Ubisoft Finally Puts Female Eivor In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Reveal Trailer

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Screenshot: Ubisoft
Screenshot: Ubisoft

Last Friday, Ubisoft quietly put out a remixed version of the cinematic trailer it used to reveal Assassin’s Creed Valhalla back in April. The big difference? This version features the female Eivor, one of two versions of the game’s hero who had originally been shown-off via a collectible statue and a couple of screenshots.

“Watch a new version of the Cinematic Announce Trailer, featuring a remix of the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Main Theme,” the Assassin’s Creed Twitter account wrote. The remixed trailer was ostensibly about the game’s soundtrack, and Ubisoft made no mention of female Eivor, but the video itself was literally just the same footage shown back in April with new music and her now replacing the male version of the character.

It’s a bizarre move that comes a month after Ubisoft was wracked by #MeToo allegations and a couple weeks after Bloomberg reported a history of female Assassin’s Creed characters having their roles diminished by top brass at the company. According to Bloomberg and echoed by a source speaking to Kotaku, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was originally intended to give equal time to both its protagonists, the twins Jacob and Evie, but in the end mostly focused on Jacob. Assassin’s Creed Origins was originally going to focus on Aya after killing off or seriously injuring her husband, Bayek, but ended up focusing on him as the main hero for most of the game. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was supposed to star only Kassandra, but the finished game included the option to play as either her or her brother, Alexios.

It wasn't until mid-July that Assassin's Creed fans finally got to see female Eivor in action via a gameplay trailer. (Image: Ubisoft)

The developers Bloomberg spoke with blamed these changes on Ubisoft’s marketing department and then-chief creative officer, Serge Hascoët. According to those sources, both claimed that female protagonists wouldn’t sell. While Kassandra is Odyssey’s official canonical hero, Alexios is the one featured on the game’s cover. Hascoët resigned from the company last month following allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Ubisoft did not respond to a request for comment about whether female Eivor’s absence from the game’s reveal marketing was the latest example of this sexist trend.

Shortly after Vahalla was announced, Kotaku asked the game’s then-creative director, Ashraf Ismail, why female Eivor had been sidelined from almost all of the game’s initial marketing. “There’s marketing beats coming up that will highlight the female Eivor,” he said. When pressed about the issue, a PR rep interrupted to cut that part of the interview short. On June 24, Ismail stepped down as the game’s creative director after being publicly accused of infidelity and lying to the person he was having an affair with about whether he was married.

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Valhalla’s narrative director, Darby McDevitt, has said that both versions of Eivor will be canon(Hands-on previews with the game last month also revealed that players can swap between both versions of the character whenever they wish rather than being locked in after choosing at the outset. Last week, McDevitt also said rumours that Eivor was originally planned to be solely a female character were “not wholly accurate.”

“I will repeat what I have always said. ACVs story was conceived from the beginning with both female and male in mind,” he wrote on the game’s subreddit. “When you play the game you will understand that there is no way the male could have been added at the last minute, or whatever version of this story you have heard.” The only part that was left unclear was whose idea this was. “We started ACV knowing full well that Ubi wanted to give players the ability to select characters, and we worked hard to make sure that it honoured our lore,” wrote McDevitt.

Comments

  • While the list of the franchise’s sexist moves is damning, I wish they wouldn’t bring up the Kassandra being forced to accommodate Alexios as a co-protagonist. That was one of those ‘stopped clock’ moments where the right move was made, and was not a sexist or misogynist move, but one that brought greater inclusivity.

    • To put it another way… When you list out the bad things someone does, maybe don’t include the good thing they did, like they should be ashamed of it. We want them to KEEP doing things like that.

    • I agree, I’m not sure, in the case of the odyssey, there was definitely some sexist agenda. It’s more likely they just made a decision based on not losing money (Seems like it might be happening a lot now).
      Still, sucks that they couldn’t just release it to the world, confidently, as Kassandra’s story.
      Brings to mind, though, why were Horizon Zero Dawn and Aloy so successful?
      Seems she may be the pinnacle of “Female Protagonist”?
      I’m a guy so I don’t have the proper perspective to know.

      • Well, it’s kind of like… you know how we’re told women/people of colour feel so much better about there being media with prominent/protagonist characters sthey can relate to? Why inclusivity is even sought after in the first place? That need? Well, turns out that’s the same kind of need that many men feel, as well. Especially gay men, or trans who really don’t want to be playing in female-typical/presenting roles.

        My brother and his long-term boyfriend, for example, just… don’t really relate to games featuring women. They just… don’t relate. Partly they play with more self-insertion than I do, so they don’t relate on that level, but also they don’t have a potential different layer that a straight man might, being at the very least attracted to the character. They might as well be playing as a lump of cheese. The character doesn’t speak to them the way that someone like them does.

        Which is pretty much the core of the argument in favour of diversity.

