Assassin's Creed Origins (opens in new tab) and Odyssey (opens in new tab) were both given "Discovery Tour" modes as free post-launch updates that eliminated combat and instead let players roam freely around their game worlds and learn about the real history that informs them. It's educational, but it doesn't suck—a nice change from the usual "edutainment" nonsense we get stuck with.
Ubisoft hasn't said yet whether the upcoming Assassin's Creed Valhalla (opens in new tab) will get a Discovery Tour of its own, but it is leaning into the educational potential with a five-part podcast series called Echoes of Valhalla that's now available on Spotify (opens in new tab). It's a dramatized documentary, with each 15-minute episode featuring music, sound effects, slightly overwrought voice acting, and narration explaining highlights of real Viking history.
Here's what you can listen to:
- Episode 1 : The Sons of the Great North - Who are the Vikings? Share the way of life, customs and beliefs of these men of the North. Understand exactly what is going to urge them to leave their lands and magnificent lands to risk it all for the chance to find fame and fortune.
- Episode 2 : Dragon of the Seas - Embark on a Viking ship, travel the seas, overcome huge waves and dodge lightning! Feel the fear in an untamed ocean. If you let yourself be carried away and stave off hunger, you may be lucky enough to see earth appearing on the horizon...
- Episode 3 : Thor’s Hammer - Set off with the Great Army to conquer English Kingdoms. Find yourself in the midst of a conquest, battles and pillages. Also discover some very special ordeals reserved for a few unhappy prisoners...
- Episode 4 : Birth of an Empire - 10 years after the conquest and your very first victories, it’s time to start building! It’s time for setting down roots, from colonisation to trade. But in England, some are still resistant, still fighting your presence...
- Episode 5 : the Dawn of a New Era - Viking attacks continued in England, but Alfred the Great and his troops fought back. Maybe it’s time for you to go and discover the rest of the known world?
It's obviously not an in-depth historical analysis, but as a light, fast crash-course that sets the Valhalla table, it's eminently listenable—Episode 5 goes from Alfred kicking Viking ass to Sweyn Forkbeard kicking English ass to everyone intermarrying and having kids and all of it getting lost in the wash in the span of about ten minutes. It's kind of an audio-only version of something you might run across on the History Channel.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla comes out on November 10. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out the very serious story trailer (opens in new tab) that was released last week, and don't miss our preview from July (opens in new tab).