Assassin's Creed Valhalla Devs Preemptively Shut Down Bullshit Concerns About Female Vikings

Image: Ubisoft

Women exist. This is a basic fact of life, but it’s also a frequent source of controversy for more… let’s say reactionary sections of the gaming community. In what appears to be an attempt to head off the usual tiresome complaints, Ubisoft has addressed its decision to allow players to choose between male and female versions of the Viking protagonist in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

“The archaeological sources are highly debated on that specific issue,” said Thierry Noël, historian and advisor in Ubisoft’s editorial research unit, via 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.”

Assassin’s Creed has been dominated by male protagonists since the series debuted in 2007, with rare exceptions in games like Liberation and Syndicate. Ubisoft changed to a less restrictive format with 2018’s Odyssey, giving players the option to play through the game as one of two siblings. While two-thirds of players apparently chose Alexios, his sister Kassandra became the face of Odyssey, echoing the similar phenomenon of FemShep’s popularity in the Mass Effect series.

Battlefield V made a big show of its female player character, putting her front and centre on the box art and other promotional material. Despite a long history of women serving in the armed forces—read up on Lyudmila Pavlichenko when you get a chance—that decision enraged a small but vocal subset of gamers, who decried the move’s lack of “historical accuracy.” These complaints, as they so often do, forced the gaming world to relitigate obvious facts instead of calling them what they actually were: concern trolling from consumers who treat every attempt at diversity as a conspiracy to erase straight, white, cis men.

Were there female Viking warriors? Who gives a fuck! We love gaming because it allows us—developers and players alike—to do whatever we like. I can play as a powerful gorilla escaping a testing facility or a scared child evading brain worm-infested pigs. I can kill time at the doctor’s office with a puzzle game or spend hours emotionally invested in a sprawling RPG. It may be hard to understand by people who, like me, have been catered to their whole lives, but seeing a woman as a playable character in a video game can be the first step toward someone new joining our hobby. We should all embrace that.

Ubisoft’s decision to include two fully developed characters in Odyssey and now Valhalla should be a win-win for everyone. Not only does it technically double the amount of game, it also gives a whole new group of players the ability to see themselves in a powerful, compelling Assassin’s Creed protagonist. But considering how a vocal minority has reacted to women being added to games in the past, it’s no surprise that Ubisoft wanted to get ahead of the nonsense as soon after the Valhalla reveal as possible.


Comments

    They are right to preemptively shut it down. Idiot neckbeards will absolutely make an issue out of it.

      Didn’t you know that letting someone else play a a girl takes away your enjoyment of the game, even if your playing as a male. Just knowing someone else out there is having fun as well is enough to rage against this decision.

      Pre order cancelled

      Conisider the Norse a reported to have a level of respect for women vastly higher than basically any other civilisation around it and a mythos of warrior women, this is an entirely different kettle of fish for things like BF5 and it's... issues. we'll leave the explanation at that. it'll only open old tantrums made by both ends of the spectrum.

        I don’t see it as different issue at all. Nobody plays these games for historical accuracy, and they are not made to be completely historically accurate.
        There are hardcore simulators for that.
        Sorry, but the tantrums come from one side only. Reasonable people can see the benefit in games being inclusive.
        The naysayers are entitled, angry men who throw a massive wobbly whenever women are mentioned in gaming, no matter the situation, because they feel that anything that deviates from their narrow world view is some kind of personal insult to them or their ‘manhood’.

          there is a difference when it comes to suspension of disbelief. as someone a huge fan of ancient greece and western mythology in general I like to see things well represented, even in the unique style of Assassins Creed. that said things do pull you out. like given the Olympic games. loading screens even acknowledge women can't participate and have their own events. there are sidequests about even their presence. so Kass competing is like whiplash and just pulls me out of things.

          Assassins creed on the other hand is usually better about how they do these things than others so, I give them a lot more leeway than other companies.

    Strange, I don't remember the same amount of venom in the writing of Kotaku's coverage of the backlash against Kassandra getting knocked up. The language and tone of the article comes across as very amateur and a hackish way of trying to get the reader to align with a certain wave of thought.

