AS my final review of the Norsevember event I’m taking a look at Assassin’s Creed Valhalla; the newest instalment in the franchise. It’s available on PS5 but I don’t have one yet so I bought the PS4 version. It’s also on XBox and PC. Here’s a peek at the official trailer:
You play Eivor, a Norse person who sees their family slaughtered. They are taken in by the local king and raised, but retains hatred of Kjotve, who killed their family. I say their because you have a choice of playing a female or male Eivor, or the default option to let the game choose which signal is “stronger”. I selected the last option and I’ve been playing the female Eivor for about 30 hours, so I have no idea what that means yet.
I’ll start with how it plays as an AC game. The same tools are there, such as assassinations (obviously), sneaking, the bird giving you the overview they’ve used in the last few main games, an overarching story-line and a whole bunch of collectables. It’s easy to spend hours wandering around picking up these collectables, and I have. There are “mysteries” which can be mini missions or puzzles, artefacts and wealth. The old Templar/Assassin rivalry is still there but they’re called the Order of the Ancients and the Hidden Ones respectively. As with the last game or two, there’s a network of Order members to gain information on and assassinate to break their hold on the region. Only the first few hours are in Norway, following which Sigurd and Eivor leave to try their hand and viking in England.
Fans of the series may or may not be happy to see the return of Shaun and Rebecca, not seen since (as far as I remember) Black Flag in the contemporary sections. They look considerably different, however and to be honest it was their voices I recognised, not their look.
Aside from the obvious fact that you’re playing a Norse warrior there are a lot of Norse elements, naturally. Eivor sees visions of Odin and there are sections where you’re in Asgard playing Odin himself (although he’s given the name Havi). So far I’ve only played this a little bit, and starting the myth about the Builder that offers to build a wall in exchange for Freyja’s hand in marriage. I assume you’ll be playing up to Ragnarok.
The bird was an eagle in the last couple of games but it’s a raven in this one, which makes sense as Odin had two so that bird is more in keeping with a Norse game. Eagle sight, when you see the surroundings in more detail, is now called Odin’s sight. Of course there are also raids and sailing a longboat around. Flyting, essentially swapping insults, also makes an appearance and Eivor is hailed as a poet as well as a warrior, which is also in keeping with Odin’s myths who was the god of warriors and poetry.
The one thing that makes this game completely different to me is the setup is a little different. In most of these games you play a kind of underdog, a person on their own trying overthrow the Templars. They have moved in and are controlling an area, and are really the bad guys, no question. In this one the Templars are still the bad guys but you also are, in your own way. You’re raiding monasteries to steal the treasures (there’s even a comment early on that they know that’s where the best stuff is held) and taking over situations that arguably aren’t really your concern, for example changing the king of a local area. You steal from churches in other games as well, but the ones set in Italy where you’re fighting the Borgias so they have control of the religious buildings. You still only kill soldiers and you are helpful to the locals so you’re not an out and out bad character, but it’s still a little more of a grey area than in other games. That isn’t a complaint, just an observation.
This game does just as well at integrating the chosen time period in to the AC style as the other games, plus they have the added elements of Norse lifestyle. I don’t think these elements will be enough to bring someone who has never played a game in the franchise before, and they may be a little confused about the contemporary bits if they did, but for fans of the games they’re a good continuation.
As a slight aside, one of the youtube channels this game sponsored was Jazza, who tried carving Eivor from a hunk of wood. He does pretty well.