Why Assassin's Creed Valhalla Dev Isn't Worried About The God Of War Similarities
Both 2020's Assassin's Creed Valhalla and 2018's God of War cover similar storytelling beats, but Ubisoft isn't worried--opting for a different type of narrative.
2020's new Assassin's Creed game is called Valhalla and it transports you to The Viking Age to play as Eivor, the leader of a group of Viking raiders, who stumbles into the evolving conflict between the two groups that will one day become the Assassin Brotherhood and Templar Order. As an action RPG that sees you control someone who believes in the Norse gods, there does seem to be parallels between Assassin's Creed Valhalla and 2018's God of War. However, Ubisoft isn't worried about retreading the same ground as SIE Santa Monica Studio's game.
"God of War is great--yeah, I've played it," Assassin's Creed Valhalla narrative director Darby McDevitt said when asked about the game in an interview with GameSpot. "It's fantastic. I wouldn't say we're too worried because most games, when they touch this topic, they actually skew very heavily towards the mythology. So that's the front-facing feature--you play God of War so you can go punch Baldur in the face, meet all these characters, and travel to fantastical environments."
He continued: "Very few games actually treat the Norse Viking experience as historically grounded. I think the urge is to always immediately lead with the mythology stuff, but we really want you to feel like you're living in the Dark Ages of England, that you're exploring the Roman ruins left behind 400 to 500 years earlier by the Romans and the remnants of the Britannic tribes before that and even the Saxon Pagans before they all converted to Christianity."
Ubisoft is designing Valhalla to be a more grounded experience where the existence of gods is up to personal interpretation--think more along the lines of how Assassin's Creed Origins handled the Egyptian gods as opposed to Odyssey and the Greek pantheon. "For somebody like Eivor--who in the midst of battle would believe these things about these gods--we felt they'd believe they could see Odin," McDevitt said. "This is the same team that made Origins and our feeling about how to integrate [mythology] is similar. We want to create a similar feeling of being suffused in the mythology, but also the daily practice of this religion."
To that end, McDevitt describes Valhalla as "the ultimate grounded Viking fantasy." Though Norse mythology does play a role in the game's narrative, it seems like it won't take on as literal an interpretation as Odyssey--which saw you battle creatures like The Minotaur and Medusa, meet gods like Poseidon and Hades, and visit locations like Elysium and the Underworld. "We've created this massive world to explore, to raid, to assault, to meet interesting people, but you're going to do it as a human, as a person who has to ride a horse to travel long distances and get to where they want to go rather than fly or something," McDevitt said.
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