Assassin's Creed Valhalla will "change the usual RPG formula drastically", say devs

By Heidi Nicholas,
Narrative director for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Darby McDevitt, says the dev team decided to "change the usual RPG formula drastically" for the latest AC game.

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

Speaking to GamingBolt, McDevitt discussed how the usual side quest formula wouldn't work for Valhalla. "One of the first things we asked ourselves when making Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was “Does the traditional Main Quest / Side Quests format work for a Viking who invades a hostile country?” The answer was a resounding “no”. Traditional Side Quests, as you find in almost every RPG around, just didn’t make sense for our character — we couldn’t see Eivor taking time out of their raids and assaults to stop and help a stranger out of the kindness of their heart. That sort of generosity applies to a Medjay, or a Mercenary, or a generic Hero, but not to a Viking raider. The locals would be too suspicious of Eivor."

It's true that although Ubisoft seems keen to present Eivor's vikings as settlers as well as raiders, it would still seem a bit jarring if Eivor was so easily accepted into the local society. Indeed, the striking contrast between the raiders and the locals had some fans wondering how social stealth would work in this game: how it would be possible for hardened warrior Eivor to blend into a crowd of monks or villagers just by pulling their hood up. Creative director Ashraf Ismail addressed this, and discussed how Valhalla will bring back social stealth, saying "the idea that a Norse person or a Viking is in a place that they're not wanted, for them to sort of go incognito and kind of hide in the crowd... made a lot of sense", and that the game puts a "cool new spin" on the "social stealth" feature.

As for side quests, McDevitt says the team "made an early decision to change the usual RPG formula drastically and focus on telling more long-form stories with high stakes, sprawling arcs, and huge emotions. So rather than playing one long main story and, for example, one hundred miniature stories, players will experience many key stories that each have the epic scope of a feature length film. Many of these connect to Eivor’s personal journey, others feel more stand-alone, but all are related to Eivor’s and their clan’s desire to carve out a permanent place of their own in England." This new format, McDevitt says, left room for "a lot of room for smaller and more intimate narrative moments scattered throughout the world," such as World Events: "countless small little happenings, side stories, and surreal encounters that players may engage with as they see fit. They won’t be tracked in your quest log, but they’ll tug at your curiosity."

Assassin's Creed Valhalla releases on November 17th. Ubisoft has promised another Ubisoft Forward, where it's possible we'll get a lot more info on the game, but in the meantime, you can check out the most recent in-depth gameplay overview from the last event, as well as everything we know about the loot system, Eivor's character, and Viking rap battles.
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Hey, I'm Heidi! I've just finished studying a Masters in English Literature, but I've been obsessed with gaming since long before then. I began on the PS2 with Spyro, before graduating to the Xbox 360 and disappearing into Skyrim. I'm now a loyal RPG fan, but I still like to explore other genres — when I'm not playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey, or being lured back into Red Dead Redemption 2 or The Witcher 3!