Assassin's Creed Valhalla has been officially announced, confirming a lot of what we already suspected: Ubisoft's next Assassin's Creed game is coming in 2020, and it's all about Vikings. As leader of a Viking clan, players will clash with the Saxons as the Norse warriors attempt to settle in England.
Here's everything we know so far about Assassin's Creed Valhalla.
When is Assassin's Creed Valhalla's release date?
There's no specific launch date yet, but Assassin's Creed Valhalla is coming "Holiday 2020." The latest rumors point toward November 17, but we'll know for sure soon enough.
We played 3 hours of Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Wes recently sat down and played a meaty 3-hour demo of Assassin's Creed Valhalla. He enjoyed his time with Ubisoft's new sprawling RPG, but hopes the final game is more surprising. "Valhalla retains classic Assassin's Creed's climbing and stealth, but I found myself thrust into combat or picking off enemies with a bow far more than going in for assassinations. The stealth feels like a holdover from a different game, but Valhalla's combat having more stuff in it than Origins or Odyssey doesn't necessarily make it more engaging over the long term, either," Wes said.
Here are the trailers for Assassin's Creed Valhalla
You can watch the trailer for Assassin's Creed Valhalla right here. It's cinematic, so we don't get a look at any real gameplay, but it gives some nice story flavor and reminds us near the end that, yes, this is still definitely an Assassin's Creed game.
And here's a 'first-look gameplay trailer' which, frankly, doesn't really show much gameplay either, but you can see a few moments of running, some tackling, a knee to the head, and an axe being thrown, plus some brief battering ram action, alongside some more cinematic visuals.
Who's the protagonist?
You'll play as Eivor, a warrior and Viking clan leader. While not shown in the trailer, players will be able to choose which version of Eivor they want to play, male or female. You can get a look at female Eivor in figurine form: She comes with the pricey ($200!) physical collector's edition, though we don't yet know if there's any in-game difference between the two versions of Eivor beside appearance and a different voice actor.
When and where is Valhalla set?
Assassin's Creed Valhalla takes place in England in the ninth century, beginning in the year 873. Your clan has left Norway behind to start a new life in England, which may be slightly more hospitable, but staking out some new territory won't be easy. You'll still have to deal with the Saxons, who aren't thrilled about your presence.
In real history, Vikings armies invaded and conquered much of England between 860 and 900 AD, but smaller raids were happening decades before that. King Alfred the Great of Wessex, a real figure, is in the Valhalla trailer above sending his soldiers out to battle the Vikings. He was one of the few English rulers to successfully beat back the Norse armies.
Is Valhalla an RPG like Odyssey?
Assassin's Creed Odyssey turned the familiar stealth action series into a full-bodied RPG experience, adding branching dialogue and player choices that could change the course of the story. It was a welcome change for the series, so we're happy to see RPG systems will continue in Valhalla.
"Advanced RPG mechanics allow you to shape the growth of your character and influence the world around you," says Ubisoft.
What does the combat look like?
There's a big battle in the cinematic trailer, and creative director Ashraf Ismail talks in detail about it in this developer's commentary video. "If you're going to make a Viking game, the combat needs to be visceral. It needs to be quite brutal," he says.
Ismail says there will be big, epic-scale battles in the game in addition to raids. It's hard to extrapolate how combat will really feel from a cinematic trailer, but it does contain some things we'll encounter in the game, including some very tall, heavily armored Saxon warriors. Ismail says these soldiers will have some weak points, which is hinted at in the video when Eivor stabs him through the knee.
Here are some notes on Eivor's confirmed combat abilities:
- There are throwing axes. You can throw them.
- Eivor can dual-wield "pretty much all combinations of weapons," even two shields if you want to. Two axes sounds better to us.
- The classic assassin's hidden blade is back, although it's less hidden this time: it comes out of a chamber on the topside of Eivor's gauntlet.
