Little has been confirmed about the next chapter of Ubisoft’s somewhat messy, disorganised, and inconsistent ‘Assassin’s Creed’ franchise. Don’t let my negative words fool you though; I am a massive fan of the franchise, for the most part. Three words I never expected to hear, and yet fill me with joy and excitement nonetheless, are ‘Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok’. So, what do I hope Ubisoft brings us with this (potentially) up-coming game? Let’s take a look!
The Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok Rumours
It seems that leaks on various websites show Ubisoft’s planned release of a ‘Valhalla Edition’ of the game, which of course only points to one logical era: Vikings. With a map that will allegedly span across the whole of Northern Europe, including some of the Viking’s most notable and infamous raid destinations (such as Paris and York).
It’s worth mentioning that nothing has officially been confirmed by Ubisoft, so why would the Viking era be the next logical step? Well, in many ways, the illogical step is also the logical one. You see, gone are the days where Assassin’s Creed formed a story. After scaling Damascus in 1191, we found ourselves in Rome in 1476. These time jumps made complete sense due to the modern-day story. Nowadays, Ubisoft seems content with the modern-day story simply serving as a platform through which the main storyline can be told, rather than a story of its own. It exists purely to set up the premise of us entering a machine to experience the genetic memories of a long-dead individual.
I could rant for days about the directions the modern-day plot could have gone in, and the many ways the chosen direction has failed repeatedly, but let’s focus on Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok. In summary, we have almost nothing concrete to go on, including the time period or name of this next adventure. So instead, here I’m just going to run with the idea that we are getting this game, and so here’s what I’m hoping for.
More Mythology, Please!
I’ll admit, when Origins and Odyssey dropped, I had incredibly mixed emotions. I found the inclusion of the mythical beasts largely illogical with concepts presented in earlier games. Not to mention that these creatures rarely made sense within the context of each game’s story either! However, once I stopped thinking about the older games and simply played the reboots as their own stand-alone stories, I enjoyed them a lot more.
If I were to name you three time periods with the richest mythologies, they would be Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Viking Era. We’ve explored the pyramids, we’ve battled at Thermopylae, and so it only makes sense that we sack York for the mighty heathen Gods of Norse mythology!
Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok (which I hope is NOT the chosen title of the game, due to Thor: Ragnarok being fairly recent), could allow players to delve into the depths of Norse mythology, from Jörmungandr, the terrifying sea-serpent to the monstrous and ferocious wolf, Fenrir. From the tricky God of mischief, Loki to the sensual, romantic, and beautiful Freya. Would Thor’s hammer appear as a piece of Eden, much like the spear of Leonidas? There’s really no telling, but the game could really make use of the Viking ferocity and desire to reach Valhalla as a great mechanism for mighty and violent battles.
Suffice to say, if this game doesn’t fully delve into the immensely interesting Norse mythology, it will be a major disappointment.
Sea Battles and Ship Customisation
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am NOT a big fan of the sea gameplay in Assassin’s Creed games. I enjoyed it in Black Flag, but one game was enough for me. Having to repeat it in Rogue was truly unbearable. However, Odyssey found a way to make ship battles exciting again. The customisation of your ship was relatively simple, but I think that worked in its favour.
The idea of travelling by ship appealed to me far more than massive, drawn-out missions or nearly impossible ship battles, something that Odyssey did well. Given the importance of ships to the success of Viking conquests, I have to imagine that we’ll see this mechanic bumped up a bit from the most recent game.
My hope is that Ubisoft makes travelling more challenging, such as sailing through storms or having to navigate without proper direction. I want to see something that resembles what ship travel may have been like. It shouldn’t simply be the case of following a marker or having an entire map readily available; I want to feel like I’m exploring unknown territory as I voyage out to conquer new lands. Of course, I imagine defending against enemy ships would be part of that, but I just can’t bear the thought of another Black Flag or Rogue. After all, the most famous battles involving the Vikings took place on land, not the sea.
Do Choices Matter or Not?
With Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, we started to see the weight that our choices could make. Sadly, Ubisoft didn’t fully commit to this concept, and so your choices and their consequences rarely impacted the overall story. Given that Ubisoft seems to be planning the game-to-game plot about as much as the latest Star Wars trilogy did, I see no real reason why the player can’t make much larger and influential decisions.
This could be anything from battle tactics (something that Red Dead Redemption 2 has done incredibly well within its missions) to deciding the fate of certain characters. Our choices should have consequences, rather than simply making us feel like every decision we make is wrong.
One thing that has been suggested (but also not confirmed), is that players will once again select the sex of their character. Again, I had doubts about this working in Odyssey, but I actually enjoyed the concept in practice. Ubisoft feel content with abandoning the previous rules set up by earlier games in the franchise, so I think we need to just cut the rope and move on. Let’s go full RPG!
