November is stacked with several big-name releases that you could play for dozens upon dozens of hours. Ubisoft Montreal’s newest Assassin’s Creed is among those titles, but is it worth carving out space in your busy gaming schedule? Previously, we gave you a deep dive into the game after our extended hands-on session as well as 25 things you should know about the game. But if you’re still hungry for more details about this massive open-world historical adventure, here are five of my favorite moments from a recent gameplay session.
One: Building A Homestead
The Assassin’s Creed series often provides players with some kind of home base, which you frequently return to and upgrade throughout your journey. Valhalla is no different. This time around, your homestead is a small town that you settle and continue to expand over time. As the game progresses, people will hear about your deeds and come to settle in your town. At first, these people set up tents but, using resources you collect in the game, you can build permanent housing for everyone. During my demo, I encountered one gentleman who set up a museum full of ancient Roman artifacts, a young family working on a fishery, and a tattooist who offered to restyle my character’s hair and tattoos. As you upgrade these houses, they reward you with additional bonuses and resources to aid you in your journey. For example, once you build a house for the cartographer, he will sell you maps that point to valuable treasures across England.
Click image thumbnails to view larger version
Two: Ancient Rap Battles
Not everyone you encounter in Valhalla is looking to fight with their fists; some people want a battle of wits. Flyting is a real ancient art of exchanging insults, which was often conducted in verse. In Valhalla, you’ll encounter people who challenge you to Flyt battles. During these sequences, you’ll be challenged to pick between several dialogue options that match in both rhythm and verse, with the ultimate goal of trying to insult your opponent. I found these Flyts to be a fun diversion from the usual raids, but a successful Flyt also awards you charisma points. The higher your charisma, the more dialogue options you’ll have available when you talk to people in the game, which could prove very useful.
Three: Meeting Random Dummies
World Events are Valhalla’s approach to side quests. These random encounters give you a larger window into the everyday lives of the people of ninth century Britain. During one encounter I helped a couple of would-be Viking raiders break into their own house to save a cherished family heirloom. That quest ended in a twist that I don’t want to spoil here, but I’m glad I took the time to complete this side story, because it was a fun romp. World Events run the gamut from humorous to sad to horrifying, and they’re often pretty short, which makes them easy to digest. Basically, whenever you hear someone in the world making a lot of noise, it’s probably worth investigating.
Click image thumbnails to view larger version
Four: When Things Get Dicey
Minigames are often hit or miss, and let’s be honest, they’re often more miss than hit. Valhalla might be an exception. As you wander the world, you’ll encounter people who want to play a game of dice with you. This game, called Orlog, is played across several rounds. During each round, you roll the dice and then have the option to lock in certain rolls that either attack, defend, or call on godly favors, which are special abilities that can deal direct damage or even heal. Your ultimate goal is to attack your opponent and whittle away the pile of pebbles representing their health pool. Orlog is simple once you get the hang of it, but it’s also rich with strategy. I played a few rounds and walked away thinking it might be the first time since Gwent that I really could get into a game within a game.
Five: Strange Historical Humor
Valhalla’s main story is full of assassinations and political intrigue, but your adventure could also be full of moments of lightheartedness. At one point, while exploring a large city, I encountered a strange woman inside an underground sewer who wanted viper eggs. After hunting down several snakes and stealing their unborn children, I brought the eggs back to the lady who munched on them and then proceeded to unleash a giant green fart. I know this sounds absurd (if not juvenal), but this really happened in the game and it was played for laughs. After I emerged from the sewers, I discovered that the guards and several passersby were disgusted by the mysterious green cloud and cleared out of the area in a humorous scene. I don’t know if other parts of the game get this weird, but I can’t wait to find out in a few weeks.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is set to release on Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 10 and to the PlayStation 5 on November 12. For more on the title, be sure to watch our New Gameplay Today video preview.