The Assasin’s Creed franchise is at a stage where it is exploring various cultures in different time periods while keeping in touch with its old-school assassin-based gameplay. After a fairly enjoyable Odyssey, Valhalla is the next installment and it promises to let you take on a Viking establishing presence in England. The trailers have been promising and for fans of the franchise, there’s a lot in store.
A lot – that’s the key thing about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Unlike the previous games, Valhalla isn’t trying to force you into living the life of an assassin. You start as a Viking and you shape your story based on your decisions. You decide the pace of your career mode. It is you who is in control of your gameplay. The setting of Valhalla is as such that you might struggle to complete the game even after years.
I tried my hands on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on both PC as well as Xbox Series X. I won’t deep dive into system requirements but I can assure you need a beefed-up PC enjoy Valhalla the way it is meant to be played (oops, did I just quote NVIDIA?). I initially played the game on a gaming laptop with a GTX 1050 and the experience was bad. On the Xbox Series X, it worked like a charm, especially with my 4K TV.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: What’s the story this time?
In Valhalla, you start as Eivor, a Viking who has to settle and conquer ancient England with a clan. Now, Eivor can either be a male or female, depending upon your preferences. I, for instance, chose to go ahead as a female Eivor just to see how the story accepts a female warrior character. The game lets you explore parts of the icy Norway before you head over to England to start afresh. There’s a lot of fighting, lots of plundering, lots of raids, and lots of moving around the world. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has a story that will need 60 hours of your life. Also, if you are into history, you will find a lot of references to the documented history of the Nordic regions as well as old England ruled by Saxons and Danes.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay: Is it as good as the trailer?
Almost. If you have fancied the world of Vikings and all the brave stuff they did, you will fall in love with Valhalla from the moment you set foot as Eivor in Norway. Valhalla, like all previous Assasin’s Creed titles, has a deep story and if you buy it, you are in for a cinematic experience. Ubisoft has worked hard on getting the smallest of details just right, and for those who care about a good plot, you will find it aplenty in Valhalla. Right from the cutscenes to dialogues during raids/missions, everything feels wholesome.
Do note that I have only talked about the story so far. Valhalla’s gameplay is up there with the best period games have to offer. There are hundreds of battles to be fought, hundreds of enemies camps to loot, so much stuff to explore and cater to the main storyline. I wish there was all the time in the world to see it all before writing this review.
Hence, I will leave it upon you to explore the rest of Valhalla but I have seen enough to talk about it. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, you can take on England on foot, horses, boats, ships, and even your raven (your winged assistant who is crucial during raids and missions). Similar to all Assassin’s Creed games, you can interact with people, jump off ledges, climb walls as well as trees, and even assassinate enemies.
The game begins in all its mighty as you reach England. Valhalla asks you to build and maintain a settlement of your Raven Clan. How do you do that? You go on raids initially to nearby monasteries and villages to loot essentials. Once you collect the supplies, you can use them to build houses as well as shops. You also have to look for iron ore across the world to forge weapon upgrades. Additionally, there are crates and boxes to loot in order to unlock new weapons, tattoos, and several other stuff that I couldn’t bother about.
Eventually, the gameplay gets tougher and you have to fight harder enemies. From clan leaders to archers to mystic creatures, Eivor (your character) has to triumphs with the help of upgrades to fighting abilities, weapons, and your clan. Upgrading the melee and stealth skills are crucial in order to complete raids.
The variety of weapons is scarce and you have to choose cleverly as to what works for you. In my instance, I found the cloak weighing down Eivor, hence I kept her without it to perform moves faster and beat enemies easily. It does require time to learn the upgrade system for both weapons as well as abilties.
The combat is exciting, and honestly, brutal. Be prepared to see decapacitated heads, arms, and legs of your enemies flying away in the air. The Assasin fighting techniques are there but I seldom found them to be useful – you are a Viking after all and you have to fight with honor. Getting stealthy in enemy territory helps to reduce the combat difficulty but you have to be prepared to do some button-tapping.
While on horses or boats, you can use your bow to shoot down targets. You can drive them on your own or let the computer do the driving – I chose the latter the most so as to enjoy the massive and beautiful England while traveling. Of course, you have the option to Fast Travel your way around large parts of the map.
There are several miscellaneous activities to take part in as well. You can have a drinking game with the village folks, or help a trader with his business, or get tattoos. Exploration is the biggest thing you have to do in Valhalla and if you want to just roam around learning different lands, you will be in love with what this game has to offer.
Valhalla isn’t a mindless enemy-slashing fest. I found some of the raids pushing my grey cells to successfully acquire it. Odin’s view comes as a relief while solving tricky puzzles in the diverse outdoors of the game. Some story missions require you to investigate the truth and give your own decision – this made me think twice about the characters, eventually pulling me deeper into the game.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla graphics: Is it interesting to be in?
I think there’s no Assassin’s Creed title in history that lacked an engaging world. Assassin’s Creed 4 was mostly based on naval combat but it had a diverse world to enjoy. Valhalla easily has the best world this franchise has to offer. I fell in love with its rendition of Norway and I was willing to spend more time exploring it. As soon as you are teleported to England, it becomes necessary to invest more time in the game.
Valhalla’s England is detailed to the D. The human settlements look real and so do the countrysides. Every single bush and tree feels authentic. The world does not feel repetitive and I bet you can get lost marveling at just a small portion of the world. I spent a lot of time towards the coastal areas and I still can’t get enough of it. It is so beautiful.
Adding to that beauty is the superb lighting system. Even without ray-tracing and DLSS, Valhalla’s world looks photorealistic at times, and coupled with the detailed textures, it is a treat for the eyes. I recommend playing Valhalla on a 4K TV with a beefed-up PC or any of the next-gen consoles to get the best experiences. Trust me, effects of the fog, sunshine gleaming through the trees, splashing water in the narrow rivers, blood fountains, and dust – these effects need to be seen on a big display.
Mission out on ray tracing for Valhalla is a letdown and I feel the game could have looked even better with those. That said, this is a great-looking game and if you just got a new Xbox or an Nvidia RTX-toting gaming PC, I believe you won’t have much to complain about the graphics. It is on par with the current-gen 2020 titles.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla can be best described as an endless adventure involving the heroic Vikings and living their tales. The story involved me greatly but the length of it bored me after a while. I wish the creators made the story compact but the fact Valhalla has the best launch sales in the history of the franchise proves otherwise. This is a game that will keep you engaged and if you manage not to get bored, you will love the exploration. It is quite similar to Red Dead Redemption 2 in its story progression pace.
What adds to Valhalla’s experience is the beautifully created world and the stunning graphics it is rendered in. There are a few bugs but Ubisoft is fixing them at a faster pace than I would have ever imagined.
Should you buy it? I don’t know about you but I get to have my reviewer’s copy for a few more days and you will find me hooked to my Xbox Series X until Christmas. The prices are high initially but if you are on PC, you should wait for discounts on Steam or Ubisoft Connect during the festive seasons. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is epic in many ways and is quite literally one of the best, if not the best, interactive entertainment experiences you can have in 2020.