Ubisoft’s latest instalment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, hits consoles just two years after the release of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. This new instalment means we get a new world, a new story, and a brand new hero. I think at this point we’ve all played an Assassin’s Creed, so I’m going to skip the back story.
In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla you’ll become Eivor, a mighty Viking raider. Explore a vast and mysterious open world as you lead your clan from the harsh shores of Norway to their new home amid the lush farmlands of an untamed ninth-century England.
Choice is central to Assassin’s Creed Valhallas player experience and when you start the game, you will have the option to play as either a male or female version of Eivor. There is however a third option (Ubisoft’s default option) which will see you play as both male and female versions of the main character at different points in the story. You can also seamlessly swap between as you progress through the story.
Your clan’s new settlement grows with your legend. Lead your crew of raiders and launch fiery raids against progressively difficult Saxons, their fortresses and monasteries. Once you have claimed their riches for yourself, you will return home to customise your settlement. Unlock new features and quests by building upgradable structures like a barracks, a blacksmith, a tattoo parlour, and many more.
Your Viking settlement is fundamental and is the intersecting point of many of the games interwoven storylines. It is here you will get to know your clan members and its where you’ll find the alliance map which gives you an overview of your alliances and influence. Alliances allow you to grow your settlement, open up new narrative arcs, missions, activities and ways to experience the game.
As you progress through the kingdoms, you’ll uncover new stories, plot lines, unique characters and challenges like assassinating targets, forging allies and attacking rivals in large scale battles.
Fighting is ruthless and bloody* so prepare to execute opponents in close-quarters combat, riddle them with arrows, or assassinate them with your hidden blade. As a Viking warrior, you can dual-wield axes, swords, and even shields against the many relentless foes. The game does suggest a required skills level, so you won’t get frustrated doing things you’re not able to do with your current skill level. Exploration will reward your character with exotic gear from the four corners of the world, including the legendary Excalibur.
*You can turn all the blood and gore off in the settings.
Every choice you make in combat and conversation is another step on the path to greatness.
Skills are upgraded through a progression system using skill points. This allows you to gradually unlock perks and abilities to suit your style of play. Special abilities can be found in books of knowledge scattered throughout the world, and each ability has its own upgrade tiers for power and effectiveness.
“Valhalla” is packed full of things to do. You can fish, hunt, play drinking games or dice and participate in flyting (Viking rap) challenges. Winning at flyting will boost your charisma level, something that can come in handy later in the game. Optional puzzles are scattered throughout the world as well, which you’ll discover as you explore, these include cairn puzzles, standing stones puzzles, Animus anomalies and more. The world is way more diverse than I ever expected and doing these activities can net you a few rewards.
Getting around the map in Valhalla is pretty simple. You have four options, by foot, by horse, by boat or fast travel for certain locations. There’s no need to explain walking, but it does allow you to get to places horses and boats can’t go. You can hail your horse (known as your mount in the Valhalla) anytime and anywhere (well almost), just jump on and ride off to your next destination. Viking longboats, the pride of any good Viking can also be hailed. Stand at a dock or riverbank, hail the boat, jump aboard and assume command. A bonus of travelling by horse or boat is the ability to activate ‘autopilot’ allowing you to sit back and enjoy your surroundings in all their cinematic glory.
A gameplay and cinematic masterpiece. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla surprised me and is possibly my favourite game this year. With around 20 hours played, I’ve only really scratched the surface and even without the additional content you’ll get with the season pass and future DLC, this game will keep you entertained for ages. Your Viking adventure awaits… SKOL.
Buy now: Ubisoft.com
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