Yes, RPG mechanics are returning to Assassin’s Creed with this year’s Valhalla installment. Such mechanics have evolved since the days of Origins and Odyssey, though. The changes will be represented in gear, customization options, skills, and combat. Plus, similar to Odyssey, players will have the choice of assuming the role of either a male or female customizable protagonist, both named Eivor no matter which you choose.
In an interview with Game Informer, Creative Director Ashraf Ismail explained how AC’s gear system has improved. Every gear piece a player finds in Valhalla will be unique, fully upgradeable, and eventually customizable. As a result, if a player decides they want to stick with a particular piece of gear throughout the experience, such an option will be on the table.
Ubisoft Montréal also revamped skills and abilities. A large “skill graph” will allow players to tune their playstyle to the kind of Viking they prefer. For instance, the “incognito” approach serves as one option, while another playstyle permits a more aggressive playthrough. Ismail revealed, “everything from abilities to skills to weaponry, we have a fresh new take on progression that we feel is anchored in the world and the Viking fantasy we’re trying to achieve.” What makes it especially unique is the type of unlockable skills, particularly with regards to certain “synergies between skills.”
Apparently, even the bird companion, a raven, will receive new talents. Lead Producer Julien Laferrière teased as much when speaking with Eurogamer. The raven’s abilities open the door for revised exploration possibilities. Such reinvention was implemented to “re-explore the way players can explore the world so it is less reliant on UI. If you notice a distraction somewhere it’s probably because there’s some content there.” This won’t tone down the exploration aspect, though. Instead, the developers aim to reward players for being curious and venturing deeper into the world.
Combat has undergone changes since Odyssey, as well. Notably, shields are returning. With it, the developers are introducing dual-wielding. Ismail teased that players can mix and match weapons any way they see fit. Even dual-wielding two shields is a possibility. Valhalla will feature a wide variety of period-specific weapons, too. “We wanted the combat system to shine through the weaponry that made this time period unique and exciting,” Ismail noted.
Moreover, Valhalla’s combat is more visceral than ever, an aspect Ubisoft Montréal wanted to nail since the Viking age was so brutal. This much seems evident in the cinematic trailer released earlier today. Every hit should be felt; each blow should “mean something.” According to the Creative Director, “a lot of effort has gone into that sense of impact.”
But this level of detail in the combat system only functions if the enemies respond accordingly. Supposedly, they meet the challenge with their varied skill sets. For example, enemies will use the environment and each other to outwit the player. Regardless of whether a player is 10 or 20 hours into Valhalla, Ismail said they should still feel “surprised by what the enemies can do in the world and with one another.”
In terms of character, a host of customization options will be embedded beyond choosing Eivor’s gender. The choice of beards, tattoos, and warpaint will add color to the experience. Similar to previous seafaring entries, the player’s vessel, a longboat, will have its own customization and upgrade options.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla launches this holiday for the PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. This new journey will see fans enter England’s Dark Ages in an effort to establish a Viking settlement.