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.

Accessories

Razer now has its own gaming finger sleeves

Keeping your thumbs dry

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Razer has somehow transformed into the ruler of gaming lifestyle accessories. After releasing treasure troves of peripherals and devices, the company has slowly branched off into stranger and stranger niches including toasters and SUVs. Razer is now blending peripheral with accessory in its latest product: Razer Gaming Finger Sleeves.

If you haven’t heard of finger sleeves before, think gloves but only for your fingers — or, in this case, finger. The Razer Gaming Finger Sleeves are meant to be worn on your thumbs. It’s specifically made for mobile gamers.

Made with a mixture of sliver fiber fabric, nylon, and spandex, the sleeves can keep your thumbs dry for serious gaming on your phone. Despite wrapping your thumbs, Razer says that the fabric is still breathable at 0.8 millimeters. They’re also a universal fit for any type of thumb.

Mobile gaming is one of the most popular forms of entertainment especially in Asian countries like the Philippines. Playing on your phone can easily whittle away the time spent in traffic or outdoors. However, since some countries are too warm and humid, sweat can just as easily accumulate and create an unsightly portrait on our otherwise pristine phone screens.

The Razer Gaming Finger Sleeves are out now and retails for US$ 9.99.

SEE ALSO: Razer unveils its Phantom Keycap Upgrade Set

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Accessories

The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset now sports Midnight Black

Nicely paired with the DualSense controller and your “Midnight Black” PS5

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Pulse 3D Wireless

Back in June, Sony announced two additional colorways for its next-generation DualSense controller. Apart from the classic white, the PlayStation 5’s newest controller also received a Midnight Black and Cosmic Red. This time around, they’ve extended the invitation to another PS5 peripheral, the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset.

Much like the DualSense controller, the headset will also come in Midnight Black. Other than this, everything else is pretty much the same for the Pulse 3D Headset. In essence, it still gives you deeper, more immersive 3D sounds to games that fully take advantage of this. It’s just that now, you have other color options to choose from. Whether or not this also comes in Cosmic Red, Sony has yet to announce that.

It’s worth noting that included in the PS5’s second major update is an equalizer for the 3D Pulse. It adds another layer of control for players. This lets them enjoy the game precisely the way they want to. But if tweaking isn’t your thing, there are also three presets: Standard, Bass Boost, or Shooter.

The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset in Midnight Black will be available on October 29 for PhP 5,590/ SG$ 149 / MYR 469/ DR1,699,000 / THB3,490 / VND2,699,000.

SEE ALSO: How to use the DualSense controller with PC, Mac

 

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Gaming

Nintendo Switch gets Bluetooth audio compatibility

Update rolling out today

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The Nintendo Switch is one of the most versatile consoles available today. Besides being a home console, commuters and travelers can easily take their favorite games with them. However, for all its bells and whistles, the console lacks a key feature present in today’s traveling tech: Bluetooth audio support. In a surprise move, Nintendo is finally bringing the Switch into the wireless fold.

Today, an official software update is rolling out to Switches everywhere. The update adds in support for Bluetooth audio output. Gamers can now play their favorite games through the wireless earbud of their choice. The system’s settings screen now has a Bluetooth Audio setting to pair the console with wireless audio devices.

There are some caveats, though. The new feature is a single-player one. Users can’t attach Bluetooth microphones using the update. Though some games thrive in multiplayer, Nintendo won’t allow the feature yet.

Further, only on audio device can be paired at a single time, adding more complications for local multiplayer. Likewise, pairing an audio device will limit the console’s wireless controller connections to just two at a time. There might be some latency issues as well, according to the official support page.

The update is already rolling out now. Switch users should have access to the feature as soon as they get it.

SEE ALSO: Is the Nintendo Switch (OLED) worth the upgrade?

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