The Assassin’s Creed franchise is known for changing things up with every release, be it with the inclusion of RPG elements, naval combat, new combat systems and more. Valhalla combines a wide variety of ideas from previous releases in order to achieve an excellent mix of great combat, interesting exploration and an engaging story all presented with gorgeous graphics.
The story is played as Eivor (your choice of Male or Female), ready to leave Norway along with your brother Sigurd and the Raven Clan in hopes of expanding into England. The narrative remains focused throughout its 60 hour run time, introducing you to new characters along the way while also not straying too far from the main plot. There will be many tough decisions to take throughout Eivor’s journey that will dictate what events may occur, and possibly lead to different endings.
As always, gameplay is focused primarily on combat, stealth and traversal, all of which are done very well in Valhalla. The combat system embraces the ability to choose your weapons and makes you pick between a few loadout options: two axes, an axe and a shield or a two-handed weapon. Each setup has its own benefits and drawbacks which makes choosing even tougher, however you are always encouraged to change things up whenever you earn new weapons. The best way to test your loadouts is by raiding monasteries for loot and resources in true Viking fashion. The stamina and parry mechanics are also great additions that help reduce button mashing and make combat require focus and timing, similar to Ubisoft’s For Honor.
The series has gradually shifted away from stealth over the years; however, it is still a viable option and definitely the most satisfyingly approach when infiltrating restricted areas. The game still pays homage to its predecessors by making stealth an option for players who prefer this playstyle by allowing Eivor to wear a hood on command and unlock stealth abilities through the skill tree. Advanced Assassination is a great example of an optional ability which helps players stealthily assassinate enemies with one attack even when they may be of a higher level.
Traversal has always been a main feature of Assassin’s Creed games and Valhalla focuses on keeping you on the ground for most of the time. Climbing is very similar to Odyssey and is still an effective method to reach the top of cliffs and rocky landscapes. However, there isn’t much verticality in terms of rooftops or trees with the exception of some town areas. It would have been nice to have more emphasis on this aspect of the game although, given the location and setting of the game, the lack of verticality is understandable.
One thing Valhalla does better than 2018’s Odyssey is implementing optional side activities called world events that are both unique and memorable. These events consist of short encounters where you help out characters in need by completing a simple task, which don’t always include killing enemies. I found some of these events hilarious and silly, in a good way, which helps give players a break from the action and embrace Eivor’s friendly side while encouraging exploration.
Valhalla’s beautiful world is certainly one of its strong suits, thanks to it’s vast open world filled with dense vegetation and varying environments. The snowy mountains are by far the most impressive landscape in the game and playing on a high-end PC or next-gen consoles take the graphics a step further thanks to their raytracing capabilities. The draw distance is simply incredible for a game of this size and makes for breathtaking screenshots via the Photo Mode.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla makes for a solid entry in the series that benefits from an engaging story, great graphics, in addition to fun combat and stealth gameplay. Fans of the series would definitely be pleased with the return of some heavily requested features such as building your own settlement and a decrease in filler side quests. Overall, Valhalla is able to blend many aspects of previous games into a great package while still remaining unique and different.
GameRev was provided with a digital download code for the purpose of this review.