Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was officially announced last week, confirming the previous rumours that we'll be playing as a Viking this time around. Details are scant at the moment, outside of the setting and basic premise, but the recent trailers have given us a lot to speculate on.
Don't get too excited about this gameplay trailer.
After taking back Victorian London in Assassin's Creed Syndicate, I felt my dreams of role-playing as a silent killer were thoroughly satisfied, leading me to let both Odyssey and Origins pass me by. With a more wintery trip to Blighty planned, as the more shouty, but suitably stabby, Vikings, the trailer has me intrigued.
There's not a lot of stealth on show, but King Alfred of Wessex (as confirmed by Ubisoft on Den of Geek) looks thoroughly miserable and that's enough to warrant an untimely spiking in my book. Plus, while the Vikings eventually conquered the entire country, their raids began in more rural, coastal towns - if I remember correctly from my year 9 history - a far cry from the bustling, close-knit rooftops of London. This could lead to some interesting assassination scenarios, and ones which build on lessons learned in the more sunshine-drenched experiences of the past two games.
Having not played PlayStation's God of War, I haven't dabbled much in Norsemen combat for some time, so it will be interesting to see how the style of fighting differs from a more traditional, strictly in the shadows approach. Presumably there will be a bit more aggression to the kills here, which could be juicy.
Finally, we did see some traditional Viking longships (cue an expert tell me they aren't actually longships), which could see the return of a sprinkling of ship combat, a feature I haven't tried out in the likes of Black Flag. With Skull and Bones seemingly endlessly delayed, this could be a good opportunity for some to scratch their sailing itch at the same time, as they make their way up the British coast, gradually planting the flag for the scandinavians.
Is more naval combat on the cards?
First of all, I’m hoping Ubisoft adopt a ‘less is more’ approach with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as Odyssey was just far too much game, and I can’t be the only one who burned out on the seemingly endless supply of side-quests and loot gathering after only a couple of dozen hours.
Secondly, it would be good to see something more than just a mindless hack-a-thon with some cinematics (albeit very good-looking ones) thrown on top, as the setting could be an interesting one story-wise.
Vikings aren’t exactly known as a history’s good guys, and while I’m sure Ubisoft will try to portray Eivor as a decent person – the trailer even hints this will be the case – raiding locals in order to upgrade our new settlements doesn’t exactly sound like the most paragon behaviour.
Hopefully there will be more subtle ways to expand our influence, such as forming alliances with some of the many kingdoms that made up England at the time, as opposed to just butchering our way to power. Proper choices and a more engrossing story would certainly keep me hooked a lot longer than Odyssey managed to do.
These chaps don't seem keen on the idea of an alliance but the resulting fracas could persuade the next lot.
I have a tumultuous history with the AC series. I love Assassin’s Creed II, Black Flag and Origins, but every other entry I’ve either skipped over or found underwhelming. I guess that’s the nature of a franchise that jumps between characters and time periods so often - some will land, while others won’t.
I’m hearing a lot - not seeing, based on the disappointing “gameplay” reveal trailer - that gives me hope Valhalla will help to even out my list of Assassin’s Creed hits and misses. The biggest positive for me is actually a point of contention for many others, that being that the upcoming Viking Age AC game isn’t going to be the series’ biggest entry yet.
Malek Teffaha of Ubisoft Middle East acknowledged that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be shorter than the other recent instalments. While some people want more bang for their buck, I’m a firm believer that less is more and have long held that Ubisoft could do with implementing that philosophy into its game design.
Not only that, but the Norse slant is of more interest than most other settings for me. Following 2018’s outstanding God of War there’s a lot to live up to, though combat is said to have been reworked in “brutal” fashion for Valhalla. I know there’s scope for ransacking forts and that’s pretty encouraging; you can’t beat a good bit of siege warfare, after all.
Hopefully this beautiful world won't be as lifeless as previous entries.
Let us know what you're expecting from Assassin's Creed Valhalla.