Assassin's Creed director on why Ireland is the perfect setting for their new game
Players will be able to get their hands on their first Irish-based assassin this week.
Back in 2018, we chatted to Marc-Alexis Cote, the senior producer at Ubisoft for their about-to-be-released Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and asked would there ever be a day we might see an entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise set in Ireland. His answer was vague, but hopeful.
Jump forward to 2021, and we're talking to Stéphane Boudon, the content director at Ubisoft Bordeaux, on the eve of the release of Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids, which just so happens to be set in Ireland!
Considering there are very few games set in Ireland, we couldn't let this opportunity pass by without asking some of the big questions (including, yes, the Assassin's Creed question that we ALL want the answer to), as well as what we can expect from the new DLC.
Two years ago, we discussed with the makers of Assassin's Creed Odyssey about setting a future game in Ireland. Aside from our obvious influence, where did the idea come from to set the game in Ireland?
I will have a chat with Marc-Alexis to know if he played a role in this decision thanks to your idea! All jokes aside, Ireland was a central place in the Viking History during the ninth century. Norway and England are already featured in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, so when we started thinking about the best location for this expansion, Ireland was for us the obvious choice. When we started digging a bit more we quickly found the base materials we needed to tell engaging stories and create strong characters. Ireland and its culture had so much to offer, it’s really the perfect scenery to continue Eivor’s journey.
Did any of the developers or artists make any trips to Ireland for reconnaissance of the setting, accents, etc?
Sadly no, it was the initial plan but the pandemic situation did not allow us to do such a scouting trip. Thankfully, we came up with a variety of solutions to mitigate the impossibility to travel to Ireland. Firstly, some developers here at Bordeaux Studio had already gone or worked in Ireland, they shared their pictures, their feelings and their impressions during the production.
Secondly, we worked closely with experts from Ireland such as Professor Seán Duffy from Trinity College Dublin, to make sure everything would be accurate. Finally, we binge-watched hours and hours of documentaries and we deep dived into piles of fascinating historical documents such as the Annals of Ulster or the Annals of the Four Masters. All these researches were key in conception phase to ensure our depiction of Ireland was both credible and exciting.
When it came to casting the Irish voice actors, how did that process go?
In Wrath of the Druids we have a large variety of accents, the Irish and the Gaelic ones were indeed the most important to us. We worked with our partner Side for the casting, we chose the voice actors for their performances and their abilities to embody their characters but also sometimes for their knowledge in Gaelic language, their specific accents or their tone. We used direct extracts from the game script for the casting to be sure the chosen actors would perfectly match our intentions and reach the best level of quality and authenticity.
For those who have completed Valhalla, what new additions can players expect from Wrath of the Druids?
Wrath of the Druids is a massive expansion, as a player you can expect brand new story lines, activities and mysteries with epic characters that will take you through this new breath-taking map of Ireland. Speaking of mysteries, you will also have to beat a nefarious Druid cult: The Children of Danu, alongside new bosses and new challenges. We also added new abilities, new gear and new cosmetics to continue the progression of Eivor in the most complete way.
With so many big tech companies setting up a HQ in Ireland - Facebook, Google, TikTok all have a base of operations here - a company like Abstergo would be a perfect fit here, too. Do you think we'll ever see a completely modern-or-future set AC game?
Never say never, for sure Assassin’s Creed brand is more known for revisiting history and it will most likely continue on this path, but the Assassins’ Credo is that "Nothing is true, everything is permitted". Who knows, maybe once again your wish will turn into something real!
Wrath of the Druids will be available as an expansion DLC for those who already own Assassin's Creed Valhalla from Thursday, 13 May.
Clips via Ubisoft