Home / Gadgets / Hands-On: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feels like a return to the roots of the series

Hands-On: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feels like a return to the roots of the series

Hey, let’s talk about hay. Not really. It is important. It turns out that you can tell a lot about an Assassin’s Creed game by treating dried grass.

Not visually – although these sun-drenched raids and castle sieges are easily some of the most beautiful views in the series – but mechanically. Drop Eivor majestically from one of the iconic leaps of faith across England, and they’ll stay hidden in the grassy pile below.

Unlike Odyssey’s Kassandra or Alexios, who would automatically show up for instant ancient Greek punches, Eivor’s reluctance is the clearest signal that AC’s stealth is returning. It may sound like a small thing, but the hands-on work with this fresh piece of Nordic history proves that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a huge hug for long-term fans of the franchise.

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Ubisoft’s Medieval England is a world where you can wield a golden ax that goes up in flames after a critical blow, invest in oh-so-instagrammable new body ink, and sip mead from horns until you literally can’t run anymore. There’s even a dice game called Orlog that will melt some Gwent-obsessed brains.

But it’s the addition of a cloak option to the new radial menu that makes Ezio and Co stand out as a horned hat tip; A solid link to the series’ past among the options to literally blow your own trumpet (fine, horn), call out your horse, or light a torch.

While nothing prevents players from pounding on the front gate of a castle with a battering ram or ending up in sleepy hamlets where all axes literally blaze with two weapons, you can opt to slip in undetected. Put on your cloak and you can enter so-called areas of suspicion where the guards are already on high alert. If you get too close, they’ll see through your weak disguise, but stay away and you can go away smugly.

If you fit in with your first group of monks, the last 13 years of the ACs will fade away as Altair-style Eivor roams in hiding. And there are several equally nostalgic ways to make yourself look like you go with it.

If you sit down on a bench to relax, you’ll kind of disappear again, and Eivor may even be busy at various workplaces, fixing the bells and working with traders. Knowing that you now have a skill that allows you to throw axes at everyone in sight with the push of a button makes it all the more satisfying. Everything feels possible.

According to Ubisoft, this is more about following the story than ticking off fans’ wish lists. “We didn’t think we had to put that back,” explains game director Eric Baptizmat. “It was really when we were studying the period and relationship between the Northerners and the Anglo-Saxons.

“At the time of the game, it had been 5 years since the Northerners invaded England and there was a Nordic presence everywhere. There were some places where the northerners were welcome and there were some places where they were totally viewed as enemies. We wanted to play with it. “

“Upgrading cartographers to reveal treasure, getting started on your line to deliver festive ingredients to the fishmonger, and visiting the armory for upgrades feels like the 2020 version of AC2’s Monteriggioni.”

It’s no coincidence that Valhalla is seeing Jesper Kyd’s return to the soundtrack alongside Sarah Schachner for the first time since Assassin’s Creed Revelations. Its atmospheric tones are as instantly recognizable as the satisfying clink of everyone’s favorite murder glove.

Speaking of which, the return of the hidden blade is welcome. While Odyssey’s broken spear was useful and, as you know, magical, there is a special joy in a well-placed air murder. It’s important to note, however, that a one-button kill option doesn’t quite fit the granular level system at work.

While players can instantly assassinate enemies of their own level and move happily through Anglo-Saxon camps like a deadly porcupine if you don’t feel like bringing your raid crew with you, more powerful enemies are an entirely different perspective. “It doesn’t kill all enemies in one fell swoop,” warns Baptizat. “Only enemies on your level. For the other enemies, the strongest, we always wanted to give the player the chance to kill instantly. So you can unlock a skill that triggers a timing mini-game. “

The return of the hidden blade is welcome.

The higher the level of the enemy, the more difficult this mini-game becomes, which means that while it will be possible to get it just right, it is not particularly likely. Given the myriad of abilities, skills, and runic customization options for the weapons on offer, it might not even be what you want to do, but it is there.

And finally there is your Viking settlement of Ravensthorpe. Eivor’s upgradeable village builds on the solid foundations of previous Assassin’s Creed games and feels all the more at home. Upgrading cartographers to reveal treasure, setting off your line to deliver festive ingredients to the fishmonger, and visiting the armory for upgrades feels like the 2020 version of AC2’s Monteriggioni.

The Brotherhood’s Rome was a fixer-upper, the AC3 homestead built an economy around your efforts, and Syndicate was happy to have you on a train chugging through London, but Valhalla offers a tantalizing prospect of a real home base who is actively involved in Eivor’s story. Romantic relationships are formed here and every mission begins in the war room of the great nave.

“AC3’s Homestead has built an economy that revolves around your efforts and Syndicate was glad you got a seat on a train that chugs through London, but Valhalla offers an enticing prospect of a real home base.”

Everything that has been upgraded in Ravensthorpe makes a difference. The blacksmith is the only place in this world where you can upgrade your weapons. You want to train your horse to swim and customize your tattoos.

Here the symbol of the assassins swings outside on a sign that marks the home of the hidden. Let’s not ask why they put a shield outside, but this is where you will pick up missions to wipe out the pesky Proto-Templars, the Order of the Ancients.

And thanks to a resident, this little part of England is the gateway to other areas as well. “The See-er is part of your clan,” explains Baptizat. “When you build Valka’s hut, it will allow you to access Vision Quests. This allows you to visit worlds that are part of Norse mythology. “

Yes, trips to Asgard and Jotunheim will be part of the return home and include the more mystical side of the Assassin’s universe of Origins and Odyssey. Valhalla then feels like a fresh adventure, but this amalgamation of old and new makes this Viking trip all the more appealing. These fur-lined boots seem to be where we belong.