I am 28 hours into Assassins Creed: Valhalla and I have been absolutely loving my time. The newest iteration of Ubisoft’s premier open-world adventure might possibly be the best in the series. Between it’s Viking based storyline, it’s gorgeous visuals, beautifully poetic writing, and a rich open world filled with fun things to do, there is certainly a lot to like. However, there is one aspect of the game that I have mixed emotions about. It’s a core gameplay system and is also a central part of Viking culture.
I feel weird about raiding.
(Minor Spoilers for Assassins Creed: Valhalla)
Raiding in Assassins Creed Valhalla consists of your character Eivor and their band of warriors rolling up on neighboring settlements to slaughter its defenders and stealing their valuable supplies for your own. It’s an essential gameplay mechanic because it’s the only way to get raw materials which you’ll need to build up your own settlement.
Plus you get to blow a sweet horn while you’re at it
When you are first introduced to the concept in the opening hours of the game, you raid and ransack other Viking settlements who all live and die by this creed. This somehow feels justified for me. This is simply how it was in their culture, a brutal way of life for sure, but fair and ubiquitous across the board.
There is even further justification for raids in the early game in the form of your clan’s long-standing blood feud with the merciless warlord Kjotve and his clan. It stands to reason that since you were victimized by them in the past, you’d rise up and return the favor.
However, as the story goes on you and your clan end up leaving Norway to make a life for yourselves in England. This is where things get a little tricky for me to parse. As you build and improve your settlement you are taught to raid the local Anglo-Saxon settlements for resources and materials. You are taught no other way to procure these essential raw materials.
That means if you want to actually build your settlement to be able to upgrade weapons and armor, manage your Viking troops, and have a shop for essential supplies, you have to massacre a Saxon town’s defenders, steal their resources and burn down their buildings.
And it rarely ever ends this happy though
I am aware that raiding and pillaging is a huge part of Viking culture. To “Go a-Vikingr” was a way of life for them and even a way to seek glory and honor for the afterlife. However, I just can’t distance myself from the feeling that raiding in this form is wrong. These Saxons have established themselves in these lands, built homes and working societies. And our first interaction with them was to murder, plunder and pillage without provocation.
With all AC: Valhalla’s talk of honor and glory, I wish more could have been done in terms of showing that our protagonists are trying to establish a peaceful relationship with the locals before resulting in wanton acts of violence. The in-game database even states that the ancient Vikings were actually more likely to trade with you than to murder you in cold blood so why not have the game reflect that?
Unless they meant “trading blows”
On a personal level, as a Filipino I have sensibilities against foreign invaders grabbing our land and plundering our natural resources. This is something we as a country have wrestled with since our days as a Spanish Colony all the way up to modern times where reinforcing our borders and territory is a constant, troublesome battle.
Yes, I know it’s just a videogame. It’s escapism and a power fantasy. Don’t get me wrong you feel very powerful when you raid in-game—raids highlight Valhalla’s weighty and satisfying combat which feels like the best in the franchise. However, I just wish that that power was also tempered with a semblance of honor and morality.
Yes, it’s a videogame, but it is also a story. In a story, the best characters are the ones you can relate to, understand, and root for. I find it hard to root for these characters as heroes when they perform such wanton acts of villainy.
Hopefully, as we get further in the story, this dissonance will be further addressed or at the very least justified or atoned for. I really like Eivor and these characters, I am enthralled with their journey and invested in their story. I hope that their honor and morality amount to more than just skal and bones.
Do you feel weird about raiding too? or Should we just get over it? Let us know in the comments below!
And while you’re at it leave us a like on the GG Network Facebook Page so we can keep you entertained with more videogames and geek stuff! Take care and stay safe out there!
Look out for our review of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla coming soon! It’s quite a chunky game and we want to experience it all better we give our verdict! Until then check out There’s Just Spiders In Star Wars Now, Which Sucks For Me, An Arachnaphobe and our REVIEW: Spider-Man: Miles Morales Swings to New Heights
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