At last. No more secret messages hidden in other games, or Norse Code if you will. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is coming this year to current and next-gen consoles and finally brings horns, fur and axes into the mix. From the development team behind Black Flag and Origins, Valhalla will let us choose between a male and female version of Viking hero 'Eivor' as we battle across 9th century Norway and England. We already have some details revealed by the trailer as the series delves further into true RPG territory, but it’s time to make a wishlist. Let’s have our Viking cake and eat it too with the five things we want to see in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
1. Cities AND Wilderness
Who says you can't have it all? Pun entirely intended but the Assassin’s Creed franchise was built on thriving cities, meaning a balance of wilderness and oh-so-climbable walls is top of our Valhalla wants list. Both England and Norway have been confirmed as our prime locations, with the majority of the game across the four ‘kingdoms’ of Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia. Eivor will apparently be taking in the sights of London, York, and Winchester but we’ve got to remember that they're not exactly going to be a welcome tourist in any of these places. There’s no 'Ezio-style' cape that can hide all the fur and ink that just screams Viking Invader. How Valhalla will deliver the feelings of these individual locations without just assuming you’ll be murdered at any moment will be interesting.
It’s also worth noting that there’s no need for any of the rope launcher antics of Syndicate as London won’t reach those heady heights for at least another thousand years. Castles and natural viewpoints are going to be our best bet for those all-important climb and spin sync locations. A balance of cities and wilderness will be essential to change up the pace of longship raids and epic battles. Plus, if Odyssey’s map is anything to go by, Eivor’s longship won’t just be fun with its customisable raiding party, but essential for long-distance travel.
2. Evolved Creed combat
You weren't the only one who roared or, indeed, squeaked with excitement at that gory reveal of the return of the hidden blade in the Valhalla trailer. We’ve all missed that oh-so-satisfying murder clunk as another foe drops at the behest of the Brotherhood. Eivor popping his jewel clad version of the spring-loaded iconic gauntlet means we're back to the bladey brawling of yore. Odyssey's Broken Spear of Leonidas was a supernatural treat but summoning rains of sky arrows, and using that Hulk-style smash are probably best left on the beaches of Ancient Greece.
Valhalla is confirmed not to just bring back shields but also dual-wielding, suggesting a far crunchier approach to attacking Dark Age England. Combo-ed up with Origins and Odysseys’ light and heavy attacks and reliance on rolling out of enemies reach, this sounds like another welcome step forward for the series. Also shown very clearly in the trailer is exactly how it feels to battle someone dressed head to toe in armour, meaning that the heavier foes this time around should be a significant challenge. Castles of endless nightmare knights that demand either ultra sneaky assassination techniques or serious brawling skills are top of our Valhalla wish list. Not that we can imagine Eivor being known for their stealth…
3. Deeper relationships
As it stepped into those fully-fledged RPG boots, AC Odyssey was the first in the franchise to finally let us fulfill all those dreams of Assassin romance. Both Kassandra and Alexios happily left scattered armour and lovers on every island in Ancient Greece. While Odyssey let you add some of these lucky individuals to your crew on the Adrestia, there was no further interaction with your conquests once their story was complete. Here then, seems a perfect opportunity for richer relationships in Valhalla. Ubisoft has confirmed a village settlement that will grow with you as you progress. Here we’ll be able to shop, build, and even get tattoos as Eivor makes their way through Medieval England. Add a Viking flat white and we’ll feel like a true hipster.
Looking back, Assassin’s Creed 3’s settlement wasn’t perfect as an evolution of Ezio’s renovation of Monteriggioni - yep, still sad about the start of Brotherhood - but it was the beginning of the series building a properly populated home base. Both Unity’s Theatre and Syndicate’s moving train hideout were fun but the building of an entire Viking village and the potential it offers as Ubi hints at clan relationships and factions is an exciting prospect when it comes to building meaningful connections.
4. Truly wild wildlife and Norse monsters
Sure, Assassin’s Creed has been the ultimate history lesson but if the last few games have taught us anything else, it’s that nature is really, really angry. The wildlife in both Origins and Odyssey is gloriously violent, suggesting that what’s coming in Valhalla will be equally as dangerous. While there (hopefully) won’t be as many murderous hippos roaming across England, wild boar and wolves are top of our Valhalla wants list, not to mention essential for all that lovely fur armour to boot.
Plus, given that Eivor is switching out the series’ iconic eagle for a raven, the importance of Norse mythology here can’t be understated. The gods and monsters at work in Viking lore can easily rival those of Egypt and Ancient Greece. Even in the trailer, Eivor, not knowing he is in an Assassin's Creed game, sees a hooded figure and assumes it is Odin under a tree so it might not be too much to ask for other supernatural additions in the same style as Origins and Odyssey. Norse monsters are endless. Whether it’s the undead Draugar, the wolf Fenrir, or the giants known as the Jotnar, Eivor tackling the horrors of myths and legends would be incredible. The hidden blade might be bringing us back to crunchy reality but the ancient mystical power of Those Who Came Before’s technology might just mean we battle significantly more than just wolves. Oh, and if we don’t get to ride the eight-legged horse of Odin at any point, I say we riot.
5. Assassin's Creed Lore
Finally, love it or loathe it, we can’t just turn our backs on thirteen years of Assassin’s Creed lore just because Vikings have finally rocked up. The return of the hidden blade means the eternal struggle between the Assassins and the Templars will hopefully be back in the spotlight. The 9th century setting means we’re practically within touching distance of the original AC’s time period during the Third Crusade. Well, if three hundred years was touching distance but hey, compared to Ancient Greece, it feels practically commutable. Going by Valhalla’s trailer Eivor and co are of course fighting on the side of the freedom loving Assassins and English King Alfred the Great is looking a lot like Alfred the Templar. As ever, it’ll be a little more complex as the two factions battle for power but leaving Origins and Odyssey’s proto-Assassin stage is an exciting prospect.
Then there’s the fact that our modern day protagonist, Layla Hassan, will be getting her third outing in Valhalla with her magical DNA reading Animus. This is the device that now means Ubi doesn’t need to jump through flaming narrative hoops to let us play a new historical time period as Layla just plugs in the DNA of whoever she finds and relives their past. Origins and Odyssey have lined up an interesting progression for Layla - especially in Odyssey’s DLC - so a 21st century story to dip into might even be a welcome relaxation break from all those raids.