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Assassin's Creed Valhalla's female hero revealed via collector's edition statue

"Both choices are canon."

There was nothing to suggest it in yesterday's Assassin's Creed Valhalla reveal trailer, but Ubisoft's upcoming Norse epic will let you play as either male or female versions of lead character Eivor.

It's a Mass Effect Commander Shepard situation - both male and female gender options are the same character with the same dialogue. But this detail was left to be explained elsewhere - such as in our deep dive into Valhalla's setting, characters and addition of a Viking settlement.

This left our first look at the female Eivor to come from... a photo of a statue - a 30cm high resin figurine nestled in a collector's edition version of the game. It's a shame to see what should be an equally valid option for playing Valhalla revealed in this way, but there we go.

Eivor here is shown with braided blonde hair shaven on one side, axe in one hand, shield in the other. She stands on the prow of her Viking longship, crow animal companion resting on its prow.

When asked which choice was canon last night on Twitter, Valhalla's narrative director Darby McDevitt (previously lead writer on Black Flag, Revelations and animated tearjerker Embers), revealed the answer was: both.

"Both choices are canon," McDevitt wrote, "but we're not going to spoil how we managed that trick until you play the game."

It's a different situation to in Assassin's Creed Odyssey, where you could play as either the male Alexios or the female Kassandra, with the character you didn't pick taking on a different role in the story. There, this was explained by DNA on a spearhead being too similar between the two siblings to determine which was which (though the game's novelisation picks Kassandra as its canon choice).

Perhaps we'll see Eivor's DNA memories accessed by the discovery of their skeleton, which has degraded to the point its gender isn't immediately obvious? Or perhaps I just think about these things too much.

Danish actors Magnus Bruun and Cecilie Stenspil have now been announced as playing Eivor (and you may already recognise Bruun as a Viking as he already plays one in BBC series The Last Kingdom).

I asked Ubisoft why the game's reveal only focused on the male version of Eivor - and the answer, as was the case with Odyssey's Kassandra and Alexios, is that the marketing will "showcase both at different points". It's worth noting that, however popular Kassandra is among the series' diehard fans, the majority of players still picked Alexios. Malakas.

To hear Ubisoft answer more questions about Assassin's Creed Valhalla and its take on Viking Britain, we have much more here.

Watch on YouTube