No, I Won’t Ride The Big Wolf In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

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No, I Won’t Ride The Big Wolf In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, released earlier this week, has some wild, strange, and magical elements in it. But while it might contain witches and impossible future technology, I draw the line at a specific inclusion. I won’t ride the giant wolf, Ubisoft. I won’t do it.

In Valhalla, players have access to a horse, allowing them to travel around the world quickly. But players who purchased the Ultimate Edition get a bunch of bonuses. Most of these cosmetics aren’t that exciting, with one exception. If you are willing and able to drop $150+ on Valhalla, Ubisoft will reward you with a giant wolf that can replace your horse. The keyword in that last sentence is “can.” You see, you have a choice to use the giant wolf as your mount, and last time I looked this isn’t World of Warcraft or some fantasy RPG. This is Assassin’s Creed. This is history…sort of.

I’ll admit, that the Assassin’s Creed franchise has always included some strange and ahistorical elements. Even the first game had futuristic artifacts with powers so advanced they seemed magical. Later games have continued to add more strange artifacts and even legendary creatures, like cyclopes (yes, that is the plural of “cyclops”). So it might seem peculiar that I draw the line here, at big wolves. And sure, my colleague Ari, along with many others online, have all decided to use the wolf as their mount. But, I’m not alone on team #AntiBigWolf. My boss, Kotaku’s Editor In Chief, is also choosing to abstain from riding the big dog.

This might seem like a weird line in the sand, but hear me out. The thing is, even as the franchise has added more mystical and fantastical bits and bobs, I’ve always been able to figure out a way to make it work in my head. Sure, in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey you can fight a minotaur. But maybe that was just a story that was told so much it became a memory. Remember, the way these games work is through the Animus, itself a bizarre piece of science that is more magical than logical. The Animus uses DNA from past people to present users with their DNA memories. (It doesn’t really make sense.) Memories aren’t perfect. In fact, in this latest game, you can choose between a male or female Eivor because the Animus doesn’t actually know the historical Eivor’s sex. So a myth someone heard their whole lives, something that might have appeared in their dreams even, could contaminate their DNA memory.

But a big wolf that someone rode for years, using it to help fight wars and save people, something thousands of other people saw, seems too much of a stretch. The Animus might not be perfect, but it’s not that bad at getting the facts right.

It's a good wolf, but I don't want it.  (Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku) It's a good wolf, but I don't want it. (Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku)

And even outside the lore implications of using a giant wolf, I just feel strange picking it. Eivor is often written as a real person, with hopes, dreams, desires, and fears. Her crew is similar, with their own problems, loves, and goals. These feel like real people. I care about this world and these folks. The idea of shoving a giant wolf in there seems wrong like I’m spoiling a great movie. It would be as if someone added a giant rabbit into some scenes in Gladiator. It would spoil the whole thing and make you go “Wait, why is there a giant rabbit in this scene?” Or at least it would make me think that.

Now, if you don’t mind sticking odd, out-of-place elements into a game, then be my guest. Pick the wolf as your mount and enjoy it. I hope you have a great time. But just know that any time I see screenshots of people using the wolf I shake my head a bit.

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Comments

  • That vibe is why I didn’t really get much out of most of the skins available for Phobos.
    Kassandra might be a living demi-god, but flaming hellsteeds, skeletal mounts, or Pegasus itself is all a bit much.

  • I was happy to ride a black and purple pegasus in Odyssey and a Chocobo-camel in Origins.

    A giant wolf doesn’t feel that out of place if they have aspects of Norse mythology walking around in the game.

  • I’m very much onboard with this… Though I’m the type of person who completely ignores pre-order bonuses, even deleting them if I can, and basically anything that seems out of place (relatively) in general in games. Fantastical mounts like this are why I didn’t touch the mounts @transientmind mentioned in previous games.

    Not that Valhalla does from it what I’ve seen, I thought it did at first with the armour set you get, but it actually pisses me off when pre-order bonuses sort of break early game progression… Such as giving legendary items off the bat that just annihilate enemies.

  • I like the new games as their own thing and not Assassin’s Creed. I hate them as Assassin’s Creed games. The more mystical shit they add, the more I dislike it

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