After an extended teaser announcement, Ubisoft revealed Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the next entry in the long-running series, with a release date window of the 2020 holiday season for PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, PC exclusively on the Epic Games Store and Ubisoft Store, Google Stadia, and UPlay+.
Revealed alongside a cinematic trailer offering a glimpse of the new setting and characters, Ubisoft confirmed Valhalla will be set in ninth-century Europe, as players take on the role of Eivor, a Viking raider who leads their people out of Norway and into the kingdoms of England. Valhalla is being developed at Ubisoft Montreal, which previously developed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed Origins, with over a dozen Ubisoft associate studios contributing as well to the new game.
Gameplay – Settlements, Raids, Customization
While the reveal trailer did not showcase direct gameplay, many of its scenes echo the new additions Valhalla is making to the franchise’s gameplay.
The open world setting of England’s Dark Ages and Viking culture will also bring with it some key elements to Valhalla’s gameplay, perhaps most notably the Viking settlement Eivor is leading.
Sounding akin to Black Flag’s Inagua settlement, and even Ezio’s Assassin’s Creed II villa before it, Valhalla game director Ashraf Ismail told IGN ahead of the announcement more about how important the settlement is to Eivor’s story, as well as what the gameplay of it may look like.
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“The settlement is a key feature of the game. It’s quite grand in what we’re trying to achieve with it. We want you to feel that this is your home, that you’re building, that a lot of what you’re doing in the game world is, at the end of the day, going to feed into the settlement so that it can grow, it can flourish. We have a ton of buildings that people can build. Each building comes with its own gameplay purpose,” Ismail said.
“There’s a lot of effort that’s gone into making sure that players can feel like this home that they’re developing is really meaningful to them. It’s meaningful to the journey that they’re on. The people that they invite to their settlement have meaning to them. Lots of events and things happen based on how you decide to kind of grow this place. It’s really core to the experience of the game.”
Of course, Eivor will need to leave their settlement and venture out into the world to experience it in true Assassin’s Creed style, and Valhalla introduces more adjustments there as well.
The introduction of the Viking longship points to naval combat, which this development team pioneered in Black Flag, while Eivor will also be able to lead their people on raids from the waterfront to gather resources and money.
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Valhalla will also update the combat that saw a major revision in Origins, introducing dual-wielding weaponry against a promised “greater variety of enemies than ever before.”
And Valhalla will build off of what Assassin’s Creed Odyssey offered in terms of player customization. In addition to playing Eivor as either male or female, players will also be able to customize Eivor’s hair, tattoos, clothing, war point, and gear. Meanwhile, choices will have to be made in the story, including dialogue choices and “political alliances” that will affect the world of Valhalla.
“There’s customization on the character we’ve never had in the [franchise] before,” Ismail said. “The gear system has been revamped quite a lot to really push a balance between having great gameplay-oriented gear, but also the look that players can really customize the look of that gear. In terms of the grander choices, it comes down to the journey and the settlement, and what do you want to leave behind in the settlement and what kind of impact do you want to have on the people that you’re trying to take care of?”
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on PS5 and Xbox Series X
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be the first entry in the series to take advantage of the PS5 and Series X, and Ismail spoke to how those new consoles are helping to bring Valhalla’s world to life for what is meant to be a “flagship” Ubisoft game on the next-gen consoles.
“Assassin’s Creed has always been committed to new technologies because our ambitions with these games and these worlds is to deliver the most immersive experience that we possibly can. So anytime there is new technology, we’re very open to it, our software is very open to it. Our software is open to it,” Ismail said. “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is meant to be a flagship game for next-gen for Ubisoft, so we’re quite excited.”
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Specifically, he said the team is quite excited about what the reduced load times will allow for the new entry’s world.
“Having significantly faster loading times, effectively means we’re able to remove some of the friction of the immersion we’re trying to go after. We’re trying to build the most immersive experiences we possibly can, so having extremely fast loading helps us out a lot with that. These worlds, the Dark Ages of England and Norway, these are breathtaking, living worlds. So to be able to push them to an incredible potential is wonderful for us,” he said.
Story and World
As the reveal trailer indicates, Eivor’s journey will take them and their Viking community from Norway across the North Sea to the four kingdoms of England. While all those territories will be explorable in some fashion in Valhalla, Ismail indicated there are some surprises in store.
“You can actually quite dynamically go back to Norway anytime you want. And Norway is quite breathtaking. We have the four kingdoms within England, Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia. It’s quite a large chunk of England,” he said. “There’s other surprises that I won’t spoil, but our ambition has been to deliver the Viking experience, the Viking fantasy within the Assassin’s Creed world.”
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Among the opposition Eivor and the Vikings will face is Saxon resistance, namely in the form of King Aelfred of Wessex.
Of course, this being an Assassin’s Creed entry, there will likely be some tie-ins to the modern-day story present throughout the series, as well as more on the history of the Templar and Assassins, though what that will be is a mystery for now.
Inclusion of Norse Mythology
One notable moment in the reveal trailer features Eivor seemingly spotting the Norse god Odin on the battlefield, who then transforms into a raven and flies away, a good omen amidst the battle.
Does this mean the Norse gods will heavily feature in Valhalla’s story, particularly given the name? While Ismail understandably did not want to explore the story, he said Norse mythology figures and beliefs are certainly part of the game because Eivor’s spirituality, and their belief in these gods, is very much a part of their and the Vikings daily lives.
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“The Norse beliefs and the Norse mythology was an everyday part of the culture. And this is the way we’re approaching it, from a sense of the grounded history of the Vikings and the Norse people,” Ismail said. “We also, we’re telling a personal story of Eivor. So Eivor’s perspective of the world, this is sort of what’s hinted at in that trailer, how Eivor will take a sign or see something and put their own spin on it.
“It’s an important part of Eivor’s journey through this world, but the cue [of Odin in the trailer] was the Norse people, their belief structures, that mythology itself was a part of the everyday life.
Preorder, Season Pass DLC, and Special Edition Info
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will have a season pass of DLC Ubisoft has not yet detailed, but the game will be available this holiday in several forms, including the standard edition. The other versions include:
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Gold Edition: the base game and the season pass
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Ultimate Edition: the base game, the season pass, and the ultimate pack, which includes exclusive customization content, like the Berserker Gear Pack, the Berserker Settlement Pack, the Berserker Longship Pack, and a set of Runes used to improve weapons and gear.
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Collector’s Edition: everything included in the Ultimate edition, plus a replica of Eivor and her longship (30 cm height), a collector’s case, a steelbook, a numbered certificate of authenticity, a Viking statuette of Eivorr with his raven and Dane axe (5 cm high), exclusive lithographs, and a selected soundtrack. This version will only be available on the Ubisoft store.
Preordering Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will net players an additional mission at launch, The Way of the Berserker, which has Eivor join a legendary Norse Berserker on a revenge quest.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor, host of Podcast Beyond!, and a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Debate with him which is the best in the series on Twitter @jmdornbush.