The Viking raiders that terrorized Europe centuries past are infamous for many things, chief amongst them was their prowess in battle. And whether Eivor is raiding monasteries or helping out allies, you’ll have to learn to fight as well as they did if you want to survive in Assassins Creed Valhalla.
But with dozens of weapons to choose from and upgrade, as well as even more enemies to slay, it can be difficult to find your feet in Saxon England. If you need any help, or just want a little boost, this guide will have you slaying Yeoman and decapitating Goliaths.
Previously on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla guides: Beginner Tips and Tricks from the Gods
The Right Tool for the Left Hand
In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla you will have to make such incredibly difficult decisions, but none as difficult as which weapon do I use in which hand. Unlike Origins and Odyssey, Valhalla will not over-encumber you with weapons after every fight. Instead, each weapon feels unique, powerful and has the potential to upgraded several times (which we’ll go into later).
Early on you’ll have a simple bearded axe and shield, but it doesn’t take too long before you can branch out as you come across new weapons, such as dane axes (great axes) swords, hammers, and flails, and others.
If you’re feeling defensive, you can keep the shield in your off-hand – or even in your right hand if you really want to beat someone to death to a round of wood – but it’s more than a little tempting to dual wield like a true berserker, or find the biggest two-handed weapon you can and sweep through the battlefield. For the fearful, I would say that it is still better to ditch the shield for something a little more offensive, and we go into how to stay alive just below if you’re still not sure how you’ll survive without cover. When dual-wielding, you want to make sure that your best weapon is in your right hand. This will be the first weapon to hit when you strike, so it’s worth giving it the best chance to connect.
But it’s up to you to experiment with your preferred weapons. Flails for instance are quite good at crowd control, with wide attacks that will catch a few foes if you’re surrounded, but normally aren’t as murderous as a good old axe to the frontal lobe.
A trick that the game doesn’t seem to tell you about when dual wielding is your secondary attack. Hold down the parry button and you’ll unleash a short flurry of brutal swings on your targeted enemy. It leaves you more than a little exposed, but if you can pull it off, you’ll shred their health bar.
The Art of Not Getting Hit
The muddy fields and frozen fjords of England and Norway are dangerous, and you’ll have to face off against everything from wolves to the English if you hope to make a name for yourself before you reach the halls of Valhalla. Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to avoid getting caught out by a stare arrow or purposeful sword swing.
Not having a shield obviously makes you a little easier to hit, but you’ll still have a huge swathe of options to avoid getting clobbered. You will still be able to parry incoming attacks with your off-hand by timing the parry just before the strike connects. This not only diverts the damage away but exposes your enemy to a counter-attack. Even better, this reduces your enemy’s stun gauge, and when that hits zero you’ll be given the option to perform a devastating stun attack on them. More often than not, that will be the final blow so it’s worth getting in a few parries if you’re struggling to break an opponent’s health.
When parrying is a little too risky, you can also just evading, sidestepping out the way of home and if you’re well-positioned you might even get a few hits on the enemies flank before they have time to recover. The Backstab and Brush with Death skills can really help this particular playstyle and can be found to the left of the starting point on the skill tree.
Ranged enemies can be a little trickier, so it’s often best to rid yourself of any far-off foe as soon as possible. Although it’s not particularly hard to dodge a slung stone or loosed arrow on their own, it can be harder to keep track of them while in the fray. Although you can turn these attacks against your enemies making sure the archer doesn’t have a line of sight on you, potentially hitting their own teammates instead.
Ninja vs Viking
It might appear that Assassins Creed Valhalla is much more overt and aggressive than other games in the series, and you’ll probably be right. With the new raid feature and some outright battles in the story, there’s not so much hiding in the shadows, but it’s nowhere near gone from the game’s format, even if it is more optional.
Sneaking is still a perfectly valid option and one that should be exploited when entering a crowded enemy outpost or village. Although make sure you’ve completed the Prodigal Prince quest before delving too deep into the stealth, but don’t worry, it’s very early on. Make sure to use cover and find alternate routes to make your way past large groups as you pick off stray guards before anyone can raise the alarm. Look out for breakable windows and objects that might be hiding alternate routes as well, as sometimes you can avoid the fight altogether.
You will also find distrust areas, where you can walk around almost freely, as long as you’ve got your hood up. This can mean avoiding fights altogether as long as you don’t get close enough to anyone who will recognize your Viking tattoos.
The English Are Coming!
But when you think you might have the perfect strategy in place, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will do something dastardly and introduce a new enemy type for you to contend with. There are over twenty enemy types in the game, and while some might feel very similar, others are worlds apart and require entirely different tactics to overcome.
You’ll often spot these different enemies because the game will name them something like Yeoman or Murderer, but even the mobs can be different enough to take you by surprise. For instance, the Milita troops you meet early on when you arrive in England have a nasty habit of throwing dust in yours to blind you before striking. A lot of enemies have their own abilities you can see by runes flashing above their heads as they begin the animation. It can take a little practice to recognize who you are fighting and what they are doing, but general speaking, if the rune that flashes is red, you want to get out of the way.
You can most commonly recognize who you’re dealing with by what they’re trying to kill you with, so keep an eye on the weapons of the enemies you’re engaged with. Their weapons will also give you clues as to the best tactic to overcome them. Shieldbearers will have a strong defense that can be overcome with a heavy attack or two, while anyone carrying knives and daggers will be moving quickly. Anyone with a two-handed weapon is going to have a greater range, and you’ll have to make sure you can close the distance quickly if you can’t match it.
If there’s one particular enemy you’re struggling with, make sure to check out the game’s codex. Here you can see a description of each enemy type and hints for how to send them to the valkyries before they do the same to you.