Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a game which was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and was published by Ubisoft. The game is an action/adventure/role playing game, where the player gets to experience the world of the Vikings. As the player you will get to play as Eivor, a Viking, whose tale revolves around the Assassin brotherhood and the Templar Order inside the old English Kingdoms during the Viking age. As Eivor you will also get to explore both the Norse Kingdoms and the English Kingdoms of the time,
Depending on how you would like to play, you can choose to experience the game as either the male or female version of Eivor, or a combination of the two. I chose to play the game as the female version of Eivor, but whatever you select at the start can be changed at any time in the game and it has no effect on the storyline as far as I could see. Both the male and the female versions of Eivor have great voice actors behind the scenes playing them. Both Magnus Bruun (male Eivor) and Cecilie Stenspil (female Eivor) do a phenomenal job with the characters. As a dialogue heavy game, with Eivor talking a lot throughout it, it was nice to have voice actors who were great to listen to. Some other notable mentions in the game I would say should also go to Carlo Rota (Basim), Gaia Weiss (Fulke), Gudmundur Thorvaldsson (Sigurd) and Kajsa Mohammar (Randvi / Soma).
One of the things you need to think about before deciding to get Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is how much time you have to devote to it. As a game, it starts slow and hours go by early on before things really start to get good. If you’ve only got say 10 hours to devote to this game, you’ll never really get to experience the full scope and depth of what it has to offer. Having spent a few months playing this game on and off, I now have 82 hours in Valhalla and I’ve finally finished the game and the majority of all quests. There were some moments when I passed about 20 hours of playtime where I thought maybe I’d had enough with it, but the missions you complete in the game do vary and they managed to maintain my interest in the world a little longer each time.
Looking back on the entire experience that was Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, I’d say I really enjoyed everything this game had to offer me, it was challenging at times and I learnt a lot about the historical period and also Norse mythology. As a person that’s very interested in ancient history and particularly the time period that this game is set in, I found the experience fascinating. I learnt a lot about the world at the time, how the Kingdoms of England were structured, I got to see how people lived by exploring their homes. I also got exposure to the religious customs of the time and I loved exploring all of the Christian churches in the game. There’s a lot of content in the game and a lot for a player with an interest in these things to take in. There’s little Easter eggs and tiny moments spread throughout for the truly curious and I loved all those moments.
How was the storyline?
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s storyline is structured like a series of chapters. As Eivor, you will reach a point in the game where you will be looking to seek out and gain alliances all over England. As a player you will be presented with a map and you can choose where on the map you would like to go to next. Once you do choose a region, it will trigger a mission and new chapter will begin. Some chapters will be longer than others, but I found them to be long enough that neither of them was stretched out longer than it needed to be.
Inside each of the chapters of the game, you will either work with an English King or a Norse ruler of the region. Without spoiling it, each of the regions rulers has their own issues that need resolving. Some of them will have Eivor helping to appoint a new ruler, helping to raise an army, storming a stronghold with an army or finding a murderer. These chapters in the game will take up the majority of your missions, strangely Valhalla actually has a low amount of side quests or secondary objectives, instead it has something called ‘world events’ which are random mini stories that Eivor will encounter many times in different regions.
When doing some reasearch online about the lack of large optional side quests in the game, I came across an article on Gamespot which mentioned that this was actually intentional as part of the game’s design. Here’s what narrative director Darby McDevitt said to Gamespot “‘world events’ are included in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but the traditional side quest is “almost nonexistent.” There are longer story arcs to complete as part of the main questline, but extra activities you complete will happen more spontaneously and won’t necessarily be quests you have to seek out. This approach was chosen to fit the narrative, as the protagonist Eivor arrives in England as an invader rather than a native. Having quest-givers left and right would not make sense, as you’re still actively trying to make alliances.”.
When playing through the game, I thought that actually the design of the narrative was well done, especially when you got a particularly good story arc in the main questline. Some of the regions on the map take 1-3 hours to complete and come with a long fleshed out stories. I felt like I was playing through a mini movie each time and I was able to really get to know each individual region. When the ‘world events’ came up, they would be things like a person needing help to find something or something else that would take a minute or two to solve and it seemed more realistic to me that Eivor would be stopped from what he/she was doing to help a random person out than to be assigned a whole side quest where Eivor would stop what they were doing to go and do instead, for a long period of time. In this sense, I liked what was here for the storytelling, things felt spontaneous with the ‘world events’ and I liked that, it made the world feel more realistic and random rather than planned out for you as the player to just do objective after objective.
Apart from the almost real historical setting where Eivor is exploring England and making alliances, as a player you will also get to visit the world of Valhalla. This doesn’t occur until mid game, after many hours, but it’s awesome! Through a series of dream sequences, you will explore Valhalla and walk amongst the Gods as Odin. You will complete quests and learn an incredible amount of things during your time. I personally have a great interest in Norse mythology and I didn’t’ expect something like this to be in the game, but I loved every single moment of it. It was epic and the story that was told revolving around Odin, Loki, Thor and Ragnarok was incredible to play through.
