Following the presentation of thirty-minutes of game play footage at the recent Ubisoft Forward showcase, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla’s Narrative Director Darby McDevitt has revealed that players will be able to actively swap between the two gender options for Eivor.
Not only will players be able to swap Eivor’s gender through a menu option, but that this latest entry will allow the ‘modern’ day protagonist to materialize within the Animus’ simulation for the first time in the series’ history.
In an interview with IGN, McDevitt revealed that the game’s new Animus, the series’ staple technology that allows modern day individuals to relive the memories of their ancestors, will feature “an option to change the memory stream.”
This will offer players the option to voluntarily “switch back and forth” between the male and female versions of Eivor.
McDevitt further explained that the in-game explanation for this player-controlled change “fully embraces the often overlooked science fiction nature of our series.”
McDevitt explained, “You can go into the Animus layer of our game. There’s an option to change the memory stream. To explain why would spoil a long-running secret, but I will say that the whole reason for why you can switch [Eivor’s gender] back and forth fully embraces the often overlooked science fiction nature of our series.”
To this end, the team approached this gender-switching concept by asking themselves “how could we leverage that to make a character that you could choose male or female?”
McDevvit stated, “We’ve got this thing that’s called genetic memory, and we’ve got this Animus. What are all the ways you can play with that? And how could we leverage that to make a character that you could choose male or female? We found a way that we think is pretty satisfying.”
Earlier this year, McDevitt confirmed that “both [gender] choices are canon,” though details on this story element have been scarce as Ubisoft attempts to avoid spoiling the game ahead of its release.
Back in April, McDevitt answered a fan question on Twitter writing, “Both choices are canon, but we’re not going to spoil how we managed that trick until you play the game.”
McDevitt also revealed that Valhalla’s Animus will also receive an upgrade that will allow the game’s modern-day protagonist, Layla, to interact with the simulated setting of historical Anglo-Saxon battlegrounds as herself, a first for the long-running series.
This new experience offered by the Animus was explained as a solution to the historical tendency of the modern-day segments of Assassin’s Creed games to “[grind] the experience to a halt.”
McDevitt stated, “The modern day story often grinds the experience to a halt. Taking you out of whatever historical period you’re in and putting you into the present day where you have a bunch of different characters with different skills, different affordances, and different abilities. It really has this kind of hard stop.”
According to McDevitt, the cause of Layla’s newfound abilities is the presence of “anomalies inside the simulation,” during which “her handlers will pause the simulation” snd players will find themselves face-to-face with “a big puzzle, lots of intense puzzle solving and parkour.”
McDevitt explains, “The story is that there are anomalies inside the simulation. And when you find them as Eivor, Layla and her handlers will pause the simulation, and set up this big thing for her to deal with.”
“It’s a big puzzle, lots of intense puzzle solving and parkour so that you can acquire a bit of interesting data and then close this rift,” he added.
Ultimately, McDevitt promises that this change will make the experience of Valhalla “much more comfortable, stating that these segments will be more than “just going into a loading menu [and] going into a small office somewhere in the present day.”
McDevitt details, ““And so that the experience is much more comfortable. You’re not just going into a loading menu, going into a small office somewhere in the present day. You still get to be Layla, but you get to be Layla in the past.”
He added, “And so that means that all these interesting skills that she may have learned – the parkour, the epic vistas, and the puzzle solving – you get to float right into that without any kind of hitch.”
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is slated to release on November 17, 2020.