Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the next installment in Ubisoft’s famed Assassin’s Creed franchise, is here and will help kick off the next generation of gaming when the Xbox Series X launches on Tuesday (Nov.10). I already had a chance to experience a whopping 6 hours of gameplay of the game in an exclusive preview, which left me feeling very optimistic. Now it’s time to breakdown if the game delivers.
A Whole New World
In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we are transported to the lush world of ninth-century England, ditching the bright sunny world of Ancient Greece in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
In Assassin’s Creed Vahalla, you take on the role of Eivor, the next ancient protagonist. The folks in Assassin’s order in the distant future hope has the answer to save the world from apparent doom by reliving their ancient ancestor’s life through the Animus. Like in the previous game, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you will be given the option to choose the sex of Eivor, the game’s protagonist. Your choice won’t be final either. The game gives you the option to change Eivor’s sex at any point during the game. Once your version of Eivor is selected, we are taken to Norway, where the story begins. Norway is the home of the Vikings and is quite majestic thanks to its frozen fields, mountains, and the Northern Lights that light up the sky when the sunsets.
The game takes place before the Assassins and Templars were known as such, but they do exist and are still waging their secret battle against each other. When we first meet Eivor, we learn that he/she is adopted and is taken in by King Styrborn of the Raven Clan. Eivor becomes very close with King Styborn’s son Sigurd, who is like the cool kid on the Viking block but is also a hot head and not really feeling how his dad is running things.
Eventually, the two young ravens decided to flee the nest and take their Viking talents to England after King Styrborn bent the knee to a rival that Sigurd doesn’t care for. Once you arrive in 9th century England which is ripe for pillaging, you establish your settlement called Ravensthorpe. This will be Eivor’s home, and from there, many of the game’s main missions will take place by speaking with Randvi, Sigurd’s wife. Basically, your clan of “Danes,” another term for Vikings, is trying to make a name for themselves in their new home. To do that, you make pledges to territories on a map that Randvi is in charge of and help out the locals in each one, which will begin a story arc. Each arc has a unique set of missions you must satisfy before calling the people who live in said territory an ally.
Eivor will also be tasked to help build Ravensthorpe into a thriving community for yourself and the other Vikings that left Norway with you. To make upgrades to the settlement, you will have to do what Vikings were primarily known for, which is raids. Raids are one of the many fun aspects of the game and will see you and your Viking crew hit unsuspecting Monstaries and jack them for the raw materials needed to help level up Ravensthorpe.
Building up your settlement allows you to add buildings like a tattoo shop, which allows you to change Eivor’s appearance, a stable for your horses, or a dire wolf that you can ride like a horse. There is a barracks for potential raiding recruits, an item shop, and much more.
Ravensthorpe will not just be your launching pad to other locations in England, but to Norse lore’s mythical destinations. When Eivor communes with the seer, you will be taken to “mythworlds” very familiar with Norse mythology like Asgard and Jotunheim. The legendary Bifrost will also be in the game as well.
Much of The Same With Some Tweaks
Ubisoft basically said if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it when it comes to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Like Odyssey, Valhalla still keeps the same RPG energy but with a few changes. Eivor will now have a Destiny-like power number system that increases as you unlock stat and main skills nodes in the game’s MASSIVE skill chart. This time around, it gives you even more control over how you want Eivor to play like, giving you plenty of options when it comes to building Eivor into the powerful warrior he/she is destined to be.
I noticed that Eivor levels up very fast so, it doesn’t feel like a painstaking grind to get Eivor to a respectable level to do missions that you’re not ready for. I personally like to challenge myself, so I would take on high-level Zealots, which are characters that search for you and try to take you out.
Also noticeable in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the fades have become even more vicious. Don’t judge me, but I absolutely enjoyed chopped off heads and bashing in skulls with the various weapons Eivor can wield. I was also happy to see that the legendary Hidden Blade is back after being put in the closet in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Eivor will also have a customizable Raven named Sýnin that can be used to survey areas or be used to bother enemies. Unfortunately, Ubisoft decided to nerf your animal companion, removing the ability to tag enemies. Instead, you have to use your “Odin Sense,” basically “Eagle Vision,” to sniff out the bad guys.
As with every Assassin’s Creed game, there are plenty of in-depth story missions to enjoy to get lost in, BUT there is tons do if you just don’t want to speed through the game. If you’re a completionist like me, then there are plenty of side missions or mysteries to partake in, and they are just as interesting as the game’s main missions, some of them are hilarious as well. There is plenty of goodies for you to search for, like weapons, armor, and runes to add status effects to them. Oh, and, of course, the leap of faith also returns.
Plus, there are plenty of mini-boss battles to test your patience, puzzles, and exploring to ensure you will not get bored with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I absolutely enjoyed another new feature called “Flyting,” which are basically Viking rap battles. Viking’s weren’t just brutes that just burned down your village. They also had bars, apparently. Partaking in “Flyting” battles will help build Eivor’s charisma. The higher your charisma, the better the chance Eivor will have when it comes to using the gift of gab to convince certain characters to take different courses of action or not having to shell out money to purchase a key item.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla isn’t on God of War levels, but it’s another solid entry into the Assassin’s Creed franchise. The story is enthralling and rich in lore, the action is fun, plus there is plenty for you to do outside of the game’s main story. Keep in mind there is plenty of post-launch content on the way to add even more life to the game. Like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Vahalla is ambitious and continues to take the franchise on the path that began with the previous title. I sincerely hope they don’t change this formula at all.
Photo: Ubisoft / Assassin’s Creed Valhalla