How Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s Creators Snuck In Connections To Older Games

Illustration for article titled How Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s Creators Snuck In Connections To Older Games
Screenshot: Ubisoft

An assassin in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla shares a small but fun connection to a templar in Assassin’s Creed III, as confirmed by Ubisoft in a recent interview with Kotaku.

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In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla players will quickly encounter two assassins. One is Basim and the other is his younger apprentice, Hytham. That name might sound familiar to folks who’ve played through Assassin’s Creed III, as it sounds an awful lot like Haytham, the first Grand Master of the Templar Order in North America and the father of AC3 protagonist Connor. This similarity wasn’t a coincidence and is an example of how the developers and writers working on the franchise weave references and lore into the game without some grand plan already laid out.

Darby McDevitt, the narrative director on Valhalla, along with other Ubisoft devs, recently answered some questions for me about Vinland, an area that appears later in Valhalla and which I enjoyed a lot. During the interview, I asked the developers and writers when and how they decide to include lore connections to other games in the long-running series. If you thought there was a grand plan or some master story bible with every detail and event carefully planned out, you’d be wrong. Instead, as McDevitt explained, these types of details and references come about organically as they work on the game.

“Most of this stuff comes as we dance our way through production,” explained McDevitt. “As things come together we see connections to other games and we pounce on them.”

note in assassins creed valhalla
Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

So during development, when it came time to name the two assassins you meet and befriend in Valhalla, McDevitt saw an opportunity. “I remembered fans have wondered why Edward Kenway gave his son an Arabic name, Haytham,” said McDevitt. “So when it came time to name our two Assassins, I suggested Haytham or Hytham to imply that Edward named his son after the Assassin who brought the Hidden Ones back to England.”

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Something similar happened with the cities in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Fans noticed that the assassin targets in the three cities seemed to be references to the targets found in the three cities of the original game. This would later be confirmed by McDevitt, who explained that this was a similar situation.

“When we decided the three cities in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla would be assassination-themed, we immediately jumped on the idea of turning them into a grand homage to the first Assassin’s Creed’s cities. It was something that grew out of iteration.”

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So while fans might be tempted to read into every little detail and assemble grand theories online, keep in mind that the odds are decent that you’re thinking about these things a lot more than the folks making the games.

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Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

DISCUSSION

I miss the older games that just focused on one or two big cities that you could conceivably blend in with crowds of people.