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Assassin’s Creed Valhalla beginner’s guide: 9 tips for aspiring vikings

How to be the best viking assassin you can be

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla beginner’s guide Image: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft via Polygon

In Polygon’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla beginner’s guide, we’ll give you our best tips and tricks for your first few (several) hours as a viking.

We’ve got tips for how to approach combat (just go for it), figuring out what to pick up and where (Odin’s Sight), how to navigate the world, important upgrades (your quiver), and how long to play before Valhalla gets Assassin’s Creed-y.

Play like a viking until you can play like an assassin (and then do both)

In what’s becoming a trend in Assassin’s Creed games, you don’t start Assassin’s Creed Valhalla as an assassin. You won’t start with the wrist blade or even the ability to assassinate. You won’t get the Leap of Faith for several hours (you can still jump off of things, but it’s not as graceful).

Lean into that. Don’t hesitate to play as an axe-wielding warrior for the first few hours. This is arguably the best action game in the series. Stealth isn’t required (or even overly useful), so just march right in and lop off heads. Launch raids, and bring your viking crew into fights with you.

Use Odin’s Sight constantly

Constantly.

Odin’s Sight is Valhalla’s version of Eagle Vision or the Animus Pulse.

Odin’s Sight will highlight food (for healing) and resources (for crafting gear upgrades). It’ll highlight loot and collectibles — even when they’re far underground or otherwise out of sight.

A lot of the fighting you do will be skirmishes between groups of similarly dressed warriors. Odin’s Sight will highlight your enemies for you. You can’t accidentally (or purposefully) attack your allies, but knowing which ones are targets will save you a ton of time and confusion.

Make triggering Odin’s Sight into a habit any time you’re in a settlement — you don’t have to worry as much while out in the middle of nowhere or while you’re just cruising using follow road.

Follow road on horseback and follow shore in your boat are weird

While in your longship or on horseback, you’ll have options to travel automatically. There are a few things happening here, though, that make it worth taking a minute to explain.

Once you’re settled into your conveyance of choice, you’ll get a prompt to hold down a button to travel along whatever direction you’re facing automatically. On horseback, this will follow the road. On your ship, this will follow the shore. Without a waypoint, you’ll just keep going.

To travel to a waypoint of your choosing, first set a waypoint on your map (or clear waypoints and have a quest tracked). Next, start following a road or the shore. Then, once you’re moving, you’ll get a prompt to travel to your marked destination. Hit the button, and you’re on autopilot with a destination.

Weapon and armor quality and upgrades

You won’t be inundated with new gear in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. You’ll find some, but for the most part, you’ll be sticking with gear for long stretches of time.

All of your gear — weapons and armor — can be upgraded, and upgrades come in two varieties.

The first is right in your Inventory menu. Hover over a piece of gear, and you’ll see what resources you need to upgrade that item. This is usually mostly iron ore and leather. This type of upgrade improves your gear’s stats.

The other kind of upgrade can only be done at a blacksmith’s shop. Spending Carbon Ingots upgrades an item’s quality. Each tier of quality unlocks additional upgrade slots (the upgrades from your Inventory menu), Rune slots (for stat-buffing Runes), and cosmetic skins. Upgrading an item’s quality does not improve it’s stats, though.

There is a worldwide arrow shortage

If you use your bow a lot (like we do), you’re going to notice that arrows are not exactly plentiful in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Your bow is still powerful, so you should definitely use it, but you should also be prepared to want for ammo.

Look for arrows while looting. Odin’s Sight will highlight them, and you can usually find arrows where you find enemy archers — in towers and on guard platforms.

You also have a chance to collect arrows you shot when you loot or even just get close to enemies or animals you’ve killed. Make it a habit to check the corpses to restock. (Recently, we had one arrow in our quiver that we kept using for murders and then collecting back into our quiver for another murder for about an hour.)

Another quick note about arrows: There are three kinds of arrows to match the three kinds of bows, and they are not universal. You’ll need Hunter Arrows for your Hunter Bow, Predator Arrows for your Predator Bow, and Light Arrows for your Light Bow.

Upgrade your quiver and rations pouch early

One way around the arrow shortage is to upgrade your quiver. In your Inventory menu, hover over your quiver, and you’ll get a prompt to upgrade. Just like your other gear (above), you’ll use iron ore and leather here. Upgrading your quiver will allow you to carry more arrows (of every type).

Similarly, right below your quiver, you’ll see your rations pouch. Upgrading this will let you carry multiple rations — effectively healing potions.

Buy upgrade materials at shops

You’ll find plenty of materials — specifically iron ore and leather — as you wander the world. You’ll use these constantly to upgrade your gear. Upgrading will require more and more resources as you continue, and you’ll quickly outpace what you’re finding.

Shops will sell iron ore and leather for 1 silver each, and they usually carry about 200 of each. You’re probably never be low on silver, so just buy them out every chance you get.

Suggested Power is important, except when it isn’t

Regions of Valhalla’s world come with suggested Power levels — skill points and equipment upgrades. For the most part, this is a great warning to just stay out of these areas entirely. Except when it isn’t.

Specifically, in Act 1: Battle for the Northern Way chapter 4 “Birthrights,” you get an objective to “Reach Alrekstad.” (That is a lot of words to say, effectively, “a couple hours into the game.”) Alrekstad is in Hordaflyke, an area with a 280 Power suggestion — definitely someplace to avoid when your Power is likely less than 10.

In this case, though, you’re perfectly safe to head there — and you have to to progress the story. Speaking of progressing the story …

Consider playing the main story for a (long) while before wandering

You need to follow the main story for several hours before you get to the Assassin’s Creed-y part of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. It will likely take you multiple hours to even see the title screen.

It feels like you’re set loose into an open world to assassin your way through right from the beginning, but Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has a lot of track to lay. For example, you won’t be able to do Sneak Attacks or Assassinations until a bit into Battle for the Northern Way chapter 2. You won’t be able to do the Leap of Faith until the very end of Act 1 (a bit after you see the title screen).

It’s on you to follow the story missions — and that’s harder than you’d think. There’s so much stuff to do, and so much to explore, that it’s easy to get sidetracked. And you should. Exploring is immensely satisfying and gets you tangible rewards (upgrades, skill points, and new gear, for example).

Our suggestion is to prioritize completing all of Act 1 “The Battle for the Northern Way” (the first five chapters). That’ll get you to the properly Assassin’s Creed part of the game and open up a lot of new mechanics. There’re plenty of distractions along the way — you can explore all of Rygjafylke with our maps — and you’ll level up a bit, but your goal should be to finish the first act.