Captain's log

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla might blow Black Flag out of the water in 1 way

Hit the high seas.

Ubisoft and Microsoft debuted the first tidbits of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay Thursday during an Inside Xbox showcase for the Xbox Series X. The trailer of the upcoming Viking adventure showed off some of its vast and detailed landscapes, snippets of in-game battles, and what looks like the return of a beloved feature from Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag: sailing and naval combat.

In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, players will take control of a Viking clan leader, who will need to grow and defend their tribes while sailing across Northern Europe. Historically, Viking raiders navigated the North and Baltic seas using their iconic longships that were built for speed and troop transport that allowed Vikings to deploy quickly to execute attacks on enemy fortresses.

The Valhalla trailer featured numerous shots of the vessels suggesting that they’ll be the main mode of transport for players as they expand their Viking kingdom. As one of their first objectives, gamers will shove off from Scandinavia to England, a journey only possible by boat.

“Our hero Eivor is a Viking raider who’s going to leave the snow mountains of Norway for the lush rolling hills of England, propelled by the goal of settling their people and growing a thriving settlement,” said Ashraf Ismail, Valhalla's creative director, in an interview following the Inside Xbox presentation.

While longboats will be the main means of transport in Valhalla, Ubisoft has yet to confirm just how customizable they’ll be or precisely what it'll look and feel like to control them. Traditionally, these Viking ships were symbols of a tribe’s power and featured elaborate carvings and decorations. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag had a treasure trove of ship upgrades and cosmetics, and a similar system could make Valhalla an even more immersive Viking role-playing adventure.

Ismail didn’t mention the return of Black Flag’s ship customization features specifically, but he did tease how many of the franchise’s core systems will be getting overhauled and refined. Specifically, both weapon customization and player progress are being reworked, which hopefully includes a dock that lets players trick out their longboats.

“We’ve reinvented combat to be visceral, brutal tons of enemy variety dual-wielding weapons,” he said. “We have a new fresh take on player progression, gear, and weapon systems. We’re effectively pushing every single envelope to deliver this incredible Viking fantasy.”

The Inverse Analysis — The Assassin’s Creed series has been around for 13 years now and many fans found Ubisoft’s most recent release, Odyssey, to be watered down. Valhalla is Ubisoft’s chance to revitalize its franchise into a full-bodied, open-world RPG by honing in on players’ sense of intrigue and adventure.

Many gamers found that sailing around looking for trouble was one of the most enjoyable parts of Black Flag. Now that Valhalla will launch on the Xbox Series X, its landscapes will be even more expansive and inspire players to explore its virtual world in search for treasure, powerful enemies, and surprises.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be released during the 2020 holiday season on the Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows 10, and Google Stadia.

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