Ubisoft has unveiled the new setting for Assassin’s Creed and its one that has been requested by fans for years.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will tell the story of a clan of Vikings that leave their home in Norway for greener pastures in England. It’s here they attract the attention of King Aelfred of Wessex (later known as Alfred the Great), who seeks to become the sole ruler of England.
The trailer opens with a monologue from King Aelfred ranting about the Viking settlers calling them “heartless, godless barbarians”. This is certainly the view of them that matches up with the perception held by most people in the modern area.
But in reality, the Vikings were a lot more complicated than that. They were savage warriors with a thirst for raiding and pillaging, but they also had a deeply rich culture and an enormous mythology with countless gods and living legends, all of which will be explored in detail.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has been in development for more than two and half years most of the game was developed at Ubisoft Montreal, but they also had support from 14 of the other Ubisoft studios spread out across the world. Spearheading the project was creative director, Ashraf Ismail who was also the creative director on Origins and the series favourite Black Flag.
The game was designed as an entirely new build and will debut on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series (for both of which it seems to be a release title). There will also be versions releasing for the current-gen.
The title was unveiled after artist BossLogic hosted a setting reveal within which he slowly created the poster in an 8-hour video. The following day the trailer saw its world premiere.
Our main protagonist is a Viking warrior named Eivor, due to plot spoilers he has not been covered in great detail. Not only this but being an RPG, one of the key of this game will involve the player creating their version of the character as they transverse through the story.
The character has been described as a “fierce Viking raider raised on tales of battle and glory.” Who leads a group of Norsemen, driven from their native land by “endless wars and dwindling resources in the ninth century CE.”
One thing that the trailer neglected to mention was that Eivor can be played as either a male or a female. This is not the only customisation that can be made either, everything from your beard to your longboat will be customisable.
Also, to anyone wondering why only the male version of Eivor was showcased in the trailer, Ubisoft has said that they will “showcase both at different points”.
As mentioned before, the main antagonist of the game will be King Aelfred. In the trailer we see him embark on a very stereotypical villain-esque tirade, but we have been promised a much more complex character than the one we see in the trailer.
“He is shown in that [villainous] way in the trailer but over the course of the game, you’ll see there’s a lot more nuance to him,” said lead producer, Julien Laferrière.
The game revolves around the Viking’s conflict with him, which led to him being on the run and ultimately succeeding in his conquest against them and unify parts of England. “Alfred the Great is a very important historical figure we want to treat right,” Laferrière says. “And to do so it’s all in the subtleties and nuances you’ll find.”
So, Aelfred is not just a clean-cut villain the same way all of the Vikings are not going to be good guys.
The player must “carve out a new future for their clan, reliving the ruthless fighting style of Viking warriors with a revamped combat system that includes the ability to dual-wield weapons against a greater variety of enemies than ever before.”
“With little resources at their disposal, players can lead raids to any promising location they see from the waterfront using their longship to earn much-needed riches and resources,” Ubisoft explains in a press release.
As for the setting, the game begins in the Vikings home country of Norway, but the harshness of the lands and the political pressure leads them to England where the majority of the game takes place. Developers have confirmed that while Britain will take up the largest part of the map there will be “a few surprise areas”.
A gameplay trailer will debut at the Xbox Series X gameplay first look event “inside Xbox” on May 7 at 8am PT.
In the trailer, we see a mysterious hooded figure that seems to be the Norse god Odin with one of his legendary ravens. In Odyssey we got to meet character and creatures including in Greek legends and Valhalla will be no different.
Laferrière said that they’ve found a cool way of integrating the mythology with the Assassin’s Creed lore, which they haven’t gone into detail on because it “goes into major spoiler territory,” But he did say that “their gods were part of their daily life. They were believed to be roaming the earth, involved in fights – that was part of the Viking spirituality. And that’s how we treat it in the game, which is true to beliefs and practices at the time.”
As many have deduced the Raven seen with Odin will be your animal companion in Valhalla, the same as eagles have been in the previous games. The raven will also have “a bunch of new abilities” Laferrière told Eurogamer.
“We used it as a reason to re-explore the way players can explore the world so it is less reliant on UI. If you notice a distraction somewhere it’s probably because there’s some content there.”
They wanted to make a game that rewards players for their curiosity. This links perfectly with the real Vikings who are renowned for being great explorers.
Ultimate Viking Fantasy
Just like in the previous instalments the exploring will be done both on land and on the water. Vikings were avid sailors and their choice of transport was the Viking longboat. This time around it seems there will be less naval battles as Vikings didn’t fight that way, but the longboat will be the fastest way to travel through the waterways of the English countryside which were the roads of this period of time.
We’ve also been told “Any military location you encounter on the rivers of England is fully raidable,” Laferrière explains. “We want you to be playing the ultimate Viking fantasy, so you’ll get to have your Viking buddies going with you on a longship. Sometimes you’ll get resources to take back and upgrade your settlement, or maybe additional firepower to help take down higher level bandits in the region.”
Players can dual wield weapons, and shields will also be returning after fans complained that they were left out of Odyssey (how dare they!).
One thing the creators have stressed to be very important in this game is the village settlement hub. The whole narrative of Valhalla is said to be built around your settlement. So instead of setting out on a long drawn out journey to defog every square inch of the map, everything will revolve around your settlement.
The village will grow and change as you conquer and find fortune in your raids. New buildings will be available for customisations and upgrades; a barracks, blacksmith and tattoo parlour are all among those included.
“It’s at the centre of our quests and the centre of the decisions you make. We want players to see the consequences of their actions.” Said Laferrière.
The choices made throughout the game will be reflected here. Alliances such as weddings will create bonds between clans.
Of course, we know that the main story centres around the conflict between the Vikings and Alfred the Great. But apart from that, not much can be said about the story yet. But one thing that has been confirmed that the franchises overall arc will be continued meaning we will see more of the backstory involving the First Civilisation.
This also means we will also see the return of present-day protagonist Layla. “We’ve found a way to blend the present day into a new type of experience for players,” said Laferrière.
It has also been mentioned that there are “many online components, encouraging players to share their progress and creativity.” What this means exactly remains unknown, but we do know this is not referencing the inclusion of co-op play which Ubisoft has confirmed will not return.
Release Date & Game Editions
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be released Holiday 2020 for Xbox Series X, PS5, PS4, Stadia and on PC. It will also be available to players subscribed to the UPlay+ subscription service. There are multiple editions of the game available for purchase.
Gold Edition: This includes the game and the season pass.
Ultimate Edition: The ultimate edition includes the game, the season pass and the ultimate pack; which gives players access to exclusive customisation features including the Berserker Gear Pack, the Berserker Settlement Pack, and the Berserker Longship Pack, along with a Set of Runes to improve weapons or gear.
Collector’s Edition: The Collector’s Edition will include the game, the Season Pass, the Ultimate Pack, a high-end Ubicollectibles replica of Eivor and her longship (30 cm high), a Collector’s Case, a SteelBook with unique artwork, a numbered certificate of authenticity, a Viking Statuette of Eivor with his raven and Dane axe (5 cm high), exclusive lithographs as well as a selected soundtrack of the game. The Collector’s Edition is exclusive to the Ubisoft Store.
As well as these editions of the game will also be other stand-alone Ubicollectbles for sale including the Eivor Wolf-Kissed Figurine and his Hidden Blade Replica.