Last night, former MTV News staffer Stephen Totilo sent me a text about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: “Go sit at the campfire.”
We’d been talking on and off about the game, and he suggested that I check something out. Apparently, even though I’d sunk 90 hours into last year’s biggest game—even though I’d completed all of the Animus Anomalies, knocked out most of the regional storylines, and extensively pored over the endgame—I’d somehow missed a pivotal hidden cutscene that has serious implications for the relationship between two major characters.
Major spoilers follow for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
So, the campfire. It’s not just any campfire but, specifically, the one you see while exploring the modern-day segment, in New England. And you have to sit at it after you beat the game’s main arc, apparently, once you’re in Basim’s passé yet indisputably sensible footwear. (Remember, following the events in the Hordafylke arc, recent series protagonist Layla ends up locked away in an ancient digital abyss. Basim, once presumed dead, uses a magical scepter to come back to life and escape to the real world, in the 21st century. You then control him rather than Layla. The modern-day story of Assassin’s Creed remains, as ever, utterly mind-boggling.)
I’ve hit that point in my game, so I steered Basim to the campfire. “Ah, the wonderful smell of wood smoke,” he says. “I’m glad some things never change.” He then looks out over the idyllic American backcountry. It’s all very lovely. Not exactly pivotal, though.
Zack Zweizen, Kotaku’s in-house Assassin’s Creed lore master, had a different experience. When he followed the same steps, he saw…
Yes, that’s Eivor. It’s not Eivor Eivor, mind you, but rather an apparition, something like the Force ghosts from Star Wars. Look close, and you can see the hints of a smile. In the full clip, Eivor and Basim nod to each other, an acknowledgement of mutual respect. One could reasonably go so far as to surmise Eivor, with that one motion, is basically saying, “It’s all good, man.”
It doesn’t matter how many hundreds of years have passed. If my brother disappeared for two years and then showed up some day with a strange man, and then that strange man schemed to get my brother kidnapped and partially dismembered, and then secretly tailed the two of us on a soul-seeking adventure to our homeland, and then revealed his secret plan all along at, like, the worst possible moment, and then tried to kill me, I don’t know that I’d be so forgiving.
We also still don’t know how the fuck Eivor’s skeleton ended up in New England. But Eivor—be it through Animus magic tech or through Basim’s established presence in the 21st century—seems to still be around in some way or another. And it’s not like there isn’t precedent for this stuff. Kassandra, the protagonist of 2018’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, was able to survive into the modern day. (She’s dead now.) Here’s hoping this means Eivor, the strongest series protagonist since Ezio Auditore, will make a return appearance.
So, why did Zack see this cutscene while I ended up stuck with a wistful ode to nostalgia?
In a statement to Kotaku, representatives for Ubisoft clarified that, in order to get Eivor to show up in New England, you need to accomplish three things. First, you need to complete all of the story arcs. You also need to finish the Order of the Ancients, which shouldn’t be too tough, since the main narrative has you eliminate a good number of them. Finally, you need to complete the “Forge and the Flame” quest. (That’s the one about Gunnar’s wedding.)
I’ve played a lot of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but still have a lot of loose threads. For one, I haven’t finished the Hamtunscire arc. After learning what happens plot-wise, I decided the eight to ten hours needed to beat it—look, I play these games at an excruciatingly methodical pace—would be better spent playing anything else. Now that I know what’s really waiting? My backlog just got a little bit bigger.
Update: 2/23/2021, 11:30 a.m. ET: We’ve updated this post to include info from Ubisoft as to how, exactly, you can see this Easter egg.