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Assassin's Creed Valhalla Enemy Backstory Featuring Ableist Language Prompts Ubisoft Apology

Ubisoft will remove the ableist language in an upcoming update.

November 10, 2020

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is Ubisoft’s latest trip into the world of becoming an assassin, and one that seems to have been highly-praised for going back to its roots and integrating stealth back into gameplay. The game also follows the story of Eivor, a Viking who travels to England to start up a new settlement on new lands, and across those lands are high-powered enemies that want to kill you. But one of those enemies has a backstory that has prompted Ubisoft to apologize for the way it has handled the backstory.

Across the world map, you’ll see a white knight helmet icon traveling the lands. This icon represents a high-powered enemy that appears to be tracking you down. If you come into contact with them they’ll go on the attack. Basically they’re bounty hunters of sorts. Each one has their own little backstory, but one that goes by the name of Eorforwine has a backstory that is being branded as lazy in telling a backstory and also ableist and insensitive.

“Horribly burned in a childhood accident, Eorforwine is terrified someone will see her disfigured face. She relives her fury with bursts of violence.” the backstory reads available from the world map as shown in the below tweet. Some users have defended the use of backstory with the usual “It’s just a game,” comments, while many have shown their displeasure at the writing claiming it’s an overly typical story arc that uses physical differences to create an evil character.

Ubisoft has replied through the official Assassin’s Creed account to apologize for “unintentionally reinforcing ableism through this language.” It’s also confirmed that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will receive an upcoming update that will remove the language used.

Just to clarify, the issue surrounding this isn’t the fact someone in the game has physical differences at all, but more so to do with the language used to describe it on top of making the character into an enemy as opposed to the backstory being twisted to have a more positive take on a situation. An example I’ve seen referenced online is in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, there’s a bloke that lives on an island with one eye, and he just wants someone to be his friend. I can’t recall doing such a quest, but apparently, it’s there!

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It’s also worth reminding that sometimes issues that may not affect you may affect others, and to understand why this sort of language can be seen as problematic. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is available today for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, and later this week on PS5.

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Ben Bayliss
@Ben_Bayliss

Based in the UK and adores venturing through FPS horrors and taking photos in pretty much anything with a functioning photo mode. Also likes car games.

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