How was the gameplay in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla?
From a gameplay perspective, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will give fans of this franchise something familiar. You play the game in third person and utilise a series of stealth and melee tactics to overpower enemies. As a game, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla leans towards more brute force melee tactics more than many recent games in this franchise do and I found that there really weren’t too many stealth and assassin missions at all. It was always better most of the time to just go in straight through the front door and fight my enemies with my axe swinging as hard as I could swing it, as this it the way the Gods intended it.
One of the more frustrating parts of the gameplay experience though was the levelling up system. Throughout the game, Eivor will earn skill points that can be used to unlock different abilities and increase Eivor’s skill level. As a player, you may come across regions early on that will have higher level enemies, say level 150 enemies and you will be only 80 or so. If you go in there, you will die almost instantly after being hit. Once you level up to 150 though and go in there, enemies won’t be difficult at all. There’s not much variation in the fighting styles of the enemies, a level 40 enemy is really not much different to a 150 enemy. You will block and dodge their attacks all the same. The only difference I could see is that the damage they deal is far higher at 150 than at 40, which is kind of annoying at times.
In the game, when travelling there is a mixture of running, walking, horse riding. and occasional swimming. You will also be able to travel by boat in the water sections of the map. As you progress through the game, you’ll also be able to fast travel to certain points. The map in the game is huge and early on I loved exploring it all, it’s a beautiful world with lots to see. However once you get a fair way in, fast travel is a must, otherwise you’ll be there for 300+ hours.
Throughout the game, Eivor will find different weapons that they can use in the various battles. There’s a variety of axes, a chain, shields and bows and arrows for you to discover. Each weapon has different stats regarding their weight, speed and damage. You can create variations with these weapons and even duel wield them after a certain amount of time. The way Eivor wields weapons, blocks attacks and fights in the game is fairly realistic and also very fun. There’s a series of great finisher moves that are quite brutal to watch and they’re sometimes a little gruesome. I loved it 🙂
One extra activity that you will do aside from the main quest objectives is raiding. Travelling to certain locations either on foot or by boat, will let Eivor sound the horn, to call in their friends to raid the location. At these locations which are usually small villages or monasteries, you will be able to rob them of their gold and slaughter any Christian present. It’s very fun! Some sections of the game are more difficult that others and there is some challenge to be had with the raids. The materials that you find in these raids can then be used to upgrade your settlement back home and purchase upgrades for Eivor.
How about the sound and the music?
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has an excellent in game soundtrack. The music fits in well with the time period and was very well done, there’s a mixture of quiet calming songs which are heard when you explore the world. There’s also a large amount of intense tracks for the action sequences and battles. The soundtrack can be found on Spotify just below, it’s actually relaxing to listen to. Listen to Jarls, Karls and Thralls, that’s my favourite track there 🙂
As for the sounds in the game, they were all awesome. It was great to have the speakers turned up and listening to the sound of an axe swing in the air, or iron bashing against iron. The sounds of the animals and the trees blowing was also very well done. These things all helped to add extra realism to the world.
How about the graphics?
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was the first game that I played last year that was part of the launch of the next generation consoles. I didn’t play the game on a console, but I did play it on PC on the ultra high settings. When I first played the game, I was blown away by how great all the textures looked. My favourite thing in this game was the look at the wood. All of the tables, the walls and even the ships looked great!
Whilst not every texture in the game is perfect, many are and for me, not having played an Assassin’s Creed game recently (I haven’t played Origins or Odyssey), I was blown away with how good things looked a lot of the time. Both of the Eivor character models look exceptionally good, the lighting and shadows are excellent as well. Character designs on random NPC’s are different enough to not be too repetitive, but at times still are. Sometimes you can go from one region to another and find similar looking enemies and after 82+ hours in this game, as a player, you will know all the varieties. Whilst graphically the enemies look great, it would be nice to have more variety.
Overall, I loved the game. I wouldn’t have spent 82 hours with this game if I didn’t enjoy it and I loved mostly all that was there. Whilst I do think it would have been nice to have a greater variety of enemies and the levelling up system was a drag, the rest of the core of the game was excellent. I learnt so much about the time period I didn’t know, I experienced a time where old English Kingdoms were living in the shadow of a long departed Roman rule and under threat from Norse invaders. I got to go on an adventure with Odin, Thor and Loki. I raided many villages and monasteries. I fought enemies as hard as I could and went in each battle through the front door, axe in hand, just as the Gods intended. This game captures the spirit of what the Vikings were and the time period very well. I’m very happy to recommend it as a game you should add to your collection.
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Assassin's Creed Valhalla
I fought enemies as hard as I could and went in each battle through the front door, axe in hand, just as the Gods intended. This game captures the spirit of what the Vikings were and the time period very well. I'm very happy to recommend it as a game you should add to your collection.
- Lots to learn with this historical setting
- Beautiful graphics
- Great soundtrack
- Interesting storyline
- Repetitive enemies
- Levelling up system is a drag
Sound and music