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AC Valhalla

Valhalla is the latest instalment in the popular Assassins Creed franchise and builds upon the RPG mechanics that were first introduced in AC Origins and further refined in AC Odyssey. As we move through the ages we are now in the lush green pastures of 9th Century England where we take on the role of a Viking invader named Eivor. Read on for my spoiler free review…

Gameplay and story

At the start you get the option to play as either a male or female lead, or let it pick for you based on who the game sees your character as being central for the plot (they cover this by a weak connection in the animus link). I went with the latter and after over 100 hours of playing I have only played as the female lead and ‘ve finished the main story arc. That is not to say I haven’t played as a male protagonist, but I’ll leave that part for you to see how and why.

You start your journey in Norway which nicely introduces you to the main characters and some of the gameplay mechanics. Most will be very familiar to you if you’re a seasoned player, but there are also few new ideas in here to keep it interesting. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla begins with players taking control of Eivor as a child during a feast. It’s clear from the start that Eivor is the son of a Jarl, a chieftain. Unfortunately, the feast is interrupted by an attack from the rogue Viking warlord, Kjotve the Cruel. This ends with the destruction of Eivor’s village and the execution of his father, which is particularly upsetting to Eivor given that Vikings always prefer to die in battle with their axe to guarantee a spot in Valhalla.

In fleeing the village, Eivor falls onto an ice-covered lake and is attacked by Wolves. She only barely escapes with her life, which earns her the title “Wolf-kissed.”

Fast forward a number of years and Eivor has been taken under the wing of King Styrbjorn of the Raven Clan.  So as to avoid plot spoilers I’ll skirt around the next series of events but eventually, Styrbjorn’s son Sigurd then returns from a two-year-long raid, bearing gifts and accompanied by two foreign men, Bassim and Hytham.  I’m sure you can you guess who these 2 might be, or from what order they fight but to help you out they give Eivor a special hidden blade.

So why did these 2 accompany Sigurd?  For Kjotve of course who is a member of the Order – the same nefarious organization seen in Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey.

After completing a few missions, which took me approximately an hour or so as I like to explore, Sigurd and Eivor agree to set sail for England and forge their own dynasty which is where the game really starts. Bassim and Hytham joins them of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be an AC game now would it……

As you land in England, Sigurd and Eivor start Ravensthorpe, a small settlement in the Kingdom of Mercia which is your hub for all the main storyline missions.  Much like AC 2, you can build and expand this village unlocking side missions and the ability to upgrade your gear, get new tattoos, train your horse etc.  At the longhouse, the main house where you and Sigurd live, you speak with Randvi, Sigurd’s Wife, who will introduce the map of England and all its regions.  From here, you can select which region to pledge your allegiance to and gain them as an ally.

As you would expect, England is a massive open world with lots of distractions to keep you entertained such as hunting and drinking games or engaging in traditional Norse competitions like flyting – or, as it’s better known, verbally devastating rivals through the art of the Viking rap battle (very useful for saving coin… see the quick tips).

As before, as you explore these new regions you unlock synchronisation points (eagles on the map) and docks (anchors on the map) which can be used to fast travel.  Synchronising at these points highlights the immediate area showing where all the mysteries are (flyting, citizens needing help, curses etc), collectables (new tattoos designs and Roman artifacts), treasure (silver, new abilities and equipment).

In exploring you will also find monasteries which can be raided to gain supplies which are used in expanding your village.  Be careful though and pay attention to the suggested level (no point in attacking somewhere that is a 340 when you are 4).  Which brings us nicely on to the skill tree.

As you explore and progress in the game, you will come across more difficult enemies and heavily guarded lands so you will need all the tools at your disposal.  For every enemy you kill, mission you complete, mystery discovered etc you gain skill points which can be used in the skill tree to upgrade your strength and health alongside cool skills such as dual wielding.  There are 3 branches of the skill tree which are the Way of the Wolf, Way of the Raven, and Way of the Bear. All three branches of the skill three focus on three different types of combat style. Depending on that you can build up your character as a powerful warrior no one can stand or super silent assassins no one can detect.

Way of the Bear focuses on unlocking the max potential of melee combat. Close range fights where bosses and enemies are always on your nose. Way of the Wolf focuses on ranged combat. You will find a lot of skills and upgrade that will strengthen your ranged attacks. Upgrades under this section will help you take down enemies from distance.

Way of the Raven focuses on stealth. You will find a lot of skills and upgrade that will strengthen your stealth. Skills under the Raven branch will let you be more silent and boost your power in taking down enemies in stealth mode.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with these as you can reset all your skills at any point and re-attribute points to other branches if you wish.

Quick tips

One of the things I love about AC games is the freedom to explore and see what the word has to offer. I can honestly say that 9th Century England truly is beautiful and you will no doubt want to wonder off and explore. However, don’t. Whilst this seems at odds with how you would normally play, if you follow the main story you will get to see every area and be able to get into some of the secret rooms that you will never be able to open until you are there as part of the story. Many times I came up against an impenetrable door only to find it easy to open up once I was there with my allies. One you’ve completed the area as part of the story, go a fill your boots and explore and find everything else in that region knowing that everything is now open and available.

To expand your settlement you’re going to need supplies and the best place to get these from are the churches and monasteries which you can raid whenever you find them. Be careful though and pay attention to the suggested level (no point in attacking somewhere that is a 340 when you are 4).

Fishing is a great way to earn silver, but would you believe you have a fishing rod from the start and is part of the quick action wheel? At no point was I ever advised of this; it was something that I “found”.

Near a River and need help?  In the same action wheel, you can use the Horn to call your ship. This comes in handy when you are at a cathedral you want to raid or next to a camp that has too many guys for you to attack without support.

Flyting is a great way to upgrade your Charisma Skill and unlocks special dialogue options to choose from in certain conversations.  These options usually save you silver too so don’t miss these out. 

Experiment with different weapons.  After 90 hours in I finally used the dual wielding skill to use a 2 handed sword and axe and I wish I had tried sooner!  It took down harder enemies with ease and had some new animations when taking down an enemy.

Conclusion

Put simply, I loved AC Valhalla.  The graphics are amazing (I’m playing on series X), the combat fluid and there was so much to see and do that I never got bored.  The story is also up there as being one of the best and, thankfully for me as I’m not a fan of the futuristic parts, was rarely broken up by going to the present day/future.

What did you guys think of AC Valhalla? Let me know in the comments.

1 thought on “AC Valhalla

  1. Unlike other Assassin s Creed games, weapons in AC Valhalla are very unique, and not many can be found in the world. Each weapon has its own unique perk, and its stats can be upgraded with certain materials. Additionally, weapons can be enhanced with collectible ingots to add rune slots, upgrade their look, and the amount of times they can be upgraded.

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