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| November 26, 2020

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Assassin's Creed Valhalla

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
David McGinley

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is Ubisoft’s twelfth major title in the series (22nd if you count spin offs!) – does it still do enough to keep you coming back? Find out in our initial impressions.

Full transparency, we’ve spent about 10+ hours with the game at this point (on Xbox One X) but frankly, the game is huge so ITS going to take us quite a while longer to get a full impression of the game to review. In Valhalla, we swap Greece for Norway, England and in DLC… Ireland and Paris which must make this the first open world game that sets foot in Ireland – fair play Ubisoft! It is a remarkable shift – gone are the gorgeous sand dunes, lush green vistas and deep blue seas. Valhalla is dark, atmospheric and quite different as your traverse snow capped mountains or sail through England’s tight canals. Visually, the game is beautiful and runs very well on the Xbox One X and personally I can’t wait to see how the game looks on the Xbox Series X. 

After the first one or two hours, you will sit there asking – where’s the stealth? Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s focus on Vikings means this translates into combat. It is brutal, hard and really gives you the option to forget stealth entirely and go in torches blazing. There’s even the ability to wield two weapons, wield one heavy one or go in with a shield as your main weapon – the freedom is welcome. There’s still a huge skill tree and set of moves to go and unlock, but I still prefer stealth. Coming off the back of playing Ghost of Tsushima, the parry and block system feels slightly disconnected from the player so we’ll hold our judgement until we get further into the game. There are so many moves and abilities to unlock that it would be unfair of me to make a judgement so far on it but it is easy to tell that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla sets out to be a different entry in the series with greatly enhanced and visceral combat. Think Dark Souls with stealth and that’s no bad thing in my book. 

Assassin's Creed Valhalla scenery

The game world is impeccably realised with your settlement camp being full of detail, life, activities and upgrades. As you build your camp, you get more abilities and services you can use to conquer England so its worth hopping on your ship, setting sail for a monastery and starting a raid with your crew to bring resources back to your camp. The story so far is incredibly enjoyable with the change in setting breathing new life into the series. I won’t spoil anything but already I’m hooked and really want to see where the story goes. 

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Norway

In my first 10+ hours with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, my main takeaway is that it marks a departure from the series and breathes fresh life into it. It brings over what made it great – deep historical stories, fully realised worlds, stealth and parkour while also developing a much more fleshed out combat system and taking the best elements from the last few games. While I’ve put in 10+ hours, I can already feel myself puting wanting to put in another 100 hours. There’s a huge ton of stories and songs to hear while sailing. side quests, people to talk to and games of Orlog I need to go play.

Side note, Ubisoft are missing a trick if they don’t release a physical version of Orlog. Please Ubisoft! Do it!

Assassin's Creed Valhalla camp

If you’re picking up a next generation console or simply a fan of the series, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feels like an easy recommendation to make so far. If you’re like me and you’ve taken a break from the series, so far Assassin’s Creed Valhalla does offers enough innovation and variety to give you a reason to come back. Time will tell whether Valhalla might be the best entry in the series to date, but I feel its up there. Check back soon for our full review.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was previewed on the Xbox One X with a code provided by Ubisoft.

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