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New Assassin’s Creed Game Review: Welcome to Valhalla

The Assassin’s Creed series is a long and storied IP. With a lot of great games released a decade ago, the series is still going strong with near-yearly releases. Now, they’re attempting to make something new again with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. It’s time to take a look at what we know and think about the new Assassin’s Creed title.

 

What Is Assassin’s Creed?

 

Assassin’s Creed is an action-adventure stealth video game franchise from Ubisoft. Made by developers Jade Raymond, Patrice Désilets, and Corey May, the series tells the story of a fictional millennia-old struggle between the Templars and Assassins. The former wishes to create world peace through the use of order and control, while the latter wants both free will and peace. The series combines science, science fiction, historical, and fiction with characters reminiscent of real-world individuals and events.

The series’ first title came out in 2007, and since then, has 11 main games in total, with the most recent being the series’ 2018 release, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. A lot of Assassin’s Creed’s main games are set in open-world environments. They’re presented in third-person perspectives, with protagonists eliminating enemies and targets through using combat and stealth skills alongside using said environments to their advantage. Players also have the freedom to look around and explore the series’ historical and fictional settings as they complete main and side quests. Other than the single-player missions, some games in the series also have competitive and co-op multiplayer modes.

The main entries of the series generally have positive reviews for the great graphical and game design, as well as their overarching narratives. However, they are also marred with criticism because of near-yearly release cycles and some bugs appearing once in a while. The spin-off games, meanwhile, tend to get mixed reviews, sometimes due to them not adhering to the spirit of the series’ gameplay.

The series has been adapted into a movie, as well as art books, novelizations, comics, and novels.

 

What Is the New Assassin’s Creed Game?

Now, let’s talk about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the new entry to the Assassin’s Creed Series.

 

Overview

The next game in the series, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, is an open-world action RPG published by Ubisoft and created by their studio, Ubisoft Montreal. It’s the 12th major installment in the Assassin’s Creed Series, and the 22nd overall game in said series, following Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

The game is set in the year 873 AD and tells the story of a mythological Viking invasion of early Britain. The main character of the game is Eivor, a Viking raider of either male or female gender, that gets involved in the eternal conflict between the Assassin Brotherhood (or the Hidden Ones), and the Templar Order.

The game is released on November 10, 2020, for PC, PS4, Xbox 1, Xbox Series X and Series S, and Google Stadia. Meanwhile, The PS5 received its version of the game on November 12th.

If you’re looking for the best PS4 games or PS5 games that you should be excited about, we have articles that can help you out.

 

Setting

 

Due to the issue of war and an increase in population in their native land of Norway, Eivor and their brother Sigurd plan to escape and lead their clan of Vikings to a new country, settling themselves in the lands of Anglo-Saxon England.

Due to this, the clan butt’s heads with the already established kingdoms of Wessex, East Anglia, Northumbria, and Mercia throughout the entire game. They also involve their own kindred Vikings, who are the warring sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, a legendary Viking warrior, and their own Viking Clans. Eivor’s clan will take on various enemies and leaders of those kingdoms, including the king of Wessex, Alfred the Great. Meanwhile, Eivor finds and meets the Hidden Ones situated in England and joins their battle against the titular Order of the Ancients. Cities like Winchester, London, and York are remade into a medieval form in the game and are fully explorable, with parts of Norway being included in the game also.

The game also features a story narrative that’s set in the modern era, following a trend from the previous games. This part of the story will put you in the shoes of Layla Hassan, a prominent character that’s featured in both Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey. Lastly, Valhalla also contains some story elements that are connected to the advanced civilization of superhumans known as the Isu, which lore hunters will love.

 

What Do We Know About the New Assassin’s Creed Game?

 

Characters

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla continues the franchise’s metamorphosis into the RPG genre. The game allows players to choose between either a male or a female protagonist. Though don’t fret, you do have full reign of changing the main character’s gender mid-game.

Here’s everything that’s currently known about the new Viking lead.

 

Eivor

Valhalla
Photo by Ubisoft

 

Eivor is the game’s player character and is a Viking raider and head of the Raven clan in the Viking Age. They, and their brother Sigurd, proceeded to lead the clan to a new land to establish a new home for themselves. They landed in England, where Eivor needed to capture land by force following several fights with the Great Heathen Army.

In addition to this, Eivor also has a run-in with the Hidden Ones, who recruit them to help in their fight against the Order of the Ancients.

