If you have been following Gamereactor’s relationship with the Assassin’s Creed saga, you know that we loved Origins, a game that marked a much needed change of direction in the series. Various elements of the gameplay have been improved, the game has moved closer to the action RPG genre, and the story has returned to an era when the Assassin’s Creed experience simply works best. Then came Odyssey, a game that, although massive and epic, took some steps back from Origins, becoming less focused and more repetitive. This led us to consider whether Ubisoft was again repeating the mistakes of the past, leaving Assassin’s Creed to lose its charm with an excess of repetitive content, and few original ideas.
So what kind of game are we going to have with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla?
Well, it is obvious that, as with Odyssey, the base that supports Valhalla is that of Origins. It remains an action RPG (even more so than Odyssey), with a huge map and a lot of content for the player to explore, but if Odyssey was too close to Origins in terms of theme and era, Valhalla already has a different tone and some ideas new. This is also due to the fact that Valhalla was produced by the same team that created Origins (Ubisoft Montreal), while Odyssey was in charge of Ubisoft Quebec.
Valhalla’s focus is, of course, on the Vikings, and here he will control Eivor, who can be a female or male character. The game will kick off in Norway, but the bulk of the adventure will take place in 9th century England, with Vikings committed to securing land in England so they can farm, live, and establish trade. Most English kingdoms, however, are not particularly happy with this situation, and it is curious that, this time, Assassin’s Creed puts us on the side of the invaders and not the invaded. The Vikings, however, were not exactly a people known for their diplomatic skills, and from what we saw during the six hours we spent with Valhalla, part of Eivor’s mission will be to maintain the thirst for the blood and glories of some of his fellow Vikings. asleep as possible – which will not always be possible.
History seems to follow very different arcs, even more than in the past, and one of the first arcs will pass through gaining strength in English territory. This will go through the expansion of the Viking settlement, which can be improved with the resources it gains from invasions of forts and castles. You can make decisions in terms of the structure to be built, which will give soldiers different benefits, which can be customized. You can even organize feasts to boost the group’s morale. It doesn’t seem like a very deep system, and it couldn’t be, because that’s not the focus of Assassin’s Creed, but it can be a funny and beneficial distraction.
Outside the camp, one of our first objectives was to dethrone the King of Mercia, in order to put a ‘stick-warrant’ there to do business and agreements in our favor. Before we did that, however, we had to go a long way to Ledecestrescire, and this left us with the impression that the game map will be massive, divided into several kingdoms for the player to explore.
It is a world with a very different style of Origins and Odyssey, more gray and brown, as one would expect from a transition from Egypt and Greece to England. But if the world has lost color and extravagance, it seems to have gained complexity and architecture. All the places we visited were highly detailed, built with purpose, but by way of comparison, the world of Watch Dogs: Legion (which we also saw recently) impressed us much more technically.
Anyway, along the way we found enemy camps, rune-based puzzles, the usual high points for observing the map, and several side missions, with some being particularly bizarre. Odyssey was widely criticized for presenting a map full of question marks that guided the player, and here, it is also true that the player will essentially navigate between ‘islands’ of content, but it is clear that Ubisoft heard the complaints, and the pace game and exploration is much more positive than in Odyssey.
From what we’ve seen, Valhalla also seems to take himself more seriously than Odyssey, which we appreciate. This does not mean that there is no humor in the game, because it does, but the dialogues, actions, and consequences are heavier. The interactions with other characters themselves, and even the behavior of the citizens of this world, show that Valhalla really has a story to tell.
Returning to our trip, we eventually ended up in Ledecestrescire. What followed was a true Viking invasion of peaceful monasteries and villages, in gameplay segments as epic as orchestrated. This gave us many opportunities to test the combat system, which is based on Origins and Odyssey, although it seems more varied and more down-to-earth, and with a long list of skills and weapons to unlock. It works quite well, but if you expected a revolution compared to the previous two games, you will be disappointed.
One last word for graphic quality. We had access to the PC version, which was played via a stream, and even then, it wasn’t running at the highest settings. Despite these constraints, it is obvious that Assassin’s Creed has impressive graphics. It is nothing that screams “new generation” (also because it also comes out in this one), but it presents a very faithful recreation of 9th century England and Viking culture.
We can say that we were satisfied with this demo of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, even a little impressed, and if you want more Assassin’s Creed in your life, this will give you exactly that. Will you be able to go further than that? We don’t think so, because of what we played, but in any case we are excited to return to the world of Vikings in November.