    That said, I'm all up for playing a female viking. I'm one of the 'FemShep' crew that prefer to cross-play since I tend to find playing a strong female character a lot more fun than the male version. I think the Secret World was the first time I didn't, and that was because it was refreshing to be able to create a character that was me-ish.

      I think everyone should align with the opposite of the misogyny neckbeard brigade.

        I'd rather not align with either side. I'll laugh at the fat neckbeards, lunatic feminists and the SJWs.

        Both sides are fucking morons who blow everything way out of proportion.

          It's the 'with us or against us' nature of the internet and outrage culture in general. People who might consider themselves 'unaligned' are often called out for 'minimising legitimate concerns' or being disingenuous.

            Yes, much easier to throw someone into a neat little box so you can disregard all of their points, no matter how well made, more readily.

            Internet and politics 101 these days.

          Well look at the posters who want you to brigade against the 'misgonistic neckbeards'.
          Its the SJWs trying to get their kicks in already.
          Its almost like this article is that thing they always claim things they dont like is while attracting people to brigade, what is it again...a cat horn. No thats not it...It will come to me eventually.

          Just for thinking there can only be two extreme sides makes it clear you're a moron.

            Ody thinking someone is a moron. HAHAHAHA

          The huge problem with this devotion to neutrality which so many people take, is that it's a reactionary position as well. And it's just as irrational as the people on the extremes, because this is not a neutral topic. The devotion to this imagined and totally arbitrary sense on neutrality ends up creating a belief that everything that isn't neutral is extreme. The truth does not lie in the imagined middle. It lies somewhere in the grey. But that's scary, so all three extremes, those on either end and those in the irrational "neutral" are simply trying to hide from that complexity.

          False equivocation to justify the status quo.

          One side says "I want to see myself in popular media" and that's out of proportion?

      As someone who played that DLC fairly recently it felt like a betrayal of how I'd been allowed to play the game up to that point. Ubisoft had spruiked the fact you'd be able to romance however you saw fit then threw all that out the window with the DLC, at least for players like me whose Kassandra was only into the ladies. So I think the issue of getting knocked up was more nuanced than "trying to get the reader to align with a certain wave of thought".

        For me it just showed how unimportant the romance feature actually was and the DLC just showed it.
        Technically it was just a fade out/in simulator.

        In fairness, due to the nature of the series, wasn’t the PC destined to have a child? Isn’t the whole premise “this person up your genetic ladder did something in this era”?

          True, but the series is also about aliens and magic apples so I don't think it would have been a stretch to come up with an alien/magical workaround.

            sometimes the simplist option is the best. having some arteficial baby or insemination weirdness isn't really that different from using someone as a sperm donor anyway. it just complicates things.

              Also true, but the reason I had a problem with it is because it invalidated all of the choices I had made with the character up to that point, making it feel like the team creating the DLC weren't communicating with the main story writers. I'd created a character that felt like my own, so taking away what had been up to that a point a choice I could make felt to me like a feature was removed from the game. It wasn't a deal breaker, it's still one of my favourite games, but that DLC was definitely a sore point for me.

                Yeah it probably would have been better for them to not go into explaining it at all and let the audience fill in their own blanks.
                Then they could have focused on the cool mythology stuff even more.

          Nah, they changed how the animus works that the person no longer has to be a descendent of the person to see their memories. As long as they can find their DNA, they will be able to see their memories.

      That's not a bad thing. Getting people to believe in good, and right, can never be bad.

      I played as femshep too, but I alternate between genders, male in one game, female in the next. They're all just people anyway.

    Personally, I'm not sure if it was historically accurate to have a female mercenary in AC Odyssey (nor do I for that matter much care), but I do know that Vikings have at least shieldmaidens, Valkyrie's ( teh chooser-of-the-slain), Norns etc.

