Assassin’s Creed Valhalla features a long opening prologue, one that sets the scene for an engaging Viking experience. In the latest installment of Ubisoft’s long-running franchise, players are dropped in at the turn of the 9th century as Eivor and their brother, Sigurd, embark on a quest to establish a new home in England.
There are a few key ways to utilize the game’s first act to set Eivor up for success. Here’s what you need to know.
As previously mentioned, the opening prologue sets the table for the massive game ahead. However, this has come to be expected for most of Ubisoft’s epic games. You are advised to stick to the main objectives while hitting smaller side quests along the way. Do not venture far and wide trying to find everything in Norway. The real game begins once Eivor and Sigurd venture across the sea and establish a new home in England. You will return to Norway eventually and, when you do, you’ll be far better equipped to handle the more difficult areas.
One of the most unique features of Valhalla is the fully-customizable skill tree. You earn experience points through virtually every aspect of the game, from high-level assassinations to drinking games. Each activity will help you amass skill points, which you then can allocate to one of three branches of the skill tree (Melee, Stealth, and Ranged). The most useful feature — and one more RPGs should adopt — is the ability to freely re-spec Eivor based on changes in player preference.
You should invest in the Melee skill tree at first, especially since Valhalla shies away from the strict stealth gameplay of past Assassin’s Creed games and adopts a more head-on approach to combat. This means more face-to-face engagements and fewer opportunities for stealth. But remember, you can fully re-spec at any time. You can quickly take the more “classic” Viking approach if you find that you spent too many early skill points on stealth.
It’s important to note that, while investing in the Melee skill tree (way of the Bear), there will still be opportunities for stealth and ranged buffs. It is also important to explore branches that are unlocked to see if the Center Perk — the centerpiece of each branch — will be helpful for you and your playstyle. That said, you will have to allocate different skills and connect the lines to unlock the desired maneuver. For example, the best early-game maneuver to unlock in the Melee skill tree is Stomp. It will require six allocated skill points to complete the path, but once done, it will allow you to stomp on the head of a downed enemy, dealing massive damage or killing the enemy outright. You will also be granted I-frames during the animation.
Eivor is going to take a beating in the early stages of the game, especially while she’s learning the finer mechanics of being an assassin. You will have an easy time filling their Rations pouch with food and berries, as they are scattered around the map. They’re so abundant that it almost becomes a habit to think Eivor’s ration pouch is full all the time. Cracking a ration will full restore Eivor’s health and can be used at any time. However, players will have to collect more food to refill the ration slot. Upgrading the ration pouch will allow rations to be stacked. Having three in reserve is a great way to avoid death.
Flyting is one of the sillier aspects of Valhalla, but it has its perks. Eivor will first be introduced to the nordic take on rap battles by Alvis during the prologue. You will need to pay attention to the rhythm and rhyme scheme of your opponent’s lines and choose the correct response before the timer runs out. It’s quite easier than it sounds. Eivor will have three options to choose from, one of which won’t rhyme at all. From there, you have two options to pick from. One will read easily, while the other will seem wordy and confusing. You will have ample time to read both options and choose the right one. It helps an awful lot if you read it out loud. Winning Flyting challenges will increase Eivor’s overall charisma and will grant her special dialogue options during quests. These options will prove incredibly helpful as they’ll save Eivor both time and money.
Aside from being gifted the Hidden Blade, there haven’t been many moments thus far that truly made Valhalla feel like an Assassin’s Creed game. This all changes once Eivor begins building up her settlement and is prompted to talk with Hytham at the Hidden One’s Bureau. This will spark a short side quest that, upon completion, will unlock the Leap of Faith. While Eivor was able to use synchronize points already, have the Leap of Faith make her life much easier. At this point in the game, you are going to get killed should you travel too far East or West. You’ve most likely been prompted to either meet Sigurd in the North or travel South to aid fellow Danes. No matter what you decide, it is imperative that Eivor hit these Synchronize points along the way. They’ll unlock that area on the world map and lead to new and valuable discoveries such as treasures and world events. They also make for easy, fast travel checkpoints when riding Eivor’s mounts 1,500 meters is simply out of the cards.
Eivor will be in charge of building the settlement the Danes call home. You may feel overwhelmed by all the different options that are available. There are handfuls of buildings that grant a Feast Buff to the settlement, which is a later-game mechanic that you don’t need to worry about right now. Eiovr should focus on building The Blacksmith, The Barracks, The Hidden One’s Bureau, and The Hunter’s Hut. These four will not only give Eivor more quest options but also aid her in upgrading her weapons and raid crew. As an added bonus, upgrading the Barracks grants the settlement a place to play Orlog (dice). The Hunter’s Hut will also unlock Petra as a romance option.
Lastly, and possibly the most important early-game combat tip, is learning how to parry. Parries will be crucial for saving Eivor’s skin and chaining together multiple kills. Unlike games like Ghost of Tsushima, Valhalla doesn’t offer much in the way of parry notifications, meaning you will have to pay close attention to incoming attacks. There will be notifications for attacks that cannot be parried — your enemy’s weapon will glow red — and you’ll need to dodge in order to avoid damage. The parry window is wide open for incoming light attacks, however, and it’s not too difficult to learn the timing. Spears can be tricky, sure, but the same can be said for spears in almost any game with similar parry mechanics.
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