Fall 2020 is bringing plenty of cool new next-gen games to the spotlight. Among those is Ubisoft’s new action-packed Viking tale, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Set to release on November 10th for PlayStation, Xbox, Stadia and PC, it’s promising to be one of the top games released this year.
While it will roughly follow the same style as its two predecessors, Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, some exciting new features have already been revealed. Here are 12 new things coming to Valhalla that you should know about.
Vikings were known as bloodthirsty warriors that first invaded England in the year 793, but they were also settlers. Given that their Scandinavian lands were barren and frozen, English lands were much more appealing as they were temperate and fertile. Vikings pillaged and raided, but also settled in these lands. Over hundreds of years, they slowly integrated into English society.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla explores this concept by allowing players to construct and manage a settlement in English lands. The settlement will serve as a home away from home for Eivor, the protagonist who can be male or female.
In the settlement, you will be able to consult with a war chief, build new upgrades and even take an afternoon off from pillaging to fish and replenish your supplies. Upgrades for the settlement will be unlocked as you progress throughout the story, adding new buildings such as the barracks and the stables.
A large part of the Scandinavian economy during the dark ages was built upon raids. Using their longships, capable of crossing seas as well as maneuvering narrow rivers, Norsemen often surprised villages and took everything they could. It would’ve been out of character to make a video game about vikings without raids, so Ubisoft naturally made these raids one of the main gameplay pillars.
You command your own longship and crew of Danes ready to be taken on these raids, which can yield various resources to upgrade your settlement. However, ex-creative director Ashraf Ismail had emphasized that these vikings were “Not just raiding, but integrating into the local society”. Striking a balance of gore and community building is a crucial part of the game, providing an experience that stays true to the brutal yet honorable Viking way of life.
You can think of assaults as large-scale raids. Instead of burning down and looting small villages, you will be taking on castles and forts with a much larger company of warriors. These will be major events in the game, much like the conquest battles in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Assaults will likely have multiple advantages such as gaining loot and forging new alliances.
You will start outside the fort with your army, and will have to break through gates, walls and defenses to get inside. Many factors will be at play while raiding, such as keeping enemy archers in check, using explosive oil jugs and environmental traps to gain an advantage in battle and fighting multiple different types of enemies in constant close-quarters combat. The inside will be heavily defended by soldiers and a boss which, once defeated, will win you the battle.
“We focus on four major kingdoms of England during this time period: Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia,” Ashraf Ismail told Game Informer in an interview while still working on the game. Besides Norway, the entirety of the map will be split into these kingdoms and it is likely that there will be different characters and rulers you will be able to befriend. These alliances will incorporate various benefits to the game such as settlement growth, new abilities and a more powerful army to fight by your side.
Ubisoft made it clear in the first gameplay walkthrough that alliances will be a crucial aspect of progression in the game, and will depend on choices made and relationships forged throughout the game. In Odyssey, you could help either Sparta or Athens, or play both sides. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is likely to have built and improved upon that system to offer a fresh and more fleshed-out version.
Choices were first introduced into Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and have been a more prominent feature in the games since then. Valhalla follows this tradition and will, according to Ubisoft, be more impactful. In the same gameplay walkthrough mentioned above, quest director Philippe Bergeron said that “we have very difficult decisions for players to make”.
Decisions will impact relationships you have with characters and will likely send you down different questlines. They will be a way for you to forge alliances, make enemies and affect which characters you can bring with you on assaults and raids.
There is also a cat that you can bring onto your ship to watch over you and your warriors, just so you know.
6. Power Level
Like most RPGs, you will be able to level up your character and become stronger as you find new gear and abilities throughout the world. Building upon Odyssey’s loot system, you will be able to earn loot from chests, bosses and raids. Besides the Hidden Blade, there will be many weapons such as axes, spears and tomahawks. Ubisoft has even confirmed that dual-wielding will be an option and that most combinations will be possible, even two shields.
However, there will be less gear than in the predecessor, and a bigger focus on upgrading weapons rather than constantly obtaining new gear. Say goodbye to inventories stacked with items that go unused or are only a slight improvement from what you have equipped.
Odyssey and Origins featured a new combat system different from the previous games that allowed players to obtain abilities, equip them and use them in combat. Valhalla continues with this trend. However, these abilities are now mainly obtained in “Books of Knowledge” rather than through leveling up. They are typically surrounded by groups of enemies, in heavily guarded encampments. As some of the abilities can be really powerful, they didn’t make it easy.
One of the new abilities is called Dive of the Valkyries, and allows Eivor to jump in the air and come crashing down on an enemy for a devastating blow. Other abilities were also showcased in the gameplay demo such as Throwing Axe Fury, an ability where Eivor throws a series of axes and a bow ability called Thorn of Slumber which puts enemies to sleep.
8. Enemy Types
One of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s prime new features is the overhaul of enemy types. In an interview with GamingBolt, narrative director Darby McDevitt stated, “Not only does Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feature 25 different enemy archetypes, we also implemented a defence system, so players can take advantage of enemies’ weak points to open them up to brutal finishers”.
These new enemies will have different personalities, affecting how they act during combat: some will be more aggressive and others more passive. Given that Ubisoft is focusing on the integration of Vikings into English society, it’s likely that many of these new enemy types will vary depending on if they are Saxon or Dane.
9. No Passive Health Regeneration
Valhalla will not feature any passive health regeneration, whether you are in or out of combat. Health will have to be regenerated actively by gathering supplies and crafting healing items. Supplies can be gathered by fishing in your settlement, hunting and foraging. Players will need to have a healthy supply of healing items on hand to be able to heal during combat.
Passive health regeneration was used in Odyssey, but was easy to take advantage of. If you were overwhelmed in combat, you could easily hide and regenerate your health, which took away from the experience. Active health regeneration changes it up by forcing players to plan ahead, or risk getting into dangerous situations without being able to heal.
Stealth will be useful for infiltrating cities and towns where you are not necessarily welcome. Eivor will raise his/her hood and allow you to hide in groups of people, on benches and tables and of course, in haystacks. Camps and forts will also be vulnerable to stealthy infiltration, allowing you to clear entire camps quietly if you wish to do so.
11. Open-world exploration
The country of England will be open for exploration, filled with ruins, side quests and secrets to find. While you will also be able to return to Scandinavia, the brunt of the game will take place in the warmer English lands.
Exploration will be important to progression, as you will be able to find new gear, abilities and craft healing items to be used in battle. We know that Ubisoft loves their historical accuracy and storytelling.
On that note, Valhalla will include a lot of side quests and hidden activities throughout the map that will provide interesting stories and personality. In one gameplay demo, Eivor is seen meeting a character called Regan, which is a boss fight that is discovered by exploring the world.
12. Flyting/Rap Battles
Last but definitely not least, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla brings a unique and historically-accurate detail to proceedings. Flyting, which is a kind of “rap battle” vikings used to participate in, will be a cool new feature in the game.
In a gameplay demo, we get a small taste of what flyting will be like by seeing Eivor and another viking throw rhyming insults at each other to see who is the wittiest viking.
Taking place in a new part of history that hasn’t been portrayed in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Valhalla will definitely be a breath of fresh air. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla launches on November 10th for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, with the PS5 version becoming available when the console launches on November 12th/19th, depending on your region. Valhalla will also support free next-gen upgrades for those who purchase the game on PS4 and Xbox One.
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