The Assassin’s Creed franchise features two iconic, hallmark pieces of imagery: Jumping off a roof into a conveniently placed hay bale and quietly stabbing someone for an instakill with the assassin’s trademark hidden blade. So iconic are the blades that they were a constant focus in the very bad Assassin’s Creed movie advertising, front, and center on all the posters. And yet, the last handful of Assassin’s Creed games forsake the cool factor that comes along with instantly shanking someone in a crowd in lieu of generic weapons with random stats and the inability to actually stealth instakill. Did the ancient assassins fail to figure out how the blades work? Well, have no fear because it appears the iconic hidden blades–and their former deadly effectiveness–are making a comeback in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.
In an interview with Kotaku Editor-in-Chief Stephen Totilo, Valhalla Creative Director Ashraf Ismail says the blades and their potency return, and quite early on in the adventure. “We continue with the idea that Eivor is not a trained assassin. Eivor is a Viking who receives this badass weapon and has to learn very quickly. Early in the experience, Eivor will learn a technique that, with the right timing … can one-shot-kill virtually anybody.”
This also confirmed another long-forgotten staple of the franchise: social stealth. If anyone remembers the original trailers and demos for Assassin’s Creed back in 2007 it’s that the game was sold on the idea that anyone can blend into the crowd, do the dark work, and slip away as yet another face in the crowd. While crowds and expansive cities have always been present in recent Assassin’s Creed there was a lack of focus on the mechanic of social stealth, whereas the best entries in the franchise made great use of it. (And certain multiplayer elements were entirely based around it.)
“We have a cool new spin on it,” Ismail told Kotaku “But, yes, social stealth is back.” While it seems counter-intuitive to have a giant, slobbering Viking slinking through a crowd to try and get the ole stabby stab on a victim it does play into the concept that Valhalla is all about the conquering of England. “The idea that a Norse person or a Viking is in a place that they’re not wanted, for them to sort of go incognito and kind of hide in the crowd, if you will, made a lot of sense,” said Ismail.
Stealth Vikings? Sure. Why not. Bring it on. After all, the game does feature playable Viking rap battles. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is set to release this fall, currently rumored to be in October.