 

Combat

Like other games in this storied series, there are quite a few stealth missions. From targets that need to be eliminated silently, to taking important intel from enemy lines. However, take note that this is a Viking game. Thus, the game’s combat is going to be tailor-made to reflect the Viking’s in-your-face style of fighting.

Players can lock on to one opponent to focus their attention on them, or just wade into the fray with both axes whirling. The game’s combat is composed of both light and heavy attacks, blocks, dodges, and parries, in addition to special attacks and even some ranged options like a bow.

Some examples of special attacks include a shield charge that you can use until you run out of stamina, a devastating ax blow to the face, and a curb stomp on a fallen enemy’s head, among others. These special attacks are mapped on the left trigger and face buttons and you can only have three of them active at a time. These special attacks are unlocked through the game’s skill tree, which we’ll be discussing later.

One thing to take into account is that the ability to dodge is linked to a stamina bar now. This means that you need to manage your stamina well if you want to dodge attacks. Also, this means that the player has to take into account which attacks can be parried to perform counterattacks, and which attacks are too strong to parry and need to be dodged, so keep an eye out.

 

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla vs. Other Assassin’s Creed Games

 

The Assassin’s Creed series has gone a long way. From the early iterations of Assassin’s Creed to Black Flag and Rogue to the open-world games like Odyssey and Origins. And with Valhalla coming out this November, let’s take a look at how the newest game in the series measures up to the two that came before it.

First off, when you look at it in a cursory view, there’s a lot of familiar things to see in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, when you compare it with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. And Assassin’s Creed Origins. For one, the open-world mechanics is prominently displayed. It also leans heavily into various RPG mechanics, with special abilities all over the place in combat, exploration, and even stealth, as well as a big world map with dozens of quests and collectibles.

However, don’t think that just because that’s the case, there’s nothing new in Valhalla. If you’re not convinced that there’s anything new to the game’s features, here are some of the more notable ones for your perusal:

 

RPG Elements and Gameplay Features

 

In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Origins, your character levels up gradually through combat and exploration, getting and unlocking new skills and abilities. This time, however, Eivor, the main character, doesn’t have a level but will have a “global power” rating instead. This is based on how many abilities Eivor has unlocked then. As Eivor’s global power increases, you get skill points that you can then spend on a skill tree of your choice to get new abilities or new strength and prowess on the three different Skill Trees.

Eivor’s Skill Tree is divided into three segments: The Raven, Bear, and Wolf, with each segment corresponding to different kinds of play styles. Firstly, those who choose the Raven skill tree are more predisposed to stealth. Secondly, the Wolf skill tree gives more options when using ranged weaponry. And lastly, the Bear skill tree boosts melee prowess.

Each of the three trees has quite a few active and passive skills as well, so you might not be able to finish all three skill trees in one playthrough. However, players can also reset their skill points and reassign them if they want. This is nice and gives them a great deal of control over how they wish to build Eivor or even allows them to change their skills on the fly in response to different missions.

In addition to this, players can also access various ranged and melee abilities through various Books of Knowledge located throughout the game world, with each subsequent Book of Knowledge that Eivor can get increasing the power of these abilities.

 

Raiding, Assaults, and Minigames

There’s another new gameplay feature in the game: raiding. You and all your Viking buddies can go raid a settlement. You can do this by getting into your longboat (which is also upgradable with better Viking warriors by the way). And then, immediately land on the poor village that you and your Viking comrades wish to ransack.

Other than that, there are also some instances where you raid castles. These are called Assaults, and this is where a few things can differ between raids. The reason is that you have access to a battering ram that you then use to bash the castle doors wide open for you and your army to march in. Currently, there’s only one castle raid shown to the world, although it would be cool if there are more of these kinds of raids in the future.

In addition to the raids, some minigames allow players to take a break from the action. These can range from precision archery, stacking large stones together, shooting dice, and even a drinking game. In addition, there’s also a minigame called flyting, essentially a medieval version of a rap battle. Yes, that’s right—you have a rap battle for a minigame. Isn’t that grand?

 

Settlement

Valhalla world
Photo by Ubisoft

 

Valhalla’s story narrative depicts Eivor and their Viking Clan as not only raiders but also as settlers. As the clan leader of the Raven Clan, it’s Eivor’s responsibility to build and improve this new place you call home as you go along the game and continue its story. To do this, Eivor needs to get resources.

