Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is practically as old as its subject matter at this point, but even the most devoted players haven’t dusted off all its secrets. Nowhere is this more evident than the so-called “Odin runes,” an arcane set of symbols strewn around digital 9th-century England. They no doubt house an underlying meaning. And yet, the mystery holds fast.
Even the most notable Valhalla players are stumped. This week, popular YouTuber JorRaptor, who regularly chronicles community happenings in the world of Valhalla, detailed the status of Odin runes in a new video. Jayvee, another popular YouTuber who frequently covers Valhalla, has also beaten this drum for months. Every step of the way, an explanation for what the Odin runes represent has eluded explanation. Weird, right?
You can find the first Odin rune due south of Ravensthorpe, on the far shore of the Nene. Here’s where to go:
Another one is located near the Afon in Hamtunscire, with others hidden in East Anglia, Wessex, and elsewhere around the map. The folks at Assassin’s Creed fan site The Ones Who Came Before have an impressively thorough accounting of every uncovered Odin rune — all six currently known about — if you want to track them down yourself. What’s more, that post also rounds up a slate of prevailing fan theories, which range from “No way” to “Hmm…Maybe!”
One fan posed the idea that the location of the Odin runes on Valhalla’s map correspond to markers on Eivor’s skeleton. Recall, in the modern-day segment, how Eivor’s exhumed corpse in North America is marked by nine colour-coded markers. Valhalla still hasn’t clarified how exactly Eivor ended up back in North America, and died there. Perhaps the Odin runes somehow put that mystery to bed. Another theory suggests that each rune is connected to the five primary senses. (This idea seems unlikely, since there are currently six known runes, though Eagle Vision could be the sixth sense.)
JorRaptor floated the idea that the runes could be indicative of a future quest of sorts. As was pointed out by one of his regular viewers, “The Blind King,” an optional pre-order bonus quest from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, bears a potential resemblance to the Odin runes. “The Blind King” sends you to six far-flung locations around Odyssey’s ancient Greece. Valhalla (so far) features six runes in six locations. Maybe they’re signposts for an as-of-yet unimplemented side-quest, kind of like “The Blind King.” JorRaptor acknowledged that such a result would be unexciting, at best, and that, at least right now, it’s impossible to tell for sure what’s up.
So, where does that leave us?
Longtime Assassin’s Creed writer and Valhalla narrative lead Darby McDevitt weighed in earlier this year to point out that fans were indeed onto something. Last week, he tweeted that “it’s a mystery you cannot fully solve yet. That’s by design. Be patient. :).”
Two days later, McDevitt — who’s had a hand in the series since 2009 — announced his departure from Ubisoft after a decade with the company. It’s unclear whether or not that means the Odin runes will remain an unstitched thread. Ubisoft did not respond to a request for comment from Kotaku in time for publication.
This set of runes wouldn’t be the only mystery to stump fans of Valhalla, only to eventually get solved. In January, players discovered a god-tier weapon — a bow called Noden’s Arc — by repeatedly smacking a boulder on an island in the middle of a semi-frozen lake. McDevitt weighed in on that breakthrough as well, pointing out that it was a “brute force hack.” A few days later, Assassin’s Creed fan site Access the Animus cracked the code. The solution was in plain sight, etched on the side of Valhalla’s collector’s edition in the game’s made-up Isu language. Thanks to efforts from the community, Noden’s Arc eventually went from a clever hack to a legit in-game prize. Perhaps the mystery around these runes will follow a similar, if somewhat more drawn out, roadmap.
But one thing’s for sure: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will only get bigger. On April 29, the game’s first major expansion, Wrath of the Druids — which features a mystical-seeming cult and sends Eivor to Ireland — will become available. Maybe fans will finally get some answers. Or, more likely, maybe they’ll end up saddled with even more questions and mysteries. Such is the nature of these games.
Between the rideable wolves, anime references, and random American baseball players, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is full of surprises. But the biggest surprise, without question, comes at the end. Two of us (staff writer Ari Notis and weekend editor Zack Zweizen, who also reviewed the game for Kotaku) have finally completed...Read more
Over the weekend, players of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla uncovered a secret bow (the laughably powerful Noden’s Arc) by…smacking a rock in the middle of a lake over and over again. The trick bounced around the web. Ubisoft’s Darby McDevitt even chimed in, describing it as a “clever brute force hack”...Read more
Assassin’s Creed is a neverending series of mysteries and puzzles, the most enduring of which is the Isu language. While it was first introduced in 2009’s Assassin’s Creed II, it wasn’t until last year’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla provided substantial clues that fans were finally able to crack the dead tongue.Read more