And the game attempts to explore it with new lore details.
With Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, for the first time ever, the series gave players the option to choose their protagonist’s gender, and with its successor, the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, that’s something Ubisoft have stuck with. In fact, they’re taking things one step further- in Valhalla, players will have the option to change protagonist Eivor’s gender at any point in the game.
Speaking with GamesRadar, game director Eric Baptizat explained the the developers wanted to let players have “have the freedom to experiment”. He added that though that choice has “some” impact on the narrative, the story the game tells is still the same, and doesn’t diverge dramatically.
“It was important to make this option available for the player,” Baptizat said. “It’s something that the player can decide for the way they want to play, because it has some impact on the narrative – but it’s not two different stories. It’s the same story of the character – whatever options your character decides.”
“We wanted to let you have the freedom to experiment,” he added. “Yes, you have to [make] a choice, but you can experiment. It’s the way it is for everything [in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla]. It could be the difficulty, to your skill tree, to gender, etcetera.
“We want a player to experience all the possibilities of the game, and we find that very important.”
Interestingly enough, the fact that you can change Eivor’s gender at will is something that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will try to explain with new lore details, similar to how Assassin’s Creed Odyssey justified its dual-protagonist approach with the idea of two potential DNA patches among a pair of twins. Speaking to IGN, narrative director Darby McDevitt explained that Valhalla, too, has a story justification for that, but stopped short of saying exactly what that will be.
“You can go into the Animus layer of our game,” he said. “There’s an option to change the memory stream. To explain why would spoil a long-running secret, but I will say that the whole reason for why you can switch [Eivor’s gender] back and forth fully embraces the often overlooked science fiction nature of our series.”
“We’ve got this thing that’s called genetic memory, and we’ve got this Animus,” he added. “What are all the ways you can play with that? And how could we leverage that to make a character that you could choose male or female? We found a way that we think is pretty satisfying.”
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is out on November 17 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia. PS5 and Xbox Series X versions have been confirmed, but don’t yet have specific release dates. You can check out over 30 minutes of gameplay footage from the upcoming open world action RPG through here.