Last week, Ubisoft announced its next big open-world game, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, would take players to the Viking expansion into Britain. As Eivor, you come to medieval England to found a settlement, but get caught up in the fight against the Order of the Ancients. After Odyssey, the hype levels for Valhalla couldn't be much higher.
Here are five games that you can play right now, to satisfy your Viking jones while you're waiting for the release of Valhalla.
5 Great Viking Games to Play While Waiting for Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
Vikings are actually a surprisingly well-represented theme in video games as a whole. From 1984's The Saga of Eric the Viking all the way up to Valhalla, Vikings have been sailing ships to adventure for most of the history of video games as a medium.
It's not that hard to nail down a top five, though, because two of the highest-profile games of the 2010s were largely about Norse mythology. Specifically, beating it up.
God of War (2018)
Kratos's grand tour of mythological assassination finally continued in 2018's God of War. Kratos has been living in Norway for years at the start of the game. When he and his son Atreus set out to spread his late wife's ashes, they end up taking on an all-star assortment of Norse gods and monsters along the way.
While the game didn't pick up the fan nickname "Dad of War" for no reason--this is an older, relatively calmer Kratos, although the word "relatively" is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence--it still features all the bloodshed and dismemberment that's been a series tradition.
As a Viking game, it's sliding in here on a technicality, but the fourth God of War is still about as good as it gets for a high-action, blood-soaked run through Norse myth. A lot of games let you beat up giants and murder dragons, but few of them do so this cinematically, and even fewer make it into a father-son bonding exercise.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
In retrospect, it seems like two of the highest-profile Viking games out there are about an outsider coming in to beat the hell out of Norse mythology. On the other hand, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is about as far opposite God of War as it could be without being a dating sim or something; whereas much of God of War is about creative and acrobatic ways to wrench bits off of monsters, Hellblade is a slower-paced, dark exploration of grief, loss, and mental illness.
Hellblade cleaned up during the 2017-2018 awards season, and is often front and center in discussions of the artistic value of video games. It follows the journey of a Pictish warrior in the 8th century AD, who journeys to the Norse underworld of Helheim in an attempt to bring her dead lover back to life.
Now's a good time to get caught up on the game, as Microsoft has announced that a sequel, Senua's Saga, is planned for release on the Xbox Series X.
If you played Hellblade a few years ago when it first came out, be sure to check it out again now that it's compatible with virtual reality. A 2018 update to Hellblade's PC version added support for all major VR headsets, including the Valve Index. It doesn't support motion controls, however.
The Banner Saga
From high-profile AAA games to a crowd-funded indie: no conversation about Vikings in video games is really complete without bringing up The Banner Saga trilogy.
The Banner Saga is set in a world of endless twilight, where humans and their giant allies are forced into a war for survival against their ancient enemies, the stone-crafted Dredge. It's a story-driven, choice-based tactics game that gets dramatically better as it goes, as the systems evolve and the setting continues to broaden.
The trilogy was created by Stoic Studio, a team made up of ex-BioWare talent who worked on Star Wars: The Old Republic. Upon the Banner Saga's completion in 2018, the entire series was made available as a combined edition for console ports, including on the Switch.
If you've put a lot of time into games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Shining Force, the Banner Saga trilogy was basically made for you from the ground up. If you play straight through the trilogy, that ought to keep you busy for the rest of the year, let alone until Valhalla's planned release window.
If you'd specifically like to see some more of Ubisoft's particular take on Vikings, to whet your appetite for the right kind of fighting, there's always For Honor. While the developers have paused the rollout on its next season of content until June 11th due to the pandemic, For Honor is still going strong in its fourth year.
Its Vikings have been there from the start, honorably pummeling knights and samurai. While For Honor isn't exactly a high-seas piratical adventure, and is more of a fighting-in-the-bloody-mud sort of game, it's generated a substantial following for its elaborate array of multiplayer modes.
It's got a story mode, but the primary draw for Viking fans in For Honor is the ability to haul off and crack a few knights over the head with a giant axe. It's fast-paced, brutal, and bloody.
The Lost Vikings
While Blizzard hasn't made a new Lost Vikings game since 1997, the Vikings themselves have made a lot of cameos and guest appearances since then, including being a playable unit in Blizzard's MOBA Heroes of the Storm. For a dead franchise, the Lost Vikings manage to stay busy.
The original game still holds up, though. It's a 1993 puzzle-platformer for the Super Nintendo, where the titular Vikings have been abducted by aliens and must work together to find a way out.
You play as all three of the Lost Vikings and use each one's individual strengths, one at a time, to navigate past traps and obstacles. Olaf has a shield that you can use to boost other Vikings or deflect projectiles, Erik is faster than the other two Vikings and can jump, and Baleog does most of the fighting with his sword and bow.
Blizzard has made The Lost Vikings available as a free download via Battle.net, where it's emulated as a stand-alone package via DOSBox. You need a Battle.net account to grab it; you can simply pull it down from the game management page and be playing on your PC in seconds.
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla will probably end up with a spot on this list when it comes out later this year, and if Odyssey is any indication, it'll also take over a big chunk of the world. We've been covering every detail of its announcement, with articles like:
- The Collector's Edition also offers a first look at the game's female protagonist
- Confirmed features include building customization, dual-wielding, and the return of the Hidden Blade
- If you missed the world premiere, you can check it out right here
How excited are you to conquer the British isles in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla? Share your hype and your favorite Viking media (don't just say Vikings the TV show) with us via our official Twitter, @PrimaGames.