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Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s sex is boring, but the romance is pretty good

Not a BioWare game, but decent romance options

Eivor gleefully dipping a drinking horn into a bucket of beer. Image: Ubisoft/Ubisoft Montreal
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Ubisoft, unlike BioWare, is not necessarily known for making games with memorable romance options. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is not exactly Mass Effect, but it’s still got a bunch of potential lovers for Eivor. Like in previous Assassin’s Creed games, Ubisoft has shied way from sex in Valhalla; when things begin to heat up in-game, the screen fades to black. But the real good stuff is in the romancing, the parts that come before.

Romance options were first added to the franchise with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Narrative director Mel MacCoubrey told USgamer after that game’s release that the options were “experimental.” Romance certainly wasn’t central to the storyline in any way, and these parts were more akin to flings than long-lasting relationships. Valhalla appears to be an evolution of that.

Throughout my time with Valhalla, I had the option to romance at least eight different people, with no real gating for sexuality. The majority of these options are minor romances that live and die by whatever questline I’m currently in, short-lived relationships that span, at most, a few minutes. Because of this, I was, at first, of the opinion that Valhalla’s relationship options were like its sex — boring. But as I continued in the game, I found a wider variety of relationship options, some more in-depth than others, and I came to appreciate the variance.

For instance, there is one questline where I’m aiding two brothers with very similar names. (Trust me, this is an important detail.) One of the brothers attempted to woo Eivor with his “plough-sword,” and of course Eivor obliged. After some banter, the screen faded to black before we parted ways some time later. And then — oops! — I called him by his brother’s name. We’re friendly, both brothers and I, for the rest of our time together in Valhalla, but neither will let me forget the gaffe.

Elsewhere in the world, there are even more minor instances of romance, goofy little side quests where I can’t take part, but can do my best to assist. One particular scene that’s making the rounds on social media is an instance where a “raid-loving wife” is complaining, loudly, about her terrible sex life. Missing the heat of battle, she asks Eivor — a fierce Viking warrior — for assistance. Again, of course I obliged. What helped this couple? Burning down their home. As a thanks, they asked if I’d like to join in, but I respectfully declined. Plenty other Viking things to do!

There are other quests similar to this one throughout the world, and I’m here for that.

But what really changed my mind about the romance options in Valhalla is that there are options for more long-term relationships. And, unfortunately, you can only have one of these at a time. After wooing a woman at Raventhorpe, via dates of horseback riding, drinking, and archery, I was able to ask her to be my girlfriend. And then I found out that another woman at the settlement had a crush on me. I had to let her down despite desperately wanting to get with her, too.

In interest of testing the options out, I ended up breaking up with my first girlfriend — devastating after everything we’d been through — and getting with the second woman. One of these relationships does have an influence on the story, which is a nice change from Odyssey, and a decision that I’d love to see expanded on in future games. After all, if we’re really diving into the open-world RPG thing, it’s the smaller details like this that make the world feel rich. Decisions, emotions, consequences. Romance is essential to that.

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