These can be raw materials like iron and wood that players can get through raids or scavenging, or other things like food. When Eivor has the materials in hand, they can then build and improve their settlement by upgrading various buildings like the blacksmith, fishing shack, barracks, aviary, and more.

Each of these buildings has a purpose in the game, and with each improvement, the rewards get better and better. It’s a holdout from previous entries like Syndicate and Rogue but a welcome returning feature. The more you invest in the game, the better you can upgrade and evolve your settlement.

Character customization options are also products of settlement upgrades, as each upgrade gives access to new tattoos, hairstyles, clothing, war paint, and more. It allows Eivor to stand out in battle and show your creativity.

And finally, the game’s barracks allows players to customize their own Viking raiders. You can then use them to raid settlements and assault forts, as well as coming with you on your longboat for exploration.

 

Combat Changes

Combat Valhalla
Photo from Amazon

 

Combat is the one thing that players will feel is familiar, especially those that have played the previous two entries of the series. However, there are modifications. One of these modifications is that health won’t passively regenerate anymore. You regain health by using health rations that you can store for a maximum of three uses. Do note that this is something that we have no idea if we can increase so you might want to work on your dodging and parry skills. Another difference is that you’re more of a Viking than an Assassin when fighting in the open.

As mentioned, success in combat relies on the player’s ability to execute parries, attacks, and dodges at the correct moment. This is evident with the game’s stamina meter. Players will now have to manage to execute dodges and some combat abilities. These changes put a lot more strategy when versus past Assassin’s Creed games.

Special abilities also make a return, with some abilities returning from other installments like putting poison on weapons and arrows. Other than that, there are also a few new additions. Examples are having the ability to throw a flurry of axes at your enemies or shield charging them. And lastly, Eivor also has access to the Hidden Blade, which we’re going to talk about later.

Also, did we say that Eivor can wield dual weapons, as well? You can wield dual shields if you want to!

 

Hidden Blades

One thing that players will notice in the game’s trailers is the fact that Eivor has a hidden blade. Now, this might not be a significant thing to notice, but Odyssey did not have it. This annoyed a lot of fans and players.

In addition to this, even Odyssey’s assassination mechanic isn’t a one-hit kill. However, not only did Ubisoft Montreal bring back the Hidden Blades for players to use. It also regained its ability to immediately kill the enemy that you use it on. It makes it great for sneaking and killing enemies once again.

 

World Events

The Assassin’s Creed series is an old hand when it comes to side quests. The previous entry, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, felt a bit bloated with too much to do in a pretty expansive world. To fix this, Ubisoft changed traditional side quests that players are familiar with world events. These world events can occur more organically around the world map and don’t place you on a linear questline.

If you want an example of this, there’s a scenario of two men shouting at each other. The reason why they’re yelling? They forgot to bring a torch to set ablaze an abandoned house to practice doing raids. Now there are a few ways to help these men.

For one, you can bring them a torch yourself. Another option? You set the house they want to use ablaze. What follows, however, is an unfortunate but hilarious series of events the two individuals aren’t ready for. After finishing this, you can walk away from the chaos. You can walk away without finishing the quest. There will be no indicator that you haven’t done the quest on your log.

 

Traversing by Longship

Naval battles and going around the map through the use of ships are a staple of the series. This was ever since Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. Valhalla, on the other hand, doesn’t put you in a galleon. You aren’t sailing on a huge vessel. Instead, you’re sailing on a Viking longship that can only carry a handful of Viking warriors.

Despite the size of the longship though, it’s still possible to fight in seafaring battles. You can also navigate all around the game world through the twisting rivers that are in England. Don’t worry though, because even if the Vikings don’t sing songs, they do tell stories about various things. From their tales of martial prowess to japes and even funny occurrences. Nothing is boring when you’re sailing with a Viking. Plus, there’s always a story to tell when sailing in the rivers and seas.

 

Why Should Valhalla Excite You?

Assassin's Creed Valhalla PS4
Photo from Amazon

 

As for why people should be excited about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla? Well, the game is a step in the right direction if they want to follow an open-world video game. They have interesting ideas that they want to implement and a new direction for the game. The developers still managed to create what seems to be a good Assassin’s Creed game. All while taking some of the new things Open-world RPG mechanics added by the developers.

Time will tell if this is going to be a success. However, it’s good to stay optimistic about the title and what we’ve got this November.

Get it on PS4!

Get it on Xbox One!

Albert de Venecia

Albert de Venecia

I love playing video games on either console or mobile platforms. I also collect action figures of superheroes and robots.

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