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Assassin's Creed Valhalla Review -

1/2/21

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Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes players on an adventure like no other, offering stunning landscapes and captivating story arcs that make it both refreshing and memorable. At times, it feels like the missing link for the franchise, striking a good balance between the classic Assassin's Creed games and the new RPG formula, masterfully bridging the gap. The game carefully finds a way of improving upon many of the core Assassin's Creed pillars, by adding more options than ever before. Although marketed as a Viking adventure game, Valhalla takes a successful leap of faith towards taking the series back to its roots, easily making it one of the most exciting and ambitious Assassin’s Creed projects in recent years. It’s a return to form for the series, offering countless opportunities for the player to master their own playstyle, and immerse themselves in another historical adventure.


Valhalla is a game that looks to the past to drive the series forward, and operates in the space between old and new, making it feel both familiar and original. The narrative arc story structure overseen by the guiding hand of Assassin's Creed legend Darby McDevitt and his team of scribes are proof that the series should never be afraid to move away from annual releases, and take the time it needs to improve. It’s immediately clear that a great deal of thought and care went into building the game, that goes way beyond simple fan service. It's an injection of pure creativity, and a game that should not be missed.

There's never a dull moment whilst exploring the world of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, as it continues to find ways to surprise the player at every turn. It's the first game in the series to properly fill the open world, making it feel dynamic and life-like. As you navigate the Kingdom's of England, you'll discover endless activities such as flyting challenges, cursed areas, world events and more. Exploration is encouraged, and the game rewards you for your efforts, generously offering XP points (skill levels) and loot upon completion.

The open world experience is unlocked early on in the game, and as you tie up loose ends in Norway, you can sale across the sea to England to begin the adventure. On your travels you'll begin to uncover the mysteries of England, as you encounter numerous puzzles that keep the player guessing. Puzzles are a nice feature that really add to the experience, taking different forms throughout the game. Valhalla always finds a new way to challenge the player, and encourages the use of all the tools at your disposal to overcome them. Sometimes you need to destroy a weak wooden wall to loot a chest, or shoot at a door's barricade through a slightly open window to enter. There are a ton of scenarios like this that test your skills as a player, and require a bit of thought before gaining a reward. 

There's also a great range of environments to explore, from the snow-covered mountains of Norway, to the swamps of East Anglia, so don't be surprised if you start to clock up hours using the photo mode tool as you capture each perfect moment. It's easily one of the most visually impressive games ever created, and it's immediately noticeable. England is vast in Assassins' Creed Valhalla, and each kingdom feels different to the last. There's always something new to discover, so look out for the coloured dots on your mini map to uncover loot that will improve your progress. You can hit bandit camps to gain supplies such as leather and iron ore, which can be used to upgrade weaponry and armour, or complete a raid on a monastery to steal riches that can be used to expand the Ravensthorpe settlement. Crafting is an essential part of the game, and you use the spoils of your adventures to do this.

One thing that sets Valhalla apart from recent entries is the unpredictability of the world. In some ways, it feels like a Far Cry game, where many animals will attack on sight. It's not just animals though, as Eivor will be pursued from all angles whilst navigating the world. Bandits hide in bushes, waiting for your arrival. Zealots track you across the map. Snakes crawl out from under barrels. Wolves strike as you stalk the perimeter of an enemy camp. You never know when you may need to defend yourself, the world you explore is as deadly as it is beautiful. This level of unpredictability adds to the experience and brings it to life. It's extremely easy to gain XP just by playing the game, and you are constantly rewarded just for taking part.

The cities of England bare a resemblance to that of Assassin's Creed I, taking the series all the way back to its origins. London has featured in the franchise several times, but the version you see in Valhalla is very different, a city built in the shadow of Roman ruins. All across England you'll see the ruins, and get a sense of the widespread influence the Romans had over the land. Even the Ravensthorpe settlement holds a memory of the past, as the pillars of an ancient structure can be seen near the longhouse. Later in the game you can even help local resident Octavian establish a museum, to house all of the Roman artefacts you discover. As the game progresses, you will also travel to surprise locations, such as Vinland and Jotunheim, expanding your reach even further. There's so much to see and do in Valhalla, and all your adventures start from Ravensthorpe.