There have been calls to make the new character female with no choice on the matter, but frankly I don’t see the benefit of that. Most gamers are male, particularly within this particular franchise. Allowing choice on the matter makes far more sense (and appeals to everyone) than offering no choice whatsoever.
Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok or Rogue?
One problem that Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok may have is fitting the Brotherhood into the Viking ideology. How can you have a group of raiders, murderers, and rapists who also stand for the freedom of all people and the betterment of humanity?
I have a few ideas on this matter. For starters, we could have the Vikings as a sort of Rogue force. With England already having been presented as a hub for the Templar Order, why not play on that? Syndicate, Black Flag, and AC: III both touched on this concept in a variety of ways, but they aren’t particularly close in time to the Viking Era.
Another option would allow a more in-depth exploration of the Norse mythology. We could have different parts of Scandinavia rising up behind men and women claiming to be Gods, perhaps influenced or powered by Pieces of Eden. These factions could present the threat, perhaps Templar, perhaps not, and therefore provide a motivation for a group of Vikings to stand together as a rebellious force. Why not scrap the Templar’s entirely and simply have different factions of Vikings, each worshipping different “demi-Gods”, with one faction being the Brotherhood, which ultimately aims to unite the groups?
One final option could succeed where Assassin’s Creed: Rogue failed. We could see a true Rogue (or Rogues) rise up against both the Templars and the Assassin’s. We could have a character who has witnessed the destruction caused by this war, but rather than joining one side or the other, they simply aim to stop both. Perhaps their ideology stems from the idea of destroying the few to save the many. Ideally, you would be an ex-assassin.
All of these suggestions would allow the one thing I hope for most from this game: a deep exploration of Norse mythology. I’m working on a post that will cover the more specific storylines I would love to see in Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok, but for now I’ll leave you with the above ideas.
One thing that I would LOVE to see, but almost definitely won’t, is a system similar to that of Far Cry 3. In this game, the player’s journey was marked by new tattoos which represented experience (skills) gained. This is something that would fit with the Viking Era more than any other Assassin’s Creed game. Unlike Far Cry 3, Ragnarok could allow a more personalised version of the tattoo, allowing players to select the symbols, location, and style.
Ultimately, Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok would focus on the warrior aspect of Vikings. We would see a character, possibly one who claims to be descended from Odin himself (which could tie perfectly into the Assassin’s Creed lore as we’ve often played as characters descended from the Isu). As such, this character strives to earn his recognition throughout the world as the fiercest of warriors.
Combat and Stealth
Personally, I have become a massive fan of the new combat system used by the franchise. The main problem I had with Odyssey was the lack of Brotherhood lore. Sure, additional content supplied us with a bit of backstory (for a price), but ultimately, we weren’t playing as an assassin, but rather as a warrior. My hope is that while Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok will focus on the warrior aspect, it will also make time for the assassin aspect too.
Odyssey allowed players to often choose between storming a fort or base head-on or sticking to the shadows, slowly wiping out the enemies undetected. This only really worked outside of the main missions though, and I feel that measures could be taken to make the assassination style more immersive and challenging, but also more rewarding.
One of the many rumours surrounding Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok is that wars will be even greater than that of Odyssey. I certainly loved the war element, as it added fresh gameplay and kept things challenging. However, the wars often felt inconsequential, and strategy as a whole was unnecessary. They always followed the same format, and this made them a bit repetitive. Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok could allow players to order troops, possibly planning a style of attack beforehand based on scouting information or previous successful raids. Maybe we could pick the location of the battle, set traps, use weather or the environment to our advantage, and take steps beforehand to improve our chances.
Landscape, Architecture, and Weather
I think that it’s important that if Ubisoft intends to create a massive map, they do so with finesse. My worry is that we’ll have far too much empty space or repetitive scenery. They will also need to find the correct balance between historical accuracy and impressive and interesting structures. One thing I liked about Odyssey is that while paying homage to Ancient Greece, we still got to explore areas that certainly didn’t exist. Given the time period that Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok would explore, I’d expect a combination of old Roman temples and new Viking structures, as well as some crazy Isu shit, hopefully in a way that feel new and doesn’t simply repeat previous games.
I seriously hope that Ubisoft continues in the direction they’ve been heading in with Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Odyssey, whereby more and more can be discovered without it being part of the main storyline. The Isu temples in Origins were often discovered by accident and could be explored without having completed other parts of the story. I always loved the Glyph puzzles from Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood, and while I don’t want to see that repeated, I would enjoy something just as challenging, thought-provoking, and seemingly secondary. Having some Norse temples that reveal hidden secrets and forgotten stories about the Isu and their descendants.
Creating weather that fluctuates, and in doing so creates new problems or allows for different styles of gameplay would certainly make the game more exciting. You can imagine hiding in a snowstorm as you sneakily wipe out enemies or struggling to cross a mountain due to hazardous weather conditions. Ubisoft have touched on this throughout many of their games, even going as far back as Assassin’s Creed III. And yet, other than the occasional sandstorm or the tedious walk through snow, they haven’t fully utilised this system.
