With so many options, where do you start? These tips and tricks will help you become the best Viking you can be in the early hours, as you familiarize yourself with this new chapter in the series.
Toggle stealth difficulty
As much as I appreciate “Valhalla” revisiting its stealth roots, some of those classic mechanics lack polish. You’re too easily spotted, alerting guards of your presence no matter how careful you are. To help make sneaking around less frustrating, I recommend lowering the stealth difficulty to the lowest setting, “apprentice.” This lowers enemies’ perception, making it harder for them to detect you.
“Valhalla” has other settings worth toggling depending on your playstyle, including how you wish to approach combat. For world navigation, for example, you can choose from adventurer (more in-game icons to guide you to a destination), explorer (the default setting) and pathfinder (minimal HUD and less information on the world map).
Whistle while you work
Another stealth tip: If you’re hiding in bushes or a haystack and want to lure enemies closer for a kill, you can whistle to get their attention, just like in previous “Assassin’s Creed” games. You can do so by hitting left on the d-pad (just don’t hold it down; that will call your mount).
Upgrade rations ASAP
“Valhalla” has a new approach to health management. Health does not regenerate over time. Instead, you use rations that fill up your health gauge when you’re low. You can collect berries, mushrooms and food found in pots or baskets to help refill your rations. In your inventory, rations (and your quiver) can be upgraded with resources you’ve found around the world or by completing raids. This way, you can hold more rations at once.
Doing so early on will give you an edge, allowing you to stay alive for longer — as long as you’ve accumulated enough berries or food to keep you going.
Equip two-handed weapons or flails
A lot of weapons can be found in “Valhalla,” and some are better than others. You can now dual-wield a combination of weapons, even two shields, but if you’re looking for the most powerful option your best bet is a two-handed weapon or a flail.
Some of the better weapons, like Excalibur, take considerable time and effort to unlock. So instead, focus your attention (at least to start) on spears and flails. Spears, which are two-handed weapons, deal a great amount of damage and they also have a wide range. This makes spears an excellent weapon for boss fights. Flails, however, are my favorite: Your swing starts off slow, but by the second or third swing, it becomes viciously quick. You can easily spam the attack button to defeat enemies quickly and efficiently.
Once you find a weapon you like, you can stick with it for much of the game without repercussion. All weapons can be upgraded and enhanced at a blacksmith (which can be found at your settlement).
Aim for weak points
With a bow and arrow equipped in battle, you can deal large amounts of damage from a distance. You can also aim for a foe’s weak points, which glow in yellow while they are in your sights. These can be found on arms, legs and sometimes a torso. Successfully hitting weak points will not just deal a more devastating blow, but can also result in an enemy stumbling, making them vulnerable to a stun attack finisher.
Re-spec whenever you want
The skill tree in “Valhalla” is malleable, and should fit your playstyle and experience. If you get tired of certain abilities you unlocked in the skill tree, or wish to put points into other areas, you can reset parts (or all) of your progress at any time. I recommend tweaking this often, depending on where you are in the game; an action set piece will require different skills than a stealth mission. It’s up to you to find the best combination.
Leave the Animus after big story moments
The “Assassin’s Creed” series partially takes place in the modern day, with sequences in the present acting as breaks from the historical plot line. Every once in a while, you will be removed from the Animus (a machine that lets modern-day protagonist Layla relive the memories of ancestors) and plopped into the present.
Here, you can talk to the other characters and catch up on emails. According to narrative designer Darby McDevitt, dialogue is updated regularly to make for unique moments when you leave the Animus.
Mark multiple things on the map
Ubisoft took great care in rethinking some aspects of open-world design in “Valhalla.” Side quests feel more organic with the addition of “world events,” which allow you to engage or disengage as you wish without clogging up your quest log.
Yet, the map itself is still large, filled with icons for events, gear, quests and more. To help you get around easily, you can mark multiple locations of interest, giving you different waypoints to follow within the world so you don’t have to constantly reopen the map.
Unlock new dialogue options by winning flyting duals
Flyting is an entertaining war of carefully-chosen insults. As fun as they are to complete, they are also meaningful to your progression. With each flyting battle, your charisma level increases. The higher your level, the more dialogue options unlock for you to choose, allowing you to persuade, trick, and even talk your way out of uncomfortable situations.