Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Ubisoft recently showed off a fair amount of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay at their Ubisoft Forward event. It looks like there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to the next instalment of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, so the following are reasons why I’ve added Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to my watch list.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is set during the Viking invasion of England and you play as Eivor, a Viking warrior looking to settle in the UK. In Valhalla, you can select Eivor to be a male or female lead, which is a nice touch and offers up a lot of flexibility to the player. As Eivor, you lead your Viking forces across the north sea and to the British Isles to pillage and take whatever you desire.

As invading forces you can raid settlements and towns in England with your Viking Horde. England is seen as a land of opportunity and riches to the invading Viking forces, and one of the main gameplay loops in the game is Raiding. Gather up your forces, sail down the rivers of England and raid locations you spot from your boats.

Once you have taken out your enemies you can gather resources to reinforce your own settlement. As you take on more raids you’ll build up better tools, more services and gather more Norse settlers to grow your Viking community. At the centre of your settlement is the Alliance Map, which will be your record of alliances and act as a guide for future settlements to investigate.

There’s plenty of enemies to fight in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and there’s a huge amount of variety tool. Some will come at you one-on-one, some will use the environment like picking up stones and rocks to throw at you. Ubisoft say this is the largest variety of enemies assembled in an Assassin’s Creed game and the gameplay looks fantastic. Enemies can work together to try and take you down, and some have lethal pets like dogs and wolves to add to the complications in battle. Some even pick up the bodies of their fallen friends and throw them at you. Each battle is a kind of mini-puzzle and you have to figure out what tactic suits them best.

There’s a range of new combat features in the game including the harpoon, throwing axes and the new stun system that keeps enemies at a manageable distance. New to the series is the ability to dual-wield any weapon, including two shields which doesn’t sound impressive, but looks damn cool. There’s axes, swords, daggers, long swords, bows and hammers. The combat also looks pretty brutal to keep as real as possible to the era of the Vikings.

As well as the brutal fighting mechanics there’s also Stealth mode. When you put your hood up in the game you can blend in with the crowds, out of the way of enemies trying to hunt you down. There’s enemies trying to hunt you down all over the place, so blending into your environment is key. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has a huge amount to explore and secrets to discover. There’s forests, hills and hunting to experience as you attempt to live off the land as well as Pagan Temples to investigate.

As well as smaller-scale raids, Assaults also feature in the game where you have to break into huge Saxon Strongholds which climax in awesome looking boss battles. These large scale battles look complex and challenging and aim to be the pinnacle activity in Valhalla. Norse Myths and Pagan Rituals also make an appearance adding a little magic and mystery to the game.

Ubisoft showed off more gameplay than we’ve officially seen before this past weekend in a trailer and about 30 mins of gameplay. In the gameplay deep-dive we saw the midway point through an assault on a castle where Eivor was leading his group of Viking Warriors through a series of battles which culminated in a boss battle. The quests sound pretty extensive with big story elements and the Assaults look a like a lot of fun.

The objective of the Assault is to take down the Rued, the enemies leader, and he’s causing a whole bunch of trouble with Oswald, who’s set to inherit the territory. The combat looks pretty intense, but also varied too with a series of nice moves including dual-wielding axes, using the stun system and brutal attacks. Once you get through the battles then your faced with a set-piece where Oswald is being held, prisoner by Rued.

The objective then is to take on Rued one-on-one to help free Oswald. The only issue is that Rued seems to have a wolf with him. Ubisoft demonstrated taking out the wolf before getting to the main battle, and it looks like there’s going to be a variety of mechanic with the boss battles. Although in the gameplay clip the Ubisoft employee takes on the boss quite aggressively, however, you can approach boss battles with stealth too and get in a critical hit before revealing yourself.

Once you defeat your enemies you can make meaningful choices too, which add to the gameplay experience. For example, Oswald begs you to spare Rued, so he can be tried lawfully. These meaningful choices then feedback into the gameplay helpnig to shape your story.

Leading up to the Assault you’ll need to gather friends to help you. To do this you’ll need to travel around and convince people to join you. This is all down to your persuasion techniques and gathering up warriors to help you will be crucial in your success of failure of the Assault. In the gameplay clip we see Eivor demonstrating a reason to fight by taking them on a mini raid in another town and taking it back for the people. In efforts to convince people they should fight with you, sometimes you’re going to have to go off the beaten path to convince – and demonstrating with force and aggression helps get this job done.

Eagle Sight makes a return of sorts in the game as Odin Vision, which highlights areas or items that will help you along the way and better understand the world. There’s fewer weapons in Valhalla but the developers wanted to give you the opportunity to invest in the weapons heavily and really become a master with that weapon type.

There’s a skill tree you can open up throughout your adventure through something called The Book of Knowledge, which are spread out through the world promoting exploration and discovery. Different skills and abilities can be opened up and you can lean into a specific play style and heavily spec into that with complimentary weapons.

Developing relationships throughout the game is important and a good example of this is with Oswald. You may not be natural friends, but it’s a mutally beneficial relationship allowing Eivor to develop his or her settlement.

One fun element of the game is the cats, where you can recruit cats to sit aboard your boats. As you raid towns and settlements you can pick up stray cats and bring them back to your boat. It’s not the first thing I’d think of with a vicious Viking, however, it shows the human touch and a nice little feature.

As you’re exploring the areas on your boat you can bond with your crew by singing songs and telling stories. This helps flesh out the world and you can peacefully sail down the rivers, taking in the environment and building up a good relationship with those you’ve recruited.

As well as singing and story telling, there’s another technique to getting to building relationships and that’s called Flyting. These are kind of like a mixture between poetry, performance and verbal battles between you and the townsfolk you meet. They will throw an insult at you and you have to try and fight back with a witty line with the right ryhtmn to prove you’re the best. It looks pretty fun, and another element of world building here in Valhalla.

There’s also some down time to be found in Valhalla and you can spend it doing much more relaxing activities than fighting. There’s an excellent fishing mini-game where Eivor throws out a line. The player does lose health in the world, so you have to go out and find food in the world to replenish your health.

Dotted around the world are offering altars, where you can present gifts to your gods. You can add in scraps of food and other such items as offerings, but it allows Ubisoft to demonstrate another side of Eivor. In the gameplay clip Eivor makes an offering, but kids come along and steal the offerings. It shows off the human side of Eivor again and allows for deeper world building and character development. Choices again come into play and these all add up to shaping Eivor’s overall character.

As you wander and explore the land you can find altars. By interacting with them you can take on bosses with more mystical abilities. In the gameplay clip Eivor is poisoned by Regan and you’re taken into a new realm and an intense boss battle. This is all part of a bigger story in the game that connects with the lore of The Daughters.

All in all Assassin’s Creed Valhalla looks to be huge, in depth with a lot of different play modes and styles. Ubisoft showed off more than they have done before and it certainly looks like Valhalla is shaping up to be another excellent entry into the Assassin’s Creed series. There’s lots of similarities here with Odyssey, however, there’s some interesting new gameplay elements too with the raiding and assaults together with the dual wielding and random world boss battles too. It’s certainly one to look out for, and definitely on the watch list.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is coming November 17th to PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and 5.

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