The choice to play Eivor solely as a woman or solely as a man are also present, of course, but Ubisoft said the game’s “Animus decides” option would provide more clues to the game’s wider story, and was therefore the default.
But when would you switch between the two options? How often would this happen? For story reasons, Ubisoft said, it would not elaborate further.
Well, with the game released around the world, now seems a good moment to answer just some of these questions – while leaving the deeper narrative implications, which definitely veer into Big Spoiler territory, for later down the line.
All of that said, if you don’t want to know when/where/how you switch between Eivors, you should stop reading now.
THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD.
The answer, thankfully, is very simple. Pick the default “Animus decides” option and you’ll play as female Eivor through the vast majority of the game, except in the two mythological realms of Asgard and Jotunheim. There, you’ll take on a somewhat different role, and appear as male Eivor instead.
There are good reasons why you look different in these dream-like realms, which are accessed via mystical potions in your village, but these are not reasons worth spoiling today.
However, for anyone keen to try Ubisoft’s default option but concerned about a disjointed experience, rest assured this is never the case – and it only deepens one of the game’s cleverer narrative mysteries.
“Knowing the narrative reason for this and seeing its overall impact on the vast, vast percentage of the experience, this option is actually the one I’d recommend,” I wrote earlier this week in Eurogamer’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review, “at least until the game swaps who you’re playing as for the first time, or it finally clicks for you as to why it does. Suffice to say this option never impacted my attachment to the Eivor I played as across the majority of the game, and it is not the situation some had expected, where your immersion could be broken by a constant ping-pong back and forth.”
Even if you’ve already started your Valhalla playthrough, you can change your appearance at any time and pick the default “Animus decides” option later if you want to explore a different choice.
Finally, it’s interesting to consider what this all means: that female Eivor is the canon experience for all your Norway and England adventures – just as Odyssey’s Kassandra was back in Ancient Greece – and that two out of Valhalla’s three character options have you playing as female Eivor for the vast majority of the game. In the context of the ongoing push for a female Assassin’s Creed protagonist, it’s a unique situation for a game whose marketing still predominantly features Eivor as a male Viking instead.