Seven Tips and Tricks to Embrace your Inner Viking in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

After taking the last year off, Ubisoft’s flagship historical open world franchise has returned with its latest entry, as the Animus prepares to take players back to ninth century England as the fierce Viking Eivor explores (and raids) new lands. There’s plenty to do in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla that’s sure to keep players entertained for dozens of hours, but the sheer amount of content can be a little overwhelming, with miles upon miles of unexplored territories that range from peaceful to unexpectedly dangerous. To make sure to get the most out of your time with the huge open world, be sure to check out the following tips and tricks that should help you avoid any unnecessarily early encounters with death on the road to Valhalla.

Spend a Few Hours Following the Story

Much like past Assassin’s Creed games, Valhalla kicks off with straightforward missions to provide context and set the tone before letting players loose upon the open world. As tempting as it may be to chase down some of the optional objectives as soon as the game lets you off the leash, however, there’s some strong justification to continue following the main campaign until after the title sequence plays out. It may take a few hours, but the first handful of story missions do an effective job of introducing and providing players with many of the key mechanics that they will be using for most of their time with the game. Plus, the relatively small opening area pales in comparison to the size of the main open world, with half of it being gated off by a power level that is impossible to reach without making the necessary progress through the campaign. And for the completionists out there (or those that simply feel homesick), don’t worry, you can return to this introductory area at any time through the world map.

Take to the Skies

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla continues the recent tradition of providing your protagonist with a flying friend, this time in the form of a raven named Synin. While there aren’t any new mechanics that Synin introduces for series veterans to take advantage of, relying upon your sky bound companion continues to be an effective way to gain an edge for both open-world exploration and enemy surveillance. In addition to a few required instances throughout the campaign, players should consider calling upon Synin anytime they land in a new area to spot key locations where wealth or artifacts are stored, mysteries can be encountered or nearby animals can be hunted. This rings especially true outside of restricted areas, where your raven can provide you with an overhead view of an enemy encampment to more specifically determine the location of enemies and the smartest path forward for those who prefer to remain stealthy.

Prioritize Blue Dots

As players go through the satisfying process of reaching synchronization points and providing the map with more detail, the primary icons that Valhalla encourages you to seek out take the form of three colored dots. Yellow dots represent wealth, which includes treasure chests with money, resources and occasionally new weapons, while white dots are artifacts that include less frequent but more unique items for players to track down. The third type of dots, colored in blue, point out mysteries for players to discover, which often play out as short but frequently memorable side quests and encounters that add a lot of personality to the world that Eivor inhabits. The rewards upon completing these mysteries range from useful to common, but those who want to get the most out of the open world exploration will rarely be left disappointed by going out of their way to see what odd story the next blue dot has to tell.

A Home for the Hidden Ones

Once you get past the lengthy introduction, Eivor and their companions are initially focused on finding a new home out in the countryside of England. As players first start out in their new settlement, the game provides little direction on which new buildings to prioritize, showing only brief hints as to what exactly this completed project will bring to the surrounding community. One of the first buildings players should focus on constructing is the Assassin Bureau, which operates as a working space for any members of the titular brotherhood. After a brief quest that is available immediately after the completion of the project, players will now have access to the Order of the Ancients menu, which adds dozens of targets for Eivor to find clues on, locate and ultimately eliminate to aid the Hidden Ones in their goal to free England from the order’s presence.

Feast Early and Feast Often

When you scour your settlement for new buildings to construct, you may notice that a large portion of the projects that are available to tackle will improve the community’s ability to feast. These feasts can be initiated by ringing a bell at the front of the longhouse, and after a jolly sequence filled with food and bonding, Eivor will emerge back into the world buffed and ready for new challenges. As there’s no significant downside for partaking in these large-scale meals, players should remember to take advantage of these opportunities whenever they return to their settlement, particularly before they’re about to partake in a raid or quest that they may feel slightly underprepared for. As your settlement continues to grow, these buffs will increase in effectiveness alongside it, creating a satisfying loop of feasting and open-world exploration.

The Quiet Before the Storm

As you sail down the intersecting rivers of England, Eivor and their crew will notice plenty of opportunities to raid various enemy encampments, with a glowing circle and an on-screen prompt instructing the player to launch full force into the battle. Valhalla is still an Assassin’s Creed game at heart, however, and as a result, stealth continues to be a viable option, particularly before these small-scale brawls. Before some of the more challenging encounters, it often makes sense to park your boat a bit outside of the camp and head into it alone, assassinating a few less aware enemies on the outskirts that would have initially slowed the raid down. In the event that Eivor does get detected or takes out a large portion of the enemies, you then can call in your raiding crew to provide backup and overwhelm the opposition before they even know what hits them.

A Dual Wielding Force of Nature

In the heat of battle, Eivor has a sizable selection of weapons to pick from to thwart their enemies with. In addition to the ever-reliable bow and arrow and a right-handed weapon, the inventory screen also has a dedicated slot for Eivor’s left hand. While larger two-handed weapons will remove this slot and shields can be a solid defensive tool, our time with the combat went much more smoothly when choosing to wield a second weapon in your other hand. The type of weapon can differ in either hand, leading to unique combinations that are fun to experiment with, plus players can hold the L1/LB button to overwhelm the enemy with a third attack that adds nice variety to the traditional light attack/heavy attack style of combat.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is available now on Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One and PC, with a PS5 release coming on November 12.