There’s been plenty of excitement surrounding Assassin’s Creed Valhalla since its announcement a couple of months ago, but for the first time, we now have substantial details and gameplay footage to go along with that hype. Through a recent showing at Ubisoft Forward, another meaty gameplay demonstration promptly afterward, and several recent hands-ons and previews across many outlets, Ubisoft have now shown off and detailed a ton of new things from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Here in this feature, we’ll be taking a look at some of the biggest and most interesting ones that we’ve come across.
Given that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is looking to recreate the ultimate Viking fantasy, it makes sense that raiding villages is a major mechanic in the game. Valhalla will allow you to set out on your longboat with a crew of fellow Viking raiders, with whom you can attack and raid various different towns, settlements, and villages. From setting their buildings on fire to killing soldiers to looting resources and plunder, raiding will be an activity that will encompass quite a bit. Additionally, unlike, say, the naval battles of Odyssey, during raids in Valhalla, your crew will always be by your side and fight and pillage alongside you.
Raids will, as you can imagine, be fairly small-scale, but if you’re looking for something much bigger and more bombastic – along the lines of Odyssey’s Conquest battles – Valhalla will have you covered there as well. At certain points in the game, players, will take part in assaults, which will see you taking on heavily fortified castles or forts. Across multiple phases, you will breach the enemies’ walls, break down their gates and defences, kill enemies standing in your path, and then finally fight a boss encounter at the end.
Ubisoft had already made it around the time the game was announced that establishing and building up your own settlement would play a key role in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The settlement is supposed to be central to the larger gameplay loop, and it’s something that players will keep returning to and constantly improving throughout the course of the game. For instance, when you head out on raids, any resources or loot you get from your incursions will allow you to improve or build up your settlement further in order to access more facilities.
Something else that you can find in your settlement is the Alliance Map. Though there will be plenty of raiding and pillaging in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, seeing as Eivor’s aim is ultimately to help his people settle down in the new land they’ve come to and turn it into their home, you will also be forging alliances with other rulers or characters you come across throughout the game. That, of course, is something that will hinge on the choices you make, while Ubisoft have also previously confirmed that these alliances will also have an impact on the growth of Eivor’s settlement.
Speaking of choices, it seems the choice and consequence mechanics of Odyssey are something that Valhalla is looking to take to the next level. Various recent previews of the game (such as IGN’s hands-on impressions) have described an assault mission that ends with you getting to decide whether or not to kill an enemy, who – if you let him live – returns later on to cause more trouble for Eivor. Of course, that is just one mission in what is surely going to be a massive game, so it’s hard to say whether this kind of weight to choices is something that we will see throughout the game. Ubisoft, however, definitely have been promising more impactful choice and consequence gameplay, so let’s hope they can live up to that promise.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will, as you’d expect, be following the same loot-driven RPG route that its predecessors took, but it will be doing things a little bit differently this time. Rather than traditional levels, you will now have a Power Level, which will be determined by the skills and abilities you’ve unlocked and the weapons and gear you have equipped. It still looks like missions have recommended Power Levels, so what other finer differences this change will bring about remains to be seen.
Something that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is putting a surprising amount of emphasis on is the large number of enemy types that you’ll be facing in the game- supposedly more than any other game in the series. Ubisoft wants to keep the combat dynamic and unpredictable, and so, you will be facing several different kinds of enemies with unique attributes, strengths, and weaknesses, which means mashing the attack button on every enemy you see won’t be a viable strategy. Instead, you will have to find a way to exploit their weaknesses by making smart use of your own abilities and skills.
So what kinds of abilities exactly will Eivor have in combat? Players will have several options in this area, and some have recently been briefly detailed. The recent gameplay overview trailer confirmed that you can use a harpoon to snare enemies or pull them right toward you during fights, or you can target various foes and throw multiple throwing axes at them. Meanwhile, IGN’s preview mentions Kick of Tyr, which is essentially Valhalla’s version of Odyssey’s Spartan kick, and Dive of the Valkyries, for which Eivor slams both weapons down on the enemy for a crushing attack.
It seems the health system is also seeing some tweaking in Valhalla. The biggest change is that passive regenerating health outside of combat is gone, and there are no healing abilities either. Instead, you now manually regain chunks of your health by consuming rations, which are made from edible items and resources you collect out in the open world. Managing your health and healing items in the midst of combat should prove to be an interesting challenge.
Another interesting new mechanic Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s combat introduces is the stun attack. Enemies have stun meters, and given the fact that Valhalla seems to be emphasizing employing varied combat tactics to combat several different kinds of enemies, crowd control through stunning foes might become an important part of fights. Meanwhile, once you’ve stunned an enemy, you can also follow up with powerful, flashy finishing attacks.
Stealth is something that Assassin’s Creed has been moving away from for a few years now, and while by and large it doesn’t seem like Valhalla will be any more focused on stealth than Odyssey was, it is at least introducing some improvements. For instance, social stealth is back (to a very limited degree, at the very least). Eivor, being a Viking invader, won’t always be welcome in cities and towns in England, and so you might have to blend into crowds to enter cities or traverse them without attracting the attention of enemies. Whether that’s as emphasized here remains to be seen, but it’s good to see stealth being at least somewhat more prominent.
The gameplay overview trailer for Valhalla that Ubisoft showed off during their recent event took some time to emphasize one aspect in particular- exploration. That’s to be expected from any open world game, but what can we expect from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla specifically? The trailer has shown us glimpses of side activities such as hunting and fishing, finding temples and ruins, and uncovering secrets across England- what exactly that entails is something we probably won’t find out until we play the game ourselves, but things are looking good so far.
Ubisoft is making some interesting changes to the Animus and how it will function in Valhalla. For starters, they’re making it so that players can change the gender of Eivor at will, which is something that they will supposedly explore in the game with new lore as well. Meanwhile, it seems the Animus will now also bring present-day protagonist Layla into the historical setting of the game rather than intermittently taking players to present-world locations.
Narrative Director Darby McDevitt recently explained to IGN, “The story is that there are anomalies inside the stimulation. And when you find them as Eivor, Layla and her handlers will pause the simulation, and set up this big thing for her to deal with. It’s a big puzzle, lots of intense puzzle solving and parkour so that you can acquire a bit of interesting data and then close this rift.”
“And so that experience is much more comfortable,” he added. “You’re not just going into a loading menu, going into a small office somewhere in the present day. You still get to be Layla, but you get to be Layla in the past. And so that means that all these interesting skills that she may have learned – the parkour, the epic vistas, and the puzzle solving – you get to float right into that without any kind of hitch.”