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Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: a definitive next gen title?

After a two-year stint away, Ubisoft is finally ready to show us the fruits of their labour with a first gameplay reveal of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Well, that trailer reveal was certainly something wasn’t it? Vikings… we did tell you so, though ‘Ragnarök’ was a ways off. Instead, the 12th instalment of the franchise will be called Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and will follow the story of a Nordic warrior under siege from an aggressive Anglo Saxon regime who’ve branded the Vikings as ‘savages’. 

Your clan head from the icy desolation of Norway to the lush farmlands of England in the ninth-century, but the lands are rife with petty lords and warring kingdoms. This will be your new stomping ground – quite literally judging by the cinematics.

A change of direction for the franchise?

Though we’ve yet to actually see any in-game footage at this early stage, comments from the development team and details from the website suggest Assassin’s Creed will continue to steer away from action adventure elements and toward an RPG heavy experience. In 2018, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was extremely well received for its emphasis on exploration, immersive world building, and player morality systems, and Valhalla looks set to take these principles to the next level. 

A quick glance at the official Ubisoft website throws up phrases like, ‘write you own saga’, ‘grow your home’, and ‘immerse yourself’, while highlighting the importance of player choice in both combat and conversation. And project director Ashraf Ismail fully echoes these sentiments. In a recent podcast on IGN, it was revealed that Ismail said: ‘Valhalla is meant to be a flagship game for next-gen for Ubisoft, and significantly faster loading times (with the new consoles) effectively means we’re able to remove some of the friction of the immersion we’re trying to go after’. 

Anyone who played Assassin’s Creed Black Flag – which was also directed by Ismail, and was one of the highest rated entries to the franchise btw – will know that when Ubisoft makes a point of highlighting exploration, customisation, and freedom, it’s because it dang well means it. If Black Flag is anything to go by, expect to sink many an hour aboard the knörr ship in Valhalla too… just a side note.

A leap of faith 

Ubisoft has been bold in its marketing of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, with it becoming the first AAA third party title to align itself with one of the next gen consoles. The gruesome trailer reveal already piqued my interest, but once I saw it was bookended by the Xbox Series X logo, I had to immediately glean everything I could about Valhalla from podcasts and insider blogs online.

While it has to be established now that the game will sell (and sell big) on the PS5, Ubisoft has made a point of affiliating itself with the Xbox Series X because they’re both pushing the same message. Up to this point, Sony has kept its cards relatively close to its chest regarding the PS5 and its exclusives despite a projected 2020 release, while Microsoft has made a point of constantly hammering home its company ethos of growth and innovation in promotional materials. 

Now, this could very well be Sony resting on its laurels a little due to being so far ahead in terms of ‘company, consumer trust’, and perhaps Microsoft needing to show its mettle a little more than its direct rival, but the point remains: Microsoft is beating Sony in the messaging game atm. And, as we previously established, Ubisoft is pushing Valhalla as a flagship next-gen title and this bold affiliation stamps that message. With 14 dev studios on board, this is the biggest undertaking in Ubisoft history and after two years out you’d best believe it’s banking heavy on success with the return of its best-selling franchise. One’s eyes water at the thought of the GB download.

Any news on release?

Ubisoft spokesperson Youssef Maguid has announced that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows 10, for those who can’t stump up what will inevitably be hefty fees for the Xbox Series X and PS5, but currently we only have a vague release date of ‘Holiday 2020’. 

If we’re going by the timescale of the previous three entries (Odyssey, Origins, and Syndicate), Ubisoft will probably be looking to drop Valhalla in October – barring any unforeseen delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with all this talk of next-gen technology, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Ubisoft is waiting on Microsoft and Sony to announce the official launch days for the Xbox Series X and PS5, as Black Flag was previously released alongside the Xbox One Day 1 edition in 2013. 

Based on everything we’re hearing, it seems we’re probably looking at the best Assassin’s Creed experience yet, but best hold fire on pre-orders and such until we see some delicious gameplay. 

We shouldn’t have to wait very long at all on that front either. Inside Xbox is hosting a livestream on May 7th which will show off first ever gameplay of Valhalla. Let’s see if all the hype is justified.