Our last review diary focused on the setup of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and today we’re going to take a closer look at how you’ll be spending your time in the game.
Following your quest for vengeance, Eivor and a few other members of the Raven Clan head out to England where the sons of the legendary Viking, Ragnar Lothbrok, await you.
Only Sigurd, Eivor’s brother, lied to us all and the Ragnarssons are not waiting for us.
It’s in these moments that we are introduced to England and Ubisoft has done a wonderful job of showcasing the contrast between the Anglo-Saxon way of life, and the way of life of the Vikings.
Where mountains and longhouses dominated the landscape in Norway, England’s Christian roots are showcased with towering cathedrals and holy men walking the roads.
We also switched to the male Eivor character a few hours into our exploration of the English countryside.
Upon arriving at the last known location of the Ragnarssons, Eivor discovers it has been overrun by bandits. Defeating the bandits will turn their camp into your settlement.
Much like Fordburg there is a long house where Sigurd gifts you a bedroom before tasking you with rebuilding the settlement which Eivor names Ravensthorpe.
The Settlement is an ongoing task that we return to every so often when we’ve acquired enough materials to upgrade it. These materials are acquired through raiding and looting sources of wealth around the world.
Upgrading your settlement will unlock new mission paths. We do want to mention the Viking connection to the Assassins.
Early into the game, Eivor is gifted a Hidden Blade by an Assassin travelling with Sigurd. Once you are in England the wider mission of the Assassin is revealed and if you played Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you will find some of the missions rather familiar. We won’t spoil this now but it will be in our full review next week
Each region in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has three bars begging to be completed:
Each of these can be completed by following the corresponding marker on your map though some discoveries will take a bit more exploration on your part than simply heading to a place and pressing a button.
There are also world events which trigger when you arrive in certain locations. For instance, we helped some Danes fight off bandits and we were gifted some silver and an axe for our efforts. The world events are rather quick but they help build the world out just a little bit more while diving into a bit of exposition about the world.
Orlog, flyting and drinking
What would an RPG be without some mini-games to distract you from your final goal?
Valhalla has several mini-games for you to play and each is, well, damn fun if we’re honest.
Orlog is a dice game in which you try to decrease your opponent’s health total as quickly as possible. Think Gwent from The Witcher 3 but a lot more basic and without the card collection element.
Then there is flyting which is our favourite mini-game of the lot.
Here, you and an opponent will take turns in a contest of rhymes. It seems simple but sometimes the game can catch you off guard and you will lose.
Then, getting drunk is an actual mini-game. Here you will need to hammer buttons while maintaining balance and finish your drinks before your opponent does. Eivor gets incredibly drunk in these phases and your screen will blur to show that you are indeed drunk. Thankfully none of your skills are impaired while you are drunk.
While these are a fun pass-time between missions, we have encountered NPCs out in the world that are hiding things behind some of these games so be sure to stop off and play some Orlog or Flyt when you spot an icon on your mini-map.
One of Valhalla’s main messages to the player is that your choices have consequences and this becomes apparent from very early on in the game.
We won’t spoil anything here but if you make enough wrong choices in the game, Sigurd will abandon you and return to Norway.
Is this going to ruin your game? Yes.
While we haven’t finished Valhalla yet, our experience in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has taught us a lesson in that game making bad choices could end the game far earlier than intended and we learned that by ending the game far earlier than intended.
Valhalla is going to demand all of your attention and that’s fine because the story being told here is wonderful.
The Ragnarssons are looking to take control of England and you will meet Ubba and Ivar who are looking to take control of Mercia when you arrive. The brothers have a king in mind and you quickly establish an alliance with the Ragnarssons and Ceolwulf, the would be king.
And this is where we encountered our first foray into a fortress assault.
Here we took up a position on a battering ram and pushed down the main gate of a fortress. You will need to time your bashes and defend yourself from archers as you attempt to break the fortress’ defenses.
It is a lot of fun, more so than raiding and it’s the best take on the tried and tested “take over enemy encampment” missions from Ubisoft titles.
What Valhalla does incredibly well is incorporate all the extraneous things that one might do in an Assassin’s Creed game into things you want to do. Hell, even diving off of viewpoints becomes fun a few hours into the game.
Things like finding ancient Roman artifacts becomes interesting because getting into many areas is a puzzle in and of itself. The rewards can be great as well ranging from weapons to armour and even new skills.
The last thing we have to mention is that as England is host to many nooks and crannies where secrets are hiding and there sure are a lot of secrets.
There is a lot of game under the hood of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla but it is not without its problems.
With that in mind, our final review diary will touch on some of our gripes and issues with Valhalla so be sure to check back on Friday for that.