Today, Ubisoft gave us our first look at Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Based in England’s Dark Ages, players take on the role of Viking raider Eivor. Whilst establishing a new home, Eivor’s clan of Norsemen sail through the North Sea to England’s broken kingdoms.
Since 2017’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Ubisoft has opted to create bigger worlds with expanded gameplay mechanics. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey continued to build on the fundamentals laid out by its predecessor. With Assassin’s Creed Valhalla being the third entry in this new “rebooted” series, we’re hoping Ubisoft Montreal -- and the 14 other collaborating studios -- take a leap of faith into a few features and aspects.
Assassin’s Creedy Odyssey introduced ‘Conquest Battles’. These large-scale battles placed two opposing factions on the battlefield and left you in the middle to decide which side to fight with for victory.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla doesn’t appear to be shying away from bloody sword and axe battles. The Saxons have been revealed to be one of the primary antagonists you’ll come across during your Viking journey. Denouncing Eivor’s clan as heathen, I fully expect there to be a lot of bloodshed. However, I hope these battles hold more weight to the gameplay and go bigger on the spectacle.
Conquest Battles would lower the power level of the occupying forces. My hope is that Ubisoft doubles down on this, by incorporating lasting consequences based on efficiency on the battlefield. This would give players more of a sense of urgency. In-turn it would be great to see the game incorporate more soldiers fighting together in truly epic battles.
For many, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was propelled by Melissanthi Mahut’s performance as Kassandra. Although players had the option to play the story from the perspective of Alexios, fans consider Kassandra’s story to be one of the best in the franchise.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has an opportunity to one-up itself this time around. Seeing as though the game will once again let players choose to play Eivor as male or female, this is a perfect chance to once again tell an engrossing story from both perspectives. While the choice in playing as male or female never dramatically changed the narrative, it was the interactions along the journey the defined Kassandra’s story. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has been said to once again feature dialogue options.
While the voice actors behind Eivor haven’t been revealed, Ubisoft has a pedigree for creating rich dialogue. I’m hoping to experience equally captivating performances by both voice actors. I’m equally eager to see how the choices will reflect on Eivor’s story throughout.
Using Norse mythology in creative ways
Norse mythology is ripe with folklore revolving around the gods of that era. The cinematic trailer has also given us a glimpse at what looks to be Odin. Assassin’s Creed has often used the ancient Isu precursors as a means to illustrate how the “gods” we all know landed in history books.
It will be very interesting to see how Assassin’s Creed Valhalla handles Norse gods such as Thor, Loki, Heimdall, and Frigg. Will their inclusion be another Animus malfunction as seen in Assassin’s Creed: Origin’s, or caused by the Isu? Perhaps a new creative explanation is in order. The Norse gods of the Æsir and Vanir clans are mighty beings. Without looking at the “historically accurate” touch, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will need to spin a creative tale to build this lore.
Freedom with the hidden blade
It’s been far too long since the franchise’s iconic hidden blade has been a gameplay feature. Seeing it in all its glory in the trailer left me hopeful we’ll be able to once again use the deadly weapon in combat.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is said to feature a “revamped combat system”, which includes dual wielding. While the mind might wander to the possibilities of charging into a fight with two barbaric axes in hand, my mind races through the possible ways the hidden blade can be incorporated.
Vikings aren’t exactly known for their stealthy combat. Assassin’s Creed itself has steered away from stealth-based combat the series was built on as of late. Eivor could perhaps use the hidden blade in a much more versatile way on the battlefield. As we saw in the trailer, Eivor used the hidden blade as a last-ditch effort to survive; he is also shown wearing the blade on the outside of his arm. This may signal the blade will no longer be as hidden as in prior games.
The return of Discovery Tours
We touched on the historical accuracy Assassin’s Creed games tend to hold. They like to drift off into stories of ancient beings and incorporate the Animus, a genetic memory machine. However, the franchise is baked in a very real, very engaging historical facts.
The setting of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla isn’t as well known as say Rome, Greece, and Egypt’s histories. Though, England’s Dark Ages offer a unique backdrop for storytelling. Ubisoft would be wise to bring back the Discovery Tours, allowing players to dive into the rich history without other gameplay distractions.
The Dark Ages encompasses 500 to 1066 AD, following the fall of the Roman Empire to the Battle of Hastings in Britain. It was during this period the Vikings, Britons, and Anglo Saxons left their mark. Assassin’s Creed’s Discovery Mode is usually so in-depth, that schools such as Kennedy High School have used it as an educational tool for its students. It would be great to see Discovery Tours return, so students and enthusiasts can brush up on the Dark Ages in a really engaging way.
We’ll have to see how Assassin’s Creed Valhalla stacks up later this year. Ubisoft has given the game a tentative release of Holiday 2020.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.