Assassin's Creed Valhalla

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Assassin's Creed Valhalla
ACValhalla.jpg
Developer(s)Ubisoft Montreal[a]
Publisher(s)Ubisoft
Director(s)Ashraf Ismail[b]
Producer(s)Julien Laferrière
Writer(s)
Composer(s)
SeriesAssassin's Creed
EngineAnvilNext 2.0
Platform(s)
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
  • WW: November 10, 2020
PlayStation 5
  • NA: November 12, 2020
  • AU: November 12, 2020
  • EU: November 19, 2020
Genre(s)Action role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

Assassin's Creed Valhalla is an upcoming action role-playing video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the twelfth major installment and the twenty-second release in the Assassin's Creed series, and a successor to the 2018 game Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Set in 873 AD, the game recounts a mythological history of the Viking invasion of Britain. The player controls Eivor, a Viking raider who becomes embroiled in the conflict between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order.[c]

The game is set to be released on November 10, 2020, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, and Stadia. A PlayStation 5 version is set to be released on November 12.

Gameplay[edit]

Assassin's Creed Valhalla is an open world action-adventure game, structured around several main story quests and numerous optional side missions. The player takes on the role of Eivor (/ˈvɔːr/),[4] a Viking raider, as they lead their fellow Vikings against the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The player will have the choice of playing Eivor as either male (voiced by Magnus Bruun [da]) or female (voiced by Cecilie Stenspil [da])[5] and is able to customise Eivor's hair, warpaint, clothing, armor, and tattoos.[6] The variety of weapons available to the player has been expanded to include weapons such as flails and greatswords. Combat has been changed to allow dual wielding of almost any weapon, including shields,[7] and every piece of gear that the player collects is unique.[1] The Eagle Vision mechanic of previous titles will return in the form of "Odin Sight".[8] The player's companion animal will be a raven named Sýnin[9][10] (Old Norse for "insight")[11][d] who can be used to scout the nearby areas, much like previous avian companions had done in Origins and Odyssey, and other parts of the game world from afar before Eivor engages in combat.[12] There will be more focus on the stealth aspects for both traversing the game world and in combat. The "social stealth" concept from earlier Assassin's Creed games will return: Eivor can hide from enemies not only in stationary environmental objects, but can pull down their hood and slip into certain crowds to use them as cover. Eivor can feign death, use their raven to distract guards, and can access a hidden blade for near instantaneous assassinations. The game's key bosses will all, through specific combinations of approach, tactics, and weapon selection, be able to be assassinated through a single attack, but still can be defeated through numerous other routes.[13]

Valhalla will have a similar structure of main story missions and a number of optional side missions. While the main storyline in past Assassin's Creed games typically moved linearly through the main sections of the game world, Valhalla has the player often returning back to the main settlement and back to areas previously visited as information about the new areas of England are learned by the Vikings through reconnaissance or from contacts. Not all missions require violent ends, with some that can be resolved through diplomatic means.[14] Player choices through conversation or gameplay options will affect the characters and their political alliances with other non-player characters.[7] The game will rely less on a traditional leveling system and instead focus more on the selection of skills through skill trees selected by the player as Eivor advances through the game. The difficulty posed by enemies will be rated based on the player's collection of skills.[7]

The development team aimed to introduce a wider range of enemy archetypes to Valhalla than in previous Assassin's Creed titles as they wanted the player to be continually surprised by the game even after playing for tens of hours.[7] Enemy archetypes will have their own special abilities that they can use against the player.[7] Narrative director Darby McDevitt said that the game has 25 unique enemy archetypes, and each "has a unique way of challenging the player." Some enemy types can coordinate with each other special attacks. Enemies can also use objects in the environment to their advantage. Some enemies are also capable of adapting to the player's actions and combat and finding ways to defend themselves. Enemies can also show personality during combat. While some might be intimidated by Eivor and fight more defensively, others might be more aggressive in their approach.[15]

Conquest Battles, a feature introduced to the series in Odyssey, will return. They will be known as "Assaults" and will see the player lead Viking armies to attack fortifications.[7] Raids are smaller battles where the player leads a raiding party to attack a target and secure resources for their settlement.[7] The player will be able to build a raiding party by recruiting non-player characters to assist with these.[16][12] The player will be able to create a Viking mercenary, or Jomsviking, that can be recruited by other players to act as a non-playable character within those games; the player will gain additional in-game rewards for successful missions that their Jomsviking takes part in.[16]

