Skol! Viking fans around the world raised a toast last week when Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was officially revealed as the next title in Ubisoft’s sneaky-stabby series. Having followed several leaks in previous months, the arrival of Vikings in Assassin’s Creed was a surprise to almost no-one, but still a welcome setting for the game.
With Odyssey and Origins, Ubisoft delved heartily into the entwined threads of mythology and history, let us explore and interact with famous figures, creatures and deities from Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. While the setting for Valhalla brings us much closer to the present, Norse culture is no less rich. To that end, these are our predictions and expectations for the setting, story, and gameplay in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
When Is It Set?
The reveal trailer for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla shows a band of bearded warriors making their way to England to conduct raids and establish colonies. We also get a glimpse of King Alfred of Wessex – soon to be Alfred the Great – who’ll largely play the role of an antagonist. To that end, it seems pretty certain that Valhalla is set in the 870s. Given we’ll be taking up the invading side, it’s likely that the story will play out over several years as the Norsemen push the English back, possibly even as far as 878. In that year the Vikings are reported to have caught Alfred out at Chippenham, forcing him to flee and seek refuge in Somerset before his eventual retaliation and victory.
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Where Is It Set?
Ubisoft hasn’t been shy when discussing the setting for Valhalla. We know that the game will start in Norway before social pressures force Eivor – the player protagonist – to lead their clan away to raid and settle on English lands. From the sounds of it, we expect Norway to only feature in the opening to the game, with the bulk of the title taking place on a large, open-world map in southern England.
As for the famous sites we can expect to visit? Creative director Ashraf Ismail has already teased that Stonehenge will be visitable in-game. We might even get the chance to climb on it – a very frowned upon thing these days, we understand. Just don’t go knocking it down or you might cause some kind of unpleasant time-paradox. Beyond that, expect plenty of cathedrals and the ruins of past empires like the Romans to also be present.
Given Stonehenge is located in the southeast of England, Valhalla is shaping up to potentially have a very big map indeed. We expect the bulk of it to be spread around this area and the south coast encompassing towns such as Reading and Wilton (Salisbury in the present day). While also giving a chance for a bit of ship combat along the coast through England’s many riverways as well.
If Origins and Odyssey are anything to go by, Ubisoft won’t shy away from getting stuck in with the rowdy pantheon of Norse Gods. Those who took 2018’s God of War for a spin will have been given an introduction to several classic faces such as Odin, Thor, Magnus, and Modi, but given we’re on the side of the Vikings, expect them to be shown in a much more favorable light here.
Odin was famous for spreading the eyes of his ravens across the land, offering plenty of opportunity for collectibles, but it’s the potential of the Norse sagas such as Thor and Loki’s journey into Jötunheimr that have us far more interested. Characters such as the swift-footed human and servant of thor Thialvi could easily make sly appearances, while powerful beings like the world serpent, or Fenrir the monstrous wolf could be fearsome creatures to encounter.
Ubisoft wants to integrate the gods directly into the world per nordic beliefs of the time, which means we could see them integrated into battles through powers or summoning capabilities, but don’t expect to see mighty beings wreaking havoc on the battlefield. Assassin’s Creed is a far more grounded setting than God of War, after all.
While we know King Alfred of Wessex will be making an appearance as one of the main antagonists, and Ubisoft stated in an interview with Eurogamer that he’ll be more of a nuanced character than a straight-up villain. We also expect to see Guthrum, leader of the Danelaw, show up. One of Alfred’s greatest rivals, Guthrum spread his forces down towards Wessex, facing Alfred several times before forcing his dramatic retreat in 878.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla looks to build on the open-worlds of Origin and Odyssey, but this time giving you a Viking settlement to support and expand. Over the course of the game, you’ll see your settlement expand and prosper as you complete quests that benefit it. It’s based on this settlement that we reckon Valhalla will take place over the course of quite a few years, with your company of settlers dragged into several conflicts with the forces of Alfred, likely at the behest of Guthrum.
England of the 800s was a far less vertically developed place, which means we could see far less scampering up walls and general parkouring than in previous titles. We’re sure Ubisoft will find some way to add in a selection of stealth kills and assassin takedowns, but Vikings make for the least likely assassins of all the game’s settings thus far. That said, the CGI trailer did make a special effort to show off the fact that hidden blades are back, so that should act as some consolation to assassination fans.
And what of the future?
Yes, much as players continue to grumble about it, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will continue to include present-day connections, continuing Layla’s story from Origins and Odyssey. This time, Ubisoft is promising new approaches to the modern story, though we know little about what that means. The AC games have always struggled with their connection to the present day, but each new release offers a chance to improve on the approach and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Valhalla will offer the best approach yet.
Are you excited for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla? Let us know your thoughts and predictions in the comments below.
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Henry Stenhouse was formerly a PhD physicist before being born anew in the fires of game journalism. An unashamed Super Smash Bros. fanatic, he’s still waiting for the rest of the editorial team to accept his daily challenges for an Ultimate showdown. Other genres of interest include FPS, RTS and western RPGs. You can follow him on Twitter at @Fernoface