Picture this: England. The 9th century. You are leading a boat of men and women down a river. One of your men is singing as you pass small settlements and the occasional stone castle. You’re on your way to a raid or perhaps to locate some important loot. But for now, you’re simply a hero enjoying a moment in between the bloody chaos.
Welcome to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, the newest installment in the long-running Ubisoft franchise. Valhalla arrives just two years after the release of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, propelling us forward from the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece into the ancient world of the Vikings. I had the opportunity to participate in a gameplay preview event earlier in October where, for six hours, I was able to dive deep into the world of Valhalla. From the graphics, to the clever world-building features, to the game’s ties to the broader Assassin’s Creed lore, Valhalla is an intriguing and inviting game to immerse yourself in.
Before we go too far into our exploration of the game based on what I saw during the gameplay preview, let’s break down the basics of this new world which you, too, will immerse yourself in when you play.
The World of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
Traveling from their Nordic homelands, the Vikings of Valhalla have settled in their new home in England. There are settlements of varying sizes spread across the country. You will start in the kingdom of Ledecestrescire (you might recognize it by its modern name of Leicestershire), where the settlement of Ravensthorpe — your home base — sits. It is the 9th century and the Viking presence is nascent but growing strong. Your mission in Valhalla is to settle England and make a new clan there, too. Naturally, the presence of Vikings is not well-met by the Saxons who’ve already weathered the grip of Roman influence in the previous centuries.
Ravensthorpe is the settlement you will be able to return to regularly to build and outfit as you see fit. You will be able to use the supplies you’ve acquired on raids to improve the Ravensthorpe settlement. You can also return to Ravensthorpe to take advantage of new features like visiting the local seer, exploring the museum full of Roman artifacts, or feasting in the longhouse when you need to refuel.
Getting to Know Eivor
You will play as Eivor, a Viking warrior. Eivor is described as a community-minded character who is motivated by the prospect of achieving glory. While a benevolent person, Eivor is also not someone who will hold back when the time comes to duke it out.
One of the widely publicized new features included in Valhalla is the ability to choose Eivor’s gender and switch between playing them as either a man or a woman. The world of the Vikings is one where men and women went into battle together and women were just as valued as men in the community. In this sense, it’s refreshing to have the option to choose Eivor’s gender and explore the world of Valhalla through a different lens than yourself, if you so choose. However, because this is an older world and efforts have been made to adhere to the constructs of the time period, there is no distinct “gender-neutral” option for Eivor for those players wishing to choose it.
Whether you choose to play Eivor as a male or female, you can still customize Eivor’s look to your specifications. Sure, this is a standard feature across a variety of games, but it sure feels like there’s something special about the ways in which you can manipulate Eivor’s appearance. Everything from Eivor’s hair to tattoos to clothing can be tweaked with a basic variety of options. Choosing Eivor’s tattoos was my favorite part of the customization process because it felt like I was able to really imbue some personality into Eivor while also getting pulled in even further into the Viking world. Additionally, you will be able to change Eivor’s clothing as you play and can even collect full sets of armor throughout your various missions to help you transform into an even more badass warrior. (Yes. Please.)
What Is Your First Quest?
The first leg of your many-legged quest through Valhalla will be called the “Sons of Ragnar,” where you’ll experience what it takes to conquer another kingdom, unseat an Englishman currently in power, and work with your Viking brethren to achieve your goals. If you’ve watched the TV series Vikings, the name “Ragnar” may ring a bell. The sons of Ragnar mentioned in this quest are the sons of the famed Viking warrior-turned-king Ragnar Lothbrok. This clever insertion of history into the Valhalla gaming experience is a smart one. It pulls you deeper into the story and gets you even more curious about how all the pieces will eventually connect. Plus, who doesn’t want to hang out with the sons of one of the most famous Vikings on record?
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla will be released on November 10th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows, and Stadia. Preview the world of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla with the video above, which features over 15 minutes of gameplay. Stay tuned because we’ll be back to discuss more of the gameplay, from all the new features you’ll find when you move around this world to what it’s like going into battle. Get even more Assassin’s Creed updates here.
Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.