Gaming

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review: Home in unfamiliar territory

A battle-tested formula meets the widest adventure yet

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Assassin’s Creed has this habit of taking us through the wildest and historically rich adventures. The popular franchise takes you through the streets of London and Renaissance Italy, even through the beaches of the British Isles. Through these rich adventures, you uncover secrets about the powerful figures violently trying to establish a new world order.

Ubisoft’s latest project takes you even further into the dark timeline of human existence. If Assassin’s Creed Odyssey focused on the prominent events of Greek history and mythology, this new adventure takes you up north to the land of the Vikings. During the darkest times of Norway and Anglo-Saxon England, a new legend comes to life.

assasin's creed valhalla

This is how Assassin’s Creed Valhalla shapes up to be: the classic formula applied to the legends of the Norse warriors. It seeks to shed light on the chaotic events brought about by the Dark Ages, as Viking expansion to England became imminent. For what it’s worth, Valhalla takes you a time of harsh bloodshed, forging alliances, and operating in the shadows.

Expansion in the most literal sense

The story in Valhalla takes place some time in the late 800s, during the Dark Ages of English civilization. The clans in the cold territory of Norway are at constant war and overpopulation, seeking to establish a kingdom of their own. You play as Eivor, a Viking warrior born into all the chaos and bloodshed.

As the clan wars in Norway soon pass over, your crew goes on an expedition to find a new home. In search of a new place to establish a Viking settlement, you arrive at Anglo-Saxon England — with four great kingdoms in control. Within both countries, there are tons of mysteries, treasures, and activities waiting for you.

This sort of expansion isn’t unheard of in the realm of Assassin’s Creed, specifically with Black Flag, Odyssey, and Origins boasting vast lands to explore. However, Valhalla’s strong case just lies in the fact that you have two countries to explore to your heart’s content. The game also comes with a nifty raven feature to make exploration much easier.

It’s a staple from all previous titles, that I felt Ubisoft completely utilized to its fullest extent. They’ve even added a lot more fast travel points to aid in exploration and mission completion, while cutting down the time you take. 

Authentic combat and stealth mechanics

Another staple brought in from every Assassin’s Creed title is the combat style and stealth mechanics. In Valhalla’s case, combat is adjusted to match the fighting style of the Norse warriors. There’s great emphasis on weapon and armor loadouts, using runes to improve certain character stats, and upgradability to increase power. For the combat mechanics, it draws a lot from raw power the Vikings roll with, while still giving them a method to their barbaric madness.

Where I was genuinely surprised at was how Valhalla handled a stealth mechanic for a Viking. In most cases, Vikings are often seen as strong brutes, which doesn’t necessarily match the whole hidden nature of Assassins. As Eivor, however, you’re a more agile type of brute, scaling walls and mountains with ease. Stealth kills are often slow in real-time, but deal devastating damage.

They even brought in Skill Trees in the form of constellations to improve damage and resistance. As you complete missions and side quests, you earn XP that gives you one to two skill points to upgrade your tree. Focusing on specific sets of attributes grants you skills you can use mostly for combat.

Building everything from scratch

Your arrival in England is a struggle in its own, as you try to establish your own Viking settlement. As one of the key features taken from Black Flag, you are also tasked to improve your Settlement to gain access to a variety of things. Upgrading your settlement is a lot of work, but Valhalla’s new feature aids in fast-tracking your progress.

In this game, there are two ways you improve your Settlement: raiding, and forging alliances. In Raids and Assaults, you simply pillage any nearby settlement of all their resources — raw materials and supplies, mostly. These were enjoyable as you also get to test out the combat firsthand. Acquiring supplies and materials is essential in building different structures within your Settlement.

The other option is to simply go on main quests in forging alliances with nearby territories. Each territory actually gives you a main story arc that ties in with the Viking expansion you’re embarking on. As you forge greater alliances, your Settlement’s notoriety grows — for better or worse. It’s as if you’re totally building everything from scratch, and all of this is your own doing.

The realm of chaos brought upon by you

See, Valhalla shapes up to be a decision-based storyline with one ending in sight. As the Vikings expand their reach in England, you will come across kingdoms and powerful leaders that simply won’t allow it. With your Settlement’s notoriety growing, so does their desire to seize it from you.

As Eivor, you decide on how the story progresses, along with the relationships you cultivate. Each story arc provides you with key insights on all the other characters you come across, and certain actions will allow them to join you on your quest. In essence, they will end differently depending on how you wish things would end.

