Rock Paper Shotgun’s review of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla has come under fire after the outlet cited church burning and anti-Christian sentiment as “the energy a lot of people want right now.”
Set during the Great Heathen Army-led expansion of Viking clans into the Anglo-Saxon occupied England in the early 9th century, it should come as no surprise that one of the new gameplay mechanics introduced by Ubisoft in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is the ability to raid villages, complete with the ability to plunder their treasures and burn their structures to the ground.
Given that the primary enemy of Eivor and his Viking forces are the Christian armies of Alfred The Great, it’s also unsurprising that many of these enemy villages feature religious abbeys and monasteries, and thus present them as a potential target for a player-led razing.
While a game based on a historical Viking-English conflict would be expected to have a clash of religions based on which side the player found themselves on, considering the extreme theological differences between the Old Norse and Christian faiths, Rock Paper Shotgun’s review of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla conflated the ability to incidentally destroy Christian institutions with the current political atmosphere of the real world.
In conclusion of their review, despite the religious aspect of the game’s conflict being a minor element at best, Rock Paper Shotgun Deputy Editor Alice Bell asserted that “running towards an abbey with terrible purpose, yelling “KILL CHRIST! AND BURN HIS HOUSE DOWN!”, is the energy a lot of people want right now.”
Bell’s conclusion was also used to promote her review, being featured both as a highlight in the piece itself and in Rock Paper Shotgun’s official tweet announcing the review’s publication.
Many readers took Bell’s exaggeration of the game’s anti-religious sentiment and her evoking of real-world riot imagery as an attack against the Christian faith itself, and expressed their outrage directly to the outlet on Twitter.
“This is disgraceful,” said @lisamariejm. “Saying that a lot of people want to “kill Christ and burn his house down” right now is disgusting. So you supported the burning of Notre Dame? Or any Christian church?”
@AnaAnsan3 wrote “As a Muslim I find this tweet very disturbing. Why would someone find it energetic to run and kill people because they are Christians?”
@TheWolfenbach found themselves surprised, as they “didn’t know Rock Paper Shotgun could get more unhinged then they already were.”
“We do have a problem of having our churches burned in Europe,” noted @TheWolfenbach. “Thanks for advocating for it assholes…”
“Put any other religion or house of worship and Alice Bell would be fired,” said @ultrapurwater.
@Lane_chm stated that Bell’s review was “just garbage,” and observed how “not only is it almost certainly a misrepresentation of the game, but it’s also a tone-deaf insult that shouldn’t be passable at all.”
“I guarantee this isn’t what Ubisoft was aiming for with this title, so it’s kinda harming the game, too,” they concluded.
YouTuber The Quartering also took issue with the review.
He responded stating, “The world could probably use a little more Christianity in it these days, but I suppose that’s not a cool hot take that we’ll get the tweets and retweets.”
As of writing, neither Rock Paper Shotgun nor Bell have responded in any way to the criticisms and concerns leveled against them.
What do you make of Bell’s statement?