The Interesting History of the Viking era of England

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MonkeyKing1969

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Video games are not there to give you history, I get that but I think it a shame that the in Assassin's Creed Valhalah that they made Alfred the Great your protagonists. He and his kin were really the first true kings of a united England.

Alfred the Great (Old English: Ælfrēd); between 847 and 849 – 26 October 899) was King of Wessex from 871 to c. 886 and King of the Anglo-Saxons from c. 886 to 899. After ascending the throne, Alfred spent several years fighting Viking invasions. Likely by today's standards we might not have liked this dude. Yet, he united England and they system the set up united Celtic, Angles, Saxons and Dane societies together. Coalesces of those groups was necessary for the England we know today to grow as a nation.

Which is not to say Viking aren't interesting too. This era of history is very interesting especially if you want to do a game centered around Europe. If not a viking game, then the other option is a Charlemagne, (800-814). And, you don't do a Charlemagne or "Holy Roman Empire game"; because they you start inciting Nazis, who refer to that part of history as the First Reich - yikes! So- yeah- let's stick with the raping & pillaging Vikings, who have history with LESS baggage!!!

I look forward to this Assassin's Creed game. You can't go wrong with vikings, pirates, or ninjas for a game.

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cornfed40

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As a fan of the shows Vikings and The Last Kingdom, I am pretty dang excited for this game. To me, it is the most interesting time in British history. British history has so many twist, turns and invasions that it can make your head spin. Brittons >> Romans >>Angles and Saxon Germans >> Vikings >> French descendants of the Vikings. I wish it had been set shortly after the death of Alfred though. My favorite Assassins Creed games are the one's where the writers have the most freedom to explore the familiar settings and familier names. THe periods where recorded histories and texts are the least.

Alfred is sometimes called the Lord Chronicler of England, because he kept the most detailed collection of writings about the politics, people and wars of his time. I would have rather seen his son Edward or grandson Aethelstan being the antagonist, because they did not follow in Alfred's footsteps when it came to keeping the history.

The only thing that worries me is there may be a bit of "where is all my cool tall shit to climb?" Wooden huts and relatively low walled fortresses aren't exactly the coolest of scenery

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Mezmero

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Yeah the history and culture of that region is particularly fascinating. I'd say they timed this game pretty well considering Vinland Saga was one of my favorite TV shows last year. After falling off of AC3, I went from finishing and loving Black Flag, to playing a little and enjoying Origins, to finishing and loving Odyssey so I still have some affection for this franchise and it's brand of historical virtual murder. I'm curious how this main character(s) will compare to past AC protagonists. Heck I ended up liking Kassandra way more than I expected to by the end of Odyssey.

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BaneFireLord

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I expect they'll present Alfred more complexly than just "The Big Bad." There have already been some developer comments to that effect. Also Assassin's Creed trailers have not necessarily been representational of the actual game's handling of the historical subjects (anyone remember the Assassin's Creed III trailer that was super hamfisted black-and-white "redcoats are bad" and then the end product, for all its other faults, was a lot more nuanced than that?).

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TheRealTurk

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It's a cool period of history, but unfortunately, I have zero confidence in Ubisoft to meaningfully render it or to tell a good story. Assassin's Creed is best when you are meaningfully interacting with historical figures and, to a certain extent, driving some left-of-reality-version of historical events.

Unfortunately, in the most recent games, the history just sort of takes a back seat to whatever crappy Precursor plot Ubi comes up with. Historical events and places are never really explored and historical figures come into the game only in the most basic "Did you know this was an IMPORTANT person!? They're even in HISTORY BOOKS!!" kind of way (seriously, the way Odyssey handled Socrates was borderline criminal).

I'd absolutely love it if the series went back to the days of ACII where characters like Leonardo were people you actually hung out with and helped move the plot along and where the cities and environments were painstakingly re-created. However, I'm guessing this game is going to barely touch the actual history and and big cities will be dumped in favor of a thousand generic tombs and army encampments.