The decisions you make aren’t just limited to being the judge, jury, and executioner. Sometimes, even simple dialogue between you and another character can change things. It’s the kind of decision-making that impacts the world you’re living in, and the people you go into battles with. I take a liking to this kind of decision-making, as it makes the whole story dynamic.

A legend forged in the Northern Lights

Valhalla hinges a lot on how you make of it, from start to finish. In the near 30-hour playthrough I braved through, I was presented with opportunities to shift every story arc into many different outcomes. Who lives, who dies, how the settlement in England grows, the relationships I foster — it goes according to how I see fit.

It’s a full adventure which only grows the more places you seek. There’s an entire world beyond the winter, one that presents an opportunity to start anew. In starting anew, Valhalla depicts the challenges of the Vikings vividly, as if you’re living through the chaos that ensued. Through all of the chaos, you decide whether you seek personal glory or a collective effort.

assasin's creed valhalla

In essence, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla presents a unique look into the lore of the Norse. In stunning quality, it takes you through a deep dive into one of the Vikings’ most successful conquests that rocked England to the core. Ultimately, it puts what you desire at the heart, with every decision having a purpose in the order or chaos.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla arrives on November 10 for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. It will be available on the PlayStation 5 on November 12.

Gaming

PS5’s DualSense controller gets two new colors

Midnight Black and Cosmic Red

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DualSense

Not too fond of the white DualSense controller on the PS5? Sony PlayStation heard you as they announce two new colors of this haptic wonder — Midnight Black and Cosmic Red.

The PlayStation blog waxed poetic while describing the new colors: “Midnight Black features two subtly different shades of black with light grey detailing to reflect how we view space through the night sky. Cosmic Red offers a striking black and red design inspired by the unique vivid shades of red found throughout the cosmos.”

The DualSense controller is one of the biggest innovations of the PlayStation 5. Combining Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers, it offered developers a new way to have gamers experience games. This was most evident in the recently released roguelike survival shooter Returnal.

The new colors are indeed striking. Could this be a sign that we might see Midnight Black and Crimson Red plates for the actual PlayStation 5?

The new lineup of colors will be available at participating retailers globally starting June 2021. The exact date will vary by location. You may check with local retailers for availability.

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LoL Wild Rift: New champions, skins, and character adjustments!

Patch Notes 2.2c is here

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Amidst Rengar and Kha’Zix’s rivalry, new competition is joining in the mix. Renekton is finally getting released later on in the patch to face off against his brother, Nasus. And, the ancient rituals of Blood Moon will make their debut in Wild Rift with Renekton. So, buckle up, there’s a bunch of new things coming with the patch.

Renekton: The Butcher of the Sands

Renekton is an ascended warrior from the scorched deserts of Shurima. The esteemed warrior of his empire was entombed beneath the sands during the fall of the Sun Disc. While the world above the sand changed, he grew resentful and insane. Now free from the deserts’ entrapment, Renekton seeks vengeance over his brother, Nasus (whom he blames for years in darkness).

Riot is doubling down on new skins, new accessories, new events, and champion adjustments. So, if you’ve been out of the loop from the Wild Rift universe, this is the perfect time to come back to it.

There’ll be another update on the patch later this month for what’s to come in June and July. But, the Jubilant Colors event kicks off in just a few days: May 24. Check the patch notes here to read up on more specifics!

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PlayStation VR 2 could be 4K with gaze-tracking tech

Hope they have enough stocks…

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Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

Excited for the PlayStation VR 2? A fresh leak regarding foveated virtual reality headset points to the next-gen accessory being a compelling head-mounted display — and far more impressive than the predecessor. Sony has been teasing the launch for quite some time and even left many breadcrumbs for enthusiasts.

However, the report today isn’t official. According to Upload VR, Sony recently shared more details of the next-gen PlayStation VR with the company’s partners. Topping the list of details is a 4,000 x 2,040-pixel resolution, which gives it a stunning total of 8.16 million pixels.

In terms of rendering, it will work smarter by utilizing foveated rendering. That means that anything in the users’ peripheral vision that isn’t being looked at directly will be rendered in lower quality. The new technology will help save computing resources, delivering a better experience.

A single USB-C connection to the front of the PS5 is expected to power the unit. Another welcome touch is inside-out tracking. Now that Sony is ditching the PS Move controllers, the headset’s onboard cameras will be used to track the position of the new orb-shaped controllers instead.

The accessory seems like a perfect companion for the PlayStation 5 and is well equipped to compete. Although, the supply of PlayStation 5 has been severely hit, and the Japanese giant is expecting delays to go well into 2022. The company hasn’t even given us a release date yet — we know only that we won’t be seeing it by the end of 2021.

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