Vikings are everywhere. Their impact can be easily found in books, TV shows, and films. We will never believe that “one ring will rule them all” if it weren’t for the Vikings’ obsession with Norse Mythology which inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to produce his literary masterpiece. We might even ignore History Channel or Netflix if the Vikings ceased to exist.
Even their influence has reached the gaming world as players may be forced to rage quit due to the regeneration effects of Berserkers in Age of Empires II and even casuals can be annoyed or intrigued with the random YouTube ads of a mobile Vikings game. Seeing their popularity in pop culture, Ubisoft decided to capitalize on the trend and released the latest installment of Assassin’s Creed set in that era, giving gamers a chance to unleash their inner berserker mode by waging war on the Anglo-Saxons.
However there are more interesting facts and stories about the Vikings other than their bloodthirsty depiction, as their history creates an opportunity for Ubisoft to give the player a plethora of activities and quests. I’m hoping that they include these in the game’s release on November 12.
Here are five things that I can’t wait to do as a Viking.
Vikings are everywhere not only figuratively but also literally. They’ve been across multiple areas in Europe, exploring the early lands of Russia, France, Italy, and so on.
In fact, their adventures could generate some interesting talking points in the game’s narrative. History revealed that the Vikings traversed Constantinople to serve as the Emperor’s bodyguard. Though it would contradict the gloomy and bloody atmosphere as scene in the trailer, taking a stroll in the glorious city of Constantinople during the zenith of the Byzantine Empire could serve as a fresh experience for the player. This could also serve as a throwback since the city was once featured in the previous Assassin’s Creed entries.
But there are other moments in Viking exploration history that could be tackled like how Erik the Red discovered Greenland or how the Vikings were the first to discover North America and called it Vinland (sorry Columbus). Maybe we could learn more about the experiences of the Vikings in these territories which could even be tackled in the game’s future DLCs!
DISCOVER ALTERNATIVE HISTORIES
Ubisoft tends to explore other means of creativity in story telling in this was introduced in the franchise when they made George Washington as King of America and not President. Maybe this could be explored in Valhalla as well. What if the Vikings never ventured out of their homeland? What if Vikings focused their attention on invading the Americas over Anglo-Saxon territory? Maybe Christopher Columbus will be forgotten if that happens. What if they never converted to Christianity? Perhaps their war mongering methods remain to the point where they bring Ragnarok upon everyone else.
These conspiracies add depth and flavor to the Viking lore which could further enhance the game’s overall narrative.
BEING INVOLVED WITH NORSE MYTHOLOGY
Other than exploring alternative histories, Ubisoft also has another trick in their sleeve. Incorporating a civilization’s culture or religion as part of the story and this was highly evident with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey where the main protagonist dealt with entities from Greek Mythology. Norse Mythology has some fascinating practices like the use of Spae-Craft or black magic. Perhaps Ubisoft could incorporate this form of witchcraft to further empower the player.
And there are creatures that are worth uncovering as well. The draugr is a Norse version of a zombie with superhero-esque abilities as they possess superhuman strength with the added bonus of shapeshifting and size manipulation. Imagine a Dark Souls-esque boss battle with this creature.
PARTICIPATE IN HOLMGANG
Before there was a justice system, the Vikings settled disputes with a duel known as holmgang. This was normally done in a small island where the two combatants are given a few days to prepare. Holmgang was also used by Vikings as a method for organized robbery where one of the combatants will accuse a defenseless being to acquire his wealth and properties. The challenger that fails to attend will be branded as an outcast.
Given the rules of holmgang, Ubisoft can experiment on the idea that the player can choose between a protagonist as a noble, self-righteous individual who challenges the abusers or as a scoundrel who capitalizes on the weak, giving the player some form of entertainment from the moral freedom that the game entails. This could also serve as an avenue for Ubisoft to incorporate the blood eagle, the Vikings’ torture mechanism as a punishment for the loser.
Vikings weren’t all about decapitation though since they were also fond of flyting, a verbal duel of the wits. Flyting is also a thing one can partake in the upcoming game!
Though the Vikings never invented ice skiing, they were the ones who popularized it, in fact they were responsible in forging the term. Skiing was used as a means for transportation and for hunting animals. The Vikings either used the bones of animals or wooden boards to grace through ice.
The addition of ice skiing could also serve as a creative way in killing opponents. Besides the usual hack-and-slash formula, the player can now slide his way past opponents and shoot them with arrows or spears. Maybe the board could also be used as a weapon where the protagonist can go Tony Hawk mode by gliding on the air and slamming the board straight to the opponent’s face which will definitely provide a comedic tone to balance the grittiness involved.
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