ASSASSIN’S Creed: Valhalla has proved so successful Ubisoft have announced a second year of content for it, including Crossover Stories which make a connection between Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: A Fated Encounter brings together two iconic characters from the recent Assassin’s Creed Games and – if you read my review – is a great experience for fans of the game, which fills in a few blanks while still leaving room for a lot more character development too.
I sat down with Crossover Stories associate creative director Clémence Nogrix (via video meeting from Quebec) to get some insights into the development process for the Crossover Stories, what it was like bringing back Kassandra, and
Ms Nogrix said Assassin’s Creed fans themselves had been one of the drivers behind the inspiration for the Crossover Stories.
“Any dev who’s worked on Assassin’s Creed listens to what fans say online,” she said.
“It’s been ever since the beginning – they have theories, they have amazing fan art, they have fanfiction and the like they had made during meeting cosplays, and they asked the themselves questions about the lore in general.”
She explained the Assassin’s Creed franchise had grown from videogames to be a trans-media entity, linked by characters, lore, by artifacts, by moments in history, by motivations, location, and so on.
“When some content releases, there’s are always more stories to tell and there’s a subsequently always questions to answer that remain,” she said.
“It was an opportunity to ask ourselves those questions; and then we looked at which stories we wanted to tell and which questions we wanted to answer.”
The obvious choice involved Kassandra, one of the two player-selectable characters from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in 2018.
“We know that she becomes immortal in ancient Greece and 431 BC, and we know that she dies in the present day when she passes on that staff to Layla,” Ms Nogrix said.
“There’s a 2000 year gap there, that we didn’t address necessarily, and also (we had) an opportunity to ask ourselves ‘what happens?’ What does Cassandra do when she became immortal?”
The answer to at least part of that is addressed in the crossover story A Fated Encounter, which has Eivor and Kassandra meeting and working together on the Isle of Skye to search for an Isu Artefact which is driving the islanders insane with lack of sleep.
Ms Nogrix said there was precedent in having characters from different Assassins’ Creed games meet – it was done before in 2012 in Assassin’s Creed: Liberation when Avilene and Connor cross paths – but the Crossover Stories represented an opportunity could go a little bit deeper and with different character personality types.
“From the start we know we wanted to be there for the fans. This was going to speak to players who had an understanding of the lore and the depth of the characters … we were really going to link that understanding and that connection between games and so that can be understood if you’re familiar (with the games and characters),” she said.
“There’s still so much to tell, and so we wanted to make sure that we represented Kassandra in the character that she was in Odyssey – and to kick start her journey as an immortal to bring the spotlight back on her.”
Despite the spotlight coming back to Kassandra, Ms Nogrix said it was important for the developers that there was a continuity with the experience of the main game.
“So in these experiences if he chose Alexios or Kassandra, you continue the crossover stories with that character. Similarly, in Valhalla, you continue with male or female Eivor, following your choosing in the main game,” she said.
“However, as a team we made the creative decision that Kassandra was the only character from Odyssey that Eivor will have a chance to encounter.”
The decision to put the Valhalla crossover event in a separate area (the Isle of Skye) was also part of reinforcing this idea that the Crossover Story was a standalone adventure but still connected to the main Valhalla game too.
Ms Nogrix said one of the highlights of the project had been the opportunity to work with Kassandra’s voice actor, Melissanthi Mahut, again.
“She’s delightful to work with; she knows her character very well. She went back into who she understands, who Kassandra is, her motivations…. we learned some Greek terms (from) her too.”
The big highlight, however, has been getting the Crossover Stories finished and seeing the fan reactions, however, with Ms Nogrix saying the developers were delighted to see fans enjoying the idea as much as the development team.
“Seeing it finish and having succeeded; that was the first reward – and then the second one was … when you first had a glimpse in the (fan) excitement,” Ms Nogrix said.
“We know we were super pleased with what the story we’re telling. What we loved about the character of Kassandra … other people are seeing it, and they’re responding to it. And it’s always a very unique sensation.”