The game will see the return of settlements, which have been absent from the series since Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. However, where these settlements offered the player passive gameplay bonuses, settlements in Valhalla will take on a renewed importance. Game director Ashraf Ismail described this as being "[because] a lot of what you're doing in the game world is, at the end of the day, going to feed into the settlement so that it can grow, it can flourish." Quests will start and finish in the settlement and the player will be able to direct construction of certain types of buildings, which in turn provide benefits for gameplay. To build these structures, the player will need to lead the Vikings on raids to collect resources.[17] In addition, the player can forge diplomatic weddings to form relationships between clans in the community.[18] As with Odyssey, the player as Eivor will be able to explore romance options for Eivor, including same-sex relations.[13]

Though the use of naval transport has returned, naval combat has been dialled back. Eivor's longship will act more as a means of travel when performing raids and for escaping after land combat, rather than being used in combat with other naval vessels.[12][19] In addition to these, the player can engage in a variety of activities such as; hunting, fishing, brawls with other Vikings, drinking contests, and flyting challenges, which Ubisoft described as "Viking rap battle[s]",[20] in addition to a mini dice game called "Orlog" and Cairn construction.[21][22]

Premise[edit]

The movement of the Great Heathen Army in England in 865 AD during the Viking expansion, near the time when Valhalla takes place, and showing some of the kingdoms the player will explore in the game

In 873 AD, war and overcrowding in Norway prompts Eivor and their brother Sigurd to lead their clan of Vikings to settle new lands in Anglo-Saxon England,[7][23][24] as part of the Viking expansion across Europe. The clan comes into conflict with the kingdoms of Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia over the next several years,[23][25] as well as the warring sons of the legendary Viking warrior Ragnar Lothbrok, who made up the Great Heathen Army.[24] Eivor's clan will face forces led by the leaders of these kingdoms, including Alfred the Great, the king of Wessex.[17][26] It is during this time that Eivor meets the Hidden Ones and joins their fight against the Order of the Ancients.[7][c] Explorable cities include Winchester, London, and York.[27][e] Parts of Norway will also be included.[7][f]

As with previous games in the series, Valhalla features a narrative set in the modern day. This story will follow Layla Hassan, a character featured in Origins and Odyssey. Valhalla will also contain story elements related to the Isu, who, as part of the lore of the Assassin's Creed series, are an advanced civilisation that pre-date humanity.[12][17]

Development[edit]

Assassin's Creed Valhalla had been in development for more than two and a half years by its announcement in April 2020. The main development was led by the Assassin's Creed Origins team at Ubisoft Montreal and supported by fourteen other Ubisoft studios worldwide.[12] While the tail-end of the game's development fell during the COVID-19 pandemic, the bulk of the Ubisoft staff assigned to the game were able to work from home with support of Ubisoft's information technology departments, assuring the game was ready for release in 2020.[14]

Ashraf Ismail served as the creative director,[b] having previously led work on Assassin's Creed Origins and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.[12] The game's narrative director was Darby McDevitt, who was the lead writer for Assassin's Creed: Revelations and Black Flag and co-writer of Assassin's Creed Unity.[30] USGamer's Mike Williams described the large scope and effort behind Assassin's Creed Valhalla as the equivalent of the series' "grand unifying theory" to combine all the past design and development work into a single vision without necessarily reinventing any of the previously developed concepts.[30] McDevitt explained that Valhalla's story was written as a recap of all the prior Assassin's Creed games, connecting them in non-trivial fashions, but not intended to be the final game in the series.[23] He also stated that his experimental structure to the narrative was "quite unique for any game" he had seen as well as for the Assassin's Creed series itself.[23]