The settlement itself is right in the heart of England, and acts as a base for Eivor and the Raven clan. It's in a good central location, close to the city of Leicester. All narrative arcs begin and end here, as the wind calls you back to Randvi to report your progress. By upgrading and improving the settlement, you open up new opportunities such as ship customisation, romance options and legendary animal hunting rewards. You also give the members of Ravensthorpe a purpose within the clan, and make it feel more like a bustling hub. It's worth taking the time to familarise yourself with the settlement, as the traders and locals are essential to Eivor's progression. For example, Gunnar the blacksmith will upgrade weaponary and armour, whilst Reda will supply new contracts and rare items. 

The cultural differences are represented well in Valhalla, as Saxon cities feel completely different to those inhabited by Vikings. Architecturally, the structures are also different, and even the layout of the cities differ. Religious beliefs are also depicted well in Valhalla, as Viking sites such as Jorvik have statues for the Gods, and locals will even reference them in conversation. You will hear talk of Thor, Freja and Tyr as you walk the streets of Jorvik, whilst you will hear about Jesus Christ and God when wandering a Saxon city. Even the camps held by bandits or cultists all contrast each other. Accents also appear in the game depending on location, making a southern territory easily distinguishable from a Northern one. The team did a great job at adding variety in all areas, and that's just one of the reasons players will get lost in the expansive world, and fall in love with the game. 

Edited by Ashlea Buckley

About the Author

Col is the Community Admin for The Ones Who Came Before, and one of the Community Builders for The Mentors Guild.

He is also a former Ubisoft Star Player, and has spent the last 6 years working within the Assassin's Creed community on countless projects.

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Colum Blackett

A Return to Form for the Series

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The World

Top Stories

Story

The main story of Assassin's Creed Valhalla is both interesting and memorable by using creative storytelling methods to slot nicely into Assassin's Creed lore. Players will embark on a twisting adventure with many story arcs, all different from one another and each with their own characters, plot twists and outcomes. There's no doubt that it's a great story set in the Assassin's Creed universe, and one of the longest games in the series. Completing Valhalla's main storyline will easily take you over 100 hours, but that's not a bad thing. It's a gripping tale with many twists and turns, and you'll notice that each quest has a purpose, as Eivor looks to build alliances across the map. Both Cecilie Stenspil and Magnus Bruun deliver a solid performance, full of charisma and making Eivor an instantly likeable character.

Valhalla immediately gives you the key to your own destiny, as for the first time ever, you play as one character with a male and female counterpart. You can let the Animus decide, or change Eivor's appearance at any time. The reasoning behind this is explained later in the game, and it's a clever take on previously established Assassin's Creed lore. The game is, in some ways, the spiritual successor to Black Flag, as Eivor works alongside the Assassins (Hidden Ones), without joining them, as their motives align. Both sides benefit from this union, and even manage to cooperate without any disagreements. Basim sees potential in Eivor straight away, even when Hytham questions it. You have the opportunity to play like a true Assassin, without even joining the Brotherhood. The Order of Ancients returns, once again acting as a shadow group influencing the land. Information on the group is scarce, so Eivor has to investigate to find out names and motives. Once you commence your hunt, taking down one member will lead to information on another, making it possible to track them all down. All information gained on the order will be stored in the inventory, giving you hints on where to begin your search. In this sense, it's more like the original Assassin's Creed game, where Altair had to learn information before beginning an assassination mission. It really adds to the game, as you focus your efforts on wiping out the Order. There's also an incredible new animation when you assassinate a target, rewarding players with some of the best white room conversations in the entire franchise. By eliminating members of the Order, you also gain new abilities and skills from Hytham, such as the Leap of Faith, making it worthwhile, and maintaining the 'Assassin's Creed' elements of the game.

