The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been a big part of my gaming life and to see it evolve and grow in not just popularity, but the in-game scope has been a journey that you don’t really get a lot these days. So when Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was announced, to say I was excited was an understatement.
Not only was this a new game in the long winding story but it was also set around Vikings and the Norse Saga, a period in time that I love and which shaped not only my home of Ireland but of Europe too.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla centres around Eivor the Wolf Kissed, his brother Sigurd and the Raven Clan as politics and ambition make them look outside of their native Norway and to the green and wealthy lands of England.
There the story really opens up as the Clan come into contact with the Kingdoms of Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia, as well as the Great Heathen Army who are commanded by the sons of the legend, Ragnar Lothbrok. Eivor himself will have his own path to travel as he will join up with the mysterious Hidden Ones who enlist our hero to their cause in ridding England of the Order of the Ancients who have taken control of every aspect of English society.
Outside of the Animus, we see the return of Layla Hassan as she and her team try and piece together why this Viking is so important and what they can learn from the past to help affect the present and future of the world.
How long is a Longship?
I am not going to lie, it took me a while to get into Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, after coming off 100 plus hours of Odyssey and sailing around the beautiful Mediterranean and jumping into the cold, dark and white frozen north it was a bit of a shock.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the setting of Viking era Norway and the game brings you into the Viking world but it seemed like a bit of a comedown and very insular compared to Odyssey. As I played on I was starting to feel my way through and things started to click with me especially once I made it to England.
Things gameplay-wise have not changed much from the last game but there were little differences that I was having trouble with at the start. For example, your raven (named Sýnin, Old Norse for “insight”)can still be used to scout your surrounding area for you.
However unlike in Odyssey, you cannot tag enemies, you have to do that with your Odin’s sight ability which is a revamp of the treasure tagging ability in previous games. This is just me nitpicking though and I just had to forget all I learned from Odyssey and re-programme myself for this new challenge. There were other little buggy problems but because I was playing this pre-launch I was expecting little teething problems until the day one update hits so I won’t put these things against it.
The tale of two Eivor’s… and a mixed one
Ubisoft has taken a lot of crap online about the handling of who was the main protagonist in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey as the game was supposed to have Kassandra (and even in Valhalla it mentions her as a bearer of the staff) the hero but changed it and let you choose her or Alexios (my choice) but if you are like me and don’t care about all that and just want a good game with a good story and characters that you can grow to care about or hate then don’t be disappointed by Valhalla as it does just that.
The writers of the Assassin’s Creed franchise always seem to know how to draw you into the story even if you steer from the main path and spend hours exploring there is always something to do and learn as you go.
The game lets you pick either a male or female Eivor and there is also a third option for your character changing to whichever sex is stronger at that time. You can also change your sex at any point so I am not sure why the third option is there. Some of the voice acting for me was a little off, the male Eivor sounds a bit British for my liking and doesn’t really match the voices of the other clan members. Eivor himself takes longer to warm to as you jump from young and vulnerable to older and total badass. I think they needed to fill in the gap a bit with flashbacks during magic mushroom trips. As the game goes on you see different sides to him and his ambitious nature.
Settling down & Flyting in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla brings back one of my favourite parts of Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and that was the settlement building. In this you can build up your settlement by going on raids of nearby camps and monasteries, where you will gather resources to help build new buildings like blacksmiths or even a Hidden One Bureau were you get information on individuals of interest to you and your cause.
It is a nice little break from the main game as is my new favourite thing in the Assassin’s Creed universe… “Flyting”. If like me you haven’t a clue what this is let me bring you up to speed, flyting is Viking rap battles pretty much.
Most towns you will encounter will have a “Flyter” ready to spit bars at you and await your response, you can wager on these plus you have 3 different responses to choose from but you have to be spot on or your street cred will go out the window (That’s how the youth talk nowadays right?). Towns will also have drinking contests and a dice game called Orlog that isn’t too hard to pick up after a while and will have you looking online for a physical version or is that just me?
With an ever-changing world, some people are stuck in the old ways and lash out at change and learn that it’s impossible to run from it and that is what this game is ultimately about. Two young men looking to carve a place out of the world and leave behind their story and you know what? These two men and Ubisoft do just that. I cannot wait for the DLC set in Ireland.