In fact, in the video you can see the Vikings spending time with their families at their home in Norway, the land that will be the backdrop to the first bars in Valhalla. From the trailer, we can also get a feel for the political situation in England, the predominant setting for this new iteration of the Ubisoft brand.
In the reveal, of course, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla limited itself to briefly introducing itself, giving players the chance to take a first look at the Vikings, Saxons, and other ethnic groups stationed on British lands. . Will King Alfred the Great be the classic stereotypical antagonist driven by bad intentions? No, the main producer Julien Laferrière assures us during our discussion on the game. Will all the Vikings be good and pure? The answer is no, even then.
What is certain is that Valhalla was built around a very precise principle: the Vikings were not only brutal invaders but also great colonizers. Of course, they were fierce warriors but also a bunch of people with a rich culture and articulate mythology. This new chapter of Assassin’s Creed aims to explore these aspects of their history in detail. The central hub of the story will be the New Village, a kind of hub for the player where Eivor, the protagonist and his companions can meet. It is a familiar starting point from which to begin our adventure and also the place where you will witness the consequences of your decisions.
We are facing a further step forward for the series compared to the first experiences in the RPG genre (Origins) and its natural evolution (Odyssey), an implementation that seems to want to fill the few gaps left for the brand during its transformation into Game. . real role. Basically, instead of embarking on a never-ending adventure to uncover the game’s huge map, the story of Valhalla has been built around life in your village.
“It really is your Viking village: you will see it grow and prosper with the members of your clan,” Laferrière explained during a video call. “It is the center of the missions you will have to face and also a place that will reflect the consequences of your choices. We want players to see the results of their actions. Most of the game’s story arcs will start and end here, and anything you do during your campaign will have an impact on the community. You will see the effects of alliances (such as marriages celebrated to forge strong relationships between different clans) and you will have to face the results of the “hard choices you will be called upon to make.” The village is also the place where the emotional relationships between the characters will take place (if you choose to undertake one).
“This element has radically changed the appearance of the game we create,” explains Laferrière. “Instead of exploring one territory at a time and moving on to the next without any real reason to go back to the previous one, the presence of the colony clearly changes the structure of this new chapter of Assassin’s Creed. So you will find yourself setting out on a quest, and after completing it you will be encouraged to return to your camp. It’s a small change that dramatically changes your approach to the game. At least that’s what we hope. ”
It’s not a completely new concept for the franchise, but it’s been a while since Assassin’s Creed last attempted to give players a safe haven (aside from ships and trains, the latest example in date comes from Assassin’s Creed 3). On top of that, it’s a pretty well established idea of gameplay in the genre. As Laferrière asserts, the colonies of Valhalla will follow the operations of Skyhold or Normandy, places where players could return again and again. By developing the village, it will be possible to have access to new structures to customize and improve such as barracks, blacksmiths or tattoos.
The artwork revealed during the reveal suggests Valhalla’s particular emphasis on British soil, a factor also highlighted by the trailer. It is precisely here that the House of Eivor will be founded. However, it wouldn’t be a good game with the Vikings if Scandinavia and Norway were not given the right importance, the initial settings for this new installment of the series. “It is important to understand where these people come from,” explains Laferrière. “You will be able to touch the hardness of these lands and the political pressure typical of this historical period. After experiencing the nature of this landscape, we hope you understand the reasons for the characters moving to England, the place where the biggest will take place. part of the plot. “The British territories will therefore be the main part of the game map but, as Laferrière acknowledges, there will also be“ some areas that will surprise you ”.