      There's debate over the existence of shieldmaidens to the extent they've been touted. However, women were more equally treated in Viking society than a lot of other societies. Not to say it was a 1:1 ratio, it wasn't, it was still highly patriarchal, for example they could only own property if their husbands died. However that said there are records of female warriors and powerful females still. That said, again, the primary viking period was very brief at around 300 years. What we know of them was written hugely by biased sources, largely. The use of a female Viking in this will be a good move, it's going to be an interesting way to explore the game as long as it has actual impact on the game.

        Haha, right? When most of the world's primary sources are written by their enemies, it's probably best to take most historical record with a grain of salt.

          If it's written by their enemies, I doubt they would have wanted it known they got their asses kicked by women unless it was undeniably true.

            Ody, who knows? Maybe? Maybe not? The Shieldmaiden thing may or may not have happened? But don't go thinking that thus because a Viking woman was strong and a warrior, she *must* be a Shield maiden, that's just not true.

            Infact what is known, is that while women absolutely fought alongside men, and in numbers, and in Viking society, were seen on the battlefield as a mans equal, the idea of there being whole units of women solely fighting alongside each other, just likely wasn't a reality. However, there are stories, so it's not 100% discounted, just seen as 'unlikely'. There's enough primary sources from Scandinavia at this point, to support this and to cross-collaborate with other regions sources as well.

            There were absolutely female Viking warriors, but they were not necessarily 'Shield Maidens'. Not all female warriors were these 'Shield Maidens', but if they existed, all 'Shield Maidens' were indeed female warriors. I actually hope they *did*, it's a wickedly cool concept after all. My students and I study the myths, legends and realities of the history of Scandinavia every year, this is one of our favorite topics.

            Here's a decent read for you, where they found the bones of a female warrior, buried with her weaponry etc: https://www.sciencealert.com/this-viking-dna-discovery-says-there-really-were-shield-maidens

            I was more thinking about ANYTHING written, not just gender shit. It's interesting that in the trailer, the Vikings spare the children, for example. They're pretty famous in records for... well. The opposite of that.

        After reading the article I was all 'I'm sure that I'd heard of some' and went into Google (I know, not the best way of researching) to try and find specific examples. I found that there was a likely discovery in 2017 of the first female warrior grave. That we'd been groomed with mythological tales about how it was a thing, but that there was actual little archaeological evidence of it.

        But they're now revisiting other viking graves to do actual DNA testing on what they'd assumed to be male bones so the number may grow. Its interesting, and unfortunately a lot of it is hidden behind subscriptions and not having my ad blocker turned on.

        I'll err on the side of wishful "They actually happened'' since there are historical examples of female warriors and warrior leaders in many cultures around the world.

    Assasins Creed - Fictional games loosely based on historical periods and times. Heavy fictional, sci fi and fantasy elements.

    Battlefield - Majority of games are historically accurate depictions of real wars that happened. Faithfully recreating real battles with fun and loosely accurate gameplay.

    Your comparison is dumb and DICE was dumb with what they did in BF5. Don't market your game as a World War 2 game when your entire series has largely been historically accurate. Then proceed show off your first trailer featuring a group of soldiers, all of different ethnicities, wearing random colourful clothes and focusing on a British woman who has a claw for a hand and uses a cricket bat to kill people.

    Again. Women didn't serve on the front line for Britain/US. Nor did they wear random clothes, have claws for hands or wield Cricket bats to beat the shit out of people.

    All of the Battlefield bullshit could have been avoided if they had pre-emptively said the game is "loosely based" on WW2 and will have many fictional elements. Instead, they're so horribly out of touch with their fan base that they release that trailer and then clarify afterwards due to backlash.

    Last edited 01/05/20 8:38 am

      Battlefield has never, ever been anywhere close to historically accurate.

        That's the thing about these historical accuracy arguments when it comes to including diverse characters. They don't come out of the woodwork with complaints when they get gun models wrong, when the way battles take place are wrong, when uniforms are wrong when the way weapons work are wrong etc. They generally do not make any arguments in good faith. They don't care about historical accuracy, they are super upset about diversity.

          I think you are really misrepresenting the community for battlefield here, I would constantly see posts requesting accurate uniforms and complaining how this gun was actually not used in this segment of the war etc.

