Q&A with Eric Baptizat:
Assassin's Creed Valhalla Game Director
We're proud to release the first interview in a new series dedicated to the development of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, featuring Game Director Eric Baptizat from Ubisoft Montreal!
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Col: First of all, congratulations on the reveal of AC Valhalla, it looks absolutely phenomenal and we can't wait to learn more. Are you pleased with the response to the game so far?
Eric: We are very happy about the first public reactions. It is very encouraging for our team to see how much the community is already commenting and creating content around the game.
It is a morale boost on our side and we are eager to let everyone play the game in a few months and discover all the surprises we have for them.
Col: Have you seen any of the Valhalla fan content created so far, and if so, does anything special come to mind?
Eric: We have been very surprised by the way fans have created their own versions of Eivor. There are already a lot of cosplayers, weapons replicas and a large variety of beautiful artworks, the quality of those creations are also quite high and very impressive.
We have also been pleased to see that the logo was appreciated, our Art Director Visual Design, Nicolas Rivard, was very adamant from day one to deliver a high quality logo that people would appreciate. Seeing fans already using it everywhere is really pleasing for us.
Col: How excited are the team to be working on such a unique project?
Eric: The team is energised to deliver a high quality game. People have spent several years on this project and are proud to be able to soon to let everyone play what they have been working on. There are many elements we want players to discover and talk about, many wonderful locations to visit, tons of secrets and gameplays to discover.
Col: Have the team taken inspiration from TV shows such as Vikings or The Last Kingdom, and how is Valhalla different to traditional Viking media depictions?
Eric: The team has analyzed all references related to the time period from books, movies, tv-shows, video games, but it is really the real history that comes as a first source of inspiration.
Our goal is to deliver a true Viking experience. When we create a game, we define first an objective we want to reach, a simple sentence that describes the type of game we want to make. Then, we study everything we can related to this time period and we select the relevant elements that will help us to concretise our objective.
Col: How does Norse mythology tie into established Assassin's Creed lore, and will it make sense to longtime fans of the series?
Eric: The pantheon of Nordic gods and Norse mythology played an important role in the daily life of the Norse. Norse customs and practices are integral to the world of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and the characters inhabiting this world, but otherwise we want to let fans discover it when they play the game!
Col: Assassin's Creed Valhalla brings back Social Stealth, and adapts it in a new way. What tools are available to players who wish to approach the game from a stealth perspective?
Eric: As a Viking during this time period, Eivor is not welcome into the different towns and villages of England. The cloak you can wear allows you to pass undetected within the crowd and avoid guards’ attention.
When using your cloak, you have as well a variety of tools at your disposal: Eivor can use civilian workstations to stay undetected when a guard patrol comes nearby, you can trick drunkards to create chaos and lure guards away from their position, and the last tool is a reference to the first Assassin’s Creed; blending into crowds in order to pass gatekeepers unnoticed.
Col: How does 'Odin's Sight' differ to traditional eagle vision?
Eric: Odin’s Sight represents Eivor’s perception of your surroundings. It is a mix between your intuition and your perception of what is around you. It is like a sixth sense you can trigger at anytime to highlight momentarily the nearby opportunities and dangers.
Col: Can the hidden blade be used in combat, as we saw in earlier games like AC3 & AC4?
Eric: The hidden blade cannot be used as a single weapon in combat. Our combat system puts the focus on the dual wielding possibilities and allows the player to experiment with a large variety of weapon combinations by deciding which weapon you put on your right or left hand. You can even create some unique fight strategies by playing, for example, with one shield in each hand.
Edited by Ashlea Buckley
Assassin's Creed Valhalla releases November 17th 2020
"Going incognito is an efficient way to sneak through an area and not create unwanted noise." (Ubisoft)
Col: What abilities / skills are available for Synin (raven companion), and how does the mechanic differ to what we saw in Origins and Odyssey?
Eric: Synin is Eivor’s everyday companion. You can teach Synin new tricks through the ability system so that she can help you in fights, distract or lure enemies and even attack them. The player can at any time look at the game from the raven’s perspective: this will highlight the most important activities and rewards in the raven’s vision. The player can also trigger the raven’s stationary flight to use the bird’s eye view and spot even more elements to collect like chests, crafting minerals or animal presence.
Col: Can Eivor eat, drink, sleep and bathe?
Eric: In fact, Eivor can nearly do all of that.
Eating is becoming a very important element, as you’ll need to eat food to regain some health. Collecting berries or hunting animals for food is essential for your survival. You can also eat mushrooms in the wilderness but there could be some risks there…
Eivor can also sleep in the settlement to regenerate some health and wake up later in the day. In the settlement and in cities and villages you’ll be able to drink and even participate in some drinking challenges.
The only element you cannot do is bathe, but if you feel the need to refresh yourself after a fight you can jump at anytime in water and it will do the job of removing all blood splatters on you.
Col: When can the feign death ability be used, and how does it work?
Eric: The Feign Death ability can be used anytime once you have acquired it. It will make Eivor fall to the ground and fake death. You can use it anywhere: in the middle of the fight, in the street, even alone in the wilderness if you want. Outside of the strategic advantage to escape a fight or to lure an enemy toward you to assassinate them, the fun part of this ability is to play with enemies’ and civilians’ reactions. Be careful though, as you might not be able to fool someone twice.
We would like to thank Eric for joining us for this interview, and to Gabe Graziani and the Ubisoft PR department for making it possible.