Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Forge Alliances, Build a Village, and Be a Kingmaker
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla casts you as a Viking, but the Vikings weren’t quite as relentlessly bloodthirsty as the legends might have you believe. The best of them were cool-headed and tactically minded, skilled negotiators who could turn foes into friends and rule through diplomacy as well as fear. Such is the case with Ivarr and Ubba Ragnarsson, two Viking warlords who want to conquer the English kingdom of Mercia not just through battle, but with an alliance that will crown a new king and win the people to their side. And they need you, as Eivor, to help them.
Welcome to Ravensthorpe
Eivor is the leader of the Raven Clan, and Ravensthorpe is their settlement at the southern edge of Ledecestrescire. Throughout the game, it’ll be Eivor’s headquarters, a place to rest, plan, and enthusiastically pet stray dogs. You’ll also be able to designate a Jomsviking here – a lieutenant who can be sent out as a mercenary to assist other players – and recruit other players’ Jomsvikings to your own crew.
The banks of England’s rivers are populated by monasteries and other tiny settlements, which are marked by big shiny raid beacons that invite you to rush onto land with your crew to pillage resources and unique gear (which you can find more easily by using Odin’s Sight, a vision mode that tags nearby valuables, enemies, and other points of interest). You’ll also see stately Roman ruins, eerie standing stones, and other mysteries that invite exploration and hold hidden treasures. Beware, though, because exploring on land can bring you into confrontations with Zealots, powerful wandering hunters who can absolutely wreck you if you’re not on their level (which, for the purposes of this preview, we weren’t).
There are plenty of friendly settlements where you’re welcome to hang out and engage in Viking pastimes like flyting, essentially rap battles in which you’ll need to match your opponent’s rhyme and meter while trading insults. You can also try your hand at Orlog, an elaborate DICE game that feels more like a card battle, with attacks, defenses, health points, and godly powers; or at drinking games that challenge you to rhythmically gulp mead while adjusting your balance to stay upright.
Meet Historical Badasses
The Ragnarsson brothers have forged an alliance with a Mercian noble named Ceolwulf, who’s agreed to become their puppet king in exchange for peace. The catch is that the transition of power has to be a (relatively) peaceful one, meaning we’ll need to take the current king, Burgred, alive. Given that he’s currently surrounded by a host of soldiers, a formidable “war-thegn” named Leofrith, and the walls of a fortress, this won’t be an easy task.
The skirmish that follows is an excellent chance to try out Eivor’s arsenal of weapons, each of which has a distinct feel and rhythm, as well as a special off-hand attack.
The Hunt for Burgred
Each hiding spot led to a different mission; in one, we traveled with Ivarr to the town of Ledecestre to hunt down a missing scout, and hopefully Burgred along with him.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of English towns aren’t particularly friendly toward Vikings, and Ledecestre was distrustful toward Eivor. Eivor’s status varies from place to place, and can change depending on your actions, but for now we had to put on Eivor’s cloak and avoid getting too close to any guards if we wanted to avoid a fight.
A Hopeless Battle
The prince was trapped by Leofrith’s forces at Repton, and after making a beeline for the town, we found him doing his best to convince the formidable war-thegn that the fight was over. Leofrith wasn’t having any of it, and so Eivor stepped in to take the boy’s place in the duel, kicking off a vicious boss fight against the most powerful foe we’d faced yet (Zealots notwithstanding). One of the weapons we’d found in the crypt – a golden two-handed axe that lit on fire on critical hits – proved especially helpful in the fight, and once it was done, we were faced with a choice: give Leofrith an honorable death, or set him free with the truth.
Oct 16, 2020 at 03:34