Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

About Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

It’s been a wild ride this year, but you can always rely on Assassin’s Creed to lighten the mood. Let’s see what those zany historians at Ubisoft have cooked up for us in the excitingly named Assassin’s Creed Valhalla … Peterborough, is it? Norwich in the dark ages?

I have nothing against our beautiful cathedral cities, rolling plains and park-and-ride services, but after 12 months of Brexit, Covid-19 and forest fires, plus the cancellation of the Eurovision song contest, I was hoping for something a little less Tough Mudder from this giddy, quasi-historical, action-adventure series, which previously had us gallivanting around Atlantis.

For the first few hours, you’re thrown into the icy political drama of ninth-century Norway, where Viking warrior Eivor runs around snow-blasted islands having stern conversations about the future of her clan. (You can play as a male or female version of Eivor, or have the game swap between them at intervals. I went with female Eivor.) This extended prologue plays out a bit like a Scandi Phantom Menace, and, after a while, Eivor and her brother Sigurd give up and decide to build a new life in England. It’s for the best.

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Everything improves when you get to England (apart from the weather). Eivor and Sigurd establish the settlement of Ravensthorpe, then strike out into Mercia, East Anglia and beyond to forge alliances. Inevitably, this means riding around picturesque countryside (or sailing down rivers in your longship), solving people’s problems, collecting loot, and climbing churches, cliffs and Roman ruins.

Ancient Egypt and Greece were easy to enjoy, whether you were tunnelling under the Sphinx or hanging from the chiselled penis of a Zeus statue, so the dark ages have their work cut out here. But, while this vast playground is less showy, it soon starts to feel more rarefied. Points of interest on your map are intriguing – a locked building that must be clawed open with a bit of lateral thinking, a man selling an elixir that promises instant wealth, or a piece of cloth that happens to be wafting above a parkour obstacle course. I’ve got used to autopiloting around vast, open-world games tidying up icons on the map, but this feels more like exploring again. There’s repetition, sure, but also novelty.

There are plenty of little villages to ransack, but these are now treated as Viking raids, where you beach your longship in the mud, blow your horn, and set off to do some pillaging. Fighting people hand-to-hand is the usual mix of dodges and parries, but there are nice additions such as dual-wielding that alter the rhythm of combat. There are ludicrous numbers of special attacks to unlock and add to your repertoire, and these are now tied to exploration as well as levelling up, which is a neat change. It’s harder to hide in bushes, marking enemies before silently dispatching them, but it’s a testament to the strength of this new approach to fighting that I forgot about that fairly quickly.

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While the game sends you far and wide, the spoils of battle are most useful back home in Ravensthorpe. Reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed II’s beloved Monteriggioni, here you can build a blacksmith’s, a Hidden Ones assassins bureau, a hunting lodge, a Gregg’s and plenty more. (OK, maybe not the Gregg’s.) New buildings and settlers allow you to do new things out in the world, and Ravensthorpe is also where you turn in collectibles for rewards. There are a lot of decent quests to pick up here from friends and travellers, and as usual it’s the cranks and weirdos who make for the best fun.

Eventually, I wandered back on to the critical path and started doing story missions. My litmus test for open-world story missions is whether I pull out my phone whenever a cinematic begins, and I certainly did with this game. Eivor is likable enough and the story of her Raven clan is full of twists and turns, but we’ve been on this kind of journey a bunch of times already. If you want a Norse mythology game with real heart, play the latest God of War.

Never mind the stuff you watch – it’s the things you end up doing in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla that are most compelling. At one point you’re told to identify a traitor in the ranks, so I steeled myself to run between map markers and watch bad acting, but instead found myself sleuthing around Cambridgeshire, interrogating people and checking alibis. At one stage, my wife walked in and asked me what I was doing. “I’m looking for a yellow boat! Help me find the yellow boat!” I imagine it makes a nice change from seeing me doomscroll on the couch.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes a while to get going, but don’t be disheartened by its mirthless opening, because the smart, inventive and witty open-world game you’re hoping for is lurking somewhere over those gloomy hills and dales. Can we have our next assassin holiday somewhere sunny again though, please, Ubisoft?

System Requirements
Minimum:
  • OS:

    Windows 10 64 Bit, Windows 8.1 64 Bit, Windows 8 64 Bit, Win 7 64 Bit

  • Processor:

    Intel Core i5-4460 3.2GHz / AMD Ryzen R3 1200

  • Memory:

    8 GB Ram

  • Graphics:

    AMD Radeon R9 380 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB

  • Storage:

    50 GB

Recommended:
  • OS:

    Windows 10 64 Bit, Windows 8.1 64 Bit, Windows 8 64 Bit, Win 7 64 Bit Service Pack 1

  • Processor:

    Processor: Intel Core i7-4790 4-Core 3.6GHz / AMD Ryzen R5 1600

  • Memory:

    12 GB RAM

  • Graphics:

    AMD Radeon RX 570 8GB or NVIDIA RTX 2070

  • Storage:

    50 GB

  • Additional Notes:
Minimum:
  • OS:

    MacOS X 10.8.5

  • Processor:

    Intel Core i5 2.4 GHz

  • Memory:

    8 GB RAM

  • Graphics:

    NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M

  • Network:

    Broadband Internet connection

  • Storage:

    7 GB available space

Recommended:
  • OS:

    MacOS X 10.8.5 or Newer

  • Processor:

    Intel Core i7 2.4 GHz+

  • Memory:

    8 GB RAM

  • Graphics:

    OpenGL 4.1 - ATI Radeon HD 5670, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M

  • Network:

    Broadband Internet connection

  • Storage:

    7 GB available space

  • Additional Notes:

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Game Details
Game Poster
Poster

Assassin's Creed Valhalla is an action role-playing video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the twelfth major installment and the twenty-second release in the Assassin's Creed series, and a successor to the 2018's Assassin's Creed Odyssey.

Languages
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PEGI 18. The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence, apparently motiveless killing, or violence towards defenceless characters.
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