As we have already mentioned, all narrative arcs begin and end at the Ravensthorpe homestead. This is thanks to a new feature called the Alliance Map. Eivor pledges allegiance to a cause taking part in one of England's territorys, and travels there to form an alliance for the Raven Clan. The new quest system introduces self contained story arcs that act more like chapters of a book than scattered missions. Each quest has a purpose, and brings Eivor closer to a resolution in the area. Some are definitely stronger and more memorable than others, with some feeling like filler content at times, but they all come together eventually to form a solid conclusion. Although the game moves away from side quests, and replaces them with narrative moments and activities such as World Events and Cursed Areas, it does a really good job at filling the open world, and even provides some great moments for Eivor. World Events are some of the best side activities since AC III's homestead missions, and really help to develop Eivor's character further. You don't have to take part in them, as they are not tracked on the quest radar, but should you choose to ignore them, you are missing out on some great content. They all vary in tone, but it's worth taking some time away from the main storyline to focus on the other activities available in the world, even just to increase your XP or improve your charisma through flyting battles. You won't regret it. 

In regards to Isu lore and First Civilisation history, Ubisoft really cranks it up a notch. By completing the Animus Anomalies, the secrets of the past begin to unravel, and with the help of the settlement seer, Eivor begins to understand. For new players, the twist regarding Havi and Eivor is no doubt confusing, but for old fans, it makes a lot of sense. Assassin's Creed Black Flag introduced the concept of Sages, reincarnations of Juno's husband Aita. Valhalla takes this notion even further, as the Scandinavian Isu look to return after the impending disaster known as the Great Catastrophe using a supercomputer that can insert DNA and memories into the human gene pool. Essentially, the Isu technology leads to reincarnation, explaining the gender choice option in Valhalla. Later on in the story, players will begin to understand the true motives of Loki, another member of the Scandanavian Isu known for his trickery and mischief. The story also replicates the end game of the series protagonist Juno, who returned using cloning before being destroyed by Charlotte de la Cruz in the comics. It's a really interesting twist for the series that takes Isu lore to another level, and adds a fresh layer. The end sequence in the vault also ties up a number of loose ends, regarding Layla and the fate of Desmond Miles. The ending of AC III finally has consequences, and the modern day storyline in Valhalla finds a way to resolve another potential disaster. The Heir of Memories arc also concludes, and a new chapter begins with Isu antagonists, which could ultimately lead to Loki becoming a bigger threat than Juno ever was. It's an interesting conclusion and drives the series forward by adapting established plot points. Hopefully we see this storyline progress further in the DLC content

One big difference to its predecessor Assassin's Creed Odyssey is that a romance option doesn't lurk around every corner, but when they do, they generally occur through the main storyline. Romances in Valhalla feel more developed than the previous entry, as it requires Eivor to spend time with them on quests before anything blossoms, rather than rushing into a forced connection. It's also possible to be rejected for the first time, something which occurs if an NPC already has a partner or simply isn't interested, adding increased depth to the romance options. Another change is the replacement of the usual eagle companion in favour of a raven, something which roots itself in Norse mythology, as Odin had two ravens called Huginn and Muninn.  Although Valhalla has brutality in combat, the tone of the game never really drops to a dark place like in previous games, and even when faced with loss, Eivor remains determined and composed. The character is clearly very different to what the marketing campaign tried to portray. One thing I did notice however is that the game sometimes shies away from the dark history of Viking culture, with themes such as slavery and pillaging barely even getting a mention. Assassin's Creed should never be afraid to tackle difficult topics, especially those which are a part of history, and it's interesting that these themes didn't really surface. 

Characters in the main storyline are all very different from each other, and each narrative arc introduces a conflict which Eivor can resolve. The game does a really good job at hiding character motives, making betrayal even more surprising. Basim for example arouses suspicion early on, but it takes a full playthrough to discover his true intentions. Each arc has you question those around you, as you secure the future of the kingdom. The wrong decision can have catastrophic consequences, as seen in Linconshire when selecting a new ealdorman. Choices never stray too far from a fixed narrative, and although the game has multiple endings, they all follow a similar pattern. The dialogue options have also been improved, and do a good job at reflecting Eivor's personality, rather than giving options that don't line up with their personality. Eivor isn't a blank slate, and no matter which version you play, you're going to see the same character traits. Voice acting in particular is solid across the board, with a number of stand-out performances making the game even more immersive. Players feel compelled to resolve each narrative arc, and return back to the settlement to progress. The balance of tone is well executed, and although the game is long, it's worth the time spent.