Ismail cited Michael Crichton's 1976 novel Eaters of the Dead—itself a retelling of the epic poem Beowulf—as playing a major role in influencing Valhalla's setting.[7] McDevitt said that the development team recognized there would be similarities to the God of War games, but felt those games "skew very heavily towards the mythology", whereas Ubisoft wanted Valhalla to be a more "historically grounded" experience.[31] Elements of Norse mythology will appear in the story. According to game director Ashraf Ismail, this will be based on how Eivor and the Vikings may take uncommon events to be signs of their gods' involvement rather than the more overt role that mythology played in Origins and Odyssey. This was particularly in light that much of the game takes place in England where Christianity dominated, so that the narrative and gameplay shows how Eivor would incorporate such foreign elements into their belief system.[7][17][23] On the ability to select Eivor's gender, Thierry Noël, an advisor to the game, stated that while there was still historical debate to how much degree females participated as warriors within the Vikings, Ubisoft believed that women featured prominently in both Norse mythology and society, and so sought to reflect the Viking idea that "women and men are equally formidable in battle".[6]

In researching the time period, Ismail and McDevitt said that the development team found that most historical records of the Viking expansion into Britain were written decades, if not centuries, after the event. They were often written from the perspective of the Anglo-Saxons and so portrayed Vikings as bloodthirsty invaders.[4] However, the development team felt that this overlooked the Vikings' success in settling in England and the contributions they made to agricultural practices and their influence on the English language. The development team thus sought to portray the Viking Age more accurately, emphasising elements such as the settlement. This was represented in the trailer and promotional materials by juxtaposing Alfred the Great's narration warning of the threat posed by the Vikings with scenes showing the Viking community. This research, in turn, led the team to make the settlement a focal point of the game and gave Valhalla more of a role-playing flavor, according to lead producer Julien Laferrière. He compared the settlement's relevance to the importance of Skyhold in Dragon Age: Inquisition or the SSV Normandy in Mass Effect. Laferrière added that the team came to use the settlement not only to show the more cultured side of the Vikings, but as a means to show the player the results of choices they made in the game, including the "harsh choices [one had] to face" from missions.[12]

In a Tweet that was later deleted, Ubisoft's head of communications for the Middle East Malek Teffaha discussed the subject of the game world where he stated that Valhalla will not be the largest or biggest game in the series.[32] Teffaha also stated that Valhalla would address one of the main criticisms of Odyssey, namely that the game suffered from a bloated world populated by repetitive locations; in their review of Odyssey, IGN noted that the main story campaign—not including downloadable content—lasted for roughly forty hours, but that completing every side quest and location could extend that to over one hundred hours.[33] In a later interview with Kotaku, Ismail described that much of the game's world was "handcrafted" and that they had put effort to developing content that was worthwhile for the player to explore and find that content, keeping it about "uniqueness" and "about respecting our players’ time and giving them mysteries and puzzles to sort of resolve".[14]

Music for the game was composed by Jesper Kyd and Sarah Schachner, both whom have worked on past Assassin's Creed games. Einar Selvik, who had written original songs for the History Channel show Vikings, will work with Kyd and Schachner for new songs for Valhalla.[34][35]

In June 2020, among other issues related to sexual misconduct within Ubisoft, Polygon reported that Ismail "said he would step down from the project following accusations of multiple extramarital affairs with younger fans. [...] Ubisoft later confirmed his departure to Polygon".[36] In the month that followed, several other high-level executives from Ubisoft were also forced to leave the company, including the company's chief creative officer Serge Hascoët. Reports from French newspaper Libération and American news agency Bloomberg News stated that besides concerns related to professional misconduct within the company, Hascoët and other members of the editorial team had also suppressed the use of female characters in several of the Assassin's Creed games.[37][38][39] Some members of the Valhalla development team later stated that they had wanted the protagonist to be exclusively female and had selected the name "Eivor" as an exclusively female name in Nordic databases, but had been turned down by executives who believed that a female-only protagonist would be detrimental to total game sales. McDevitt said that in writing the story, Ubisoft wanted to give players the ability to select the gender of the player-character of the game, and thus had built this aspect since the start of the narrative development.[40]

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla introduces to the series a number of features designed to make the game more accessible to physically impaired gamers. These include, among other things, audio menu narration, and audio cues for interactive objects and partial/full quest completion, adjustments for Quick Time Events (QTEs), and the addition of “Guaranteed Assassinate,” a feature that enables players to skip the in-game timing window to successfully dispatch a target without concern.[41]

Release[edit]

