Before Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey gave players a unique option to explore the narrative through the eyes of either Kassandra or Alexios. While there is a definite canon character, the opportunity for players to choose a gender and explore the story slightly differently from beginning to end was a new layer to the franchise. However, with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the mold was broken again by having players not choose between two characters but pick a gender for their protagonist.
In the past, the franchise had toyed with the idea of two assassins, with Jacob and Evie Frye from Assassin’s Creed Syndicate being the earliest examples. However, their stories were distinct from one another, and the option to play as either or was purely cosmetic. With Eivor, choosing their gender offers a whole new collection of pros and cons that affect the narrative in unique ways. But to explore them, it’s essential to start at the exact moment when the choice is presented.
What Is Eivor’s Canonical Gender in Valhalla?
At the beginning of the game, a young Eivor’s camp is raided, and they lose their parents. Although a child, Eivor manages to escape but lands on a frozen lake. Not only are they at risk of drowning in the frigid waters, but they must also survive a bloodthirsty wolf that wishes to devour them. Just as the axe is plunged into the wolf’s neck, the Animus begins to synchronize because of an anomaly involving two converging data streams. At this moment, players can choose between a male or female Eivor or let the Animus decide and change throughout the story. It’s a unique change that explores the fluidity of the Animus as its technology advances while giving players a unique cosmetic mechanic that also allows them to see themselves as the character, no matter their gender.
While the player’s choice doesn’t affect the story, there’s still a canon gender for Eivor, which is female. But instead of this being a random choice given during development, the game also justifies this with the character’s name. In Old Norse, Eivor is a female name, and a letter addressed to the character also has Eivor’s last name as Varinsdottir. In Nordic culture, it was common for a person’s last name to represent the child’s father ending with a male or female title like Dottir for female.
Odin’s DNA Explains the Male Eivor
While female Eivor is the canonical version, the game explains the character’s diverging genders. It explains that the system is thrown off by the presence of Odin’s DNA in Eivor’s bloodline, leading the Animus to occasionally interpret Eivor’s appearance as a male who resembles Odin.
The developers did put enough thought into the male Eivor to make him a distinct character. For starters, his character model is just as detailed as female Eivor, and the motion capture helps to bring to life every reflective thought and difficult action needed to ensure the safety of Ravensthorpe. Voice actor Magnus Bruun also offers a tone that can be chilling or warm depending on the situation. Most importantly, he gives male Eivor the same kindness and approachability that Cecilie Stenspil gives female Eivor.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a unique entry into the franchise as it streamlines the more complicated RPG elements while getting the gameplay back to basics. It also offers characters that feel fleshed out and real while allowing players to explore different versions of the same Eivor. But what makes the game so exciting and effective is that no matter the Eivor that is chosen, players can still get a complete story that makes the two heroes feel natural and alive.
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