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Posted: Oct 15, 2020 - 12:46 AM
Updated: Oct 19, 2020 - 12:53 AM
As the 12th mainline release in the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla may seem similar to more recent titles, but has undergone significant changes to how combat, exploration, and items work. This page indicates many of the ways that Valhalla has changed up the formula, particularly from Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey – as they all follow a more open world RPG approach. For more impressions on Valhalla, be sure to read our preview after 6 hours of exploring England.

Narrative Changes

  • Similar to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, players will be able to choose between a female or male version of Eivor to play as. However, since the story does not include siblings, players will be able to switch between both versions at any time without impacting the story.
  • A bigger focus has been made on the main story of Valhalla, involving the journey from Norway to England and taking over the kingdoms that lie within by forging alliances. Because of this, Valhalla will not feature the same kind of open-ended side quest arcs and miscellaneous quests present in Odyssey. Instead, there will be shorter and more varied “World Events” that can be found in each of the territories.
  • Most of your main progression will begin by forging new alliances on the Alliance Map, located within your settlement – as it will grant you access to new territories and the quests necessary to win them over to your side.
  • While the exact extent of choice and consequence is unknown, there are multiple ways to solve certain objectives – which can lead to making allies or enemies out of certain factions.
  • Engaging in the activity known as Flyting can increase your charisma, which can unlock new unique dialogue options if you have the right level.
  • The struggle of the Assassins vs. the Templars is still on display to some degree, although Eivor is not immediately a part of the Assassins, she will meet those known as “The Hidden Ones” and help them to defeat adversaries known as “The Order of the Ancients”

The Settlement

  • For the first time in a long time in the series, the player will have a “home base” in the form of a viking settlement called Ravensthorpe, established shortly after your arrival in England. This settlement presents a host of new features, as you are able to build up new structures that provide you with new features and opportunities new to the series.
  • While initially small, players will be able to add new structures and cosmetics to the settlement, increasing its functions – including a stable, blacksmith, barracks, cartographer, merchant, and more.
  • Players will have the opportunity to host great feasts in celebration of their viking exploits. Doing so will grant bonuses to Eivor, and can be upgraded by building certain structures in the settlement.
  • The Legendary Hunts found in Odyssey are now part of the function of the Hunter’s Hut, and will reward you for taking on these mythic beasts.
  • A Fishing Hut can be constructed to introduce the Fishing Line, allowing Eivor to engage in a fishing minigame to procure rare fish to trade in for rewards.
  • Many trade goods found from animals will now have value beyond being sold – including given to the Hunter’s Hut for exclusive rewards.
  • The Seers Hut that can be built will allow Eivor to experience visions of Norse mythology, and travel to such lands as Asgard and Jotunheim.
  • A Tattoo and Barber Shop allows you to customize Eivor’s appearance with new unlockable tattoos that can be placed on several parts of your body, as well as different hairstyles and colors. Some of these designs can be bought, others must be found.

Combat

  • While combat is similar to what was experienced in Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey, there have been several substantial changes for certain mechanics.
  • The Hidden Blade has returned, and can be used for familiar stealth takedowns – but does not have the magical abilities that the spear in Odyssey had. However, with the right skill unlocks, you can utilize a quick time event to deal more damage to stronger targets.
  • Both Eivor and their horse now have stamina meters (blue). Sprinting, dodging, blocking, and delivering heavy strikes will all lower this meter, though it replenishes quickly – even more-so upon successful strikes.
  • Enemies have a stun meter (yellow) that is independent from their health. This can be lowered by employing certain moves – like blocking and countering attacks – and if fully depleted, will leave the enemy open to a finishing move that deals incredible damage, usually killing the target.
  • A skill can be unlocked to perform a finisher at range as well.
  • Shields have returned for the first time since Assassin’s Creed Origins, and can even be dual-wielded, as can other weapons.
  • Many weapon types have an optional alternate heavy attack – like quickly pummeling with an off-hand weapon, or spinning with a 2-handed weapon.
  • Certain enemies now telegraph some of their attacks to give you an indication of how to respond – especially bosses. Orange lights mean the attack can be parried to upset them, while red flashing means the attack cannot be blocked.
  • When aiming a bow, players will now see glowing orange spots on a random part of an enemy that denotes a weak point – which can be hit to deal massive damage and stun enemies.
  • Raiding certain territories is now essential for accumulating supplies necessary to build out your settlement. Calling for a raid will deploy your viking allies to attack and pillage certain sites, allowing you to haul away supplies that cannot be gained alone.
  • Given the relatively small size of viking longships, naval combat has taken a backseat – and your longship is now mainly used to transport you and your viking crew to other areas to raid.

