[Editor’s note: This review reflects opinions formed during an Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla gameplay demo event, not the final version of the game.]
Ubisoft’s newest installment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, arrives just two years after Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. A new installment means a new world, a new story, and a new hero. After attending a six-hour gameplay preview event earlier in October, I had the chance to experience all of these new aspects of Valhalla (and many more). I came away from the event feeling hungrier than ever to return to Valhalla and continue playing. Perhaps it’s because the world of Valhalla isn’t even close to the world I currently live in or perhaps it’s because the gameplay demoist I worked with made Valhalla feel raw, bold, and exciting.
If, for some reason, you’ve missed out on any of the numerous Valhalla trailers which have been released in recent months, here’s the general gist of the newest Assassin’s Creed game: It’s the 9th century. You are Eivor, a very customizable Viking warrior who has traveled from their native Norway to England, a land broken up into small kingdoms, each with their own ruler. Your mission is not only to help settle this new world for your Viking clan but settle England and unite the kingdoms for your people. To do that will require raiding, looting, and encountering a variety of friends and foes along the way who will help you level up and get closer to your goals.
Valhalla is breathtaking from the jump. I was absolutely stunned when, after making my way through the requisite menus and finally getting started, I was plunged into an ancient world flush with fall foliage. Amidst the orange and yellow trees were Viking huts of various sizes, the was a crackle of a fire in the air, the sound of the settlers of Ravensthorpe wafting through the air; it felt like a good day to get into some epic adventuring.
As is the case with every Assassin’s Creed game, one quest leads to another, so to break down even the first quest would be complicated and spoiler-y and we simply do not have the time. What I will say is that the first quest you, as Eivor, will be plunged into not only has strong roots in actual Viking history but is such an all-encompassing, enticing, and well-planned quest that time seems to fly by. The storytelling is strong here, with cutscenes making room for laughs and good narrative-building alike. You feel reeled in and the characters you meet along the way in the first of your many quests are ones you hope to keep spending time with. And as you go along, new elements added to this particular Assassin’s Creed installment, like playing drinking games or participating in a round of flyting, make for a welcome respite from the main story which only makes this game even more fun to play.
One of the most impressive aspects of Valhalla — and my favorite, for what it’s worth — is raiding. It’s a key part of life as a Viking and Valhalla ensures plenty of opportunities to participate in raids of all sizes as you go along. There’s a thrilling, visceral quality to battling opponents in this game. Wooden shields and double-headed axes are some of the Viking-specific weaponry in your toolbox and damn if it isn’t fun to see them deployed in the heat of the moment. If living and breathing the Viking life doesn’t click with you before you raid, then getting into the heat of combat with your Viking clan certainly will.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla will be released on November 10 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows, and Stadia. For more, stay tuned for our previews of various features in the new game and get all the Assassin’s Creed updates you need here.
Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.