The default character setting for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has you play as both male and female versions of Eivor, with the gender changing at different points of the story.
In a series of promotional videos called “Unleash Your Inner Viking” published here on IGN, it was revealed in Chapter 2 that there are actually three choices for Eivor when starting the game: Female, Male, or ‘Let the Animus decide’. The Animus, of course, is the machine that allows a person to experience the past through the use of genetic memory.
Let the Animus decide is the default selection. “The Animus will represent the stronger female or male memory-stream, depending on its current strength,” says the tool tip.
Clarifying the system on Twitter, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s Narrative Director, Darby McDevitt, said: “It means “Let the Animus decide” is canon. And both characters will appear at various points when you choose this option. So both are canon.”
It means “Let the Animus decide” is canon. And both characters will appear at various points when you choose this option. So both are canon.
— Darby McDevitt (@DarbyMcDevitt) October 13, 2020
In an interview with IGN back in July, McDevitt confirmed that players would be able to play as both male and female versions, and that players could switch at anytime. “You can go into the Animus layer of our game,” he said. “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.”
Part of that ‘secret’ appears to be that the Animus selects Eivor’s gender based on the ‘strength’ of the genetic code in the memory stream. Quite how that works in-universe is yet to be made clear, but it may be similar to how Odyssey explained its gender choice by the genetic material for Leonidas’ heir containing degraded and imprecise DNA. Using this system makes both male and female Eivor canon.
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As for in-game, the default setting will change the player character model and voice for Eivor at specific points of the game. Players will still be able to choose a permanent gender at the start of the game, and – as McDevitt had previously told us – switch genders at any time using the Animus menu.
For more from Ubisoft’s historical series, check out our exclusive preview of the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla tie-in comic book.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.