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GAMEPLAY
Assassin's Creed Valhalla (2020)

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a computer game released by Ubisoft in 2020, and playable on Xbox, Playstation and PC. The Assassin's Creed franchise invites players to take on the identity of a historical figure, who is a member of The Assassin Brotherhood, working against the control of the Templar Order. In these immersive, open-world games, players can explore the reconstructed landscapes and cultural practices of various historically-situated regions, including ancient Egypt, the twelfth-century Holy Land, Renaissance Italy, sixteenth-century Constantinople, eighteenth-century America, revolutionary Paris, and Victorian London. With the release of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, this expanded to include the ninth-century regions of Wessex and the Danelaw in what would eventually become England.[1]

The game offers intriguing possibilities for teaching, both in terms of introducing students to the world of Alfredian England, and for thinking about modern medievalism and the interplay of history and fiction in entertainment. Ubisoft engage with professional historians when producing the visuals and storylines of their games, but it would be overstating the case to see these games as historically 'accurate'. Limitations arise both from the availability of evidence regarding the everyday sights and sounds of a society long past, and from the requirements of gameplay itself. Immersive games of this kind might be approached in the way we approach literary adaptations.

[1] Fandom wiki giving an overview of the Assassin’s Creed Franchise and its various installments.

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Online articles handling questions of historical research, accuracy, and the objectives of game-makers:

Alberto Venegas Ramos, ‘Seeing and Playing the Middle Ages: Problems and Limitations in the Virtual and Video-Play Reconstruction of the Medieval Past’, Imago Temporis. Medium Aevum, XVI (2022): 433–48.

 

Lysiane Lasausse, ‘Vikings in Gaming, Gaming with Vikings, Proceedings of the 10th Háskóli Íslands Student Conference on the Medieval North (Reykjavík, April 15–17, 2021) 36-8.

 

J. Herman, ‘A Review of Assassin’s Creed:Valhalla’s Sensationalized History’, gamevironments 14, 257-62


 

Interviews with historians on the creation of Assassins Creed Valhalla

Adrian Burrows, 'The missing history of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla', The Sixth Axis (19 March 2022)

Adrian Burrows, 'Interview: Historian Ryan Lavelle on the historical research that helped build Assassin’s Creed Valhalla', The Sixth Axis (23 January 2021)

VIDEOS

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