For today’s review diary we wanted to touch on some of our problems with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

Unfortunately, when we sat down to write this list we only had one issue – facial animations.

At times facial animations can feel stiff. For example, in one rather serious cutscene, a character’s face showed no signs of changing when the tone of the conversation shifted suddenly.

It is a small gripe, but one that does warrant mentioning, especially alongside what was a stellar experience in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

But that’s about as bad as our experience has been in Valhalla.

We’ve noted reports of buggy character models, but we are yet to experience this for ourselves. We have seen clipping between NPCs fighting, but given that this is present in many games we aren’t especially concerned.

So, today we’re going to focus on things we love in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, because this could very well be the best iteration of the game yet.

The music

These days mentioning Norway and music in the same sentence conjures up images of corpse paint, guttural vocals and soaring guitar riffs underpinned by pounding drums. Yes we are fans of black metal.

But in Valhalla, harps, lyres, horns and flutes are the instruments of choice and we’ve spent a few too many minutes just cruising down the rivers of England as our crew of Vikings crank out tunes.

The music is raw, primal and you will be listening Heilung on repeat after play sessions.

England is deep

The size of the map in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey was massive and rather intimidating. Upon arriving in England we were thankful to discover it was a bit more manageable.

Except what you see on the map is not everything it holds.

The various churches and monasteries scattered throughout the English countryside are often hiding secrets beneath the floor boards. Sometimes these secrets are easily discovered, other times one has to really explore the world to find them.

This subtle poke to explore the world more carefully is great and you might find yourself having spent 30 minutes searching for an entrance to secret tomb but having discovered a few more niceties along the way.

Mini-games are actually fun?

We’ve already touched on this in one of our earlier review diaries but the mini-games in Valhalla are a treat.

Orlog is a dice game where you attempt to whittle your opponent’s health down to zero. It resembles Gwent from The Witcher 3 in a way, but its a lot simpler and you won’t have to collect cards. There is money and other things to win from these games.

Drinking is also a mini-game, believe it or not. Here you will take part in quick-time events as you try to down three horns of beer.

It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds with you needing to hit quick time actions accurately in order to win. You can see an example of the drinking game in the video below.

The final mini-game is flyting, which sees you sparring against an opponent in a test of poetic acumen.

All of these games are fun and help to take a break from the constant battle you’re fighting against the Anglo-Saxons.

Magnus Bruun

We loved Kassandra in Odyssey because she was funny, fierce and kind when the moment called for it.

As such we opted to play as the female iteration of Eivor at the start of Valhalla.

After an hour we switched to male Eivor voiced by Magnus Bruun and we were blown away.

Anybody who has watched the History Channel’s Vikings series will be reminded of Travis Fimmel’s portrayal of Ragnar Lothbrok, though Bruun is his own person and makes Eivor his own character.

His gravelly voice coupled with the way he pronounces words with that trademark Norwegian accent is something one really needs to experience for themselves.

If we could get Bruun to read some Viking lore to us in the form of an audio book, that would be great.

There are other reasons to play as the male Eivor but to disclose this would be entering spoiler territory and we don’t want to spoil the game for you.

We could go on for many more pages about what we love in Valhalla but perhaps that’s best saved for the full review.

As a reminder we’ll have our full review of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Monday 16th November but for now, Ubisoft has impressed us and Valhalla might just be the best Assassin’s Creed game ever.