After 100 hours of gameplay, I finally finished Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I was expecting Sigurd and Eivor fight it out in the most epic battle between brother and sister, torn apart thorough rivalries in England, and his increasingly erratic behaviour.
Instead we got Basim in a three-wolf moon t-shirt.
In this article, I’m going to try to break down what actually happens at the end of Valhalla. Bear with me, because it is A LOT. There will be spoilers so BE WARNED. Alternatively, you can just watch the video version of this review below.
What happens in the end of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla?
So Sigurd has been getting these visions throughout the game and he’s been getting a little more manic as the days go on, not to mention he was tortured and had his hand cut off by Fulke, so of course, he’s going to be a little upset. But then he’s like, ‘Eivor, let’s go back to Norway so I can prod my dying old father who was a weakling one last time, and by the way, let’s go find this temple I had in my crazy vision.’
And Eivor’s like, ‘Sure bro, let’s risk our lives to travel back to our home country where nobody wanted us so we can be terrible to your dad! Geez, I forgot how cold it is here, let’s go back to England.’
‘Not before we find this temple, sis.’
After prodding Sigurd’s father for how bad he was, Eivor and Sigurd journey up a mountain in a scene very similar to the end of Journey (go play Journey, it’s amazing), to find, lo-and-behold, that Sigurd wasn’t going insane after all! There really is a temple! And there’s an ace spear with a force field. Totally go pick this up.
At the entrance to the temple, Sigurd can open the door by speaking a magical language, which sounds suspiciously like the language of the alien race in the Assassin’s Creed universe, the Isu. How does he know this? At that point, I was thinking he must be some Isu in disguise. Turns out, it’s much more complicated. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
There are crazy machines down in the Viking temple basement, and after Sigurd and Eivor jack into the matrix – I mean, Valhalla – they’re trapped in a virtual heaven, Groundhog Day style. Obs, this is not real and Eivor is not happy about this, and after a few goes round, you end up getting poked in the eye with an arrow, a la ODIN and or King Harold, depending on how well you know your medieval history.
After this seemingly endless rotunda of Valhalla days, you gotta fight Odin. And he’s pretty much invincible. He doesn’t even have a health bar! Every time you run away he pulls you back, and it turns out you have to UNEQUIP the axe.
But because the game doesn’t set this up AT ALL, the game will pretty much tell you after five minutes of trying to do what you need to do that you need to unequip the axe you silly gamer. I mean, if you have to explain the choice to the gamer then it’s not very good game design!
Once you’re out of Odin’s clutches, it’s not over! Basim, our friendly, neighbourhood assassin, rocks up out of nowhere saying ‘You killed my SON prepare to die!’ And I’m going what? Dude, you have the wrong Eivor, surely you got this mistaken, I did not kill your son.
But he’s determined to fight you so you gotta fight back, cause you are a VIKING! Sigurd can’t fend for himself, so you get rid of Basim and jack him into the Valhalla matrix for all eternity. Take that Basim!
Cut to modern day Layla Hassan! It turns out that this magic ball in this Norwegian vault is going to cause the earth to explode again, and it gives off heaps bad radiation, so she needs to use the staff that she got in Odyssey to protect herself from dying and go turn down the heat.
Cue parkour over magical Isu artefacts, only to find a crusty looking Basim dangling from some scary looking hooks. Of course, the only way to save the world is to get picked up by one of these things, rather than searching for a thermostat, so now Layla is in the matrix. Apparently Basim has been faxing her all sorts of weird messages from beyond using advanced science. Cause science!
Then a glowing figure shows up and I’m like, Desmond, is that you hun, did you know you’re glowing? But if you’re not well versed in the Assassin’s Creed Universe, you might have missed that this guy is Desmond from the original games, and thought he was just some random glowy guy giving out free advice.
And he’s looking after some technological version of the Tree of Life, which looks like it’s out of some tech company corporate video. And he can see all the versions of the future and find one where we save ourselves and Layla’s like sure dude, I’m cool with that, let me just message my friends to tell them I’m not coming home.
But guess who is? Sneaky ol’ Basim, that’s who. Who drops off the matrix, grabs the magic wand, and bingo, is transformed into middle-aged Basim again! Personally, I’m surprised his clothes survived and didn’t dissolve into dust.
Clearly, because when we see him next, he’s dressed in a Three Wolf Moon t-shirt and hoodie, and distinctly looking like a Melbourne barista.
And we’re back where we started, with Eivor’s Viking grave, and Basim being all sassy.
You can go back into the animus, as Basim playing Eivor, which is just weird. After this, there’s a cut scene where Sigurd comes back home and divorces Randvi and hands over the keys to the longhouse and is all cool with that cause he got to go see his mad temple in Norway, and Eivor has been doing all the work anyway so it’s good he finally recognised that. But we’re all still friends, unless you got the bad ending and he stayed in Norway.
Then there’s some viking singing and THE END, but I’m like, uh don’t we need to go fight king Aelfred? Turns out, that’s optional!
Making sense of the ending of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
As soon as I finished the game I texted my friend… uh what just happened?
You played the Valhalla quests, right?
Uh, no, they were boring? And optional?
WELP, it turns out they were vital to understanding the end of the game. Funny that sections in Valhalla would explain a game called Valhalla. But why, oh why, would you bury significant information about the story and the ending in optional quests?
Turns out that Eivor is the incarnation of Odin, yep, got that, but Basim is the incarnation of Loki, yes, that trickster god, and he’s angry about Odin killing his son, Fenrir. Hence the wolf shirt.
This would have been very useful in making sense of why Basim was shouting about his son.
The problem with the ending of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
This is a significant narrative problem, and a fundamental a storytelling problem, one which the Assassin’s Creed franchise will continuously run into as time goes on, with the framing device of the Abstergo corporation. I like these external scenes – they give more context and link the games together, but not at the expense of the player experience.
A good game will allow both long time fans and new fans to get something out of it. But if someone like me, who has played almost all the Assassin’s Creed games is confused, I can’t imagine what someone who hasn’t would feel like at the end of this game.
When I originally reviewed this game, I felt like it was a strong RPG – the early storytelling and arcs were compelling. But as time went on, it felt like the final season of Game of Thrones – you could see the wheels falling off the stagecoach as it plunged into the gully below.
This wacky ending does one thing right. It sets up the trickster Basim as a central part of ongoing Assassin’s Creed games, and also brings someone with Assassin skills into the near future. I’ve always wanted to do more with the modern plotlines, and perhaps this gives us the opportunity to have stronger storylines with the Abstergo Corporation. Also, having a trickster at the heart of the Templar/Assassin battle will provide conflict. What will he do next? We don’t know.
I only hope he gets some better clothes.