Since the first game in this series, this franchise has skillfully merged historic events with tales of fantasy in engaging ways that also give insight into cultures and civilizations lost to the past. Assassin's Creed Valhalla takes this formula and gives gamers a look into the rich, and often brutal, world of the Norse Vikings. While at first glance, the idea of a stealthy Viking assassin might seem ridiculous, the game's more historically accurate depiction of the Viking civilization as more than just barbaric brutes makes the idea much more believable. Sure, there's a little suspension of disbelief required to accept the fact that tossing a hood over your head and standing with a few monks will suddenly make a person carrying a massive two-handed war hammer seem inconspicuous. Still, these classic Assassin's Creed elements from previous games are welcome to fans of the series, and they also seem to just fit Eivor's character and personality. Then again, so does calling in for reinforcements and joining in a brutal raid.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla feels massive in size and scope. It's a gorgeous world to take in too, with a range of environments from snowy mountains and dense forests to sprawling settlements and winding waterways. It's not just the geography of the game that gives players plenty to explore, but there's so much content packed in that there's always something for players to be doing. Many side missions are as large or larger than what most games would consider a story mission. These self-contained adventures don't necessarily expand on Eivor's tale, but they do give a greater view into the era's historic significance and the mythology that spawned forth from it. Plus, the rewards for completing missions usually help to make the side trip more than worthwhile. Best of all is that all of this content can be played just about however the player chooses. Gameplay options and a diverse arsenal of weapons and skills give players the freedom to use stealth and precision to sneak in, get the job done, and sneak out unnoticed. Or, if they choose, players can charge in like a violent force of nature, leaving carnage and destruction in their wake. Though, parents should appreciate that much of the game's more visceral and mature content can be filtered out as a part of the game's robust accessibility settings. Between the game's size and story, coupled with the fluid gameplay and customizable presentation, Assassin's Creed Valhalla isn't only the best game in the franchise to date, but it's also the most approachable entry in the series.