Assassin's Creed Valhalla (opens in new tab)'s Eivor makes good use of their hands. In the cinematic trailer, we see the Viking hero dual-wielding various weapons, and it turns out that this extends to shields as well.
"Dual-wielding is a big part of the game and it's very open," says creative director Ashraf Ismail in the developer commentary above. "You can pretty much dual-wield all combinations of weapons we have. If you want to dual-wield two shields, we let you do that."
That doesn't sound especially practical, but during the larger battles you might be keen to have a bit more protection. No doubt you'll be able to batter Saxons with them, too.
Valhalla's big fights come in two flavours. First, you've got the more focused raids. The Vikings can perform hit-and-run attacks on Saxon settlements, using their longships to get behind enemy lines.
"Imagine that you have an empty highway—rivers—and you have a Ferrari that you can drive down this highway with no one around you and no one able to chase you," says Ismail. "This is what gave the Vikings the capacity to get in so deep into the land behind enemy lines to hit-and-run."
During raids, you'll need to sow chaos, using shock and awe tactics to scare people off, giving you more time to get your hands on all the loot. It sounds like there will be some pressure to get in and out quickly. Elsewhere, it's also noted that the Vikings won't just be chopping people up left, right and centre. We see Eivor showing mercy, and in these raids it's more about riches than just straight up murder.
And then there are the "epic" battles between opposing armies. "There are moments in the game with these really big epic-scale battles, on battlefields or in fortifications," says Ismail, "because it was a really big part of the history during this time, so we needed to represent that."
The series has experimented with larger battles before, namely in Odyssey, but they were also some of the game's weaker moments, lacking the dynamism of the smaller fights. Essentially you'd just kill a few specific targets in the middle of the battlefield, and then you'd win. There wasn't much too it and they ended up feeling more like minigames than actual epic scraps. Hopefully they'll be a bit more exciting this time.
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla is due out in late 2020, and we'll get our first look at in-game footage next week.