Getting Started as a Viking Assassin
21 (Spoiler-Free) Tips to Get You Started in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
- There are different types of barred doors. Don’t be too disheartened if you can’t get into a building or hut. Some of these are now puzzles, with barred doors that can be shot open through a window or perhaps there’s an entrance somewhere on the roof. I’ve also encountered thatch covering a window that I had to shoot first to then be able to climb through. The second kind requires a crew member to help you shoulder through them. These appear in settlements that can be raided, so either attack from the shore or select your horn (hold D-pad Down)to start a raid.
- Be on the lookout for anything that seems breakable, including suspended crates that might, when shot, crash down through flooring to reveal a secret. You can also carry explosive jars and place them in front of weak walls and floors and then throw a torch at it or shoot it with an arrow to make it explode – just keep your distance. If you end up on fire, hold the dodge button to roll and extinguish yourself.
- You don’t need to equip a shield in your other hand. You can wield two weapons – or two shields if you really want!
- Make sure you check the suggested Power rating for everything. You may be the kind of player that likes to clear the entire map as you play. This simply isn’t possible with Valhalla, not without first levelling up your Power a lot. Each raid, mission, enemy or activity will have a suggested Power level. If you aren’t up to this, enemies will kick your arse quicker than you can say, “longboat”.
- Power is a bit like Destiny 2’s Light system. It takes into account the number of skills you have unlocked as well as the strength and effectiveness of the armour and weapons you have equipped. Power is a rating of your capacity rather than a linear progression.
- You learn early on that healing is now about consuming rations, which you can collect from bushes or cooking pots in camps. Try to maintain rations, even during fights. Hanging back to swipe a few berries so you can quickly heal while fighting a heavy or boss might mean the difference between victory and a loading screen.
- Don’t be confused by the lack of Leap of Faith. This is something you will unlock as you play. Same goes for the assassin blade. Just keep playing.
- Horses are a good way to get around, and most mountainous terrain has roads that wind around and through them. You can unlock the ability for your horse to swim once you access the option to upgrade stables.
- Holding D-pad Down will bring up a menu for various tools. You can equip a torch for illumination or setting things on fire, put on your cloak to act as a disguise or even meditate to pass time from day to night.
- D-pad Left will call your horse. Holding it will make you automatically mount it.
- If you want to go mining for minerals or animal parts, your raven (D-pad Up) will show a plethora of options in your vicinity. Collect away!
- On normal difficulty, it seems that your raven no longer auto-detects every single enemy and lootable object (I’m around seven hours into the game, so this could be a skill unlock I simply haven’t discovered yet). Once you start to raid camps and villages, Odin’s Sight becomes key to remaining undetected for as long as possible. Hold in the R thumb-stick to enact a magical sweep of your area that reveals interactive objects and nearby enemies. Aggressive NPCs, including animals, will be highlighted red after this, allowing you to track their movement for stealth and – hopefully – successful assassination.
- You can respect your skills at any time. If you’re finding that you’ve upgraded yourself into a play-style corner you aren’t keen on, don’t be afraid to gain back all your skill points and spend them across new pathways.
- Be wary of attacking people on the ice. If too many people stand in one spot, it’s liable to break and dump all of you into deadly cold water.
- Raiding is extremely important early on for gaining supplies and resources to fully develop your nascent settlement. Every lazy bastard, from the blacksmith to tattooist to fisherman, seems to be relying on you to build them an awesome building for them to ply their trade. Try to get this done early so that you can unlock all of the possible side quests and upgrade paths available, making your character stronger.
- Once you’ve built enough prerequisite buildings, you can use the bell in your village to launch a feast, which will bestow buffs on you temporarily. This is a great thing to do just before you plan to tackle a difficult challenge, be it raiding a settlement with a power rating above you or taking on a roaming enemy that has slaughtered you every time you try to best them.
- Some gear upgrades, including your quiver and ration capacity, can be actioned from the menu directly. More impactful upgrades will need to be done at a blacksmith.
- Enemies have a stun gauge that can be depleted by parrying their attacks (RB as they attack) and landing heavy blows. Once this is depleted, they become open to a Deathblow by clicking in R.
- You can call a crew at any location close to water. This tactic might be particularly handy if you’re trying to kill a Zealot (basically, Valhalla’s version of Mercenaries) that is too powerful for you to take on alone.
- Make sure you explore and try everything. There are hidden panoramic views, strange character encounters and collectibles all over the map. Read notes to gain hints for nearby secrets and investigate their contents or directions. You’ll be rewarded more often than not.
- Try aiming with your bow while falling from a great height. Something cool will happen. Now use it tactically.
So there you have it, enough tips to get you through the first few hours of the new Assassin’s Creed. Of course, there is much more to discover, but that would take from you the journey of discovery. This is a long game with many, many secrets to dig up. Savour the journey and may you enjoy much glory!