Inverse Recommends

The Most Ambitious Viking Game Ever Made Still Holds Up


Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Inverse Recommends

Vikings have always been one of pop culture’s historical obsessions, and it’s easy to see why. Stalwart warriors who live for glory and feasting make for good heroic stories. In the world of video games, few series have embraced history as well as Assassin’s Creed, so it’s only natural the series would inevitably hit the Vikings. Luckily, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes to the era with gusto, creating the ultimate Viking fantasy mixed with an expansive open-world RPG. If Xbox and PC owners are looking for a massive game to get lost in, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is now available in its entirety on Xbox Game Pass.

Valhalla is the third entry in the series since its switch to a more RPG style, and in that sense, it heavily takes after Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey. It cannot be stressed enough that this is a slow-burn experience, with Valhalla’s massive world and story taking dozens of hours to really open up.

Valhalla’s recreation of Middle Ages England is stunning, from verdant green fields to icy mountaintops.


You play as Eivor, a Viking warrior whose parents were slaughtered in a raid when they were a child. Eivor fittingly has the Viking nickname “Wolf Kissed” as they just barely survived a wolf attack when they were young, which damaged their vocal cords and left a massive scar. At the start of Valhalla, you set out from your home in Norway with your brother Sigurd, hoping to create a grand Viking kingdom in England.

This setup allows for a wide variety of storytelling, as Eivor and Sigurd seek to make allies across all of England. It also provides a definitive structure to the entire game as each “territory” has its own dedicated story arc. It’s a deliberate choice that directly plays into the game’s presentation as a “Viking Epic,” and by and large, it works. In one territory, you help a ruler stage a kidnapping of his wife so the two can pursue separate lives. In another, you take part in a drunken early version of Halloween. Some stories are more interesting than others, but the structure makes Valhalla’s world truly feel expansive, adding a sense of gravitas to everything.

Valhalla’s forte is the way dynamic way it weaves elements of Norse mythology into its story and lore. In the Assassin’s Creed series, there’s a highly advanced ancient race that existed before humans called the Isu. Valhalla provides some fascinating insight into the series’ lore, fleshing the Isu out through playable sections of Norse mythology molded by Eivor’s interpretation of their gods. It’s a fantastical style of storytelling that works well in its juxtaposition to the focused historical narrative of the rest of the game.

Valhalla’s use of Norse mythology is inventive and puts a fun twist on the game’s formula.


Of course, story isn’t the only place that Valhalla nails its Viking aesthetic, which carries over to both exploration and combat. This time, there is much less emphasis on stealth since Eivor possesses a wide array of tools to destroy enemies in close combat, including abilities that are often brutal and effective like throwing a flurry of axes at everyone in sight. Beyond that, you can equip several weapons, including flails, axes, broadswords, and more.

Valhalla’s combat is oftentimes brutal, but like the story, takes quite a while to turn into something interesting. For the first dozen hours or so, you’ll have limited combat abilities before you can eventually unlock abilities and skills that wildly change your approach. For example, you can perform a deadly rush that lets you carry an enemy dozens of yards before throwing them. The bigger focus on melee combat fits better with the Viking theme, and that’s heightened by the massive raids you can undertake, looting English settlements for all they’re worth with your longship crew.

Sprinkled in amid the combat and story are loads of details that let Valhalla’s setting flourish. The open world is smattered with “Mysteries,” which can be combat challenges, mystical standing stones, and even small self-contained stories.

Even though combat takes a while to get interesting, it’s a blast once things click.


Mysteries are often a delight, filled with quirky and fun tales or lessons for Eivor. Valhalla also does a good job of weaving these mysteries into the exploration you complete in the main game. In addition to all that, there are so many small details that help heighten the Viking theme: drinking challenges that win you money, ancient Roman artifacts to collect, and Flyte battles (a type of rhythmic and rhyming Viking rap battle).

Valhalla isn’t the best game in the series, but it does a better job than most of embracing its historical period. In truth, it’s more of a Viking game than an Assassin’s Creed title, but that’s arguably for the better. Valhalla’s gorgeous world is one of the most well-realized Ubisoft has ever created. And if you have a soft spot for Vikings, it’s an absolute must-play.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. It’s also included on Xbox Game Pass.

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