After a well-earned year-off in 2019, Assassin’s Creed is soon returning with a game that’s set to continue the run of form the series has been in. Valhalla is promising to deliver yet another vast, sprawling open world action RPG, and there’s plenty that Ubisoft have revealed about it that’s got us more than just a little excited to get our hands on the game. To that end, with less than a month left until the game’s launch, in tis feature, we’ll be going over 15 crucial details you should know about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
After having gone further back in the series’ timeline than any previous game, first with Origins in 2017 and then again with Odyssey the very next year, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla skips ahead once again, set in the 9th century during the Viking invasion of Britain (which is still over 300 years before the events of the first Assassin’s Creed). Players will play as Eivor, a Viking warrior who leads clan across the ocean to Britain, to settle the lands and find a new home for themselves. All of this will, of course, be set within the framework of a modern-day storyline, where Layla Hassan will once again return as protagonist.
MORE STORY INFO
The kings and rulers of Britain won’t take kindly to the presence of Viking raiders in their borders, as you might imagine, which means players will come up against several foes (and potential foes) in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, including the kingdoms of Northumbria, Wessex, Mercia, and East Anglia. Eivor will negotiate, form alliances, and go to war with these kingdoms as they look to make a new home for themselves in foreign lands.
Meanwhile, British kings won’t be the only foes Eivor will have to face. A group of Vikings known as the Sons of Ragnar Lodbrook – followers of the legendary Viking warrior – will also be runnong amok in England, and will be crossing paths with Eivor.
We’ve spoken enough about British kings and Vikings and modern-day storylines. What about actual Assassins and Templars? That’s what the series is about, after all. Well, the conflict between the Hidden Ones and the Order of the Ancients – which kicked off in Assassin’s Creed Origins – is still ongoing, and sometime during Valhalla (probably during the early hours of the game), Eivor will come into contact with one of the Hidden Ones and become involved in this ancient war.
The developers of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla have been stressing this one point quite a lot- that fans invested in the series’ lore will find plenty to be excited about in Valhalla. There’s a pretty large gap between the story told in Origins and the one told in Assassin’s Creed 1, so hopefully, this game will bridge those two stories effectively.
So what exactly is Eivor’s backstory? Eivor’s parents died at a young age, at which point, King Styrbjorn of Forberg took them in and raised them as his own child. That means Eivor also has a brother by adoption, Sigurd Styrbjornson, who is five years older and being groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps as a warrior and a ruler, with Eivor as his right hand. The relationship and (possible) conflict between the two siblings might spell interesting things for the story.
CHOOSING YOUR GENDER
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey introduced male and female protagonists to the series, giving players the option to play as one of two twins, Kassandra or Alexios. Valhalla’s approach is a little different. Eivor is indisputably the protagonist here, but you can change their gender. Valhalla’s devs claim that they’ve found a way to work that choice into the series’ lore and how this choice will even function with an Animus, so that’s something to look forward to. Meanwhile, once you’ve made your choice, you’re not locked into it, since you can change Eivor’s gender whenever you want.
The worlds and settings of Assassin’s Creed games have always been one of the series’ biggest strengths, and there’s plenty to look forward to with Valhalla as well. Ubisoft have said that its world is going to be “a bit larger” than the world of Odyssey, which was already massive. In Valhalla, England will let you explore the kingdoms of Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia, within which there will be several cities and towns to visit as well, such as London, Winchester, and Jórvík (which would be modern-day York). Meanwhile, a chunk of Norway will also be included in the map (probably as the area you’ll be in in the earlier hours of the game, before setting sail for England).
One of the more interesting changes Ubisoft are making to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will work is how quests and side quests will work- in that it seems like there are now no traditional side quests, more or less. Narrative director Derby McDevitt described it best when speaking with us in an interview a few months ago. “One of the first things we asked ourselves when making Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was, ‘does the traditional main quest / side quests format work for a Viking who invades a hostile country?’ he said.
