Be a better Viking with 9 early start-up tips for Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Assassin's Creed Valhalla is the biggest AC yet, and has plenty of content and challenge to pour through -- that's what we're here for...
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla follows in the footsteps of both Origins and Odyssey in one key way -- it’s massive. But within that “icy one day, green the next” expanse exists myriad difficulties and nuanced gameplay impediments and challenges. We’ve had the game for sometime now given it was reviewed elsewhere, but for the eager Eivors out there, the toothy surrounds of Fornburn and lakes, fjords and seas that make up its watery carpet, dotted with settlements and enemy camps ready to be raided, there’s a lot to unpack before you go looting your Viking heart away.
We played the game with few map markers, on the most difficult setting and drew a line in the snow with both of our dual-wielded axes...
These are some early, but crucial tips to help you make the most of the game, from its Norway beginnings right through to settlement in merry old England. We played the game with few map markers, on the most difficult setting and drew a line in the snow with both of our dual-wielded axes. So if you play on anything lower, these will just make the experiences even easier, but for the brave Vikingr out there, some of these tips will be crucial. Let’s kick off with the Norway starting point of the game.
ᚡ - Rations
We can’t stress this enough, especially in the early part of the game. Your main focus before even sharpening your axe should be to upgrade your rations pouch. Don’t waste any Linen you find in chests on other items because Linen is very rare, but is essential to upgrading your rations pouch, and with higher-power areas ungated, and often needing passage through, or if you follow tip ᚦ, you’re going to need to have that extra health at-hand. The game doesn’t auto-activate rations, either. So keep a keen eye on your ration count and your health bar. Pikemen and their tricky pikes are a recipe for pokey disaster, and if you find yourself at the pointy end of any weapon, and your rations are low, look for berry bushes, or cooking pots, as quickly as possible. But most important, upgrade that ration pouch before you do anything else.
ᚢ - Quoth the Raven
Depending on how you choose to play the game from a difficulty level and a UI/UX perspective, it can be hard to keep track of what you should be doing. World Events are often the more difficult to ascertain an end goal to, our best advice here is more often than not the solution is within a small radius around the actual event, and sometimes, like The King of the Hill World Event, you need to go back and trigger it a few times with context before it will complete. But on the Raven side of things, launch Sýnin into the skies and pause him or her. This will bring up world markers highlighting World Events, Treasure, Collectibles and Resources. This can be really helpful when tracking specific animals and knowing what you’ll gain from hunting that animal. When you get to England you’ll find statues littered about the landscape you can give offerings to, and these are usually things like five trout, or three hare feet. So using Sýnin to help work out what you’re going to get from a hunt helps expedite the process, and then some.
ᚣ - Dive Deep
There are rules in open-world games. Always check behind waterfalls, under bridges and try to open every door you can. If a rock formation looks suspicious, it’s because it is and you should check it. There’s treasure up in them hills. In Valhalla Odin Sight is your R3 ticket to knowing what’s around you -- yellow for treasure, blue for people or world events, green for allies and white for collectibles. Red… well, that’s the baddies.
There’s a lot of water in Valhalla, and deep down in that ancient catchment is wreckage and chests; treasure and trinkets. Any time you get into a body of water where the game prompts you to press B or Circle to dive, do it, and while you’re underwater, use your Odin Sight. Sýnin doesn’t see beneath the waves or the cool calm of any body of water, so discovery is placed solely on you, and it’s in doing this you’ll find things like the aforementioned rare Linen. You’ll need diligence and we can understand how diving into every diveable collection of water might seem tedious, but trust us, the rewards will be more than worth it.
ᚤ - Parry Away the Time
Combat in Valhalla is the tightest it’s been in the series. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting to a point now where the blueprint is present and iteration is really all that’s needed to perfect the systems. Dual-wielding is a big deal in Valhalla, and I’ve personally played close to 60 hours armed specifically with my father’s axe, and a bear-gear aligned axe. It’s easy to just use the left and right bumpers to mash your way through enemy flesh like a Viking might, but save that left bumber for parrying. Not only does it break guard (especially in boss battles), it can often leave your opponent open to a “Stun Attack”, these are often fatal and if they aren’t, they remove a significant chunk of HP in said boss battle or, they end pleb life like so much mead being sculled by our Vikingr friends. Learn the timing and key warnings, and if you master the parry, you can actually punch way above your weight. It’s an art, and one worth investing time into.
