We’re in an age of gaming where everyone has taken a Viking to a certain culture and time period. Everyone seems to enjoy some of the ol’ Norse code lately, but Ubisoft’s take on the subject matter looks to be both authentic and exciting when Assassin’s Creed Valhalla rolls into not so merry ol’ England. There’s a myth and a legend behind the Viking culture of the ancient age, one of warriors and explorers who sailed the harshest seas and pillaged their way across multiple lands in pursuit of glory and riches.
That’s the legendary fantasy, that Ubisoft wants to focus on in their latest historical deep dive. “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is our push to deliver THE Viking experience within the Assassin’s Creed world. That statement is very important for us,” creative director Ashraf Ismail said to Game Informer.
There are two key elements there. The Viking fantasy, and all of the features, systems, and narrative that needs to deliver that. But also the Assassin’s Creed world – the conflict between Templars and Assassins, and having Templars and Assassins in the world (of course, they go by different names during this time period). Having these elements and having it all merge together was very important for us.
I mentioned that we land in England and it’s about settling our people and building a thriving settlement, so the settlement is really key to this experience. It’s at the heart of the motivation, and a very important part of the features of the game as well. Every building that you place has gameplay value. Every character that you can bring into your settlement has some kind of value to Eivor and the settlement. There’s customization features for the settlement, as well.
But we’re in England, and England is hostile toward these Vikings. So in order to succeed and start thriving, players will go on raids. They’ll raid their enemies, but to raid, you need a longship. So you have a longship and a crew – these are characters that you meet in the world, characters that you go on journeys with. And there are characters you can customize and build as well – they’re called Jomsvikings. So a lot of effort has gone into your raiders – these are people who also live in your settlement.
It’s not just about establishing a new home in hostile territory though! Like every Assassin’s Creed game before it, combat will be a big part of the package, with Valhalla looking to create a system that is “brutal” and balanced. “Beyond raiding, there are assaults. Assaults are attacks on giant fortifications – these are big set-piece moments that are wrapped up in the narrative,” Ismail explained.
This is something that we found in our research that happened quite a lot, so we needed to find a place for that in the game and give it a lot of value and make it shine. These are really incredible battles.
And we can’t claim to create the ultimate Viking experience if we don’t nail combat. So combat is visceral, brutal. We made sure that every swing of an axe, every defense with a shield feels good. A lot of effort has gone into the weaponry of the period, into the enemies. You can’t have a good fight system if the enemies don’t shine, so we have a lot of variety in enemies. A new take on progression, on gear – we’ve pushed every single envelope to deliver THE Viking experience.
There’s a benchmark there for combat, that has been set not only by other recent Viking-era games but by Ubisoft themselves. Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey raised the bar on how players could tackle conflict with its entirely revised approach, while Ubisoft’s other blockbuster For Honor made good use of a chunky and weighty combat system that allowed players to carve their way to victory. Expect more on how Assassin’s Creed Valhalla actually handles, very soon.
Last Updated: May 6, 2020