mr. Maclean what he thinks about things like Vikings using Assassin’s swords, and elements of the game that are definitely “not” Viking. Iain said it must be difficult for any development team to be strictly accurate when it comes to making a game like this, and while “historical purists” out there will be getting ready to call out the game, even if weapons and armor are exaggerated versions of Norse artifacts , “I don't think that really matters.”
He also believes incorrect details shouldn’t get in the way of “ an immersive experience loosely blended from the long period of the Viking era”.
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But, surely a bloody blend of fighting and war “loosely” based on history is a poisonous brew for young minds, right Mr. Maclean?
“I think the damage caused by this type of brutal history genre is far outweighed by the promotional benefits they bring, inspiring a generation to further study the period the game represents.” What’s more, the specialist in Norse cultures in Britain said if the game creates a surge of interest in Norse heritage, like what happened after History Channel’s hit-drama series Vikings, “then it can only be a good thing for areas like Caithness, Orkney and Shetland, where the legacy of the Norsemen is still there to be seen and touched.”
The main character of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a Norse clan leader named Eivor. ( Ubisoft)
Top Image: Screenshot of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Source: Ubisoft
By Ashley Cowie