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Efesell

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#6  Edited By Efesell

@therealturk: I feel like it's the absolute opposite, personally. They do their best work with a broad setting. All of the weaker AC entries seem to be ones where they are trying to plug you into a more specific historical event.

Honestly though, what I'm really just asking this game to deliver, is a fun time doing some viking shit. If they can hit some interesting historical bits along the way that's a fun bonus.

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rorie

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#7 rorie  Staff

I am definitely looking forward to this, as I do all AC games. I hope they vary up the formula a bit from the last couple, though. I DO hope that they keep the ability to jump as far down as you want without dying, though!

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bakoomerang

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@rorie: Wait, was that a thing in Odyssey??

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rorie

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#9 rorie  Staff

@rorie: Wait, was that a thing in Odyssey??

Yep; I forget if it was an upgrade or just something you had since you had god blood in you, but you could plop off of mountains and hit the ground with a roll and keep going. Made traversal a lot easier, as you can imagine.

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TheChris

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It’s pretty cool that we Danes finally get a game about our history, even got two Danes voicing the protagonist.

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BladeOfCreation

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This one is admittedly weird to me. In Odyssey, you play as a mercenary who's kind of an asshole, but not really a monster. In the very first trailer for Valhalla, they made sure to show a scene where the player character stops the murder of noncombatants. The Vikings are fascinating, badass, and cool as hell. They also waged wars of aggression and committed what we would consider war crimes today. I'm very interested in seeing how this plays out.

A couple of years ago, I saw a museum exhibit called "The Vikings Begin," which featured artifacts from some of the earliest days of the Viking Age. It was really cool. One of the craziest things was seeing how big an actual Viking shield was. Those warriors must've been strong as hell.

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someoneproud

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I'm looking forward to it a lot more than I was expecting, only played Odyssey recently and I had a good time with it. The peloponnesian war interests me more than viking invasion but I'm all in for rampaging around the English countryside.

I'm interested to see how they handle Alfred the Great, doubt they'll make him the out and out villain but I'm quite partial to the British bad guy trope anyway so I'm all good.

I can totally understand why they wouldn't want to make the Vikings too accurate, a raping & pillaging simulator is a pretty tough sell.

@thechris: I hadn't heard that, that's great news. It really helps with my immersion when they use native VAs rather than just using the typical American/British voices or hackneyed accents.

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KTipcorn

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#13  Edited By KTipcorn

If Alfred is the bad guy, the Vikings set up the origins of the Danelaw around then.

It is a strange choice for the Assassins side, given that the earlier games tended to make Templars the 'bringing people under our order' roles... but then the religions are backwards.... and then when Alfred brings what becomes England under his rule we'd end the game with two sets of Templarish groups going at each other. Seems like the history is going to have to be extra strange.

There will be a mission about burning cakes. It is a shame were a few decades early for Cnut to be sitting on the coast ordering the sea to retreat.

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cikame

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The last two games were kind of similar with the greek stuff, so i'm looking forward to this, my exposure to vikings is mostly through For Honor and they were pretty cool there.

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thesquarepear

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I think I'll pass, even having read some of the "Saxon Stories"/"Last Kingdom" books and having some interest in history in general. Judging on the trailers and past games I don't trust Ubisoft to genuinely portray vikings as the complete dicks they were most of the time. Meaning: I only might buy it if I can split a monk's skull with an axe and force his sister into slavery.

I haven't played any of the AC games since 4 but I guess they're not for me because the "stabbing simulator" and stealth mechanics has been surpassed long ago by Mount & Blade, Dishonored, Dark Souls etc. Gameplay seems mostly like tower climbing, loot collection and scenery for their "History Channel"-style plots.

There are plenty of other historical settings left (Aztecs, Ming dynasty, Ottoman Empire, Czar Russia) and if you can do crusades I don't see how the Holy Roman Empire would be too sensitive.

