If you're a fan of Ubisoft's flagship series, it's likely that you followed Assassin's Creed Valhalla's reveal in April. BossLogic's digital brush opened the way for a steady flow of intel about the next game in the series. Given how much information there was, we've tried to compile everything together to give you a clearer picture of what you should expect from Valhalla.
Let's begin with the story and its setting. This adventure will take you from the snowy lands of Norway to England, with the action taking place during the 9th century. It's a place where conflict breeds conflict between warlords, chief clans and Vikings. Against this background, our own clan is trying to settle permanently in this land, with its promise of a better life, finding a foothold through war and by building alliances.
Just as was the case in Black Flag, you won't start your journey as a member of the Assassin's Brotherhood but they will quickly become an ally. Notably, Alfred the Great will not be our main antagonist despite his important historical role in the fight against Viking invaders and his appearance in the very first trailer (see below). Instead, someone else is leading the resistance from the shadows...
All in all, the story promises to be full of twists and turns, with Ubisoft promising a unique narrative approach. Consider us intrigued.
In the present, we are still following the exploits of Layla Hassan, however, the past will allow the introduction of a new protagonist: Eivor. Even if this clan chief bears an exclusively feminine name, you will be able to choose between playing a man or a woman, just like in Odyssey. This choice will not impact the story whatsoever, nor will it affect your romance choices.
If we tell you about Eivor, it's impossible not to talk about their feathered companion, Sýnin (a name coming from the word "sýn", which roughly means "vision"). This crow's utility is still to be determined because it will not be replacing the famous Eagle Vision (now called Odin's Sight). We were told he would be more of an extension to this ability but that's all we know so far. We also know that he will be able to distract guards, but we are pretty sure he'll be able to do other things as well.
While we don't know much about Sýnin's usefulness, it doesn't mean that Ubisoft hasn't shared quite a lot about other gameplay aspects. Actually, the publisher shared so much that we'll need to divide and conquer.
Stealth and Infiltration
The element responsible for the franchise's success, AC's signature trait, is stealthy assassinations. Even though this aspect had been modified in the past two games to make way for RPG mechanics, instant kills with the hidden blade are back this time around. You will be able to one-shot enemies no matter their level (or yours) and what's more, you will also be able to upgrade this ability through green gems - although we don't know much about them yet.
However, that's not the only mechanic returning in Valhalla because the famous hood and social stealth are also coming back. Eivor can wear their hood and hide in crowds to avoid guards - a classic mechanic. The next entry will also take us back to another core aspect that made the saga work so well and that's the level design, which is once more focused on parkour and stealth. Navigation puzzles, those sections where players must find a specific way to reach a precise point through parkour and climbing, will also be in the game.
Every assassin's main weapon will also be useful in open combat. If your timing is good, Eivor will be able to instantly kill an enemy through instant-kill counters. The combat system also introduces some new things that offer more freedom in the way you can use your equipment. Want to fight with two shields on your arms? Please do.
And we look forward to seeing those innovations in action in a game where combat is focused on strength and brutality, with plenty of decapitations and dismemberment. However, savagery isn't your only option; you'll be able to fake death in order to take an enemy by surprise or plan an escape (but know that enemies are also aware of these tricks and can use them against you). We'll wait to see an enemy actually do it before calling it a success because the AI in Assassin's Creed games has never been really great.
And there are more features yet to be discovered from what we heard from (former) creative director Ashraf Ismail, such as calling a wolf for backup, for example.
The Evolution of Equipment
Whether it is for stealth or combat, players will have a multitude of option when it comes to customising their experience through various ability trees. But skills will not be your only tools for survival on your journey, your equipment will also be crucial.
Armour and weapons will be divided into five distinct areas and the only known one is the hood. Full sets will be available, but every piece of armour will be unique. It will also be unnecessary to worry about whether to choose between efficiency or style because the game will feature transmogrification: the ability to apply the look of a piece of equipment to another.
Let's dwell a little on the settlement, our hero's main motivation in this story, as it will also be a core aspect of the game. Our clan will launch several narrative arcs each delivering a different atmosphere. It has also been stated by Ubisoft that the way you manage your colony will impact the story. As well as featuring important NPCs such as a blacksmith or Jomsvikings )customisable mercenaries that will help you during raids), you will have to choose your political approach by creating relations with other clans through things such as marriages.
Beyond the Game
A lot has been revealed about the game itself, but we've also learned more about the production of Assassin's Creed Valhalla. The title has been in development at Ubisoft Montréal for two-and-a-half-years and 14 other studios have or are working on it. The goal here is to offer a vast and gorgeous world to explore, which means the game is running on Ubisoft's AnvilNext 2.0 engine, just like every iteration of the game since Unity back in 2014.
The soundtrack represents a coming together of two great names from the franchise: Sarah Schachner (Black Flag, Unity, Origins) and Jesper Kyd (who worked on Brotherhood and Revelations). But perhaps the biggest surprise is the participation of Einar Selvik, famous for his work on the Vikings TV show. Other creatives have been borrowed from TV as well since Magnus Bruun (The Last Kingdom) will play male Eivor and Cecilie Stenspil, a Danish actor, will play the female Eivor.
In conclusion, as you can see, a lot has already been revealed, helping us build a picture of what Assassin's Creed Valhalla could be. Fortunately, you don't have to wait long before Ubisoft shows us more via its Forward event this weekend on Sunday evening. We'll see you then.