Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
Get ready to enter the world of the Vikings. (Illustration by Marcus Escobar, Minneapolis College of Art and Design)

‘Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla’ Looks Promising, If a Little Similar to ‘Odyssey’

The newest addition to the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ franchise looks like it’s added some interesting changes, but is it different enough from its predecessor? Does it matter?

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Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

The newest addition to the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ franchise looks like it’s added some interesting changes, but is it different enough from its predecessor? Does it matter?

“Assassin’s Creed: Origins” marked a turning point in the “Assassin’s Creed” video game series as Ubisoft made a move toward a more “Witcher 3”-esque game experience. “Origins” was more of a test run on a new game engine, so as a PC player I had issues when I tried playing it, barely getting past the one-hour mark before getting too frustrated. The story didn’t really immerse me at the beginning of the game so, despite the gorgeous world, I wasn’t motivated enough to tough out the wonky playing experience.

However, “Odyssey” was thoroughly enjoyable, which gives me high hopes for “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.” The story in “Odyssey” had me hooked right from the beginning; I didn’t want to stop playing. The biggest complaint I have about “Odyssey” is that I hated having to do side quests to boost my XP so I could continue playing the main quest. Seeing as I am a relative newcomer to the “Assassin’s Creed” universe, I feel the move toward open-world role-playing suits the series. Despite this, I know “Assassin’s Creed” veterans may not feel the same way. Maybe “Valhalla” will convince them?

“Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla” is due to be released on Nov. 10 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PS4, Stadia and PC. It will release for PS5 two days later.

The first look fans had at the Viking-themed game was an eight-hour Photoshop video, although the game was officially announced on April 29.

Some fans have described “Valhalla” as having an “‘Odyssey’ in Britain” vibe, but the game isn’t finished yet, so Ubisoft still has time to make the game feel a little more unique.

The Main Story

Eivor and the Vikings leave Norway to find a new home and end up in England. In the trailer, the Assassins recruit Eivor and the Vikings through Eivor’s brother. Many fans are guessing that the Assassins manipulate the Vikings to invade England in order to gain assistance in fighting the Templars.

Gameplay in “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla”

A problem many players had with “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” was the need to complete dull side quests to continue with the main story. Luckily, narrative director Darby McDevitt said to GameSpot that “world events” are included in Valhalla, but side quests are “almost non-existent.” Consequently, there will be longer story arcs in the main quest-line, which will probably be more immersive than fetching flowers for a random person just to level up.

There seem to be many elements carried on from “Odyssey,” further supporting the “’Odyssey’ in Britain” feeling. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as one of the features in “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla” that has been praised is the ability to choose between playing as either a man or a woman. This is similar to “Odyssey” where you have the choice to play either as Kassandra or Alexios, with the one left unchosen becoming Deimos, a member of an evil cult. In “Valhalla,” it doesn’t seem that you’ll get to face off against the character you didn’t pick, but this is good because that would be way too similar to “Odyssey,” no matter how fun that storyline is.

The male Eivor will be voiced by the Danish actor Magnus Bruun, from “The Last Kingdom,” and the female Eivor voiced by Cecilie Stenspil.

More carry-ons from “Odyssey” include dialogue options that affect the politics and other events in the game, the option to customize your character by choosing individual pieces of armor you like best, the ability to choose your tattoos, as well as a similar combat style, including the option to use skill points to “buy” special abilities.

A new development is that Ubisoft is including less weapon variety, making the player invest in a certain weapon and customizing it to their fighting style. From gameplay footage, it seems as if the choices are spear and ax, along with the trademark hidden blade; the Assassin’s hidden blade has always been strapped to the inner forearm, thus “hidden.”

This game, however, will evoke the code of the Vikings, as Eivor will strap the blade to their outer forearm, so that they can fight the enemy with as much honor as they can muster — all to get into Valhalla, where those who die honorably in combat go to after death.

However, there is the option for duel-wielding as well as throwing your ax at the enemy, along with the traditional bow and arrow. One thing I hope is kept from “Odyssey” is the ability to choose armor with better statistics but being able to change the appearance to look like a piece that looks nicer, but may have worse attributes.

Ubisoft will continue to include a ship that is like a base for the character. In Valhalla, it’s the Viking longboat, which can go much further inland than ships like the Adrestia and the Morrigan, as great as they are. It’ll be interesting to see how naval combat will work in this game.

One completely new feature in “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla” is that the health bar doesn’t automatically regenerate once damaged. This introduces the concepts of hunting and fishing into the game as the character will have to get access to food in order to stay alive. Another new element is the inclusion of drinking games, because there ain’t no party like a Viking party.

The Depiction of Vikings

Ubisoft has tried their best to show the soft side of the Vikings in “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.” There’s footage of Vikings spending time with their families and sparing innocents while raiding. The dialogue options tie into this too.

In gameplay footage, it shows a cat with a speech bubble above its head. There is now the option to complete a quest that ends with you having a “cat raider” on your longboat. This suggests Eivor and their fellow Vikings are cat people, and the image of a big Viking with a tiny cat curled up on their lap is too good to miss.

Overall, “Valhalla” looks to have a much smaller world than “Odyssey.” “Odyssey” was heavily criticized for being too bloated; Valhalla has improved on this, scaling the map down but increasing the details in the game, such as more puzzles and shrines to find. The storyline seems to be interesting with the potential to be just as immersive as “Odyssey” was, with some witty asides thrown in. All in all, I’m hopeful that “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla” will adapt to become more distinct from its predecessor, but I’m excited for what seems to be a good game with an exciting story.

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