I adored Assassin's Creed Odyssey, but as I luxuriated in the freedom of getting behind the wheel of the Adrestia—riding the waves of the Aegean Sea wherever they took me—I felt a little left out. Occasionally I felt like I made the wrong choice of protagonist. I went for Alexios over Kassandra. It seemed like everyone who's played it chose differently, or maybe that's just my Twitter bubble.
Naturally, I understand Kassandra's appeal. Even though she and Alexios are functionally the same character wielding the same abilities, gear, and words, Kassandra's commanding presence oozes cool, and she has a more subtle charm—from the cutscenes and comparisons I've seen, at least. Plus, watching her beat up a group of men will always be more satisfying than seeing Alexios do it.
I also accept, by comparison, that Alexios is a bit flat, and it's absolutely less interesting to play as a burly white bloke in a videogame. He does pull off 'malaka' better, though. Regardless, I went with him instinctively because he bears almost a passing resemblance to me. Well, in the sense that we both have dark hair and a beard. It's probably more accurate to say I wish I looked like Alexios, which is at the nub of why I chose him over Kassandra in Odyssey.
Whenever a game gives me the chance to craft my hero in a character creator, I like to make them look like me as much as possible, but better. Dark hair and eyes, but with a thicker, more lustrous beard. A bit taller and broader, maybe, with a bit more muscle definition and a fun tattoo if I'm feeling especially fancy. I'm not sure what a psychologist would make of the conveyor belt of Harry 2.0s I've created in videogames gone by, and I'm not sure I really want to know.
Anyway, that's basically Alexios for me. He's me, but better. And what's more, he was ready-made: I didn't need to agonise over buttons and sliders to make the hero I wanted to embody for my epic odyssey. In short, I thought I could immerse myself more in my archipelago-hopping adventure because I could roleplay as a man with dark hair and facial fuzz. Perhaps it's a shame I missed out on the hours of Kassandra time I could've had instead, just for the sake of virtual vanity.
But that's going to change with Assassin's Creed Valhalla. When it's set to release later this year, this will be the first AC where I'll properly play as a female assassin. I did get to play as Aya for a bit in Origins, admittedly, but it wasn't long enough. I missed out on Evie Frye in Syndicate and Aveline de Grandpré in Liberation, so I look forward to the change. The prospect of sticking it to opponents that'll almost certainly be underestimating me, before I reward them with a Viking funeral, is very enticing.
When it comes to Valhalla, neither male nor female Eivor look anything like me, so that's a start. With their part-shaven heads, braids, and imposing frames, I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be one of the quivering contingent of Saxons as they charge at me with blood-curdling ferocity. And what better opportunity to break my duck of female Assassin's Creed protagonists than by invading 9th century England as a true shield-maiden.
Historians may be divided on whether these legendary female Viking warriors actually existed, but since recent Creeds have indulged in fully-fledged myths—we battled Medusa, Cyclops, and the Minotaur—it's not surprising that Ubisoft are mining this rich facet of Norse history for one of their new main characters. Either way, the female Eivor pictured in the Collector's Edition looks awesome and if she enjoys anything like the reception Kassandra did, then she'll be another hit. So when it comes to which Viking warrior I'll be invading the drizzly shores of Blighty with, I'm not about to make the same mistake again.