The big issue with the main storyline is that the Hidden Ones are completely sidelined, barely featuring in comparison to the alliance objectives. New fans to the series can't learn much about the Brotherhood, as Eivor doesn't join them in the main storyline. At times it feels like the Hidden Ones don't matter to the story, as you can go several narrative arcs without speaking to Hytham or Basim. You always have the chance to wipe out members of the Order, but the majority of members are just ordinary civilians, and unless you read all the documents, you don't even know why you're eliminating them. You do get a satisfactory white room conversation, but there are only a few members of the Order you will actually remember upon completion. It's such a shame to see the Assassin / Templar conflict becoming an afterthought. Even though the game has a great story set in the Assassin's Creed world in terms of lore, the pre-cursor Assassins are barely involved in that. It's clear that this has to be the last 'warrior' game, and future instalments need to circle back to playing as an established Assassin before the franchise loses it's identity entirely. That being said, Valhalla finds a different narrative to explore, and finds a way to bring history to life. Perhaps Viking Assassins are not to be, but there is still time for DLC content to explore a different path for Eivor. 

Parkour

Stealth

Parkour is a fundamental pillar of the Assassin's Creed series, and is probably the only franchise pillar that Valhalla hasn't progressed forward with in some way. At times it can be frustrating, as Eivor takes a long time to navigate rooftops, making a direct approach more and more tempting. Although parkour feels slow and uninspired, the game offers a huge variety of environments that increase opportunities. There are more chances than ever before to use parkour to your advantage, with many climbable buildings. Scaffolding is also something that features in the game, making it easy to navigate from above. Some buildings such as churches and longhouses also have open windows which can act as an entry point, or you can destroy a stained glass window to gain entry, all of which are accessible thanks to parkour. Beams and ropes also string houses together to increase parkour opportunities, and cities such as York also have Roman ruins scattered around which can also be navigated. Tree parkour makes a return, and is a useful feature that should never have been removed. Some of the trees you scale are incredibly impressive, especially in Jötunheimr, and it's great to see this feature restored. Don't expect style though, as Eivor's parkour technique is basic at best. With Basim away and Hytham injured it's clear that not much (if any) training was given. It can be argued that Vikings didn't know parkour, but it's something players expect in an Assassin's Creed game.

Parkour in Valhalla isn't great, but the opportunities to do so are. It's clear that the team spent a great deal of time creating parkour environments, and even when it feels sluggish, it can be to the players benefit to use it. Animus Anomalies are probably biggest parkour failure in the game, as players control Layla Hassan through tedious platform challenges to gain information. Although the feature itself is a cool idea, parkour makes it difficult to enjoy, as it lacks any sense of urgency. Looking back to Arno Dorian, or even Desmond Miles, it's clear that parkour has drastically lost any sense of speed or style, which is a shame. Valhalla brings back floating pages to collect, which takes Eivor on numerous parkour routes. It's nice to see them return, but they can take a few attempts to collect. Parkour clearly needs to be revamped, but the many opportunities that Valhalla introduces to do so are a welcome addition to the franchise, opening many new doors and avenues of exploration. 

