Long beards, large swords and a martial appearance – we all combine that with Vikings. Northmen and Schildmaiden have had an amazing comeback in recent years. Whether in video games or series, they are moving more and more into the mainstream. And so the Nordic Middle Ages recently replaced contemporary locations or end-time scenarios as a preferred setting.

This year Ubisoft's open-world series Assassin's Creed will venture into the world of the Vikings: After we have been able to travel to Egypt and Greece for the last time, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla will be heading to the cold north at the end of 2020. And Ubisoft is not alone in this: The North and its myths and legends have developed into one of the hotspots for computer and video games in recent years. But why actually?

Fiction or story?
Before we go any further in the topic, we attest that north is not just north. After all, many games have different focuses and are sometimes more concerned with Nordic mythology and sometimes with the traditional history of that time. Take, for example, the God of War for PS4, published in 2018: After the former god of war Kratos had already shortened the rulers of Olympus, the action game series needed a change of location. So why not Nordic mythology? It offers strong characters and a rich fund of legendary characters and deities.





<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/05/wikinger02-pc-games.jpg" alt = "In Assassin's Creed: Valhalla you also rebuild your own home village. This game element could provide even more depth and long-term motivation.
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In Assassin's Creed: Valhalla you also rebuild your own home village. This game element could provide even more depth and long-term motivation.

Source: PC games




The historian and cultural scientist Dr. Elizabeth Ashman-Rowe worked as a consultant for Ninja Theorys Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (2017). In the interview, she explained to The Indie Game website: "The gods in Nordic mythology are not immortal and will perish with the destruction of the earth. That makes them more human and therefore more sympathetic." Ashman-Rowe also believes that the setting has become interesting for many players because it allows a kind of escape from reality from current events. Anyone who is confronted with war and violence in everyday life may prefer to look for a more abstract setting in games like Nordic mythology.

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Indie production left Northgard in early March 2018 after more than a year of Steam's early access stage, following in the footsteps of The Settlers.

However, Vikings also appear in realistic or even historical contexts in video games. In the building strategy game Northgard from 2017, for example, you are the tribal leader of your own clan, expanding the village and expanding its sphere of influence. Incidentally, this aspect of living together also addresses the future Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. Here you will also be able to build and expand your own settlement. In A Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia (2018) you even go into the war between Vikings and British. This conflict began in 878, when the sons of Viking leader Ragnar Lodbrok wanted to avenge their father's death. The real-time strategy game thus sets a similar starting point to Ubisoft's upcoming open world adventure.





<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/05/wikinger03-pc-games.jpg" alt = "In Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, an exciting and historically correct detail refers to duels of insult – almost like in the classic adventure game The Secret Monkey Island, where you have to have the right answer to the slogans thrown at you.
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An exciting and historically correct detail in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla relates to insulting duels – almost like in the classic adventure game The Secret Monkey Island. Here you have to have the right answer to the slogans thrown at you.

Source: PC games




How much Assassin's Creed: Valhalla actually stands out from mythology remains to be seen. On the one hand, narrative director Darby McDevitt told Gamespot that Myths and legends do not play a major role in the new Assassin's Creed would. At the same time it seems Beowulf legend part of the season pass of the action role-playing game. So it all looks like Ubisoft is picking the best of both worlds to tell its game story.

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Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Viking action on Xbox Series X with "at least 30 fps"

Assassin's Creed Valhalla's frame rate on Xbox Series X is said to be "at least 30 fps".

Text adventure, lost Vikings and construction heroes
Vikings have a long history in video games. In 1984, for example, the text adventure The Saga of Erik the Viking, developed by Level 9 Computing, was released, based loosely on the children's book of the same name by Terry Jones. And before anyone asks: The story of the game also had nothing to do with the 1989 film Erik the Vikings with Tim Robbins in the leading role. In the letter adventure, good Erik had to find his kidnapped family and, for this purpose, hire comrades, find weapons and clear a ship.





<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/05/wikinger04-pc-games.jpg" alt = "Developer Ninja Theory leaned into Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice was more relaxed about the Celtic mythology Nevertheless, the setting and motifs are strongly reminiscent of the Nordic world of legends.
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Developer Ninja Theory leaned more easily into Celtic mythology in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Nevertheless, the setting and motifs are strongly reminiscent of the Nordic world of legends.

Source: PC games




In 1993, The Lost Vikings was finally a game of skill and puzzles, without whose success there might have never been brands like Warcraft or Diablo. The Lost Vikings was one of the early works by Silicon & Synapse – a company we now know as Blizzard Entertainment. To this day, the adventure has a loyal following, because it shone with surprisingly intelligent puzzle gameplay and a charming comic look. The Lost Vikings, on the other hand, had hardly any narrative claims; the creators used the Vikings more as a sympathy for a humorous plot. Your job was to save the villagers, Vikings Erik, Baleog and Olaf, who had been caught by aliens just before. Very nice back then: The three heroes had different skills and had to work together to complete the missions.

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<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/05/wikinger05-pc-games.jpg" alt = "In Viking: Battle For Asgard from 2008 you take on the gods personally The action game was not particularly deep, but it nevertheless convinced due to its moody combat system.
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In Viking: Battle For Asgard from 2008 you take on the gods personally. The action game was not particularly deep, but it nevertheless convinced due to its moody combat system.

Source: PC games




Other titles with Viking ambitions in the early days of video and computer games include the early strategy game Viking Raiders (1984), the action role-playing game Heimdall (1991) or the strategy title Hammer of the Gods (1994). Around the turn of the millennium, developers of development strategy games finally discovered the charm of the north: the beginning was made by 2000 Cultures, followed by The Settlers 4, published in 2001, in which, in addition to Romans and Maya, the Vikings could also be selected as playable factions. For the new edition The Settlers 2: The Next Generation, the add-on Vikings was released in 2007.

