Assassin’s Creed Valhalla follows the same pattern the past couple of games have, modifying the series’ traditional combat into something more modern. By modern, we mean “inspired by Dark Souls.” But each game has its own identity, and underlying systems propping the whole game up.

Valhalla wants to be dirtier, more brutal and impactful with big hits and bloody finishers. But in its own way it’s also more thoughtful. So there’s more going on under the hood than big axe swings. Here are some tips we think will help you make the most of it.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Combat Guide: How to be the Baddest Viking Around

Mix Heavy and Light Attacks

Like many action games, light and heavy attacks serve different purposes in Valhalla. Heavy attacks do big damage, but more importantly can break guard easier. Light attacks are faster, but they also build your adrenaline meter and refill stamina.

But even beyond the utility factor, there is light combo potential depending on your order of operations. It changes based on your equipment, but you can actually string together lights and heavies in specific ways. It’s a good idea to experiment here, as you can often get in more hits than usual if you know your strings.

Ground Game

Hitting hard and fast is crucial in Valhalla, because if you’re in the middle of a raid or some other large skirmish, you have stuff to get done. Being walled off by multiple enemies only slows you down and gives you more chances to mess up.

One way to maximize damage is to find ways to hit enemies while they’re down. The more ubiquitous (but potentially difficult) way is to master parrying, which gives you tons of stun opportunities. 

But depending on your build you have other options. The Bear tree contains a Stomp skill, which lets you get an extra hit on an enemy after a knockdown. For most grunts this is an assured kill.

Another way is to dual wield with a hammer in your off-hand. Holding the left bumper will start a ground pound sequence that gives you additional hits if you mash it. You’ll be vulnerable here, but it’s one of few ways to bear down on an enemy if you knock them down. 

Greed Kills

Like I said, the hammer thing is great but it also makes you vulnerable. While it’s important to be efficient, it’s also important to be mindful of Eivor’s limitations. If your enemy has a spear, you won’t be able to just charge them head-on.

If your enemy is named or just generally chunkier, you’re going to have to go on the defensive. Enemies can and will recover while you’re hitting them, and if you just keep attacking you’re going to eat a parry yourself.

Figure out stopping points and stick to them; that extra hit is never worth it.

Divide and Conquer

Even if you’re running a Bear build, there are times you have to be sneaky. The thing about Valhalla, though, is that unless you’re dumping points into Raven, you’re going to be unable to assassinate. So if you can’t reliably take people down quietly, the next best thing is maneuvering around for as many one on one situations as possible.

If you’re fast enough, you can follow up a stealth attack with a killing blow without alerting others to the scuffle. If you’re in an encampment you can’t raid, this is your best way to keep things under control without access to one-shots.

Get Harpoon Impalement ASAP

There are all kinds of abilities you can find out in the world as you pick up those Books of Knowledge. But one in particular is a godsend. If you head to the west and then slightly to the north of your settlement, you’ll cross a river into Ledecestrescire.

Keep moving west along the water and get to the nearby vantage point. In that vicinity there’s also a Book of Knowledge, which will grant you the Harpoon Impalement ability. Even without the upgrade, this move is amazing. 

Basically, this is a long range attack that lets you yank an enemy in whatever direction you choose after hooking them. You can pull them towards you, or fling them into walls, junk, or other enemies.

Not only is it badass, it also does tons of damage! You can potentially take out one or two enemies, even the big ones, out in an instant. If you’re careful you can even leverage this one to stay sneaky in a difficult situation.

It even works to some extent on bosses! After a while, Harpoon Impalement was practically the only thing I used my adrenaline on.

Shoot for Sets

One major difference between Valhalla and the last two Creed outings is that it’s much less loot-oriented. You won’t be finding armor and weapons everywhere. Instead you’ll be picking up individual gear options as you explore the map.

Gear has style affinity, just like your skill tree. And if you get multiple pieces in the same group, you’ll get pretty substantial stat bonuses. You can see exactly what those bonuses are in the inventory menu.

Skill trees also have various points that will boost adjacent equipment, so it really pays to pick a style.

Specialize

You can probably guess based on the above, but Valhalla really encourages you to specialize your skill point spending. If you don’t lean heavily into one style over the other, you’ll likely end up with an Eivor who can’t really tear it up on the battlefield as well as you want to.

You don’t have to go 100% all-in on one style though, as there will be skills you don’t need. You can absolutely dip into a secondary style, to pick up some extra ranged or stealth damage. Always pay attention to the connections between skill spaces, and don’t be afraid to refund your points if you don’t like what you’re seeing.

Try Arson

There’s a lot of flammable junk scattered all over the place in this game. If you see a jar with a little bit of flame sticking out of it, that’s basically an Uncharted-style explosive barrel. But anywhere there are patches of grass, or other potentially flammable debris, you can probably spread some flames there.

You can also ready an arrow and poke it into a flame for an instant fire arrow. If you can, setting a fire where people are standing is a great way to get free kills.

Just, you know, watch where you’re standing too. If you catch yourself on fire, roll a couple times to put it out.

Upgrades!

Upgrades make a huge difference. Because gear doesn’t flow constantly, you should absolutely pump resources into something you find if you like it. There’s no telling when or if you’ll find something better. Once you graduate past the iron ore, bronze ingots, and leather requirements, you’ll need to find nickel ingots.

You’ll be able to find these in wealth points on the map, anywhere that’s at recommended level 55 or above. Once you find one, that’ll also put nickel ingots in shops for 250 silver. That’s a lot, but if you’re really wanting that next upgrade and haven’t found enough yet, that’s an easy way to cut a corner.

That’s a lot of stuff, but Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is a lot of game. Ultimately there are a ton of options for how you can approach combat, but a lot of choices you can make will impact what those options are.

Especially on higher difficulty levels, it’s really important to plan this stuff out. How’s your viking journey so far? Any problems, great finds, or tips of your own? Talk to us at the Prima Games Facebook and Twitter channels!