Two weeks ago, Ubisoft released a new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla trailer, focusing this time on the female version of its protagonist. This release comes late; three months after the first official trailer featuring male Eivor.
Preceded by Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, published two years ago, this much anticipated chapter of the AC series promises to explore an interesting alternative History to the 873 AD Viking Invasion of Britain. The game follows main character Eivor, a Viking raider caught between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. Instead of giving players the option to switch between two different characters, Ubisoft has opted to keep the same character, with the possibility of switching their gender.
The promotional clip mirrors the stark contrast between peaceful innocence and bloody fights displayed in the original cinematic trailer published three months ago; Viking children spar with their families, whilst the British condemn their barbarian lifestyle. As the voiceover brands them as “heartless” and “godless”, a glimpse of Eivor allowing civilians to escape mid-battle flashes across the screen.
Until now, promotion of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has primarily focused on the male protagonist, with trailers and art of female Eivor being hard to come by. However, a Bloomberg Report published last month revealed that AC game developers had initially suggested focusing on female Eivor, but that the proposal had been shot down by executives. Likewise, when the game devs had entertained the idea of making Kassandra the only playable character in the Valhalla precursor Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Ubisoft’s claim that “women don’t sell” had the protagonist’s brother Alexios steal the spotlight for the main role.
Since the publication of this controversial statement, as well as dozens of reports of toxic work culture that were made public last month, many accused of hindering gender representation at Ubisoft have ‘left’ their positions, including former Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët, who, according to a Ubisoft press release, resigned amid allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.
Bloomberg also reported that former creative director Maxime Béland resigned from Ubisoft after having been placed on administrative leave due to allegations of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment.
Earlier this month, Business Insider confirmed that influential Ubisoft executive and VP of editorial and creative services, Tommy François, was fired due to allegations of sexual harassment.
Just last Friday, Bloomberg reported that AC Valhalla’s former Creative Director Ashraf Ismail was fired following an investigation. Ismail had reportedly lied about his marital status so that he could further a romantic relationship with a fan.
For now, Ubisoft has yet to prove it can maintain a non-toxic, harassment-free, safe work environment, and the company has yet to publish an Assassin’s Creed game with a female lead only, despite AC advisor Thierry Noël assuring PCGamesN that “women and men are equally formidable in battle.”
For those intending to invest in AC’s upcoming instalment, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is set to drop November 17 on Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and next generation consoles Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X.