Valhalla hands-on

Exclusive: Hands-on with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Xbox Series X

Following the successes of Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey during the current console generation, Ubisoft will be kicking off the next generation on November 10 with a new Assassin’s Creed title (be sure to check out the deep dive trailer above). Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will bring some of history’s most fearsome warriors into the series for the first time: Vikings. As you play through the sprawling epic, you’ll shape the growth of your character with every choice you make and carve your path to glory.   

For those who haven’t been following the game, here’s what to expect: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla puts you in the leather boots of Eivor, a Viking warrior who comes to England in the 9th century. As was the case in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, players can choose to play Eivor as a female or male, adventuring as they search for a new home for their people among the fractured kingdoms of 9th century England. Throughout the journey, you can live the Viking life as you raid valuable sites, recruit deadly raiders, upgrade your settlement, and assault massive, fortified strongholds.

While the game will be available on current-gen consoles, the visually stunning Valhalla is the perfect way to kick off the next generation of gaming on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. I’ve been playing the game on Xbox Series X and have been blown away by just how good it looks and feels. On Xbox Series X, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla runs in glorious 4K at a buttery 60 frames per second and truly feels like a next-gen title.

Upon completing a brief prologue, I found myself in the English countryside, surrounded by verdant fields and trees adorned with vibrant fall foliage. This was where the power of the Xbox Series X really became evident. Be sure to check out the video at the top of this story for Xbox Series X footage!

Standing next to a stream, I marveled at the way light shimmered and reflected off of the surface. When I walked through a stand of trees, I looked up to see rays of light streaming through the leaves above me, while the tall grass at my feet swayed in the breeze. Riding my horse to the top of a nearby mountain, I was blown away by the sweeping vistas that greeted me, all bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun.

ACV Hero image

Ubisoft has always created immersive worlds to explore in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Not only does Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Xbox Series X continue that tradition, it pushes it to the next level by creating a world that feels like it’s more alive than any I’ve ever seen before. Even as I played the game, I found myself pausing to soak in the atmosphere or just sit quietly in a forest, enjoying the sound of birds chirping and wind rustling through the leaves.

After I spent a solid 30 minutes just kicking it around the English countryside, I figured I might as well tackle the task at hand. I began by fast travelling back to my settlement, which acts as the hub for Eivor’s adventure. Throughout the course of the game, you’ll build the settlement (dubbed Ravensthorpe by our hero) up from an abandoned camp occupied by bandits into a thriving town, complete with blacksmith, tattoo shop, hunting shack, and many more trappings of civilization.

The center of the settlement is the longhouse, which acts as a place for your clan to gather for feasts and celebrations. The most important area of the longhouse, however, is the map room, which is where you’ll plot your path for progressing through the game. In the map room you’ll talk with Randvi, one of your closest advisors, to determine which of England’s regions to focus your energies on turning to your side.

England in the 9th century was a time of war and conflict. In order for Eivor’s people to survive and thrive, you’ll need to build relationships with those around you. Every choice you make, from political alliances to deciding who lives and who dies, will impact your saga. Slamming my blade into the table, I chose to start with the region of Ledecestrescire, where I would need to help Viking brothers overthrow a Saxon leader and install their own.

Upon running down to my settlement’s dock, I used the radial wheel mapped to the D-pad to call my longship, which allows Eivor to navigate the myriad waterways crisscrossing England. Cruising down the river (I set it to automatically follow its meandering path), I instructed my crew to entertain me. Similar to previous Assassin’s Creed titles with seafaring and boats, you can have your crew sing songs or even regale you with Viking stories and sagas found throughout the world.

On our way to Ledecestrescire, we came across a monastery and decided to do some raiding. Raids are an important part of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as they’ll provide you with materials and supplies to improve the buildings in your settlement and level it up (unlocking new types of buildings). My men and I battled through dozens of enemies, finally claiming the spoils of our victory in several large buildings at the top of the hill. In addition to the building supplies, I also found something that would help me on my quest: a Book of Knowledge.

As you progress through Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, you’ll come across various Books of Knowledge that allow you to use new abilities during combat. These abilities, activated by holding either the left or right trigger and pressing a face button, enable Eivor to unleash powerful attacks on enemies or set traps if you’re using a stealthy approach. My personal favorites were Throwing Axe Fury, which allowed Eivor to unleash a flurry of axes at enemies, and Kick of Tyr, in which Eivor brutally kicked an opponent in the chest, damaging not only him but anyone he collided with.   

You’ll also find new gear to equip that will improve your Eivor’s stats and skills. Previous Assassin’s Creed titles were more like traditional RPGs, in which you find increasingly better gear and are frequently swapping in gear with higher stats. In Valhalla, you’ll focus more on upgrading and improving the gear that you do have. Many of these are aligned with the Bear, Raven, or Wolf constellations (which dictate your play style) and will provide different sorts of bonus depending on how many pieces of a given set you have. It’s a very smart system that allows for greater customization than in previous titles.

After completing my monastery raid, I hopped on my trusty steed and began making my way toward my story objective. On the way, I passed a number of map indicators of more things to do and see. Activities and collectibles are broken down into three categories on Valhalla’s map: Artifacts (white), Mysteries (blue), and Wealth (gold). Artifacts are collectibles such as new tattoos or saga pages, Mysteries are side missions and activities (you can learn all about those in my last preview), and Wealth rewards you with stuff like gold, upgrade materials, gears, and the aforementioned Books of Knowledge. Once you reveal one of these spots on the map, it’ll stay there so you can go back to it.

Upon reaching my destination, I met with the Viking brothers to develop a plan of attack and determine what we needed to do to put our man on the region’s throne. The story arcs in Valhalla are several hours long and feature a variety of mission types that highlight the game’s various mechanics. In one, I needed to sneak into a heavily guarded bathhouse to save an informant. In another, I stormed a fortress to capture it for the Viking brothers. The Ledecestrescire arc culminated in an extended boss battle against the deposed leader’s protector, requiring quick reflexes to dodge and parry his attacks, and a tough decision to make at the end.

After finishing the questline, I decided to blow off a little steam by spending some time living it up with my Viking brethren. There are a lot of extracurricular activities in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, including competing in drinking games, archery contests, and a really interesting dice game called Orlog. There’s no shortage of stuff to do in between or during story missions, and this looks to be the deepest (while still being the most accessible) Assassin’s Creed game to date.  

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X next week and will be available as a launch title, optimized for both of the next-gen consoles. If you purchase the game on Xbox One, you’ll automatically be upgraded to the Xbox Series X|S version at no extra cost using Smart Delivery.

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Assassin's Creed Valhalla


Assassin's Creed Valhalla leverages the Smart Delivery technology – buy the game once and play it on either Xbox One or Xbox Series X when both the console and that version of Assassin's Creed Valhalla are available Pre-order now for access to the bonus mission The Way of the Berserker. In Assassin's Creed® Valhalla, become Eivor, a legendary Viking raider on a quest for glory. Explore England's Dark Ages as you raid your enemies, grow your settlement, and build your political power. – Lead epic Viking raids against Saxon troops and fortresses. – Dual-wield powerful weapons and relive the visceral fighting style of the Vikings. – Challenge yourself with the most varied collection of enemies ever in Assassin's Creed. – Shape the growth of your character with each choice and carve a path to glory. – Explore a Dark Age open world, from the shores of Norway to the kingdoms of England. – Personalize your experience by growing your clan's settlement.