878 AD is a brand new visitor attraction in Winchester that utilizes Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Discovery Tour: Viking Age to recreate the city in the 9th Century.
The experience, which is a cultural collaboration between Ubisoft and Winchester-based charity Hampshire Cultural Trust, is organised in two parts. The first is a physical attraction that, through a mixture of video projection, interactive exhibits, Anglo-Saxon objects and live performance, puts visitors in the shoes of the people of Winchester as they await the outcome of the crucial Battle of Edington against the Viking Guthrum in the year 878. The second is an augmented reality app , developed in collaboration with Sugar Creative that visitors can download on their phones and take out onto the streets of Winchester to explore the city’s past, completing games and activities on their way. The entire experience has been built using assets from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and the educational experience Discovery Tour: Viking Age.
“Content from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Discovery Tour: Viking Age is present in every aspect of the attraction,” explains Amy Jenkins-Le Guerroué, Strategic Alliances Director, Ubisoft. “From the introductory film that sets the scene for 9th century Winchester, to the interactive podiums that use content from Discovery Tour: Viking Age, to the incredible backdrops that form the stage for live performances. The 878AD: Winchester Revealed app, developed by one of the UK’s leading immersive tech innovation studios, Sugar Creative, has also been created entirely from Ubisoft assets.”
Winchester is a major location in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, ruled over by Alfred the Great, a primary antagonist in Valhalla. Senior Inspirational Content Advisor at Ubisoft, Thierry Noël, had to dig deep into historical sources, descriptions, and plans to reconstruct the city in the game.
“First, the research revealed the city’s ancient roots from the Iron Age Celtic fort to the influential Roman town which gave us clues about the presence of Roman vestiges and the general shape of the city,” explains Noël. “Then, the cathedral emerged as a major point of interest inside, as a medieval touch. But we also learned Alfred himself profoundly reorganized Winchester, redesigning the city street map and walls in order to face and repel the Viking attacks. The town really was Alfred’s stronghold.”
Finally, renowned historian Ryan Lavelle, Professor in Early Medieval History at the University of Winchester, played a crucial part in the reconstruction and gave the team a much clearer vision of the city in its exact historical and natural context. “The collaboration with Ryan continued as an essential asset for the Discovery Tour,” says Noël. “All these elements nurtured the amazing creativity of our teams, leading to the creation of Valhalla’s key location Winchester, or better said Wincestre as it appears in the game.”
“Using the incredible assets from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla combined with the augmented reality technology in the 878 AD: Winchester revealed app has given us the opportunity not only to reach new audiences, but to break down the invisible barriers that can hold people back from discovering our cultural heritage,” says Hampshire Cultural Trust’s Chief Executive, Paul Sapwell“878 AD is all about interpreting history in a new and exciting way for those who might not be interested in visiting a traditional museum or heritage attraction, opening up history and heritage for everyone to discover.”