Ubisoft has been knocking it out of the park recently with the Assassin’s Creed series. With both Origins and Odyssey laying a solid foundation to build upon, Ubisoft Forward finally gave us more of a glimpse of what is to come for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Rather than just watch Eivor in action, we also got a chance to go hands-on with the Viking conqueror in a special preview.
It feels immediately familiar, especially if you have spent as much time as us in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The new wave of games that started with Origins continues their evolution into proper action-RPGs, rather than the stealth-focused titles of old. A large world awaits exploration, with plenty of interesting places, people, and adventures to have, standard fare for the franchise by now.
However, the world is also populated with what is being called world events. These are shorter than your typical sidequests, but retain the same sense of fun that you would expect. You can be helping a kid find a lost cat, playing hide and seek amongst the crops, or find yourself in a battle to the death with a cultist who can draw on flames and shadow copies of herself.
The breadth of activities seemingly run the gamut, and does plenty to help make the world in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feel more alive and fun, as the series pivots towards more character building as Eivor. Needless to say, if you have been enjoying the later entries, you will be in for a good time in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
When you jump into the main story quests, it is clear that Ubisoft wants you to have some agency when it comes to making decisions. Do you cry for revenge or preach a message of defiance and survival? Does a captured enemy leader deserve death or mercy? What ramifications those decisions would bring remain to be seen, but it is exciting to think of the possibilities.
All of these is driven by more stellar voice-acting performances, especially for the female Eivor. It lends a sense of purpose and magnitude to the proceedings, considering that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will likely be a tale of more than two sides. There is plenty of room to manoeuvre when it comes to politics at play.
Raiding settlements with your men was one of the more enjoyable sections of the preview. Focusing purely on combat and destruction, it is clear that the content is made for you to fully embrace the Viking way. Judging from the dead bodies, raids will be something we will engage in quite often when the game launches.
Unfortunately, one of the more prominent features was missing from the preview. While the Vikings fought hard to liberate resources and treasures, the base-building aspect of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is still a secret for now. Being able to become a badass is awesome, but doing so with your fellow Vikings in tow? That is just perfect, and we have to wait and see how that will turn out.
When it comes to combat, things have changed. Stamina is now a key part of combat, preventing Eivor from going berserk all the time. It is a departure from what fans would be used to, and it can feel rather strange in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Our preference is to be able to go all out, but a more nuanced combat system might just make the game even better, the jury’s still out on this change.
Stealth, though, seems to have taken a backseat, which can be strange for a game in the Assassin’s Creed series. The combat itself definitely feels like a focus for the developers, while stealth gets relegated to the side as a useful tool, rather than an essential part of the experience. Your gear and abilities also play huge parts in how you will approach situations, so there is definitely depth to be explored.
With a few months to go before release, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has us undecided. It is more of the same that made Odyssey such a great experience, but will that be enough for a new entry? The animations can sometimes be repetitive, and the world does look good, just not amazing enough to warrant a comparison, there is plenty to be polished for what we expect in this storied franchise.
17 November is still far enough, here’s hoping that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla does enough to measure up to its predecessors and have enough in its arsenal to stand out on its own.