Spoiler Review: The End Of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Changes The Game For The Future Of The Franchise
It took me approximately one month and sixteen days to play through all of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. I spent some long hours in front of my television working my way through England. Also attempting to catch fish that never spawned (still a gripe I have with the game). But today I sat down to play through the ‘end’ of the game. And I’m ready to talk about the revelations and implications of the newest chapter in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. So let’s dive into our spoiler filled review where we discuss the end of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.
Image via Ubisoft
First Let’s Talk About Eivor’s Gender For A Minute
Image via Ubisoft
In Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla you play as the Norse Viking warrior Eivor as she embarks on a voyage with her brother Sigurd to settle in England. I refer to Eivor as female here because canonically the character is indeed a woman. This is confirmed by in-game text at the end of the game that refers to Eivor as ‘Varinsdottir.’ This translates literally to “Daughter of Varin.”
The game allows you to choose between male and female Evior in the beginning. However, the default is “Let the Animus decide.” I selected this option and discovered that Eivor is female by default. She only becomes male when traveling to Asgard/Jotunheim to take on the mantle of Havi (another name for Odin). The fact that all of the marketing for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla showed Eivor as male is a little confusing – and definitely misleading – given this information.
How Does Eivor’s Story Tie Into The Lore of Assassin’s Creed?
Image via Ubisoft
Early on in the game, Eivor receives the hidden blade as a gift from Sigurd. She works for the Hidden Ones but never fully joins their ranks. However, Eivor’s story is important to the Isu lore that has been steadily ramping up in importance in recent games. And her relationship with Basim – a member of the Hidden Ones – is also of vital importance.
But what about all that you do as Eivor in Valhalla? All of that conquering of England, negotiating peace treaties, establishing a settlement – what was it all for? Eivor and the other Vikings talk a lot about the glory of their deeds outliving them. But in modern day, no one knows anything about Eivor.
This is rather disheartening, because it gives the player the knowledge that Eivor was forgotten. We learn this very early on in the game from Layla’s POV. And this fact often haunted me as I was making major decisions in the game. I kept thinking about how history remembers the names of everyone Eivor helps, but not the protagonist herself. That is kind of heartbreaking.
Let’s Dig Into Some Isu Mythology
Image via Ubisoft
By far the most important revelations in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla came in the form of lore about the Isu. This ancient race of beings has appeared in other games in the franchise, notably taking a large role in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. The Isu were ancient aliens who came to Earth, and created humans to rule over. The Isu became the gods of ancient mythology. In Odyssey we saw this firsthand, with the Isu acting as the Greek gods in Atlantis. And in Valhalla, the Isu take on the roles of the Norse gods.
Over the course of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla we learn that the Isu knew about a cataclysmic event – Ragnarok – and were trying to prepare for it. We learn through Eivor’s visions that the Isu transplanted their consciousnesses into human hosts in order to survive. As a result we have various humans descended from individuals with Isu blood. Eivor is related to the Isu that took the form of Odin, and as such she lives with him lurking in her head and trying to tell her what to do all the time.
The Trickster God Is Always One Step Ahead
But the real twist comes with Loki. There is a lot of focus on Odin and Loki’s rivalry in the Asgard visions. And in the end we see Loki pull the same trick as the other gods. He transferred his consciousness into a human body against the wishes of the others. In the era of Eivor, the trickster god has manifested as a member of the Hidden Ones. We discover that the Hidden One named Basim is actually Loki. And he has been hunting others with Isu blood in attempt to find the descendent of Odin and wreak his vengeance.
But there is another prominent Isu that we need to discuss. And that is the character of Aletheia, the Isu that has been helping our protagonists through recent games. Aletheia’s fate is closely tied to the fate of Loki/Basim. And the two of them create the biggest twist of the game…
The Present Day Arc of Layla and The Brotherhood
Image via Ubisoft
But first we have to talk about Layla. She is the modern-day protagonist in Valhalla, as she has been since Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Layla has her own backstory that involves working for Abstergo – the giant corporation that is a front for the Templars/Order of the Ancients. When Layla learned the truth about the company she was working for, she switched sides and joined the Brotherhood of Assassins.
Layla’s journey since then has been pretty tragic, losing one friend (who is implied to be a lover). And inadvertently killing another at the end of the Fate of Atlantis DLC. In Odyssey, Layla discovered that she was the “Heir of Memories.” This nebulous title was given to her when we found that she was distantly related to Kassandra, and could therefore wield The Staff of Hermes.
The Link Between Aletheia and Basim
It is in the Staff of Hermes where Aletheia also comes into play. The ancient Isu bound her soul to the staff for reasons that become clear throughout Valhalla. It turns out that Aletheia and the Isu who became Loki/Basim (he is not given an Isu name that I can recall) were married. When she was dying, he bound her soul to the staff and they hatched a plan to be reunited again someday. That day arrives at the end of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla when Layla takes the staff to the ‘Yggdrasil Vault’ where Eivor left Basim imprisoned but still alive. By entering the simulation there, Layla ends up freeing Basim who claims the Staff of Hermes. Basim leaves Layla trapped in the simulation, her body dying.