 

Some of the best parkour opportunities in the game are at the Hidden Ones bureaus, which are scattered across the map. Not only do they provide a glimpse at the history of an Assassin precursor group that once worked in the shadows, but they also store unique gear and codex pages. Each bureau is different, but they all require puzzle solving and parkour to unlock their secrets. To find them, you have to think like an Assassin in the cities of England. That may mean performing a leap of faith, or climbing down into the sewers to remain undetected. Parkour is the theme that links them all, as players will navigate platforms and beams resembling the Assassin tombs from the earlier games. Some of the bureaus even require swimming from room to room to gain the rewards. Once inside, you'll notice that the main areas resemble the bureaus visited by Altair in Assassin's Creed 1, and show that the order worked in similar ways hundreds of years before the days of Masyaf. Valhalla provides countless parkour opportunities, but the bureaus are a great example of how the game at times encourages players to use it to gain rewards, something that should definitely make a comeback in the next game.

There's a lot to be said about the stealth in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Essentially, some of the features are the peak of the series, and others are below the standard we expect. Stealth in general is excellent, but social stealth needs to be improved. At times. Valhalla feels like the stealthiest Assassin's Creed game, thanks to fresh kill animations, new environments such as corn fields, and the return of bushes, haybales and tree parkour. As was the case with parkour, the game also provides many opportunities to be stealthy, with the majority of quests accommodating to both a direct or sneaky approach. Enemy camps can be cleared out without arousing suspicions. Air assassinations, sleep/poison arrows, haybale kills and distraction techniques can all be used to replicate an Assassin approach. The whistle also returns, drawing enemies towards their swift end, and bodies can be hidden to prevent the alarm being raised. Alarms, which first appeared in AC4, can also be destroyed to prevent the arrival of reinforcements. In cult camps, bone charms will rattle if you proceed too quickly, alerting enemies. The best stealth feature that makes a return is the instant kill hidden blade assassination, which now has a timing mechanism to dispatch your enemies. Odyssey had enemies that would survive a hidden blade assassination, no matter how much you upgraded your weapons, and in turn encouraged players to ignore stealth and use combat instead. Valhalla takes the best elements of stealth from previous entries and adds even more to make it better than ever. 

At the start of the game, players choose a level of social stealth. Selecting the hardest difficulty makes it nearly impossible, no matter how hard you try. Blending with crowds returns, as guards protect entry points. Distrust areas are introduced, meaning Eivor wears a hooded cloak to avoid detection. Numerous social stealth mechanics return, and new ones are added so that hiding in plain sight is no longer a thing of the past. Monks walk the streets in groups, imitating the original game, and the very first trailer ever released for the franchise. It's great to see so many old features such as bench stealth find their way back to the series. Eivor can also pretend to cook food, or weave fabric in social spaces, but with guards on high alert in distrust areas, it can be very difficult. The point of social stealth is to be inconspicuous in public spaces, and mask within surroundings. Valhalla has many great stealth features, but social stealth is something that definitely needs more work to be useful. The main problem is that guards see everything, and immediately attack. After 150 hours of game time, I'm still not sure if I have managed to perfect social stealth. 

You can also lure drunks to distract guards, or throw your torch to make them move. This is extremely useful if you're looking to enter a restricted area. Shooting from a haybale, or destroying hanging objects to make a kill look like an accident can also be used. It's clear that stealth has been expanded upon, and is much better than the options available in Odyssey.

Odin's sight is a watered down version of eagle vision, acting as a short burst, but seems to be much more useful than 'Animus pulse'. Improvements have definitely been made in this field, as it highlights everything from loot chests to story hints. Order of Ancient members are taken out using the Hidden Blade, which has a new kill animation. Sýnin can distract guards, and locate points of entry. There are so many ways to be stealthy in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and although it can be challenging, mastering it and all the tools you posses is no doubt one of the best stealth experiences created by Ubisoft. Take the time you need to become the stealthy Viking the marketing campaign tried to hide. There's much more to Valhalla than raids and brutality. The only tools that are missing really are throwing knives and varied smoke bombs (Revelations).

