The next Assassin's Creed is finally here. We're all ready to enter the halls of Valhalla, as the Viking-themed entry in Ubisoft's fantasy-history franchise arrives on current and next-gen consoles and PC.
As usual you'll step into the shoes of an historical figure - here a Norwegian raider, either male or female - and run around the place sneaking, stabbing, and generally getting up to no good. In this case you'll be doing all that no-good in old timey England, making this that rare videogame that gives a prominent role to Essex.
Valhalla also promises various improvements on 2018's excellent Odyssey including expanded RPG elements, a new settlement system, and a (very limited) online multiplayer element.
Which platforms is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla be available on?
On PC it is exclusive to Uplay and the Epic Games Store though, so don't expect to find the game on Steam.
Meanwhile on Xbox it supports Smart Delivery, which means that if you buy the game once for Xbox One you can play the same copy on an Xbox Series X/S, so there's no need to worry about buying it twice.
Which version should I buy?
There are predictably a few versions of Assassin's Creed Valhalla to pick from.
The Ultimate Edition throws in some extra digital goodies and in-game items, while the Collector's Edition throws in a whole load more physical stuff including two statues, the soundtrack, some lithographs, and more.
There's also a limited-time deal on Assassin's Creed Valhalla that'll net you the standard version for as little as £41.
What's included in the Season Pass and other DLC?
Valhalla's season pass is made up of three elements.
First up, from launch the Beowulf-themed mission 'The Legend of Beowulf' is available exclusively to season pass holders.
Spring 2021 will bring the first major DLC: Wrath of the Druids. Set in Ireland, this large expansion will let you visit Dublin and explore the Irish countryside as you unravel a druidic conspiracy and get deep into Celtic folklore.
Then in summer we get The Siege of Paris. In case you can't guess, this one's set in France, and will let you explore northern France and delve into Paris, trying to support the Viking siege of the city from within.
If you don't want to pay for the season pass, there will also be four packs of free DLC, starting in late 2020 with a Yuletide festival and expanding next year with a new river raid mechanic and more.
What are the PC system requirements?
Fortunately Ubisoft has gone into detail on what you'll need to get into Valhalla on PC, laying out not only minimum and recommended specs, but also three other tiers of specs to play on 'high', 'enthusiast' or 'ultra' settings. Check them all out right here:
Watch the Valhalla trailers
A day after the title reveal Ubisoft followed it up with this cinematic trailer which shows off the setting in earnest - though there's not much in the way of gameplay:
Then as part of Microsoft's Inside Xbox reveal of Xbox Series X gameplay we got our first gameplay footage from the game, though be warned that it's more a matter of in-engine footage than actual gameplay:
Our first proper look at gameplay came during the first Ubisoft Forward stream, with a six-minute gameplay overview and a longer 30-minute deep dive (which you'll find further down the page here).
Following that gameplay reveal it's back to cinematics as usual, with Eivor's Fate trailer focussing on what's ahead for Valhalla's playable character - though this clip sticks strictly to Eivor's male version:
Then there's the official story trailer, which also sticks to male Eivor to show the story's setup - a mission to England led by Eivor's brother Sigurd - and hints at the Assassin-y side of the story too.
Where and when does Assassin’s Creed Valhalla take place?
It should come as no surprise that a game with the name “Valhalla” takes place in the Viking era, and it looks set to cover the Viking invasion of Britain during the Dark Ages.
The official description says that you can "sail from the harsh and mysterious shores of Norway to the beautiful but forbidding kingdoms of England and beyond," so we know that it'll cover both sides of the North Sea and include multiple countries - with DLC now confirmed to include Ireland and France.
You'll also be able to "immerse yourself in the Viking way of life through fishing, hunting, drinking games, and more."
What can I expect from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay?
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla expands upon what was on offer in Odyssey in just about every way, from new mechanics like raids to even a limited form of multiplayer.
You'll once again be able to choose to play as a male or female character, though this time they'll be named Eivor regardless of your choice. That's because you're playing the same character either way, rather than the siblings of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, where your choice had a material impact on the game's story.
Ubisoft describes Eivor as "a fierce Viking raider torn between their duty to their brother Sigurd and a personal quest for glory."
"Driven from Norway by endless wars and dwindling resources, Eivor’s clan must secure a future among the kingdoms of England. During their journey, Eivor will come across the Hidden Ones, and face powerful figures including Saxon kings and the warmongering sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, as well as a mysterious, growing threat that could determine England’s destiny."
Curiously game director Eric Baptizat told GamesRadar that "you are allowed to change, at any time, your skill tree or the gender of your character," meaning you can switch back and forth between male and female Eivor whenever you'd like - with no impact on the story. Even weirder, the default setting has the game switch you back and forth between the two Eivors at different points, which sounds...confusing.
RPG mechanics are back, allowing you to shape things from your own gear setup to the political state of the larger world. Naturally, romance will also feature, including same-sex options - another welcome return from Odyssey.
Combat will include dual-wielding axes, swords, shields, and loads more, with gear progression baked in. As you'd expect there'll be ranged options too, and stealth will be back thanks to the iconic Hidden Blade and the ability to hide within settlements with your hood up.
Animal companions are back too, this time in the form of a raven - very Norse - who will have some new abilities compared to the eagle from Odyssey, though we don't know exactly what yet.
The present world sections of the game are returning too, and it's been confirmed that they will be playable, with some new mechanics to look forward to as well.
Raids are one of the major new additions, with two types included. You can conduct smaller raids on any English settlement from your longboat, rallying your men to strike out, assault a village, and steal everything it's got.
At pivotal points in the game you'll get to conduct larger Assaults on castles and other strongholds, with multi-stage encounters in which you'll have to batter down gates, drop drawbridges, and more in order to help your forces fight through to the castle interior.
Raids are also where the multiplayer element comes in - you'll be able to design and customise a raider within your clan to then share with friends online, so that they can use them within their own games. It's worth emphasising that there isn't any proper co-op element to the game though, despite early rumours that there would be.
The other huge addition is the chance to build up your own settlement. Ubisoft promises that you'll be able to "construct and upgrade buildings that allow for deep customisation, including a barracks, blacksmith, tattoo parlour, and more," as well as "recruit new members to your clan and personalise your Viking experience."
The game was originally directed by Ashraf Ismail, who also led the series semi-reboot in Assassin's Creed Origins, so expect a similar feel to that title.
He's no longer working on the game though. He took a leave of absence from Ubisoft in June 2020, and in August the company confirmed that he has since been fired. This centres around claims that he used his position in the company to start a relationship with a fan, lying about his marital status in the process.
We're not sure yet what impact Ismail's departure had on Valhalla, but it's probably a price worth paying for Ubisoft, as the games industry goes through its largest #MeToo moment yet.
For more exciting games to look forward to in 2020, take a look at our selection of the best upcoming games.