Customizable protagonists: wonderful for player choice and inclusivity, a headache for lore keepers. Especially with a plot-heavy franchise, the tiniest changes can have some players up in arms about what is and isn't canon. In Assassin's Creed, which wraps everything up in the sci-fi genetic memories conceit, having a male or female protagonist choice creates a big problem for the assassin lineage. Apparently, Ubisoft Montreal has a workaround.
According to Darby McDevitt, narrative director on the newly announced Assassin's Creed Valhalla, both the male and female versions of the story's lone viking protagonist Eivor are canonical choices. Assuming we'll be playing through the same major plot beats either way—seeing how Eivor becomes an assassin, leading the viking charge against King Alfred—there's not an obvious way to resolve this Eivor-or (sorry, had to do it) situation.
No matter: McDevitt and the Valhalla team have a way, but he's not spilling the beans. "Both choices are canon, but we're not going to spoil how we managed that trick until you play the game," says McDevitt on Twitter.
So, for now, that's all we've got to go on. In the cinematic reveal trailer for Valhalla we only saw the male version of Eivor (played by Magnus Bruun), while the female Eivor (Cecilie Stenspil) has only been seen in the form of a collector's edition figurine. Perhaps as we see more trailers and gameplay footage of both protagonists, we'll be able to start guessing at how McDevitt and Assassin's Creed's other story keepers have written their way out of this conundrum.
It's possible, though not necessarily all that likely, that we'll see female Eivor or even both protagonists in action as early as next week. Assassin's Creed Valhalla is, at present, the gameplay reveal for the Xbox Series X games showcase happening on May 7. It sounds like the event will likely focus on third-party titles, so there's a good chance we'll be treated to a lot of Valhalla.
Even if all we get are some short snippets of gameplay, though, Assassin's Creed fans will likely mine the footage for every last nugget of story information they can. Assassin's Creed Odyssey had to settle which one of its protagonists was canon, but it also pushed the series' sci-fi and mythology blend out to the extremes.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla is already a game where it seems like Odin could be popping up regularly, so finding a way to make both of its protagonists canon could be the least strange of the story curveballs Ubisoft will toss fans' way. We'll all have a chance to see the twists and turns when Assassin's Creed Valhalla releases for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5, and Stadia this Holiday.