They could use this to challenge the players in different ways. For this of you who watch Vikings, imagine a character-forming journey like Björn Ironside, where you head out into the snow and ice to find yourself.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the modern-day storyline for Assassin’s Creed is royally fucked! Ever since Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft has lost all direction in regard to Desmond and his team. The games following the main character’s death essentially scrapped all threat and instead focused on repeating the same narrative again and again: beat the Templars to finding a POE. Why? For no real purpose whatsoever as the game often ends immediately after this moment.
After Assassin’s Creed: Origins, I suggested that Layla would ultimately end up using the Animus as a sort of time machine, one that would allow her to actually live in the past and make decisions that would impact the present day. I also suggested that this mechanism could be used to save Desmond and ultimately set humanity (and the Ubisoft games) back on a more structured path.
Sadly, despite everything it did well, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey further muddied the waters of the modern-day storyline and any direction it may or may not have had. We find Layla with a new team, searching for a staff, and yet we have no real mention of any sort of goal or threat beyond that. Her decisions throughout the game make little sense, and I don’t imagine that Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok will follow Odyssey in a way that will make any real sense either. Undoubtedly, we’ll be searching for a Viking-Era POE in a race against the Templars, with no real character development or explanation of what endgame we’re heading towards.
My hope is that they either commit to a new direction or scrap it entirely. Watching Layla’s shoddy character development unfold has actually become painful and unbearable. I’d rather return to the first-person gameplay we got during Black Flag and Rogue. It lacked any real storyline, but that’s preferable over a poorly written one. If Ubisoft had actually thought ahead (which history tells us they haven’t and won’t), they could have used Origins, Odyssey, and Ragnarok as a sort of trilogy/reboot of the franchise, one that firmly plants Layla and other characters in a new and exciting journey.
Earlier games allowed us to follow Desmond, Lucy, Shaun, and Rebecca in a way that felt organic. We learned more about each character and they actually felt like they had personality. This is something that Odyssey and Origins severely lacked.
Back when Desmond was the main character (and even after his death when we still explored his ancestors through blood collected from his corpse), we were repeatedly introduced to the idea that his lineage was special. Altair, Ezio, Edward, and Connor were all special because they were part of the same lineage, hence their central role with any POE during their corresponding time period.
There were even theories that Bayek (the main character from Origins) was also one of Desmond’s ancestors, due to the similarity he shared to him and all the other connected ancestors, including the scarred lip that all possess. However, this idea doesn’t make sense as Bayek doesn’t have children and so can’t be an ancestor of Desmond. This begs the question as to why Ubisoft would include such details in the first place.
The lineage or bloodline is touched upon more heavily in Odyssey, with Alexios and Kassandra. This is the idea that they are “descended from Gods” i.e. the Isu. One theory suggests that the reason William Miles (Desmond’s father) appears at the end of Origins is to allow Layla to use his son’s blood in order to better locate the POE, as Desmond was the joining point of two powerful lineages. We then learned Alexios/Kassandra is the ancestor of Aya. So the fact that Aya and Bayek don’t have children that then connect to Desmond feels like a missed opportunity to connect the games.
I would love for Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok to fully explore this aspect and perhaps tie loose ends together. We’ll obviously play a character who is descended from the Gods, believing the God to be Thor or Odin or someone else, rather than simply a separate species. But much like my hopes for the storyline, I hope that Ubisoft have a long-term plan for the characters that we’re exploring, rather than them simply being random people from different time periods.
Final Thoughts on Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok
I have plenty more that I’d love to discuss in relation to Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok. But as always, I’ve drastically exceeded my initial post length, and so I’ll wrap this up by simply stating my overall hope for this game. If nothing else, I ask that Ubisoft spend the necessary time creating a new type of story. We’ve had the Templars, we’ve had the Ancients, and we’ve had the Cult of Kosmos, so can we get something that feels a little bit different to hunting down a hidden order?
More than anything, I want a real character’s journey. As a fan of the show Vikings, I have to use that as a reference point. We follow Ragnar Lothbrok from being a young farmer to an old king, and when his story ends, you truly feel like you’ve followed this man along an epic journey. So far with Assassin’s Creed, we’ve only had this experience with Ezio. From the very beginning, Ezio always felt like a very real and likeable character, and while his tale was spread across three games, there’s nothing to stop Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok creating a similar feeling in just one.
One way or another, I’m excited to see some legitimate information drop in relation to this game. A few years ago, I swore off the entire franchise, but I’m happy to say that Ubisoft has well and truly pulled me back in. I am excited to earn my place in Valhalla alongside my Vikings brothers and sisters within Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on the idea of Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok? Let me know down below!
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