The problem with Assassin's Creed games is that they're all generally quite good. This disputable fact brings up debates as to which one is the best. At this point, after 22 games across more platforms than you currently own, it's safe to say you have a favorite. It's also safe to say, unless you've been bullied into your answer by the internet, your favorite is not the same as the next person's. It's probably not even the same as mine. Unless your favorite Assassin's Creed is Black Flag, in which case your favorite is also the correct and best one.
Well my answer to which Assassin's Creed is best is about to change. Yesterday's real-time painting reveal of Assassin's Creed Valhalla is taking everything I love about Vikings (which is everything) and turning it into an Assassin's Creed game. And since we've established that Assassin's Creed games are all generally quite good, I'm in for a treat, and so are you.
The cinematic reveal today, according to the hearts and minds on the Gaming Nexus Slack channel, is straight fire. Ubisoft has taken a stab or two at genuine filmmaking and has fared...poorly. But today's trailer proves once again that Ubisoft has some directing chops—at least when it comes to directing video games.
Below is a breakdown of the trailer from Ubisoft Creative Director Ashraf Ismail and Narrative Director Darby McDevitt, interviewed by Youssef Maguid of Ubisoft News. The trailer begins on a settlement in Norway, in a game where settlements—the establishing, growing, and maintenance of them—play a new and vital role with your Assassin's Creed main character, Eivor (pronounced AY-vohr).
This time, like in Assassin's Creed Syndicate, you can play a male or female protagonist. You'll be leaving a harsh and frozen Norway for the rolling green hills of England. Good to get the blessing of the god Odin before you do so, with a little bit of animal blood streaked on your face while you're at it. It's the end of the 8th century. Stuff's pretty raw. Though most of the stories that've survived about the Vikings were written by the English, the people the Vikings raided. Assassin's Creed Valhalla attempts to tell the story of a whole Viking culture, and not just the juicy action bits scribbled down by their raid victims. So it's not just about violence, brutality, and masochism. It's about friends, alliances, and settling down, even integrating with local English societies. Vikings were farmers and traders, not just raiders and pillagers. In fact, on a map of the U.K. today, any town name that ends with -thorp or -by was one of the hundreds of successful settlements of peoples settling from Norway and Denmark.
We find out that the unreliable narrator in the video is the English King Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, the southern most kingdom in England at the time. He was the strongest of the English kings at the time, and he was the most successful at pushing back the Danes and the Norse. England itself wasn't a unified land, it was fractured and ruled over by many separate kingdoms in the late 700s A.D.
There are absolutely Viking longships in this, too. The metaphor Ismail uses to describe the longships—which were a technology unique to the Vikings at the time—were that the longships were the Ferrari of the waterways. They were incredibly fast. They couldn't be caught. This allowed them push deep behind enemy lines with raiders and cargo, just like a Ferrari can do today.
There are two parts to the whole Raiding thing. There are the hit-and-run style raids, where you go in fast and perform a smash and grab; create some chaos so people run away and the Vikings make off with the goods. The other side of that coin are the big battles. Along with that comes combat details Ubisoft is pushing for, like throwing axes and dual-wielding axes—dual-wielding any combination of weapons in the game, actually. "If you want to dual-wield two shields, we let you do that," Ismail says. To which Maguid replies, "Yessss."
Vikings, man. I can't wait. Assassin's Creed Valhalla comes to Xbox One, Xbox Series X (the next Xbox), and to PC via the Epic Games Store in Holiday 2020.