Valhalla was originally announced to release on November 17, 2020 before later confirming that release date had been brought forward to November 10, 2020 so that the game could be released on the launch of the Xbox Series X/S. The game will be released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Stadia.[42] It will also be the first Assassin's Creed title for the next generation of consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. Ismail said that Valhalla represents Ubisoft's "flagship" game for these next-generation systems, and has been developed to take advantage of faster loading times both new consoles offer.[17] Players on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 will be able to upgrade their game to the next-gen version on their respective platform at no extra cost.[43]

Ubisoft's 2019 title Tom Clancy's The Division 2 included an Easter egg in the form of a poster that appeared to tease the next Assassin's Creed game as named Valhalla. The poster included an image of a Viking dressed in similar fashion to an Assassin of the series' previous titles and held what appeared to be an Apple of Eden, one of the Isu artifacts featured in Assassin's Creed series. The Easter egg led Jason Schreier of Kotaku to report that there was a new Assassin's Creed title in development, planned for release in 2020.[44] However, on the game's official announcement in April 2020, McDevitt said that the Easter egg in The Division 2 was coincidence as the Swedish studio behind the game, Massive Entertainment, wanted to incorporate some Swedish iconography into The Division 2 and had no intention of referencing or teasing Valhalla.[45]

Post-release content will be available through a season pass. This will include missions that taking the player to Ireland to kill a cult of druids named the Children of Danu, and traveling to Francia for the Siege of Paris. Additionally, Ubisoft will release a "Discovery Tour" version of the game after release similar to Origins and Odyssey, which will eliminate the combat and other encounters but allow players to explore the game's world at their own pace.[46]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Additional development was carried out by fourteen other Ubisoft studios worldwide.[1]
  2. ^ a b Ismail stepped down from his role as creative director in June 2020, due to allegations of infidelity, and was later fired by Ubisoft.[2][3]
  3. ^ a b Within the series' continuity, the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order adopted their modern names during the Crusades in the 11th century. Prior to this, they were referred to as the "Hidden Ones" and the "Order of the Ancients", respectively.[7]
  4. ^ The production team defined the name as "as close a meaning to 'insight' in Old Norse",[9] but the word itself has several meanings in Old Norse.[11]
  5. ^ The city of York is referred to in-game by its Old Norse name Jórvík.[27]
  6. ^ Other locations would also feature in the game such as Paris, Kiev,[28] and parts of Denmark, Ireland, Sweden and Wales.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Juba, Joe (April 30, 2020). "25 Things We've Learned About Assassin's Creed Valhalla". Game Informer. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  2. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (June 24, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla creative director steps down". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  3. ^ Gach, Ethan (August 14, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Creative Director Fired From Ubisoft Following Investigation Into Misconduct". Kotaku. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Developer Commentary Trailer | Ubisoft [NA]. Ubisoft North America. April 30, 2020. Event occurs at 1 minute, 21 seconds. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  5. ^ Makuch, Eddie (April 30, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Two Eivor Actors Have Been Revealed". GameSpot. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Bailey, Dustin (April 30, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla has gender options because "women are equally formidable in battle"". PCGamesN. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Juba, Joe. "Answers To Our Biggest Questions About Assassin's Creed Valhalla". Game Informer. Gameinformer. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  8. ^ Ismail, Ashraf [@AshrafAIsmail] (May 2, 2020). "The Norse called it Odin Sight in the 9th century" (Tweet). Retrieved May 5, 2020 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ a b Ismail, Ashraf (May 13, 2020). "It's spelled Synin And Pronounced "Sue-nin" We wanted as close a meaning to "insight" in Old Norse pic.twitter.com/2sM7MnOYx1". @AshrafAIsmail. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  10. ^ Ismail, Ashraf (May 13, 2020). "It's spelled Synin And Pronounced "Sue-nin" We wanted as close a meaning to "insight" in Old Norse pic.twitter.com/2sM7MnOYx1". @AshrafAIsmail. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "sýn sb. f. [-ar; -ir]". Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog – via Onp.ku.dk (University of Copenhagen).
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Phillips, Tom (April 30, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla reshapes the series' RPG storytelling by giving you a Viking settlement". Eurogamer. Eurogamer. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Williams, Mike (May 12, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla Goes Big on Stealth With One-Hit Kills, Social Stealth, and Feigning Death". USgamer. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  14. ^ a b c Tolito, Stephan (May 18, 2020). "The Many Things We've Learned About Assassin's Creed Valhalla". Kotaku. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  15. ^ Parijat, Shubhankar (July 14, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla Has 25 Different Enemy Archetypes". GamingBolt. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
