Ubisoft says it is “fact” that Norse men and women were fierce fighters, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will adhere to the historical peoples’ “conception of the world.”

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was officially revealed earlier this week, firstly with a livestream of official artwork and secondly with a cinematic trailer. Set in the Viking Era, the protagonist Eivor will battle against King Alfred the Great of England, who wants to defeat the Norse people at any cost. “We want you to be playing the ultimate Viking fantasy,” said Ubisoft. Players will nurture their own Viking settlement, and raid villages on land and by sea. Eivor may be male or female, and their appearance is customisable with beards, tattoos, war paint, and gear.

Whether Viking women were warriors is “highly debated,” said Thierry Noël, historian and advisor in Ubisoft’s editorial research unit in an official Q&A. “But the fact is, and I think what’s really important, is that it was part of their conception of the world. Sagas and myths from Norse society are full of tough female characters and warriors. It was part of their idea of the world, that women and men are equally formidable in battle, and that’s something that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will reflect.”

This is cheering, I suppose. The thing is, male Eivor got official artwork and a starring role in the cinematic trailer for Valhalla. Our first look at female Eivor is a statue in the Collector’s Edition for the game. I’m going to explain why this made me feel unhappy yesterday. 

It is a fact that the official trailer for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey only featured Alexios. As such, nothing has changed from Odyssey to Valhalla, yet, therein lies the issue. We knew Odyssey would use a female and a male protagonist from the outset, and in doing so, Ubisoft moved its own line in the sand. Almost every single mainline Assassin’s Creed game has featured a male ancestor only. Odyssey changed the rules, and Ubisoft even stated that Kassandra is the canonical hero for that entry in the series. We would then expect that there would be some sort of progression from Odyssey to Valhalla to feature a female ancestor only, after Aveline, Shao Jun, Evie, Aya, and Kassandra paved the way.

Evidently, there has not been, and showing off the “equally formidable” female protagonist as a statue rather than giving her her own artwork or trailer makes me feel unhappy. Official gameplay for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on the Xbox Series X will be revealed on May 7, and I’m hoping that Eivor gets her time in the spotlight then.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will arrive for Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, and Stadia in holiday 2020. 

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