Stephen Totilo of Kotaku spoke to Assassin Creed Valhalla's Creative Director Ashaf Ismail about all things Valhalla; gameplay, setting and more!
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Thanks to an interview by Stephen Totilo of Kotaku, we now have more details about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and what we can expect from the game. Totilo spoke to the game’s creative director, Ashaf Ismail, and made sure to cover a lot of ground when it came to asking what we could expect. The full article can be found on Kotaku’s site if you’re interested, but here’s a sum-up of the interview.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Will See You Assume The Role Of A Leader

“we wanted to make sure that everyone in the settlement was meaningful to the player, that you have a name, you have a face, you can have relationships and be able to get to know them. And they have a life within that settlement.”

Ismail discussing the importance of the settlement in Valhalla

Those of you who know some things about the Vikings may remember that they travelled to England from Scandanavia, and settled here before pillaging the country. It seems that Valhalla will follow this story, as it tasks the player with the role of leading a settlement. The team behind the game have placed great focus on the settlement the Vikings stay in.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Ismail said “we wanted to make sure that everyone in the settlement was meaningful to the player, that you have a name, you have a face, you can have relationships and be able to get to know them. And they have a life within that settlement.” Ismail later added that the player will have to “deal with this growing population.” It was also revealed that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will build upon the previous game Origins, and keep the system that saw NPCs living life on a schedule.

For those unfamiliar with this system, it involved the NPCs of Origins living a life based on a day/night schedule. Because of this NPCs could be in different places at different times, making meeting or assassinating them a bit more tricky. On the other hand, it also allowed for an element of planning. It will be interesting to see how this is received in Valhalla.

There Will Be The Chance To Negoiate, And The Controls Will Be Mostly The Same

The previously mentioned settlement seems to play a key role in the game. Ismail told Totilo that the player will become involved in politics once they leave the settlement to explore England. From here the player will make new contacts, but not every one of them will be a threat. “You get caught up into a journey. We give options within that. So sometimes, yes, it means that you can, let’s say, negotiate to resolve something” Ismail said. However, he reiterated that “this is an Assassin’s Creed game. It is a Viking fantasy. It has got a lot of battles, and there are a lot of enemies where there’s just no negotiating.”

Later in the interview, Ismail also discussed the fact that his team explored the idea that Vikings attempted to adapt to life in England. This was something backed by historians working on the game, who described the Viking approach as one of “cohabitation”. This angle is said to be explored “to a certain degree” in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

 “The idea is we want you to start in the settlement and to go out into the world. In the settlement, you might receive some kind of information about what’s happening out in the world, whether it’s contacts, or people that you’ve known in the past, or new opportunities that have arrived.”

Ismail made it clear that the settlement will be a key place in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

It was also revealed that Valhalla will have a similar control scheme to Odyssey and Origins, with combat being based on the should buttons of the controller. However, we will be receiving a new tool wheel.

Playing As Male Or Female Eivor May Not Change The Game

I say may because given Ismail’s response I feel we simply don’t know. When asked if the story and dialogue will be the same for the lead character, regardless of male or female, Ismail stated  “Well, in that manner of speaking, yes, it is the same, … However, there is… I don’t want to spoil anything.” While it certainly seems that there will be no major difference, Ismail is certainly holding his cards close to his chest. And for obvious reasons.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Female Eivor hasn’t seen much footage, despite being in the collector’s edition

Totilo tried to press Ismail for a reason as to why the male Eivor was focused on over the female. Ismail explained that there will be assets of the female Eivor “coming up”. As explained by Totilo in the article, decisions like these don’t lay with the developers at big companies like Ubisoft. When Totilo attempted to discuss if Ubisoft were worried that fans would react negatively to a female Eivor being focused on, the PR rep present at the interview interjected saying that “I think it’s kind of asked and answered, if that’s ok”. Totilo was told to follow this up post-interview, and did, with the rep explaining that “the company would keep me posted if they wanted to pursue that topic”.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Will Be A Big Game, And The Global Pandemic Hasn’t Slowed Production

Totilo asked Ismail about the map size of Valhalla, in relation to a now deleted tweet claiming it wouldn’t be the largest map of Assassin’s Creed. Yet, Ismail was reluctant to discuss map size. He explained that the team weren’t ready to discuss any more details yet, but reiterated that the map will feature Norway, England and four kingdoms.

“Honestly, I don’t compare the maps … I think these are meaningless. We’re going to give people Norway. We’re giving people England. Four kingdoms. There’s more than that. But we’re not ready to talk about that just yet. This is going to be a very fulfilling journey.”

Ismail on the size of the map in Valhalla

Regarding the ongoing global pandemic, Ismail explained that the sitaution hasn’t derailed production. He said that Ubisoft’s IT team are to thank for this, going “above and beyond to make sure everyone has what they need—hardware, software, anything they need to do their job”. Progress is being monitored regularly, but is on schedule it seems.

Ismail Doesn’t Think The Game Will Become Tedious To Play

Recent games in the series have been rather large, offering players countless hours of exploring in massive maps. Ismail believes that exploring the world is worthwhile, as it was in Origins which he also oversaw. Ismail explained that him and his team tried to capture The Dark Ages of England.

“Different parts of the country had different practices, different beliefs, different ways of living life. And we used those details. So we were meticulous about this, and we want people to discover that. A lot of this is optional content. But there’s a lot of deep storytelling that’s happening in all of this optional content. So, for sure, it’s there because we want people to see it.”

Different areas of England will follow different ways of life

You May Or May Not Fight Norse Gods

This one doesn’t come from Ismail himself, but rather from Totilo and a tipster. Totilo explains that last year he received a tip from someone he didn’t know claiming the new Assassin’s Creed game would be called Valhalla and based around the Viking invasion of England. Totilo thanked them, and waited to see if the tip was confirmed. Which it was. So Totilo decided to ask about another part of the tip, one that hadn’t been confirmed so far.

The tipster had also added that in Valhalla, players would fight against Norse gods in dream like sequences. When asked about this part of the tip, Ismail simply replied “I don’t talk about rumours”. And with that the interview ended.

The idea of fighting Norse gods sounds interesting, but it remains to be seen if this is actually true. Given the accuracy of the rest of the tip though, it seems it could be. What do you think about this interview? Are you a fan of the day/night cycle, or games with massive maps asking to be explored? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @games_bulletin!

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