Ride to the bleak, frozen north in Assassin's Creed Valhalla and you can't miss Jorvik, an enormous Norse settlement split by two rivers. The city was founded by the Romans in 71 AD, but in Valhalla—which is set in 873 AD—the Roman empire is no more and the vikings have taken over the joint.
Today, in the real world, Jorvik is called York, and the only vikings you see are costumed staff from the local viking museum walking to work. But how closely does the game's 9th Century depiction of Jorvik compare to the modern city that I happen to live near? I took my camera to find out.
The city walls
York is famous for its historic walls, which have become a popular walking route through the city. The ones that exist there now are 'only' about 700 years old, but Jorvik had its own walls, which are present in the game.
They're a mix of crumbly stone walls from the Roman days, and newer wooden walls built by its current Scandi rulers. York is layered with history, and Valhalla's Jorvik is the same, so in that respect it's an accurate depiction.
Coppergate was once a bustling marketplace, the actual remains of which you can see in a popular York museum called the Jorvik Viking Centre. In the game it's teeming with life, but now, because of the coronavirus lockdown and the slow death of the British high street, it's pretty empty.
This colossal cathedral has been at the centre of Christianity in the north of England since the 7th Century, and you can visit a version of it in Valhalla's Jorvik. The instant you see it, you're like: yep, that's definitely York.
Here's a closer look at York Minster. The building that stands there today is very different from how it would have looked in the days of the vikings, but the scale is just as impressive. Climb up in the game for a nice view.
The grounds of York Minster are a nice place to hang out on a sunny day, and it's just as chill in the game. In York, a cat called Gerald used to wander around here and became something of a local celebrity. He died recently. :(
In Valhalla, Roman ruins are scattered all over Jorvik. Today, not so much, but there is this genuine Roman column that was excavated near York Minster in the '60s. It was built around 100 AD by Caesar's Ninth Legion, but whoever placed it in York made a mistake, because it's upside down.
This is one of the two rivers that run through York. When the vikings were raiding the northern coast, they sailed up the Ouse and conquered the city, making it a strategically important stretch of water. Now it's mainly filled with rich guys cruising up and down it in their expensive luxury boats.
The second, smaller river running through York. This was an important trading route for both the Romans and the vikings, but now it's exclusively home to Canada geese, whose deafening honks can be heard all over the city.
One of the many bridges that cross the River Ouse. Based on this one's location in the game's version of Jorvik, I reckon it's probably the ancient predecessor of the modern Ouse Bridge.
Another bridge in the city with a counterpart in Valhalla's Jorvik. The Romans built the first bridges in York, but they crumbled with age and the vikings replaced them with wooden ones. They're all gone now, but over the centuries bridges crossing the Ouse have always been built in roughly the same places.
This is the point where the Ouse splits off into the Foss, which is present and correct in the game. Not the most exciting example in this article, granted, but it gives you a good idea of Valhalla's impressive attention to detail. The layout of York is pretty spot on, albeit much smaller than the real thing.