Despite a hidden blade, Eivor isn't necessarily an assassin
Ubisoft is staying cryptic about Valhalla's story right now, but creative director Ashraf Ismail did tell us a bit about Eivor's connection to the Assassins during the cinematic trailer breakdown.
In the trailer's climactic battle, Eivor uses a hidden blade (mounted on top of their wrist, decidedly unhidden), but that doesn't mean that they're part of the Assassin organization. Ismail said that Eivor does meet and work with assassins early in the game, but clarified that Eivor doesn't know much about them. He mentions that Evior shares "common ground" with the assassins, probably meaning that Eivor's toppling of Saxon rulers also rids the assassins of a few Templars.
As for why Eivor mounts their hidden blade on top of the wrist? "Eivor puts on [the hidden blade] and believes, 'This is such a kickass weapon, why would I want to hide it from my enemies?'"
Eivor's indirect link to the Assassins is reminiscent of another AC protagonist: Assassin's Creed 4's Edward Kenway. At the beginning of the game, Kenway is a free-roaming pirate who happens upon assassin robes and a hidden blade. And though he works with assassins and eventually leads London's brotherhood later in life, he spends most of AC4 ambivalent to the Assassin organization and its goals. Eivor may follow a similar path in Valhalla.
You'll manage a settlement—and a tattoo parlor
The Assassin's Creed series has occasionally delved into customizable bases in the past, but in Valhalla base management will play a major role. "It's your own Viking village you'll see prosper and grow, and which your clan mates will live in," lead producer Julien Laferrière told Eurogamer. "It's at the center of our quests and the center of the decisions you make. We want players to see the consequences of their actions."
You'll manage and grow a Viking settlement in England, which will include constructing and upgrading various buildings like a barracks, a blacksmith, and even a tattoo parlor—so you can keep yourself and your clan inked up.
You can share custom Viking raiders with friends
As you expand your Viking clan's reach from Norway into England, you'll lead massive raids against your Saxon enemies. Launch attacks from your longboat, conquer Saxon forts, and even do a bit of diplomacy: Apparently you'll be able to "forge alliances" with some of the lords of England, though we don't have details of exactly how that will work yet.
You'll also be able to build unique mercenary Viking raiders to fight alongside your clan, and you'll be able to share these marauders with your friends for them to use in their own raids. You can even earn some loot when your friends use your custom Vikings in their games.
Valhalla won't launch on Steam (for now)
Following The Division 2's exclusive PC release on the Epic Games Store rather than Steam, Ubisoft said it would be releasing "several" more games on the Epic Store in the future. Now we know Assassin's Creed Valhalla is one of them. It will also be available on Ubisoft's Uplay launcher.
Will there be smooching?
There was a lot of romancing in Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and Valhalla is carrying forward that game's "advanced RPG mechanics." Love in the time of Vikings can apparently happen: Eurogamer's piece states that romance options are available and take place in the Viking settlement you manage.
Will the present-day story continue?
Yep. The modern day character of Layla Hassan first appeared in Assassin's Creed Origins and then again in Odyssey, and players will inhabit her for a third time in Valhalla. "We've found a way to blend the present day into a new type of experience for players," lead producer Julien Laferrière told Eurogamer.
Mythical hero Beofwulf will make a Valhalla appearance
As was recently let slip, apparently there will be a The Legend of Beowulf DLC mission for Valhalla where players will "discover the cruel truth" behind the hero. Beowulf is an Old English epic poem that follows the life of the brutal warrior and his battles with three vicious monsters, including one terrifying dragon.
What's up with the bear? Do we get a pet bear?
Well, we don't know for sure yet, but there's a picture of Eivor next to a badass bear that would seem to suggest you spend some time with a bear in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. We are definitely in favor of spending some time with a badass bear. There was animal taming in Origins and Odyssey, so maybe we'll see something similar in Valhalla. As soon as we have more bear info, we'll share it here.