Customisation

Combat

Conclusion

Review contains MAJOR Spoilers

In combat, timing is everything. Every enemy has a weakness, and Eivor can exploit that. The game highlights them so it's obvious where to aim. Valhalla has a huge variety of attacks that can be used, including abilities that you unlock throughout the game. Successful blocks or attacks build up adrenaline which make abilities available to use, and severely damage or finish off opponents in a brutal fashion. New animations have been created especially for the game, which is immediately clear, as Eivor will decapitate or even impale enemies with their own weapons. Even after 60+ hours, you will encounter new enemies in the world, waiting to finish you off with their unique attacks. Some kick dirt to distract, and others spill oil and light it to set you ablaze. The great variety of enemies makes the game more interesting, as combat requires a balance between timing and thought to determine how to proceed.

Dodging is another good way to beat enemies, but stamina does deplete, leaving you open to attacks. It's also worth noting that not all attacks can be blocked, making dodging or even a well timed shot a better solution. The Rope Dart from Assassin's Creed III makes a return in the form of a harpoon, which is an ability you earn through skill points, and it's more lethal than ever. Rather than hanging enemies from trees as Connor did, Eivor lasso's them closer before striking. At any moment in the main storyline, a boss battle can occur. You can literally be thrown into a fight at any moment, sometimes after a tough battle mission, leaving you unprepared. Another problem the boss battles present are the locations in which they take place. The worst offenders in the game for this are the Faravid, where you unexpectedly fight in a tiny room, and Ivar the Boneless, where you fight on the edge of a cliff. The environments in which you fight make all the difference, and small spaces make it even more difficult. In general, most fights will take place in the open world, which can be used to your advantage. The new health system means that you restore depleting health through the rations bag, which you fill with berries and other food sources on your travels. You can also leave a fight at any point to find food, as raspberry bushes are scattered across the land. Mushrooms are another food source, but some will make Eivor sick, so choose carefully.

Crafting returns in a basic form, giving you the option to upgrade quivers and ration bags, increasing their effectiveness. Gear and Weapons also also upgradable through collected resources, improving your stats. You can visit the settlement blacksmith to improve the quality of gear and weaponry, but this does change it's appearance, and not always for the better. Arrows can't be crafted like they could be in Origins and Odyssey, but there's a good chance you'll find them in the world, especially close to a boss fight or random tree stumps in forests. The three hardest enemies to defeat in the game are: The Daughters of Lerion, Zealots and Legendary Beasts. Defeating all of them will take time, as each of them need to be slowly weakened in different ways. There are so many different abilities in the game that can be used in combat, so you have to find the ones that work for your own personal playstyle. Valhalla brings back the three bow options, resembling Bayek's weaponry choices. Each of them are useful in different situations, and mixed with abilities are a deadly combination. If an enemy camp is near water, Eivor can blow a horn to signal a raid. This can be especially useful in a higher level area. Combat is diverse and interesting in Valhalla, and is the most improved upon feature from Odyssey other than having a more dynamic open world. It's a standout feature, and really improves upon everything that has come before.

There's no doubt that Assassin's Creed Valhalla is a great game, and feels like a real adventure for the player. Although it's probably the longest game in the series, it's well worth diving into and exploring in detail. The gender options and exceptional voice acting performances make the game worth playing twice, so you might get 400+ hours out of Valhalla and really get your money's worth. It's a dynamic experience with a real variety of opportunities that'll still bring surprises even after 150+ hours of gaming. The open world is expansive and interesting, full of activities scattered around beautiful landscapes. Dig beneath the surface and discover new Desmond Miles audio clips and the return of the Database, once again written by Shaun Hastings. The story has meaning, in terms of the overarching narrative. Assassin's Creed often has a problem of carrying forward plot points and acting as stand-alone entries. Valhalla is a conclusion in some ways, wrapping up multiple plot points dating back years, and in other ways, it's the start of something new. The rebirth of the Hidden Ones in England  and even the evolution of the Order of Ancients into the Templar Orders slowly begins to take place. There's no doubt that future Assassin's Creed games will be exciting, and the series is certainly heading in the right direction. 