          I read them and think "The game is completely broken and you are complaining about having the wrong variant of the thompson!?!"

          I dont doubt that there are people that are not complaining in good faith but BFV certainly has a lot of history nerds who are.

            Of course there are people who do care about that stuff, but you don't see the massive over reactions to uniforms like you do with inclusion. The people who get mad about black people or female people in games are almost invariably doing it because they don't like those people in general.

          Mmm the bit I drew the line at was when they recreate missions from real world battles. Except they then replace the real world figures (quite a few who died during the portrayed events) with their own cast of characters just to score diversity points.
          I find actions like that severely disrespectful of both the veterans who gave their lives in service of their country AND the message of diversity they were aiming for.
          More so because had they picked different war stories they could have achieved BOTH of these things.

          Except the BF community does complain about those things. You're talking about gun models and slight variations in uniforms.

          I'm talking about a hook handed woman beating people to death with a customized cricket.

          These two things are in no way comparable.

      it's almost like you don't know what the words 'historically accurate' mean.

      No, you're goddamn fool who jumped on a stupid bandwagon. Prosthetics have existed for thousands of years you idiot sandwich, just because the photos were black and white doesn't mean colour didn't exist back then, and women did fight in the war in many capacities.

      My favourite bit of trivia about WW2 is when the allied forces used rockets to propel boats over small landmasses and I was beyond ecstatic when they replicated that obscure technique in BFV. Or what about the part where an American soldier ejected from his jet and landed on it to surf-bazooka other planes! Such an incredible and ballsy act of heroism and if it weren't for BFV, very few people would know about it!

      Truly, BFV is a highly accurate trove of the most arcane bits of lore of World War 2. Too bad that for some reason they included women to appease the SJWs! Everybody knows that while WW2 soldiers could and did use defibrillators as offensive weapons (as faithfully reenacted in BFV), women are incapable of holding a gun and shoot it. That level of unrealism is just too jarring and distracting, so I ultimately decided to quit just before trying the well-documented Russian strategy of flying tanks :(

    Good. I know plenty of guys who prefer to play as a female protagonist, and vice versa.

    Player choice is a good thing.

    Cassandra was quite clearly the superior option in Odyssey, especially taking gestures and voice-acting into account (fuck man, acting alone she SMASHED it), much like FemmeShep is CanonShep.

    I'm a little torn. The female characters usually turn out better when there's a dual option (notable exception: ME:A), but oh man... Viking beards. VIKING BEARDS. Gonna be a difficult decision that will likely need to be based on voice-acting again.

      Crap. Here I am, ready to go full shield-maiden on their asses, but I'd forgotten about the glory of the Viking Beard.

      That's going to be a dilemma, for sure. Because, as you say, VIKING! BEARD!

        You never know, they might go the Dwarf route and let you play a Viking Warrior Lady with a beard!

      Implying anyone but Commander "we'll bang ok" shepard is canon. Blasphemy.

      There is no "cannon shepered"

        They were using a literary device called a hyperbole to emphasize how much they loved FemShep over ManShep. I think they know there is no CanonShep.

        Just the shepared cannon! BANG!

    It's not as if Ubisoft is presenting this game as an historical documentary. It's a fantasy adventure. Whilst it is true that most Viking warriors (and indeed most warriors in history) were male, it isn't something I'd get upset about. I'd be fairly certain that anyone claiming to be upset about it was trolling the SJW brigade.

    That being said, this article appears to be trolling the anti-SJW brigade. Uncalled for, but unsurprising, Kotaku.

      It’s not a professional voice with which to write an article, but then...

        Since when has Kotaku been about a 'professional voice'? It's literally chock full of blog content and opinion pieces. That's what makes it more interesting than a straight gaming news site. You may as well criticise The Herald Sun because it includes articles by Andrew Bolt.

          I don't think you're wrong, but I do think Kotaku does try to have its cake and eat it sometimes.
          The same site that gave us hard hitting indepth industry dives like the stuff about crunch time and Riot's sexual discrimination also gives us "there's a raccoon outside my door" and hotheaded pieces like this one; it just comes across as a bit schizophrenic.

