Title: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Action Role-Playing
Available On: PC, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Stadia
Official Site: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Release Date: November 10th, 2020
Version Tested: Xbox One X
The longships have been assembled, and the warriors have mustered their wit and will to set sail across the ocean for a better life and opportunity. But as these fighters commence raids and acquisitions through violence and political affairs, the tides of war continue to rise, with the Vikings aiming to conquer their newly discovered land. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we follow the bloody footsteps of a Viking clan and their extensive raiding efforts to settle into a new home.
To England! To Valhalla!
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes place way, way back in the savage era of the Vikings. In AD 873, during the Middle Ages, Norsemen sailed out to various parts of Europe due to conflicts back home in Norway. The great raiding age of the longships brings us to the conquest efforts of Eivor and his clan. To claim colonization, Eivor, his brother Sigurd, and the increasing pack of Vikings must forge alliances with the neighboring kingdoms while simultaneously becoming entangled in the ageless conflict between the Assassins and the Templars.
Regarding Valhalla‘s two focused narratives, it’s easy to say that Eivor’s journey was incredibly more intriguing than Layla Hassan‘s present-day arc. While I was interested in her involvement with the world’s apparent doom, I was consumed with attention toward the Viking journey. Some of the side characters are rather bland, but the main faces you will interact with will be much more memorable in the main narrative. Throughout many points in the Viking tale, Eivor is met with thought-provoking inquisitions that lead him to outspoken revelations that often mirror his Norse beliefs of honor and fighting till he reaches the majestic nature of Valhalla. Many of his dialogue statements really affected me when it came to action and reflection.
Another great factor to the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Review is storytelling in Eivor’s choices in multiple dialogue options throughout the game. With every other choice that Eivor must make, a consequence occurs in the world around him. With the game’s humorous flyting mini-game, you can increase your Charisma to be given unique dialogue alternatives to gain the upper hand with NPCs. In reality, you can really make Eivor your own through these choices. And it goes beyond the cosmetic modifications you can apply to your Viking, such as different tattoos and hairstyles to make him stand out.
One of Valhalla’s main goals is to continuously upgrade your settlement upon landing in the middle of England. With it, you have access to almost all of the important activities in the game. Shops will be set up, the longship can be pimped out, a feast can be commenced, and you can assemble other players’ Jomsviking to join your clan. The last part is especially awesome. By developing your Jomsviking, you can have that NPC mercenary join other players’ campaigns to participate in raids and the action beyond. And you get a little bonus out of it. It’s a splendiferous aspect in the Valhalla review that I sincerely appreciate, and there’s no negative factor to it whatsoever. It’s simply fun to do and one of the main reasons I continue to play Valhalla.
Ferocious Viking Fighting
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla continues the expansive franchise’s tradition of historic exploration with hints of lore involvement and establishment. Recently, the series has drifted toward a more RPG approach for gameplay than its stealth-based origins. But with the re-establishment of social stealth that was popular in the earlier games, it feels like in my Valhalla review it is an essential addition to the series. Although I didn’t use the social aspects as much, it was welcoming to have a promising route to indulge instead of getting into immediate raid mode and killing all foes before me.
Much of Valhalla’s combat is similar to previous entries in Assassin’s Creed, but within this dark time period, the action is increasingly grittier and brutal. The Vikings hold nothing back when crashing their longship onto the shore and wielding axes and shields. Body parts fly off, and the bodies pile up as you slay and loot your foes. Dual-wielding makes a big appearance, with the options being endless in spears, axes, shields, flails, and finishing moves that go beautifully well with captures from the game’s Photo Mode.
And with the innovative skill system that allows you to reset skills to apply new ones, there’s no telling what power your Viking can withhold on the battlefield. Some skills are passive, while others can be applied to special abilities. I know some may not favor this direction with the skill system, but it’s amazingly creative regarding how you want to shape Eivor to be. Valhalla provides sufficient creative freedom in an otherwise complex franchise to make this installment stand out on its own.
Strike Up a Tune!
In the previous Assassin’s Creed title Odyssey, players were given the choice to play as either Alexios or Kassandra. The same case applies here for Valhalla, focusing on more anomaly in the Animus that allows Layla to switch genders while plugged into the system. Kassandra was the voice that stood out to me in Odyssey – as with many fans and critics alike. And with Valhalla, I found that the male voice actor for Eivor was more outstanding to follow along with. Eivor in the game reflects on the world with a poetic silver tongue, and the voice actor nails it perfectly with excellent flair and compassion. He’s also the reason why I’ve been referring to Eivor as “him/his” during this review instead of “they/their” since I played as him throughout the game. Magnus Bruun voices male Eivor, and Cecilie Stenspil voices female Eivor.
However, the music doesn’t make any essential melodies that make me want to revisit the score. It was enjoyable for the most part – it’s quite fitting for the time period and the Viking’s crusade to England. But in the end, I didn’t favor it too much. You’ll get a good kick out of the Viking tunes they sing as they sail on the waters, and the voice acting is an overall great effort that really gets you invested in the story and its characters.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: 873 AD’s Beauty and Majesty
On the Xbox, Valhalla is as gorgeous as one might assume it to be, given that it is another Assassin’s Creed title set in a different time period. The harsh winters, roaring rivers, and the blinding sun are all marvelous sights to take in, even if you’re mounting about with your horse or scouting out a monastery. With almost no breaks in the general framerate, Valhalla has plenty of occasions for players to take a second and breathe in the England air. I personally utilized the Photo Mode to capture some gorgeous shots (as well as some gore-filled ones in combat). There’s a lot to explore and discover in the world of Valhalla, and the game’s big map merely urges the player to go beyond the quest objectives and have a little fun.
In all honesty, exploring England was the highlight for me in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review. I loved the combat and Eivor’s everlasting journey to claim new land, but going around England for the sights and mysteries makes me want to sign in again and again until all four kingdoms have reached finality.
On the downside, Valhalla does have its share of bugs and glitches. Most of the bugs I ran into were more comical than annoying, but it did crash on me once out of nowhere while I was on my longship. The autosave “saved” me, though, so it wasn’t a complete defeat. But you would figure that after more than 20 titles in the series that big bugs would have been nearly extinct. It’s not a huge issue: it just breaks the immersion.
Verdict: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is an absolute winner in exploration and storytelling. Eivor and his clan of Vikings are a lot of fun to follow along with, and the on-going treasure hunts for Norse goods and discoveries make this title worth coming back to for extensive gameplay. As you constantly upgrade your Viking to a top-tier savage peak, you’ll be searching for the furthest Roman artifact while ridding the rest of the Order of the Ancients. Even though some of the bugs can get in the way of the engaging action, it’s still a fantastic voyage into the red-soaked rivers of the Vikings and their ravening raids during the Middle Ages.
So, there you have it. What did you think about our Valhalla Review? Let us know in the comments below!
- Brutal combat mixed with a creative skill system
- World of Valhalla is huge and has plenty to see and discover
- Eivor's quest offers extraordinary insight
- Photo Mode is addicting to use
- Several bugs and glitches