Valhalla has a great story set in the Assassin's Creed universe, and is the first game in years to provide an actual cliffhanger ending with consequences for the modern day. Eivor is a great character, who only gets better as the game goes on. One thing that stands out for me is the amount of care that went into producing the game. There are so many features from the older games such as social stealth, and even sounds from previous entries that find their way back to the series. The game provides a unique perspective on the series, and develops lore plot points further that were established years ago. It's clear that the series should never rush to meet annual releases, and should take whatever time required to produce games of this quality.  In my opinion, Valhalla is the last pre-cursor Assassin game needed, and stories of this kind have now wrapped up, establishing how and why the two orders were created. Future games should once again explore an established brotherhood, with players being a member of the Assassin order. That being said,

this is an extremely strong entry that has a great story and characters, and is a game that will be remembered. Valhalla is the final piece of the puzzle, and a return to form for the series. 

Customisation certainly is mixed in Valhalla, as you can edit Eivor's gender, hair or tattoos at any point. There are so many combinations that can make the character look like a different person entirely, if you choose to. Ubisoft even added the AC Sisterhood logo as a tattoo, a nice touch and something which means a lot to fans. Unfortunately there are a lack of in-game clothing options, with limited rewards for players. You can randomly stumble across cloaks, pants and other gear items in the world, or pay a random wanderer for their location. They come in the form of sets, but there are only nine to be discovered. Rather than unique loot everywhere. the game focusses on the player unearthing set pieces through completing puzzles and raiding tombs. You can also unlock a few gear pieces through the Ubisoft Store rewards, such as Bayek's Robes, or as always, visit the Helix Store to pay for a better set. It's a shame that there are such limited options in the game, as most RPG's usually reward the player in this way. For example, it would have been nice if every Zealot defeated unlocked new and unique armour pieces or weaponry, rather than gaining a medallion for Hytham and another name ticked off a list. In comparison to Origins and Odyssey, Valhalla really does limit the player's look, with only a few customisation options. Items do change upon upgrading with the Blacksmith at the settlement, but until the Transmogrification feature is introduced, players are left with the gear quality they have upgraded to, which isn't always the best visually. You can of course, visit Reda, the local trader, but it's highly unlikely he will have anything of value in terms of gear.

Although gear and weapons are limited in Valhalla, what the game does have can sometimes be enough. You can unlock First Civilisation weapons such as Excalibur and Mjolnir, a must-have for fans of the Isu. These weapons take a great deal of time and effort to unlock, but they are amongst the best in the game.

You are also, on occasion, be randomly rewarded for your choices in the game. For example, Petra will gift Eivor a bow, and Ubba will send a weapon if your relationship with him is intact. If Assassin's Creed continues to go down the RPG road, it should consider rewarding players more frequently. Another feature that should return in future games is the robe dye from Assassin's Creed Brotherhood era. There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to determine clothing colours. Simple features like this, and the increased gear options would have dramatically improved the overall player customisation experience. It would have been nice if Basim had gifted Eivor a version of his own gear, which features a unique blade and similar robes to Altair. When travelling to Vinland, Eivor unlocks a special Native American inspired outfit, but unfortunately it can't be brought back to England. The same goes for the Gloucestshire narrative arc, where Eivor wears a skull mask. There's no real reason to take these items out of players inventory, but the game does, and you can only wear them during the short time you spend in each area.

The Drakkar owned by Eivor can also be customized upon upgrading the settlement, but again, the options are limited, with most unique and interesting appearance choices purchasable on the Helix Store. Figureheads are the best in-game Drakkar options, really changing the look and making it more interesting.

The settlement itself has a few cosmetic features that you can edit as you play, to make make it feel more like home. Add a little figure of Odin to Immerse yourself in Norse culture before you raid, or head to the stables to change the appearance of your horse. There are a few options in-game, my favourite of which turns the horse into a giant wolf. You can also change the appearance of the bird companion, something which is new to Valhalla. Sýnin can change colour, or even into a different bird entirely such as a pigeon. The most useful customisation features added in the game are the horse upgrades, where you can train your mount to swim or improve its speed and stamina. This makes a real difference when exploring the open world. The options that are available in-game are pretty good, but it's clear that players are limited when you look at the crazy items available for purchase in the Helix store. Hopefully future updates will make more items available.