          Also, fuck Andrew Bolt. Hated that disingenuous clown since the first time I saw him, which was him saying that there was literally blood on Gillard's hands after a boatful of immigrants sank off the coast somewhere.

          Barely related to what you were saying, but still.

            I love the fact that AB is a convicted racist. and I love that he hates that fact.

      Trolling pathetic sexist morons who are wasting our oxygen and should just kill themselves is uncalled for? How? Fighting against what's wrong is never uncalled for and never a bad thing. Go f*** yourself. The fact you even think 'SJW's' exist is proof of your limited mental capacity.

      Last edited 01/05/20 3:55 pm

        So conservatives are bad, But not calling for people to commit suicide?

        Ive got a word that describes someone like you ody. Starts with a c and I think you can work out the last 3 letters.

          @erikveland any justification for downvoting my comments among others?

          you really support odys comments? or are you just a coward?

            It checks out that he would support odys comments from his other posts on this website.
            The fact that odys comments are still up, when ive had alex walker personally delete my comments that are no way as bad as this shows that hes not the only one who supports odys comments.

        @alexwalker Ody here is endorsing people killing themselves just because ody disagrees with them politically.

        How is this kind of comment allowed on Kotaku?

          I have had posts moderated immediately for less than this. that said mods show up at wierd hours so it'll probably be gone by morning.

            Ody has repeatedly advocated for either genocide or suicide of Conservatives among other things. Not in a joking manner, They actually believe in those things.

            How such statements are not a bankable or requiring of some kind of punishment is beyond me.

              Yeah, with a history of it like his... One might start to think it's because the groups he typically advocates for the deaths of are the 'wrong' ones as far as Kotaku is concerned.

          Because it fits the extremist left agenda. And before any suggests it; no, I am not of a far right mentality, I'm just sick of political correctness gone mad

          Hilariously. Odys comments actually fit the narrative of many Kotaku articles. Maybe not the "kill yourself" part. But definitely the overarching SJW cancer.

        Donald Trump: *is thinking out loud/makes joke about sanitizer being used as coronavirus cure, instantly takes back thought*
        Literally every media group: "OMG WHAT THE F**K IS WRONG WITH HIM"
        Ody: *Tells people to commit suicide*
        Kotaku: "I see no problem here"

      It's a shame that everyone has to be an extremist these days. I watched the livestream and people seemed to only be asking that there was no FORCED gender character, nothing about not wanting the choice. If they're all "just people", why does it matter if there is no female lead?

    I thought female Vikings were well established in mainstream media?

    Actually, on that topic, when the heck is Eitr coming out?

    Both men and woman deserve to reveal the map with towers, god damn it!!

    Look, I just want to play video games and have fun. I'm fucking tired of the negative nancys insisting on ruining it for everyone else because something doesn't fit their world view.

      Then do something to get rid of conservatives forever, because otherwise you'll have to live with all those babies your whole life while they try to make the world a worse place for everyone else.

        someone: *says they just want to have fun and avoid negativity*
        @ody: *instantly brings negativity*

        Last edited 01/05/20 11:39 pm

        I had a look at your post history to try and see if you were some sort of troll but after reading it I really think you should try therapy.

        This anger you have is not normal and you will probably find your life improves once you start working on it.

    I agreed up until when you started going off about battlefield and “straight white cis men”. The whole article felt pretty venomous. Why can’t you just disagree with the other side in a respectful manner? Not every criticism against a series touting historical accuracy is out that kind of fear. It adds nothing to the discussion and is just cruel. I thought you were better than this.

    I played as Kassandra in AC Odyssey and I preferred Evie in Syndicate.
    but it will depend on a number of factors so which gender I will play.

    but about the recent Battlefield games (my brother plays them a lot and he keeps talking about it)
    I believe they should have a historic(somewhat) single player campaign without women (unless they are the focus of the story such as an refugee or a Night Witch(a group of Soviet female pilots) or Soviets in general)
    and for multiplayer, label it as Weird War 2
    with the women and concept guns and the fancy uniforms
    just allow them to go nuts with it (remember BF1942's Secret Weapons of WW2)

    Personally I almost never choose a female character but I love the idea that 'as an unidentified gender I can choose a character that appeals to me so that I can enjoy the game without feeling like it was designed for somebody else'

    It's crazy how articles like this act like male Shepard was a real and valid choice.