“After some deliberation, we made an early decision to change the usual RPG formula drastically and focus on telling more long-form stories with high stakes, sprawling arcs, and huge emotions,” McDevitt explained to GamingBolt. “So rather than playing one long main story and, for example, one hundred miniature stories, players will experience many key stories that each have the epic scope of a feature length film. Many of these connect to Eivor’s personal journey, others feel more stand-alone, but all are related to Eivor’s and their clan’s desire to carve out a permanent place of their own in England.”
On top of these multiple sprawling questlines, in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, players will also be able to take on smaller, individual optional quests. These will be known as World Events, and you’ll have to chance upon them yourself through organic exploration, since these won’t be logged into your quest log or appear on your map.
Speaking to us about the game’s new quest structure, McDevitt said, “By embracing this format, it left us a lot of room for smaller and more intimate narrative moments scattered throughout the world, moments we call World Events — countless small little happenings, side stories, and surreal encounters that players may engage with as they see fit. They won’t be tracked in your quest log, but they’ll tug at your curiosity.”
With Assassin’s Creed now having completely committed itself to becoming an RPG series, you’d expect Valhalla to be juggling a lot when it comes to progression- and that certainly seems to be the case. For starters, instead of traditional levels, players will now have a Power Level, which will be determined by the skills that you have unlocked.
Which, of course, means there will be a deep skill tree system to dive into as well. There will, of course, be an entire loot and gear side of things to manage, while on top of everything, players will also be able to look for Books of Knowledge in the world to unlock new Abilities, which will be deadly attacks that will require adrenaline in combat.
Assassin’s Creed’s combat has been improving steadily with each game in recent years, and it seems Valhalla looks set to continue that trajectory. Gear is supposed to be a lot more unique, for starters, while Valhalla now also lets you dual wield every single weapon in the game (yes, you can also dual-wield shields). There are also 25 unique enemy archetypes in the game, each of whom will challenge the player in unique ways. Enemy can also use the environment to their advantage, coordinate with each other during combat, and at times even find ways to adapt to how Eivor is fighting.
Given how drastically different Assassin’s Creed is now than what it started out as, it’s a little hard to remember at this point- but once, Assassin’s Creed was all about the stealth. Sure, stealth remains an important part of the series even now, but it’s definitely been pushed to the sidelines, while stealth mechanics in the series also tend to be a bit too dated and shallow.
With Valhalla, we’re in line for some changes and improvements. Social stealth is returning, for one, and you’ll have to make use of it as you look to infiltrate British cities, towns, and kingdoms- they’re not just going to let a Viking raider walk in, are they? Meanwhile, the Hidden Blade is back, as are one-hit kills- though they will still require some level of skill with a QTE prompt of sorts.
RAIDS AND ASSAULTS
You wouldn’t be much of a Viking if you weren’t raiding and pillaging, and it seems there will be plenty of that to go around in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Raids will see payers gathering a crew of soldiers (that you will be recruiting throughout the game), taking a longship, and then heading to a village or settlement to, well, raid it. Meanwhile, there will also be large-scale assaults in Valhalla, similar to the Conquest Battles in Odyssey, which will be set-piece moments where you will be leading your Viking warriors as you storm fortresses and castles.
Just as it was in Odyssey, players will be shaping the narrative in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla with their own choices well. Ubisoft haven’t gone into too much detail about this, but they have said that while the story still has to stick to certain beats in order to remain largely historically accurate, choices will play a crucial role in shaping Eivor’s personal journey and many other stories throughout the game.
Assassin’s Creed has always had a hint of fantasy and mysticism, but it’s been tapping into that much more heavily in recent years, first with Origins, then even more so with Odyssey, and especially with expansions for both games. Valhalla will be continuing in that direction as well. Its developers have said that there will be plenty of mythological and fantastical elements in the game’s world, and though the main, larger story is still very much going to be rooted in reality, there will be several such elements on the fringes, from the massive wolf known as the Black Shuck to the three mystical beings known as the Daughters of Lerion and more.
Like most other major multiplatform games releasing this November and beyond, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is going to be a cross-gen game. It will release for Xbox Series X and Series S on November 10, and for PS5 on November 12. It will run at 4K and 60 FPS on the Series X and PS5, in addition to improvements to clutter density, shadow quality, higher resolution textures, load times, and more. Free next-gen upgrades will also be supported on both, PlayStation and Xbox.