Basim then addresses Aletheia in the staff and refers to her as “My love.” Aletheia says that Layla performed her role as the Heir of Memories perfectly. This seems to imply that Layla was only really the Heir of Aletheia’s memories in the Staff. And that she was always destined to end in that cave, fulfilling the goals of Loki and Aletheia’s long con.
Is This The End of Layla’s Story?
Layla Hassan | Image via Ubisoft
So this seems like the end of the road for Layla Hassan. I have to say that I dislike the way Valhalla ended Layla’s story. I was never the biggest fan of Layla as a protagonist. But I felt like in Valhalla that she had learned some hard lessons and was starting to grow as a person. But Layla never gets to complete her character arc. Her story simply ends, abruptly and in a confusing way.
But in-game Layla accepts her fate quietly. She finds some purpose helping a mysterious figure who exists in the simulation. Together they aim to figure out all of the alternate paths the world can take to prevent future catastrophe. This person is referred to only as “The Reader.” But it certainly seems to be the consciousness of Desmond Miles, the original Assassin’s Creed protagonist. The voice actor is definitely the same, and according to the Anomaly recordings he was also communicating with the Isu in his time. Given that both Layla and Desmond are still technically alive in a simulation, is it possible that we will see them again?
A Trickster God Made Flesh
In the end, Basim takes Layla’s place with the Brotherhood of Assassins. He actually becomes the new protagonist, and the enters the Animus to experience Eivor’s final memories. At one point I took Basim out to look at Eivor’s bones, and he has a bit of a monologue. He says that Eivor ‘bested him,’ and yet he is still alive centuries later. He also says that now he will relive Eivor’s memories and acquire her skills via the Animus bleeding effect.
At that moment, I wondered if I had made some fatal error in my gameplay. Was this supposed to happen? It felt wrong. It felt like the ‘bad’ ending, even though I had made sure that I did everything possible to secure the game’s ‘good’ ending. But no, this is just what happens. As I stood over the Animus with Basim, I hesitated before going back in. It didn’t feel right to allow him this access, but I still had more game to play. Somehow I had managed to complete the main story arc before actually conquering all of England. As a result, the end of my game felt incredibly anticlimactic.
An Incomplete End To Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
Image via Ubisoft
There are several endings to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla but somehow it feels like there is no end at all. The credits never rolled for me. Not after completing Eivor and Layla’s stories, nor after uncovering the final member of the Order of the Ancients and completing that quest. (Also I predicted the final member of the Order early on in the game and am baffled as to why you don’t actually kill him. Historical accuracy?) As a result, the end of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla feels incomplete.
Perhaps the reason for this feeling is because there are no DLCs out yet. The DLCs for Odyssey were majorly important and were the real ending of the game. The Fate of Atlantis quest was especially important for Isu mythology, and Layla’s role in everything. And there are still mysteries to be resolved in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. Like how did Eivor’s bones end up in New England?
A DLC Might Contain The True End For Valhalla
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During the game Eivor visits an area called Vinland, a quasi-mythical island. It is implied to be part of North America in the game. At the end of the Vinland arc, Eivor makes an ominous pronouncement. She says that she feels that the fate of her bones are tied to this land. This is clearly a reference to the fact that Eivor eventually dies in North America. It seems certain that one of the Valhalla DLCs will see Eivor return to Vinland. And perhaps go even further, to see her settle the first Viking villages in North America.
But what about the future of Assassin’s Creed the franchise? Is Basim the new protagonist? Or is he the villain? Will Aletheia ever get out of that Staff and have a body of her own? And will any of this tie in to the prospective Assassin’s Creed television show that has been picked up by Netflix?
Only time – and the Animus – will tell.
Despite Its Flaws Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Was The Best Game of the Year
Image via Ubisoft
Despite my mixed feelings about the end of the game, I still fully enjoyed Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. Eivor is a great character. She is intelligent; funny, and brave. Eivor is also often very stubborn and foolhardy. She is a flawed character who grows and matures into a real leader over the course of the game.
The art and direction for the game is gorgeous. The writing is solid, with interesting dialogue and characters. There are some great mini-games like the in rap battles (flyting) and the dice game Orlog. The map is expansive without being overwhelming, and there joy in simply exploring. The world events are unique and interesting. Some of them are genuinely funny. I didn’t love Valhalla as much as I did Odyssey and Origins, but it was still a great game that I found highly enjoyable.
At a time when we cannot travel, I found freedom in sailing the rivers of England. Watching the sun rise and fall over green fields and towering cliffs. Although the game was still a bit buggy out of the gate, and it is a feat of video game artistry and achievement that is unparalleled by any other game released this year.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.