Gear

  • Gear has been overhauled from Origins and Odyssey, and will no longer be obtained in the frequency it used to. Valhalla’s system prioritizes quality and upgrading from a smaller set vs. the larger quantity found in previous games.
  • Each piece of gear is aligned to one of three types – Bear (red), Raven (yellow), or Wolf (blue). The alignment of your gear can determine what bonuses it gains from skills you have invested in.
  • Different bow types include different types of ammo, as well as different rates of fire and power.
  • Each weapon has its own unique ability – like increasing critical damage or speed on successful hits.
  • All armor now comes in sets, and provides special bonuses for wearing a complete set.
  • Collectible Runes can be inserted much like engravings, though they must be bought or found in the world first, and can be swapped out.
  • Gear can be upgraded by Eivor up to a certain threshold, but to increase the quality even further, they must be enhanced at the Blacksmith.
  • Enhancing gear can be done a few times, and will change the visual look of the gear, and the amount of runes that can be equipped.
  • While some gear can be bought, much of it is now found in special chests hidden across the world.

Exploration

  • While the map in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is much smaller in scale compared to Odyssey and Origins, there have been changes to provide more activities and places of interest to explore.
  • Instead of the various camps, fortresses, and other sites that included a checklist of objectives and collectibles, points of interest in Valhalla will be much more free-form and loose. Objectives and collectibles are now marked with color coded glowing dots representing caches of Wealth, Mysteries containing events and activities, and collectible Artifacts.
  • Horses can now be taught to swim to traverse the many rivers in England.
  • Your raven will no longer be able to mark targets while flying overhead, but can help you pinpoint the locations of various types of collectibles and points of interest.
  • Territories now indicate their power with one number compared to Origins and Odyssey, and will now display the amount of Wealth, Mysteries, and Artifacts you can obtain across the entire territory.
  • Your longship can be used to traverse the rivers of England, and can be set on autopilot to a marked point much like your horse can.
  • Social stealth has returned in some capacity, and Eivor can blend in when exploring towns where guards would consider them suspicious. This can include blending in with monks, sitting on benches, and other activities.
  • Certain areas contain treasure behind locked doors, and you’ll be tasked with finding the keys in various ways.
  • Wandering armored hunters named Zealots have replaced the mercenaries of Odyssey, and may seek out Eivor and their clan at certain points. They are often extremely tough as they are found wandering the roads of England’s territories, and while they are not immediately hostile, they may eventually seek you out based on certain decisions you’ll be forced to make and the notoriety you accumulate.

Skills and Abilities

  • Both Skills and Abilities have been changed from how they were presented in Origins and Odyssey, and are now much more distinct.
  • Abilities that can be activated from either melee or ranged combat that cost adrenaline are no longer obtained from leveling up, and are now only unlocked from finding the required Book of Knowledge.
  • Certain Books of Knowledge can also improve the ability a second time, giving it new features.
  • Passive skills or active ones that do not require adrenaline have now been moved to a large Skill Tree, and can be unlocked as you progress through various constellations of skills.
  • Skills like safely falling from heights, chain assassinations, and shooting guided arrows are no longer part of your assignable abilities, and are now unlocked in different parts of the skill tree.
  • Larger more important skills are nested between smaller incremental upgrades to damage, speed, defense, etc. Some skills will also improve your stats when wearing the right type of aligned gear. You can also find adrenaline upgrades in some parts of the skill tree.
  • Leveling up will only give you additional Skill Points to spend, and gaining more Skills is the only way to increase your overall power – which is measured against the overall power of an enemy or territory.

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