        I’m a straight, cis male and I generally prefer to play female characters when given the option, if only because they’re often better-cast, but also because I prefer to try and see the characters as their own characters, without any self-insertion, and to see stories from other perspectives. But I like characters ‘like me’ as much as anyone else: it’s probably why I relate more to characters that are written off in popular critic circles. I’ll take Aiden Pearce over Marcus Holloway any day, and that’s probably because I relate more to Aiden. It’s why when people roll their eyes and go, “Generic, grizzled white dude,” as a negative for a character, I’m still interested, because that’s NOT a turn-off for me – it’s more relatable.

        But as we’re continually reminded, as advocates in the industry continually have to petition: representation matters. It matters to be able to see someone like you. And for a gay man, that means gay men, like Alexios could be.

        Alexios was a great addition because he didn’t take away from Kassandra. He didn’t exclude anyone. He included more. THAT is where we need to be headed. The reported ability to switch between male/female Eivor on the fly is an amazing next step in that philosophy, and I’m not sure we’d have got there without what Ubi learned from having Alexios included in Odyssey.

        It’s possible to have great female characters like Aloy, or the reinvented Lara, just the same as it’s possible to have great male characters like Kratos or Nathan Drake… I know at least a couple people who missed out on how fantastic Witcher 3 was because they just bounced off ‘straight white guy’ Geralt.

        Having great characters telling their own stories is fantastic, but if there’s the ability to have a great character that people can relate better to, like Commander Shepard, then that’s probably even better.

        • I hate to say it, but books rarely give you the option to choose your protagonist, and nobodies pooping on them for it…
          Meh, I understand all sides of the argument, and as long as nothing is essentially “sacrificed” in the long run, we can have character customization or not, and I won’t mind.

          Although, I have to bring up Mafia 3. I’m a white ginger, and I definitely couldn’t identify with the main character, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
          I’d hate for people to ONLY consume media they can identify with, but I also understand it must suck to have NO characters that you can emote with.

          I also do quit often choose to play a female custom character, because it’s a rarer choice, but I am looking forward to hopefully playing a proxy of myself in Cyberpunk.

          • What is the problem with choice?

            why do you want to remove it?

            Comparing an interactive medium (Games) to a non-interactive medium (Books) is a useless argument in this case.

    • The problem I have with the gender choices is that I’ve followed AC since AC1 and am actually interested in the lore and it doesn’t really fit.

      Also the fact that if they want a female canon lead and they design with having a male option, then they likely won’t demostrate how different men and women treated each other.

      I’m not explaining it well, but an example is Kassandra. These are historical settings, where men and women were unfortunately treated differently, but you’d never know from the game, because Kassandra and Alexios play the exact same, all male and female characters react to each other and the player as though they’re all the same. They don’t demonstrate the differences in time.

      Unfortunately Valhalla looks to be the exact same as Odyssey.

      • In the specific example of Eivor being a viking, they’ve lucked out in that female warriors were common enough and treated with as much respect (or disrespect) as their male counterparts, so it’s probably not a problem. And for what it’s worth, Kassandra definitely got some gender-specific interactions tailored to her. Sure, she isn’t treated the way a female Greek slave or housewife might’ve been, but that’s because she’s effectively a bandit/rogue/mercenary/demigod.

        Near as I can figure, she’s really meant to be a ‘modern’ (for the time – by the 400BC’s, they were effectively myth, likely wiped out in the fall of the Greek Bronze Age) rootin’ tootin’ Amazon warrior. I don’t think it’s any coincidence her mother is named for a mythological Amazon Queen. The game effectively plays like what a Wonder Woman simulator should’ve anyway. 😉

    • Finally. Someone said what had to be said.

      Honestly, tots agree, you know its a slow news week when they pull out the “Finally, someone did something to someone else.”

      • Geex below worded it better than I’m about to (probably) but yeah, I find when someone uses “finally” in a title, it means “In my opinion, this should have happened a long time ago, so I want everyone to think that way too, BUT I don’t want to state that this is my opinion. By doing it this way, it’s basically a fact!”

  • Couldn’t agree more, although what qualifies as journalism these days seems very rubbery. A title like that presumes that the reader is incapable of making an independent judgement. Or the writer doesn’t want a judgement other than one that is agreeable to them.

  • God… This shit about HAVING to announce “The female character is in this one!” for trailers and shit. Fuck right off.

    You know why games like Horizon Zero Dawn and the new Tomb Raider work so well? Because they were decently written, well executed games that DIDN’T fucking harp on constantly about, “Oh she’s such a strong FEMALE character!”

    It’s like journalists think audiences are SO stupid they need their hands held and to have it pointed out over and over… That kind of shit does more of a disservice to seeing new and diverse characters than having ‘just another bro’ main character ever will.

    • Agree, it’s like CW Batwoman and Charlie’s Angels that bombed, last year.
      It’s called BatWOMAN and Charlie’s ANGELS, no shit it’s about girls. The originals were great because they didn’t push the bullshit sjw agenda

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