Everything You Need To Know About Assassin's Creed Valhalla

The Assassin’s Creed games are huge, in terms of both popularity and scope. Ubisoft’s hit franchise uses a mixture of history and fiction to create immersive worlds, all supported by diverse gameplay and interlocking systems. Like its predecessors, the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is ambitious; it is an exciting dive into the lives of the Vikings, defining the iconic historical figures through war, peace, and exploration. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so we spoke to producer Julien Laferrière and narrative director Darby McDevitt to break down this massive experience and set the stage for Valhalla’s release.

Lessons From Odyssey

Before Valhalla, Ubisoft Montreal’s last Assassin’s Creed game was Origins. However, with Odyssey releasing in 2018, the team was also able to learn from that installment during Valhalla’s development. This includes integrating some of Odyssey’s successful innovations, like how players use skills in combat. “A good example of something Odyssey brought is all the abilities you can equip,” Laferrière says. “That’s a super-cool thing we wanted to bring back with our own flavor and our own twist in Valhalla.”

Valhalla is also able to improve on areas where Odyssey faced some criticism. For example, Odyssey had a lot of cool legendary weapons and armor, but they could get buried amid an abundance of not-so-cool loot. “We wanted to transition from an economy that is loot-based to something more collection-based,” Laferrière says. “Vikings were taking good care of their weapons and gear, sometimes passing them down generations, so that’s something that is historically accurate. But the reason we did it isn’t only because of history. It’s mostly because of player behavior. We know that when players find a good piece of loot, they like to stick with it and upgrade it.”

The Modern-Day Story

Assassin’s Creed Origins introduced a new modern-day story arc starring Layla Hassan, and Odyssey continued Layla’s quest. Valhalla is the concluding chapter of that tale. Like previous entries, some sequences have players controlling Layla outside of the Animus – but your interactions with the modern-day arc now go beyond those interludes.

“The amount of time you spend in the present day would be equivalent to [Origins and Odyssey], but with the added provision that there are these Animus anomalies in the simulation layer,” McDevitt says. “You’ll find quite a lot of them; when you find them as Eivor and touch them, the whole simulation freezes and then Layla drops the disguise. She becomes Layla in the simulation, and then you have dialogue with your present-day characters there, and you have to solve puzzles, and things like that. And they are very cool, and the rewards for them are mind-blowing. So, we found a way so you don’t have to get out of the Animus at all times to do the present-day; sometimes the present day happens in the Animus.”

Next-Gen Advantages

Even though Valhalla is releasing on current- and next-gen consoles, the content of the game remains the same no matter what system you play on. The big difference between the versions is technical, with the new generation offering improved visuals and performance. “I’m playing the game on the test kits that we have, and it’s definitely a cool and smooth experience,” Laferrière says. “I’m amazed by what we can get. Just think about your go-to AC game and think about the amount of loading that we have, and how much improving that can help. For example, when you use the raven in [Valhalla]. Traditionally, if the raven or eagle would go too far, you would have this loading. Now, in a normal use of your raven, you immediately go back to your character … Because next-gen has better loading capacities and so on, I feel that the immersion of the game will just be better.”

How To Prepare

Assassin’s Creed Vallhalla is almost out – but you still have some time to get into the Viking mood before its November 10 release. If you want a firm foundation in Norse culture and history before jumping in, here are five options recommended by Darby McDevitt, Valhalla’s -narrative director.

Egil’s Saga: A long tale chronicling the history and adventures of an Icelandic farmer’s family, and an excellent example of the saga storytelling format.

The Tale of Thorstein Staff-struck: One of the best (and shortest) stories to illustrate Norse views on honor, reputation, and shame.

Saga of the Völsungs: Great if you want Norse stories with fantastical elements like magic, trolls, shapeshifters, and appearances from Odin.

The Last Kingdom: The first season of this British television series is set in the same time period as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

The Poetic Edda: A collection of poems that essentially form the sum total of Norse mythology.

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