The British studio Creative Assembly pursued a similar concept with its strategy chunk of Medieval: Total War: They launched the expansion Medievil: Total War – Viking Invasion in 2003 and expanded the original game with additional units, new possibilities and, above all, a fresh location.





<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/05/wikinger06-pc-games.png" alt = "This ice giant is obviously not in the mood for fun. As a late Viking Thora you have to in the action adventure Jotun, clear this chunk out of the way to continue your way to Walhalla.
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This ice giant is obviously not in the mood for fun. As the late Viking Thora, you have to clear this chunk out of the way in the action adventure Jotun to continue your way to Walhalla.

Source: PC games





Assassination like the northerners
However popular as strategy and construction games may be, mostly video games reduced Nordic sagas and their warriors to the essentials: the fighting. For example, fans still rave about the action-adventure rune from the year 2000. The 3D game developed by Human Head Studios tells a bloody revenge story about the young Viking Ragnar, who even receives support from the godfather Odin. At that time, Rune stood out for its coherent combat system, which we used to fight through monsters, goblins and other legendary characters.

The action game Viking: Battle For Asgard, published by Sega in 2008, hit a very similar notch. As a Viking Skarin, you are against the gods Asgards. While the story does not leave out any cliché, the gameplay is strongly reminiscent of the early parts of God of War: You slaughter yourself with the broad-shouldered Nordmann through a host of opponents. Viking: Battle For Asgard is not particularly demanding, but turns out to be a very pleasing hack & slay. On the other hand, Bethesda's role-playing epic The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim (2011) is very different, with many elements and ideas from Nordic legends. It starts with the basic presentation of the game world Himmelsrand and extends to weapon and equipment design. Creatures like the dragons so important in the game can also be found in Nordic mythology.





<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/05/wikinger07-pc-games.png" alt = "The Banner Saga was the breakthrough for developer Stoic Studio. The game did not score alone with the turn-based fights, but above all with the dense atmosphere and the great cutscenes.
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The Banner Saga marked the breakthrough for developer Stoic Studio. The game scored not only with the turn-based battles, but above all with the dense atmosphere and the great cutscenes.

Source: PC games




Interestingly, the action classics Max Payne (2001) and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (2003) also make various allusions to Nordic mythology. The drug appearing in the first part is called "Valkyr" and originated from the government project "Valhalla", in which the US senator Alfred Woden was also involved. Woden is the old English name for the godfather Odin (or Wodan). Even if, in the case of Max Payne, the time and location do not want to fit the Nordic mythology at all, it does add depth to the game. The same also applies to the Final Fantasy series, which also takes up locations and characters. For example, the city in Final Fantasy 7 (Remake) is called Midgar – as an allusion to the world of people in Nordic mythology.

Nordic hype
In recent years, the far north has become the new stronghold for video and computer games. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice For example, it is primarily about the drifting into madness and thus about the drastic representation of psychological problems. In the foreground, however, you control the Celtic Senua through a Nordic scenario, which in this case, however, serves more as a game board for the topic in question.





<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/05/wikinger09-pc-games.png" alt = "The text adventure The Saga of Eric The Viking is one of the early games, which took up the Viking theme. As usual in text adventures, the program asked you simple questions, the answers of which took you through history.
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The text adventure The Saga of Eric The Viking is one of the early games that took up the Viking theme. As usual in text adventures, the program asked you simple questions, the answers of which took you through history.

Source: PC games




Similarly emotional, if significantly more robust, developer SIE Santa Monica Studio presented the action reboot God of War, published in 2018, in which the aged hero Kratos beats around with Baldur and has to avert the predicted Ragnarök (end of the world). And while we're at Action games we are not allowed to use Ubisoft's combat simulation here For Honor (2017) forget where you can also lead Vikings to the field. But it is not only large studios that are constantly taking up the north, it is also becoming increasingly popular in the indie sector. The best way to do this is undoubtedly in tactical role-playing The Banner Saga (2014) and its successors. Similar to The Lord of the Rings books, the setting is strongly inspired by Nordic mythology and creates a dense atmosphere with the help of the well-drawn cutscenes.





<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/05/wikinger08-pc-games.jpg" alt = "At first glance, the action classic Max Payne didn't have much to do with Nordic legends However, a surprising number of terms from this area appeared and gave the story depth and recognition value.
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At first glance, the action classic Max Payne didn't have much in common with Nordic legends. However, a surprising number of terms appeared in this area and gave the story depth and recognition value.

Source: PC games




The same applies to the beautifully animated action adventure Jotun from the Canadian studio Thunder Lotus Games, in which you, as the late shield maid Thora, have to impress the gods in order to gain entry into Walhalla – according to the Nordic mythology the resting place of the soldiers who died in a battle.

Hollywood also looks
The fact that Nordic myths and Vikings have now reached the mainstream in this way is of course also due to the film industry. Series like Vikings or The Last Kingdom attract the masses as well as fantasy perennial Game of Thrones, which also draws inspiration from the north when portraying its peoples. And surely the huge success of Marvel films like The Avengers and Thor has a lot to do with the Viking advance. Odin's son is one of the defining characters of the comic book films and thus aroused interest in the Nordic world of legends.

In any case, the virtual Vikings are planning the next staging trip for the near future with titles like Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga or the Assassin's Creed: Valhalla mentioned at the beginning. The north will remain for a while as a game location and should also be worth a trip for future adventures.

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