Man, if someone made a faux Great Britain map for Mount & Blade 2 that would be sweet. I should probably go check out some Warband mods ("Sword and Axe" looks like something in that direction).

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Stephen_Von_Cloud

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I think it could be pretty cool if they focus on building up your home base and your group of Raiders. I would love a kind of party/companion/faction focus. As I said in another thread, if AC is going to become this ARPG it would be great if they took more RPG elements than Diablo's loot system and MMO scaling like say choice, branching narrative, party, and more customization.

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Stephen_Von_Cloud

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@thesquarepear: the monks were plenty dickheads also and slaves were all around. Plenty of dickheads around back then on a moral scale.

I wouldn't expect much less than a heroic depiction. Its becoming more and more common to smooth over historical realities in games, beyond the usually desire for simple good v bad narratives, which I think sets a dangerous precedent and often a tool of propaganda and whitewashing.

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NTM

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#18  Edited By NTM

I should probably put up here that below has pretty much nothing to do with Valhalla aside from my hope that they bring back discovery tour. I am more interested in their attempts to bring to life historical aspects and what that setting was like than any of the precursor or assassin vs. templar stuff, nor am I all that excited to do more base clearing assassinating. That said, I hope it's good obviously.

---

I hope they bring in another discovery tour. I actually just rebought Assassin's Creed Origins and all of its DLC on the Xbox One X. I bought it on PS4 (at the time, base PS4) when it came out and went through it then and never went back. Since it was 25 dollars to what would otherwise be 100, and I am also slowly working my way through Odyssey as I've picked it up again after not being able to ever finish it in the past, as well as just wanting to see it in the highest possible resolution a console can give with Dolby Atmos, I decided to get into it.

I am working my way through Odyssey's main game, but I've been playing the discovery tour for Origins (now, almost finished with it) and I have to say, I enjoy it a lot. Not just because of the historical learning either, but being able to go through the world without danger and not worry about a multitude of side activities, it's relaxing and shows off the beauty of the world they've created. It's also hilarious to be a little girl and, seemingly god-like, work your way through the world, at times showing some attitude.

I don't like fast traveling unless I'm backtracking through a place I've already been, so seeing the player character briskly run across miles of desert, climb atop mountains and jump down from the highest heights, then swim through water without ever getting tired or hurt is a pleasure. I also think it's funny to tell an adult to get away from the controls of their boat, or accidentally hit another on the way to a destination. Animals also don't attack, so it's as if becoming part of the pack of different wildlife.

That all said, I am impressed with how immersive it feels to roam the world and notice things I hadn't before, like passerby waving to one another or animals reacting somewhat realistically, with spectacular lighting throughout. It's not necessarily photo-realistic, but it's one of the closest I've seen. The historical stuff is good for the most part. They use too many of the same images for different tours, and the censorship aspect is a bit weird for a couple of reasons. One reason is that, well, they shouldn't censor it. The other is that there is a part where they censor an in-game statue so it doesn't show the privates, and yet as you look at it, there is a real-life image next to it that isn't censored, so it doesn't make sense.

Anyways, I liked Origins okay when it came out, but I am enjoying its world more than ever now, and I hope I can retain my attention and interest in both Origins and Odyssey until TLoU2 comes out.

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Mallbo

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Just watched the series "Vikings"

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MonkeyKing1969

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@thesquarepear: I have read a few of Last Kingdom books by Bernard Cornwell. I dug the lead character having Saxon blood but raised by Danes, that leads to all sorts of great personal conflict which your need for a story. They are good books but never hooked me...not sure why. Come to think of it even Bernard Cornwell has Alfred being a bit of a hardass, self righteous dick.

I just hope the game get a little less "grey". England in the 9th century was a crazy green place, well the grass was green...and they buildings, people, and all the rest was busting with color. I hope the game has some color to it - not much to ask.

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Efesell

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@monkeyking1969: I mean Odyssey was maybe the most colorful game in ages so I think they understand the value.