The Assassin’s Creed modern-day storyline is a mess, and that’s putting it lightly. It is simultaneously the most important thing in the series and the most ignored part of the franchise. Desmond Miles was the original modern-day protagonist of the series, but his story has since come to a close. Layla Hassan is the current modern-day hero, and her story begins in Assassin’s Creed Origins. Valhalla is supposed to be the conclusion of her story, so you’ll want to know what happened to her and her team in the last few games.
This recap will only be focusing on Layla and the recent modern-day storyline, so there won’t be much information about Desmond or earlier games in the series. This is just going to walk you through Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey so you can be ready for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Strap in, folks. This is going to be a long and convoluted ride.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Layla Hassan is a researcher at Abstergo’s Historical Research Division. Abstergo is a modern-day company that serves as a front for the Templar Order, the main antagonist of the series. She’s on a mission with her partner Deanna Geary to find an artifact buried somewhere in Egypt. She finds a tomb containing the mummies of Bayek and Aya, the first Assassins (and the protagonists of this game). Layla has been wanting to work on Abstergo’s Animus Project for a while, but she’s been denied the promotion multiple times. In an attempt to prove herself, she brings a modified Animus with her on her trip to Egypt and uses it to relive the memories of the dead couple to experience the founding of the Assassin Brotherhood.
After reliving some of Bayek’s memories, Abstergo sends a team to check in on the two researchers because they’ve failed to check back in with the company. Layla is able to fend off her Abstergo attackers thanks to newfound combat prowess from the Bleeding Effect (which causes an Animus user to learn abilities from the memories they’ve experienced), but Deanna is captured and killed. Layla is determined to see Bayek and Aya’s story through, so she jumps back into the Animus to witness the founding of the Assassins Brotherhood, initially called the Hidden Ones.
After exiting the Animus again, she is found by William Miles, father of Desmond Miles and current leader of the modern-day Assassin Brotherhood. He offers her a position within the Brotherhood, but she refuses to join. She does accept to work with the Assassins in order to guarantee her safety from Abstergo and continue her work with the Animus, however.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
After some time working with the Assassins, Layla and her team discover the lost writings of Greek historian Herodotos. His work describes a Greek mercenary named Kassandra who wielded the Spear of Leonidas, an Isu artifact. If you’re totally unfamiliar with the world of Assassin’s Creed, the Isu are a precursor race that came before humanity. They created powerful artifacts called Pieces of Eden which are usually the central driving force of conflicts between the Assassins and Templars. Layla and her team were able to find Kassandra’s spear, and they use it to relive the memories of the misthios.
During the events of Odyssey, Kassandra discovers the Lost City of Atlantis and receives a Piece of Eden called the Staff of Hermes Trismegistus. The Staff was kept by Pythagoras, who was actually Kassandra’s father. It makes its user immortal, so Pythagoras was able to hold onto it indefinitely before passing it onto Kassandra once she was ready. In the modern-day, Layla uses the information from Kassandra’s memories to open the gate to Atlantis, where she finds Kassandra waiting inside with the Staff, still alive after thousands of years. Kassandra tells Layla that the Templars and Assassins represent Order and Chaos respectively and that the world will end if one side prevails. She also tells Layla that she is the one prophesized to bring balance to the world before giving the Staff to her and dying.
The Fate of Atlantis
During Odyssey’s DLC, Layla is instructed by an Isu named Alethia to undergo three trials in order to prove herself as the Staff’s Keeper. The Staff has a tendency to corrupt those who wield it, so the trials are put in place to ensure a person is fit to take it. These trials were experienced by Kassandra in ancient Greece long ago before she became the Staff’s Keeper, so Layla jumps back into the Animus to relive her memories of the trials. These trials sent Kassandra through simulations of the Greek afterlife where she came face to face with Greek gods and mythological creatures.
As Layla relived Kassandra’s memories, she became increasingly violent, which prompted her partner Victoria to pull her out of the Animus. Victoria believed the Bleeding Effect was having an adverse effect on Layla, so she warns against further use of the Animus. As the two argue, an Abstergo strike team arrives to kill them. Layla uses the Staff as a spear to defeat the strike team, killing all but one. She tells the surviving member to run and tell their boss, a high-ranking Templar official named Otso Berg, that they have lost. Once they’re safe again, Layla resumes the trials in the Animus.
After completing the second trial, Victoria pulls Layla out of the Animus yet again. Layla’s erratic behavior had only grown worse in Victoria’s eyes, so she attempts to take the Staff away from her. As a result of the Staff’s influence, Layla accidentally kills Victoria when she takes the Staff back from her, which prompts Alethia to have second thoughts about Layla’s worthiness to be the so-called “Heir of Memories.” She is able to change Alethia’s mind, by successfully completing the trials, but Otso Berg himself shows up to take care of Layla once and for all. She defeats him using the Staff, crippling him and leaving him in Atlantis. Layla then regroups with her team and gets them up to speed on what happened in Atlantis.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
This is where Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s story will pick up. There will be a time jump because the modern-day storyline takes place in real-time with our world and it’s been a year since Odyssey’s Fate of Atlantis DLC wrapped up, but you’re all caught up now for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Because Valhalla is the conclusion of Layla’s story and it’s leaning heavily into the Isu and the apocalypse, there might be a few connections with Desmond’s storyline, so it may be worth looking into a further recap of the original Assassin’s Creed trilogy if you’re interested. If there are any connections, they’ll probably be very light and nonessential, so don’t feel like you’re missing out if you haven’t played any of the older games.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla releases on November 10 on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna and on November 12 for PS5.