Will the real Medieval History majors please stand up? Ubisoft previously tossed out a tidbit on “viking rap battles” that will make an appearance in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Creative director Ashraf Ismail has popped up to say a bit more about how these historically-inspired showdowns will take place in Valhalla. Apparently flyting (or fliting), as it was called by anglo-saxon and norse folks, was like, a whole thing.
Ismail gives just a quick 101 on flyting in the video below. As the lads and lasses do when they get to drinking, the barbs will occasionally come out. Like a sort of rap battle, opponents would trade rhythmic insults for the entertainment of all their onlookers. Wait, you say, is there a totally dorky reenactment of this ancient practice that I might better understand it? Why of course there is.
In game, Ismail says that Eivor will have to pick responses when challenged by such an insult. You’ll choose from multiple options and have to “find the right one that matches the insult. The one that has the right rhythm,” Ismail says.
In the video, Ismail mentions a fictional instance of such a battle occurring between Thor and Odin but flyting appears to have popped up in a bunch of other places. Yon folk hero Beowulf participated in a flyting against Unferth. Loki does some flyting in Lokasenna and yeah, looks like the content of insults hasn’t changed much over the centuries.
“Be silent, Týr;
to thy wife it happened
to have a son by me.
Nor rag nor penny ever
hadst thou, poor wretch!
for this injury.”
Lay off Loki, that’s a death blow.
Beyond just vikings, apparently there were similar ritual contests of poetic insults in ancient Inuit, Arabic, African, and Japanese culture. Literally everybody was kung-fu fliting.
Valhalla’s flyting encounters can’t possibly match the adrenaline of laying down your sick vocab skills in front of your pals in the mead hall, but perhaps there will be some gems for Eivor to spout.
What else do we know about Ubisoft’s Viking ’em up? Katharine’s picked out the best bits from Valhalla’s not-quite gameplay trailer.