Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Hands-on Impressions

The Assassin’s Creed series has transported fans to historical events including the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Peloponnesian War, the Golden Age of Piracy, the Third Crusade, the Italian Renaissance and more. The next game, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, will take players to the Early Middle Ages when the Vikings invaded the British Isles. It’s headed to PC, Stadia and consoles on November 17, 2020.

We’ve had the chance to play 4 hours of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and we’ve got a taste of the map, missions, legendary creatures, dangerous foes, puzzle side missions, and more. The demo was done through the cloud using an “Animus device” in 1080p 60fps. Sadly, the specifics on the hardware wasn’t revealed to us.

The demo starts off with the option of selecting Female Eivor or Male Eivor, and our gameplay will be in the male version’s perspective. There wasn’t an option of quickly switching back and forth for the build.

The Story

The demo starts us off in 873 CE England. Oswald, the future King of East Anglia, has a vision of unifying the Saxons and Danes and bringing peace to the kingdom. This aligns with Eivor and his Raven Clan, but Rued and his rival Dane clan threaten to put a stop to that.

Map

The map is different from previous games, mimicking the look of a historical map. It showed different areas including Essexe, Oxenefordscire, Grantebridgescire, Lunden, Suthsexe, Cent, Wincestre, Hamtunscire, Glowecestrescire, Sciropescire, Ledecestrescire, Lincolnscire, Snotinghamscire, Eurviscire, and Jorvik. The lands are Northumbria, East Mercia, East Anglia, West Mercia, and Wessex.

Fast travel is back, and you can unlock them by climbing up tall buildings and high areas and synchronizing with them. This also gives you a lovely shot of the world around you.

The world of Assassin’s Creed Origins is beautiful as you get to view historical pyramids, statues, and the city of Alexandria. Odyssey had Greek temples, statues, and art. Although we didn’t get to explore the whole map, we hope that there’s more to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla since most of our demo had us experiencing forests and small villages. There was a castle siege mission, but it’s not as breathtaking as seeing the iconic pyramids or a giant Zeus statue.

Gameplay

The one thing that we wanted to experience was the settlement mechanics, but that wasn’t available in our demo. For the most part, we did missions, side missions, exploration, legendary creatures, and other mysterious encounters.

If you have played Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, then you’ll feel right at home with the gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The control mechanics, for the most part, are similar. There are some changes including the assassination button now located on the right bumper/R1. There’s a radial wheel button that allows you to call your horse, put on your cloak, call for raid backup, meditate, fish, light a torch, and request music on a ship.

Combat

Instead of the more realistic fights in the early Assassin’s Creed games, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes the same RPG approach as Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey. Of course, there are parry maneuvers that will allow you to finish off an enemy quickly. Most of the battles will be a series of dishing out combos, parrying, dodging, countering, and special abilities.

As a Viking, you’ll be able to dual wield weapons. Just select any single-handed weapon and pair it with another. You can have two axes, an axe and a shield, and other combinations.

Stealth

Stealth assassinations are back, and it’s as easy as pressing the right bumper or R1 button. If you encounter a tougher enemy, you’ll have a chance to deal more damage by timing your button press to the indicator on display.

The core stealth mechanics are similar to Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey where you can crouch under the tall grass to remain hidden. Whistling will lure enemies closer to you, and you can use your Odin vision to see enemies through walls. In our playthrough, it seems that we weren’t able to tag enemies using our raven. That may have been removed to create a more challenging experience.

Skills and Abilities

You can earn skill points and abilities through various activities. You can gain skill points from missions and puzzles, and this can be spent on different skills. Abilities can be discovered in hidden areas. For example, we found the Dive of the Valkyries inside a building, and it allows Eivor to launch himself/herself into the air and crash down onto their enemies. Abilities are assigned to a specified button, and they are separated into Ranged Abilities and Melee Abilities.

Parkour

Assassin’s Creed Unity has received a lot of flak for its bugs, but it’s still our favorite in terms of parkour mechanics. There are a lot of different animations for climbing, running and traversing, and it makes you feel really cool as you escape your pursuers. In our demo, the parkour in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feels similar to the last two games. They get the job done, but it doesn’t really wow us as Eivor moves across England.

Other Challenges

The map is filled with all sorts of creatures and puzzles. There are legendary animals, and we encountered a Black Shuck in our playthrough. It’s a tough and ferocious animal, and it’s made tougher with a longer life bar.

There are mysterious enemies in secret areas, and we encountered one named Regan, a supernatural enemy who uses magic to defeat her enemies.

There are also random puzzles located throughout the map that will help level up your character. One puzzle had us activating our Odin vision to see hidden signs. We had to move Eivor around to align a fragmented symbol together. Another puzzle had the character reliving their childhood by stacking stones. Yes, there’s a puzzle where you have to stack rocks.

The Battle

Rued and his clan have overtaken a castle, and it’s up to you to take him down. You’ll need to reach him via a ship, and the mission becomes an epic battle consisting of killing enemies and ramming and breaking the gates. This mission allowed us to take advantage of our fighting skills, combos, dodge, parry, and counters in the middle of a castle siege. There are plenty of plants around the area to help with your health.

Choices

Eivor will be given the option of choices during certain cutscenes. We did see some of the repercussions of our choices by letting a certain character live, and it does feel like it can bite us in the ass later down the road.

Romance

Romance options were introduced in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and it will be returning in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. In our playthrough, we were given the option of romancing a male character as male Eivor. We’re pretty sure there will be more opportunities and more choices in the full game.

Mini-Games

After the main battle, Eivor gets to partake in different mini-game activities during an event. These include drunk archery, drinking, and helping out a drunk friend.

Final Reaction

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla does have some new features, but as a whole, the gameplay is similar to Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The main thing to look forward to is a new setting and story set around the Vikings invasion of England.

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John Nguyen
John Nguyen 10446 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.