    Stop the madness.

    I honestly don't think there would have been concerns about female vikings. They're common in other forms of media, a lot of the time as powerful women. Look at the show 'Vikings' for a good example. Also Senua's Sacrifice exists, little to no controversy about playing as a female viking. God of War, the Valkyries are literally so powerful, they are considered 'challenges' in the game. Even AC: Odyssey has little to no controversy about being able to play as Kassandra, if anything, she was the preferred option due to the voice actresses flawless performance. I genuinely feel that this article wasn't needed and is generally what is used to create controversies and issues out of nothing.

      Yeah from my understanding I thought there were far more concerns that there WOULDN'T be a female option. Simply because all the promo material at that point hadn't shown her.

    "Were there female Viking warriors? Who gives a fuck! "

    That's the kind of sentiment I don't really agree with. Even if it's a videogame it can be used to relay history, and yes, even Assassin's creed does this, something Ubisoft even emphasizes with their recent additions of the discovery mode. In that sense I also see value in trying to be historically accurate.
    I prefer it if a game highlights real female warriors, like for example Battlefield 1 did with the Russians, which highlights the bravery of those specific women + showing that different nations had different attitudes towards gender. In comparison all that context is completely lost in Battlefield V.

    For Assassin's Creed there's also a chance to tell a more female centered story when the main character is actually acknowledged as woman. There can be satisfaction in the player character facing patriarchal obstacles and overcoming them.

    In AC Odyssey you have this weird contradiction where sexism in the world itself exists (like a mother isn't allowed to watch her son participate in the olympics) but the player character herself never experiences any sexism (and is even allowed to participate in the very olympic games women weren't allowed to watch).

    Basically, I'd say there's more to representation than just slapping a skin on a character and pretending everyone was treated equal, and specifically in games that have a historical setting it is a chance to highlight the women who flourished despite all these obstructions

    I honestly don't get why people even give a flying fcuk about this crap, in the end, it's just a fcuking game! Ubisoft make it, we play it. I'm so over people fighting over shit like 'is it cannon', 'that wasn't done properly ', 'but history states' ...blah blah blah

    We are all different, what ever blows your hair back to be honest,
    Don't like it, don't buy it.. simples.

    I'm a Assassins fan, I'll buy it anyway . stiff shit

    you know theres always the if ya dont like it dont play it saying right. Eh either way i dont condemn them because of how some people act because why would any one want to play a video game where any type of critisism can be taken as racists or sexists. In all honesty thats why people like that exists because assholes cant take any critisism without being political ie battle this if people try to say anything bad about these games people like this make it political because they know that they have the high ground and can dismiss anything you say as sexists than talk about oh you just hate female or gay or lesbian or trans attack helicopter characters. And to that no no they dont they just want a game where the developer can make a game where he care more about the quality of the game than a political stand point a world where assholes wont dismiss opinions and make a whole group of people seem like their racists and sexists just because their to simple and one track minded to think oh maybe its just a bad game. In my opinion i dont even think most " video gaming journalists" play video games i think what they do is they see something controversial in video games and try to make games more about political gain then quality and when that happens video games just wont be fun anymore but then again it is very leftist to label every single thing as racists sexists so then they can ban it especially in communities where they dont belong but whatever not like im gonna play it. Now for seperate messages leftists if you put something in that no ones asked for and people say we dont want this ie a character that is "marginalized"in your guys opinions not mine and people voice concerns with it and you so cooly shut it down ya know go ac way to shit on half your fanbase your cool. Just ffs learn yo take critisim as seperate from sexism and racism. As for antisjws and rightest, just dont play the game like i understand where your coming from they misrepresent you and just call ypu racists and sexists and thats why you dont like certain things but just learn to not play it ffs.

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