Assassin’s Creed narrative director Derby McDevitt has replied to recent claims that some members of of the Ubisoft team working on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla wanted the game to only feature a female Eivor as the main character.
A Twitter post from illustrator Seiiki Dell’Aria, who had previously worked with Ubisoft on the official Assassin’s Creed Symphony tour, shared information from one of the people who had reported misconduct allegations against former Assassin’s Creed Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail.
According to the claims provided to Dell’Aria, Eivor was originally meant to only be female within the game instead of a binary choice that players could switch between at any given time.
Reports have circulated that Ubisoft executives had rejected previous proposals of female-only protagonists in Assassin’s Creed games.
“I was approached by one of Ash’s victims who showed me bits of conversations and confirmed something that isn’t quite out, but that won’t surprise anyone,” Dell’Aria tweeted. “Just like for Syndicate, Origins and Odyssey, it was the devs wish that Valhalla featured a female protagonist. Exclusively.”
On the Assassin’s Creed reddit, McDevitt partially refuted the claims, explaining that Ubisoft intended for Eivor to be either male or female depending on player choice. “I will say this once: this is not wholly accurate,” McDevitt wrote.
“And I will repeat what I have always said. ACVs story was conceived from the beginning with both female and male in mind. When you play the game you will understand that there is no way the male could have been added at the last minute, or whatever version of this story you have heard.”
“Obviously there is more nuance to all this, but to go deeper would spoil lots of the mysteries at the heart of the game. But understand this, that we started ACV knowing full well that Ubi wanted to give players the ability to select characters, and we worked hard to make sure that it honored our lore.”
Ubisoft has been caught up in several scandals over the last month, as a Bloomberg report and more than a dozen ex-employees revealed how a frathouse culture had become ingrained within the company, resulting in a toxic workplace environment of rampant misogyny and sexual harassment.
Former chief creative officer Serge Hascoët was at the center of many allegations, and was eventually removed from his position, alongside a marketing manager and several executives who had been named in the report.
Hascoët’s influence seeped into several Assassin’s Creed games according to the report, as he demanded that game scripts be changed so that there would be more of a focus on male characters.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was meant to give equal screen time to the Frye twins Jacob and Evie, but Jacob ultimately took a starring role. Assassin’s Creed Origins’ male hero Bayek was originally supposed to die early in the game so that players could assume control of his wife Aya, but this idea was also scrapped in favor of a male protagonist.
In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, only female protagonist Kassandra was playable but Ubisoft’s male-dominated editorial team felt that the game would not be successful with a female protagonist. Players were ultimately given the choice of playing either as Kassandra or her brother Alexios.
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