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Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – First Impressions

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is the latest entry into the long running series and released alongside the new Xbox Series X/S, on 10/11/20!

As a launch title for the Xbox Series X and S, you know I had to give this bad boy a try. I actually wrote about why I’ve been so excited to start Next Gen with Valhalla. So in keeping with that, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is my first Xbox Series game.

Now I haven’t played it a lot, man’s gotta work and that. I have played the opening though, and have at least the initial feel for the game. So here are my thoughts so far!

What’s hap’nin?

This really will be a no spoiler section, which will be a first for me. I won’t mention anything not tied to gameplay or shown in trailers already. 

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Let me just say that the opening to Valhalla might be one of the strongest starts of any Assassin’s Creed. It’s pretty cinematic, brutal, and emotional. It is the perfect set up for the opening “tutorial” section of the game. You are also instantly invested in the main character Eivor. 

Now of course this wouldn’t be Assassin’s Creed without a modern day storyline too. If I’m being honest, since we lost Desmond I’ve not really cared for it. Even though Black Flag might be my fave AC game, I just don’t care. Get me into the damn Animus and let me murder people guilt free! Jeez!

Anyway, through some shenanigans you and your sworn brother Sigur travel to England. Not just the 2 of you, it’s not a romantic get away or anything. You bring a lot of the members of your clan, all hoping to start anew.

Here is where you find and start to build your new settlement and life. This is around where I’ve gotten to, well a bit further but that’s the gist. The only thing I know about the rest of the story is that you are trying to carve out a chunk of England. Enough that you and your clan can live comfortably and happily.

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Whatcha doin’?

The main hook of the game is that you are trying to make your way in England. As part of your clan you must find and build a settlement, a new home. You can do this by murdering and pillaging, which I personally advise, or you can forge relationships.

There’s a whole lot of land to conquer and factions to work alongside. England for example is split into 4 kingdoms, each with their own rulers. Then there are different groups of Danes and the Ragnarssons, the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok. You will have to make choices about who you want to side with and when. This may actually give Valhalla some decent replayability, that remains to be seen though.

You can take your longboat up and down England, through the river systems. Along the way, you will come across plenty of towns and settlements that you can visit. Or if you’re more inclined, you can find forts and encampments. Then you can go on a raid, charging your longboat right up the bank. 

Then you just go mad and murderfy everyone! Just take them all out, along with your crew. These typically yield rewards like supplies for your settlement or materials.

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These supplies and materials can then be taken back to your own settlement to build upon it. Building a smithy gets you access to weapon and armour upgrading. Or you could build a store so that you can pick up arrows or rations for example.

What I really like so far is that your choices here give you pretty strong and immediate bonuses. Getting access to the smithy right away so that you can be stronger will help you raid better. The more you raid the better supplies you get and so on and so forth.

Any problems?

There aren’t many problems so far, at least in my experience. There were 2 things that I found however, literally just 2.

The first is minor but I’m just not a fan. Some crates and things can be broken to reveal items, simples. To break them, you use your light melee attack, this is just very clumsy. Maybe I’m doing something wrong but you will often just miss the crate entirely, flailing around. It’s not a biggie but it is irritating.

valhalla invisible shield

The second thing I found is actually a bug. After I got my first shield, I went into the menu to equip it, only it didn’t appear on Eivor. Like, his arm moved and his hand gripped something. Only there was no shield to be seen, it was real weird.

That’s it though, I have had no issues with Valhalla so far. *Touches wood* I hope it stays that way too.

Initial verdict?

As I said above, I’ve not made it too far into Valhalla, a good few hours or so. With that being the case, my opinions may very well change by the end of the game. With that in mind, I would say, tentatively, that this is a pretty good game.

If nothing else, of the more recent RPG Assassin’s Creed games, this already stands at the top.

What stuck me right away is how, even though I’m not far in, it feels the least tired. By that, I am specifically referring to the Ubisoft-Fatigue. That “Ubisoft-Mess” that every one of their open world games has these days. Valhalla feels better right off the bat, if this stride is carried through I’ll be very happy.

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Another key is the opening. It’s so damn good! I said above already but it really is one of the strongest opening sequences in an Assassin’s Creed game. I’m having a really hard time thinking of any of the other games that top this. Maybe if you count everything from AC2 before Ezio becomes an Assassin. That’s still only a maybe too. I really like the Valhalla opening, is what I’m trying to say.

The aside for that, the combat feels pretty good, I like pretty much everything with that so far. I think there’s still quite a lot of progression and variation to come which will be fantastic.

It looks gorgeous, from the snap caps in Norway to the more green England and the riverways. Valhalla is gorgeous and there are plenty of photogenic scenes, even I take notice. I never take notice! Well not never but rarely!

I mean, you get to be a Viking!

You’re a Viking. That just speaks for itself really.

valhalla longboat

Raiding is also pretty awesome! I’ve done a few minor raids, with 2 bigger ones now. All of them have felt like tight experiences and are very enjoyable. In the last one I did, I got to use a battering ram, which was just plain old fun.

I think that really sums it up, being a viking so far is dope. I just need Ubisoft to keep on this trajectory! If they do, it may end up being one of my top AC games!

Have you played Valhalla? On last gen or the new gen of consoles? Let us know in the comments below!!

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – First Impressions.
Written by Kyle Munn.

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