ᚥ - Ice to Meet You
There’s nothing worse than feeling like every conflict or area is an uphill battle. And resynchronisation is a pain in the arse...
Similarly to the tip about Rations and your Ration pouch, we implore you spend as much time initially in Norway as you can. Don’t rush the game’s story. England is scarily large, and full of dangers a low-level Eivor might not be able to stand up to. There’s nothing worse than feeling like every conflict or area is an uphill battle. And resynchronisation is a pain in the arse. Spending the extra time in Norway helps you gain in strength (or power ranking), while also gaining in ability and skill, as well as weaponry and armour. There’s also heaps to explore in Norway, and taking the time to learn the game’s discovery cadence will set you in good stead for the endless rolling hills of England. Trust us here. Enjoy the snow and ice while you can, until you power-rankingly can’t anymore.
ᚦ - I Can See My Settlement From Up Here
It’s sort of an Assassin’s Creed no-brainer, but Valhalla is just beyond ridiculous in size. It’s on par with Red Dead Redemption 2 in terms of geographical scope, so unlocking each synchronisation point is worth its weight in… everything. While traversing on foot or on your horse, or if you’re lucky like us, your Dire Wolf, is fun and the game-world beautiful enough it doesn’t quickly get old, time may sometimes be of the IRL essence. Having all synchronisation points unlocked gives you a fast track around the map, and helps you when you start the mopping up side of things; collecting all collectibles and 100-percenting each county, castle, ruin or basic point of interest. And, really, to unlock all of them is maybe a few hours at best, and with the upcoming tip, it can be a joyous ride anyway.
ᚧ - Game the Traversal
Whether in your longboat or on horse or wolfback, you’re given the option to “Follow the Coastline”, “Follow the River” or “Follow the Road”. With an active map marker, once you’ve done this, you can just select to head to said marker and can sit back and watch the countryside pass you by. There’s a cinematic camera, though we’d argue it’s not quite as polished as the Rockstar version of the same thing, so having a free-cam view without having to worry about any other inputs is still nice. Equally, this gives you a chance to come across emergent experiences -- a village on fire here, a settlement cursed there. An NPC trapped with his or her back to the wall as rabid wolves close in… there’s a dynamic world out there, and if you’re not Fast Traveling between synchronisation points, then you’re finding new opportunities. Just let the game input for you every once in a while. Even Vikings enjoy some luxury.
ᚨ - A Small Favour for Reda
Reda of Origins fame returns in ‘another life’ in Valhalla. The little entrepreneur has his Thousand Eyes clan everywhere, which offers up timed contracts to complete. The Opals you’ve been finding in the early part of the game -- they’re part of your economy with Reda, and he’ll come back to you with new and unique items and gear. The timed component keeps thighs fresh as you can let base-game missions and quests linger as long as you like, but Reda’s opportunities tick away like a time bomb waiting to take all chance away from you. Our suggestion is to take on his tasks as often as you can. You’ll be amply rewarded, and the timed component adds some spice to an otherwise less urgent gaming experience.
ᚩ - Raid Craft
We’ve mentioned a few times the concept around the game’s power ranking system. You can game this though. Raids are super-important to the construction and growth of your Settlement, and Raids -- the most structured part of the game -- hold the materials needed for said growth. You might, however, get caught up in the conflict of a Raid. It’s an easy borough to fall down in though. Here’s the clincher -- you don’t need to smite every enemy in sight. In fact, your crew is the best distraction during a Raid, and if you choose to chase treasures outside of your power comfort zone, B-Line for the first barricaded door, call in a viking mate and bust it open, then make headway to the all-important gold chests holding the loot you actually need. Once you’ve “Raid Completed” by opening up those chests, high-tail it out of these until you’re no longer in danger and just fast travel back to Ravensthorpe. Job’s done.
Take your time with this one. A lot of reviews are already dismissing it without putting the time in. This is a different Assassin’s Creed than any before it, and it’s a bold new step for both the developers and the franchise. There are secrets galore, there’s growth all around you and a world not set for conquering, but for moulding. There’s no rush, you’ve at least a month before that ‘other’ game rears its neon-lit face, so down the mead, tan some hide and build a life, for you and your friends.