It is in England of course that you will meet King Alfredo, the one who in the trailer is portrayed as the main antagonist of the story, with many Templar artifacts in the background. Laferrière, however, assures us that the king will be a much more complex character than he appears. “He’s shown that way in the trailer, but during the adventure you’ll find that his personality is much more complex,” he says. The plot of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla will revolve around the Vikings campaign against him and his success in rejecting the Norse peoples which led to the unification of parts of England. “Alfredo the Great is a very important historical figure that we wanted to deal with to the best of our ability,” explains Laferrière. “To do this, we carefully analyzed his actions to ensure the right depth of the character. ”
We did not go into the details of the story of our protagonist, Eivor, because on the one hand Ubisoft wants to avoid any kind of spoiler and, on the other hand, wants to allow the player to completely shape it, during the plot . One factor that isn’t clear in the trailer is that Eivor can be played in either a male or female version and the gender choice is just one aspect of the character that can be changed. Beard, tattoos and war paint on the face can be customized. You will have the freedom to choose your equipment and, as Laferrière says, even your Viking boat (oh yes, you will have a Viking boat available). You will be able to hold a weapon in each hand and the shields will return, having been neglected guilty of Odyssey. Why, then, did the Valhalla trailer focus only on the male version of Eivor? The answer, as in the case of Kassandra and Alexios in Odyssey, is that marketers will “show them both at different times when promoting the game.”
The other interesting character seen in the trailer is the hooded individual that Eivor identifies as Odin, the father of the Norse gods. In Odyssey, players might encounter characters and creatures from Hellenic mythology, and it looks like Valhalla will continue to offer similar situations. “Of course, we couldn’t help but get into Norse mythology,” says Laferrière. “We have found a fascinating way to integrate this type of mythology into the lore of the series but we will not be revealing the details to avoid generating spoilers. What I can tell you is that the gods will play a relevant role in the daily life of the characters. According to popular belief, in fact, the gods walked among men and were involved in their struggles: this was a very important part of the spirituality of the Vikings. This is precisely how we dealt with the gods in the game, true to the traditions and beliefs of the “times”.
As for the crow seen in the overview video, many players have guessed its role: the animal will actually be your staunch companion during Valhalla, just like the eagles in previous incarnations of the series. “We have designed several new skills for the raven,” explains Laferrière. “Thanks to its introduction, we’ve been able to reinvent the way players explore the game world. If you notice something that catches your eye, there will most likely be some sort of hidden content waiting for you. Plus, if you think having a camp on hold might lead to more fluid exploration of settings, it looks like it won’t. “We want to create a world that rewards players’ curiosity. The Vikings were great explorers and therefore the world must be rich and diverse. ”
As we said, you will find yourself exploring the environments by land and sea although, apparently, the naval battles seen in the past have been somewhat reduced. There will be no sections where you can sit and shoot cannons at other ships: the Vikings simply did not adopt these practices. Boats in this case represent the fastest way to cross English lands thanks to the waterways which, at the time, were the main routes that connected the various regions. On top of that, boats are also the fastest way out after launching an assault on a fortress on the water.
“You can attack any military outpost you come across on the coast of England,” says Laferrière. “We want to immerse players in the definitive Viking adventure: we want to introduce you to the other parts of your clan and put you in control of your ship. Sometimes you will get resources to bring back to improve your regulations or to create the tools necessary to deal with the higher level bandits scattered around the game world. ”
The prospect of sharing the journey with fellow Clan mates immediately made us wonder if there was any truth behind the rumors of an alleged co-op mode in Valhalla (a gameplay element shyly explored only in Unity, in 2014). Unfortunately, Ubisoft has confirmed that the cooperative will not be included in Valhalla but some sort of interaction with other players seems to be expected. “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is a single player game,” says Ubisoft, “with several online components that will encourage players to create and share their progress and work. ”
The developers also wanted to point out that the new chapter in the series will help expand the horizontal narrative that unites all incarnations of the saga: the story of the First Civilization. Layla will also return, the character included in the present timeline, whose story got quite interesting in Odyssey’s latest expansion. “We found a way to blend the present and the past to create a whole new experience for the players,” said Laferrière. “There are also playable games in the present, yes I can confirm that. ”
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla has been in development for over two and a half years with the Origins team, Ubisoft Montreal, led by Ashraf Ismail, the creative director of some of the saga’s best episodes such as Origins and Black Flag.
However, the new incarnation of Assassin’s Creed can boast the support of 14 other development studios around the world. It’s a monumental project, designed to debut on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X at the end of the year (with releases already confirmed for PS4, Xbox One, and Stadia) and looks set to redefine. , again, the Assassin’s Creed series.