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  18. ^ "Assassin's Creed Valhalla To Feature Explorable Stonehenge, Flyting And Clan Weddings". wccftech.com. May 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Gartenberg, Chaim (April 29, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla is Assassin's Creed with vikings". The Verge. The Verge. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  20. ^ Dornbush, Jonathon (April 30, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla to Feature Playable Viking Rap Battles". IGN. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  21. ^ "Assassin's Creed Valhalla – Assault Castles, Repair Broken Kingdoms, and Recruit a Cat Raider on November 17". news.ubisoft.com. July 12, 2020.
  22. ^ "Assassin's Creed Valhalla – Forge Alliances, Build a Village, and Be a Kingmaker". news.ubisoft.com. October 14, 2020.
  23. ^ a b c d e Hussain, Tamoor (May 1, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Narrative Director On Crafting A Unique New Story". GameSpot. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  24. ^ a b Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Story Trailer (YouTube). Ubisoft. October 2, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  25. ^ McKeand, Kirk (May 1, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla's map features the four Kingdoms of England, as well as some of Norway". VG247. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  26. ^ Ramée, Jordan. "Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Storytelling Is "Very Unique," Says Dev". GameSpot. GameSpot. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  27. ^ a b Cieslak, Marc (May 1, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla: First look at Viking-themed game". BBC Click. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  28. ^ Weber, Rachel; Oloman, Jordan (September 22, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla - Everything we know so far about the new Viking flavored Assassin's Creed". GamesRadar+.
  29. ^ "Assassin's Creed Valhalla locations: England, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden & More". gameclubz.com. May 26, 2020.
  30. ^ a b Williams, Mike (April 30, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla Is the Grand Unifying Theory of Assassin's Creed". USGamer. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  31. ^ Ramée, Jordan (April 30, 2020). "Why Assassin's Creed Valhalla Dev Isn't Worried About The God Of War Similarities". GameSpot. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  32. ^ McKeand, Kirk (May 7, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla "won't be the longest or biggest game in the series"". VG247. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  33. ^ Tyrrel, Brandin (October 1, 2018). "Assassin's Creed Odyssey Review". IGN. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  34. ^ Gera, Emily (May 11, 2019). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla will include music from the composer of Vikings television series". VG247. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  35. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (May 14, 2020). "'Assassin's Creed' Composer Jesper Kyd Returns to Score 'Valhalla'". Variety. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  36. ^ Hall, Charlie; Polo, Susana (June 25, 2020). "The game and comics industries are grappling with widespread allegations of harassment and abuse". Polygon. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  37. ^ Cario, Erwan; Chapuis, Marius (July 10, 2020). "Harcèlement sexuel à Ubisoft : "On savait"". Libération (in French). Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  38. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (July 11, 2020). "New report on Ubisoft reveals more shocking sexual harassment allegations". Eurogamer. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  39. ^ Schreier, Jason (July 21, 2020). "Ubisoft Family Accused of Mishandling Sexual Misconduct Claims". Bloomberg News. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  40. ^ Maher, Cian (August 4, 2020). "Some devs wanted Assassin's Creed Valhalla to only have a female Eivor". VG247. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  41. ^ Reeves, Brianna (October 15, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla Accessibility Options Include 'Guaranteed Assassinate' Feature". PlayStation Lifestyle. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  42. ^ "Assassin's Creed Valhalla Gets November Release Date". IGN. July 12, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  43. ^ "Assassin's Creed Valhalla launches November 17 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia; coming soon to PS5 and Xbox Series X". Gematsu. July 12, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  44. ^ Schreier, Jason (May 4, 2019). "Odd Tease In The Division 2 Spills The Beans On The Next Assassin's Creed". Kotaku. Gizmodo Media Group. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  45. ^ Bailey, Dustin (May 1, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla was revealed in The Division 2 – but it was a "complete coincidence"". PCGamesN. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  46. ^ Chalk, Andy (October 20, 2020). "Assassin's Creed Valhalla will add Druids, the French, and the Discovery Tour in post-launch DLC". PC Gamer. Retrieved October 20, 2020.

External links[edit]