Now, we know it goes without saying, but Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is something of a divisive AC game. It’s the largest Assassin’s Creed game to date, with a heavier focus on RPG elements and open combat than ever before. It’s also a game that shows its protagonist as actively declining the oppourtunity to join the Assassin’s Brotherhood – an organisation being referred to as the Hidden Ones. However, there are quite a few reasons why Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is still one of the better games in the series, and the two Hidden Ones we meet as Eivor are a huge part of that. If you’re sitting there wondering why we only meet Basim and Hytham in AC Valhalla, you’re not alone – and now we know why.
During a Reddit AMA, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s narrative director Darby McDevitt was asked just why there were so few Hidden Ones in this game and Valhalla’s world generally during the 870s (which is when it’s set). With the Order Of The Ancients running riot in England, it does make you wonder why the Hidden Ones aren’t more readily present in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, doesn’t it?
Well, McDevitt has explained that the fall of the Roman Empire throughout the fifth century actually plays a very important part in this.
While McDevitt does highlight that Ubisoft “tried to tell this story in the Assassin Bureaus”, a series of secret locations players can uncover in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to learn a little more about the Hidden Ones’ presence in England (and unlock some cool gear), he goes on to explain that they were – in a way – driven out by the people.
“With the fall of the Roman Empire,” Devitt begins, “the local populations of Britain had mixed feelings about Hidden Ones… So, the island was bereft of Hidden Ones until Basim and Hytham returned in 873”.
Now, while we can only imagine that Devitt’s use of the term “mixed feelings” is something of an understatement, it is interesting to think about how the Hidden Ones’ retreat from the British Isles allowed the Order of the Ancients to flourish and develop an organistation divorced from the wider Order’s ideals in England. It’s also worth noting that, while this story is explained somewhat through the Magus Codex pages found in the Assassin Bureaus throughout Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it’s not quite as clear as it could be and – due to the unguided nature of their discovery – you could find you’re picking up and reading the pages in the wrong order.
What is also interesting about all of this is that, canonically, it doesn’t seem wholly likely that Hytham and Basim are the only Hidden Ones in England during the events of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. For example, in Elsa Sjunneson’s novel Sword of the White Horse, we see Hytham recruiting a northern witch-warrior to the Hidden Ones with Marcella – a Roman assassin who is appointed leader of the new Lunden bureau shortly after the events of the game’s main narrative.
While we don’t know exactly when she arrives in England, the events of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – including the Last Chapters DLC – span a decade. So, there’s nothing to say that Hytham and Basim are the only Hidden Ones on British soil during Eivor’s stay.
What this does mean, though, is that Eivor was instrumental in re-establishing the Hidden Ones’ influence in England, thanks to her hosting of Hytham and his makeshift bureau in Ravensthorpe. In a way, then, this directly relates to the events of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Who knows how influential the Assassins would be in later centuries without the important foothold facilitated by Eivor in the ninth century.
Okay, we know that link is tenuious at best, but it’s fun to think about how these earlier narratives shape the stories we’ve seen before – and the ones to come. If you want to know more about those, you can find out everything we know about the Assassin’s Creed Mirage release date here, what we know about Assassin’s Creed Hexe and Assassin’s Creed Red here, or why we think an Aztec Assassin’s Creed game makes perfect sense.