Assassin's Creed Valhalla Preview — Building A New Home
Assassin's Creed Valhalla looks to have everything it needs to be one of the best titles in the series by introducing great new factors in gameplay and exploration while bringing back beloved features from previous entries of the franchise.
As a day one fan, I’ve had mixed feelings ever since the shift to bring Assassin’s Creed more in line with the RPG genre. I loved Assassin’s Creed Origins, but Odyssey never really clicked with me. Despite this, I’m always excited when a new Assassin’s Creed title gets announced and is on the horizon. After playing six hours of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the results seem promising as it looks to have a great mix of older features that the franchise is loved for while introducing new aspects to give it its own identity within the series.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes place in 9th century England during the invasion of the Vikings. The section I got to play focused on the region of Ledecestrescire putting me in the shoes of Eivor, the leader of the Raven clan. I began in Eivor’s settlement, which is the main hub area for the game, and while there weren’t many people to converse with, it already felt like a home-like community. I didn’t have access to much in this demo, but there is sure to be a number of shops and resources the more your settlement grows — even including a tattoo parlor. The tattoo parlor is available in the settlement and allows you to customize Eivor with whatever designs you might find throughout your journey. I also found options to customize my settlement using decorative pieces which made it feel like my own unique home compared to other players.
Eivor goes to Ledecestrescire to help Ubba and Ivarr, the Ragnarsson brothers who are trying to dethrone a king and replace him with an ally of the same kingdom. Throughout this section of the story alone I witnessed and interacted with diverse characters that I came to love and hate. I’m interested in seeing how they will develop moving forward. Eivor, to my pleasure, isn’t your stereotypical Viking, but is more of a rational and focused leader who wants the best for their clan. That being said, I’m curious to see how they will develop as a character throughout the story. In the short time I had, I did notice them question themes of morality and philosophy, but I think there needs to be more than that to stand out in the suite of assassins I’ve come to know and love in the past decade.
Side content is executed differently this time around with everything being split into three categories: mysteries, wealth, and artifacts. Mysteries could contain a variety of side missions, but the most interesting thing that I discovered was a flying duel which is where I had to roast my opponent using poems. Not only did I get to bet big money on myself to win, but my victory also led to Eivor’s charisma increasing which allows me to choose a specific dialogue option in conversation if I meet the requirements.
One of the more unique features in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the raids and assaults. Raids are the attempt to take over smaller encampments with your clan members to steal their resources. Assaults are more an act of just taking down fortresses. The resources I gained helped me build my settlement and better my gear. Combat may very well be the best the series has had to offer so far. With the introduction of dual-wielding, I never got bored seeing Eivor throw their handaxes at enemies or decapitate some heads. I do wish however there was a bit more oomph to your attacks to make combat feel meatier. Even so, there is shaping up to be a wide variety of abilities that will be a part of Eivor’s arsenal, especially considering you can utilize eight abilities this time around instead of the previous four.
When exploring through the map, I was able to get from place to place either by fast traveling to locations I’ve already visited or by riding my trusty horse. That said, there is a new way to explore as well which is via a longship. In previous entries, there has been a proper battleship where there was actual naval combat, but this is a little bit more intimate. Following downriver, I could have my crew take me to my next objective as close as they could. During travel, there can be raids from camps near the water while during quieter times, I commanded my crew to sing a song or to tell me a good story.
AC Odyssey let players have dialogue options to choose from, but it never felt like they had much of any purpose throughout the respective story. Valhalla is seemingly going to change that. After having a conversation with a specific NPC, I successfully persuaded them into giving me information into the location of a highly wanted target, but in turn, they ended up confronting me in a fight later in the storyline. Immediately, I was curious as to how things would have turned out if I couldn’t get the information I needed originally and whether or not I could have been prevented from killing them. This makes the decisions that you do feel more consequential than ever before.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has a lot going for it and while being an open-world title, it feels more contained than possibly any of its genre. It knows exactly what kind of game it is trying to be and despite a few potential hiccups, it is looking to be one of the best entries the series has to offer.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla releases on November 10 for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Google Stadia, and PC. You can pre-order it right now on Amazon. Be sure to also check out my interview with game producer Julien Laferriere that will be going live soon and will give you a better idea of what the team over at Ubisoft Montreal is trying to achieve in this latest entry of Assassin’s Creed.