Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s new Tombs of the Fallen update goes back to the series’ roots via a series of fun and mildly challenging puzzle-platforming dungeons – and a sprinkle of exciting new knowledge.
I played through the new content, added to Valhalla in yesterday’s free 1.4.0 update, in about three hours last night. You start by going to the harbor in Ravensthorpe, where the villagers point to a disturbance across the water.
Fans had long suspected that there was a mystery behind the various rocks scattered across Valhalla’s world with symbols on them – called Odin Runes. And in fact, Eivor discovers that she now has the power to make these rocks disappear and reveal complex cave systems to explore.
The first cave at Ravensthorpe serves as a sort of hub for the new Tombs of the Fallen update. It is here, via a giant map, you can see where the other tombs are currently available. This is also where you get clues as to how they were made, and for a bigger mystery, players will have to wait a little longer to reveal.
Checking this map is the only way to see where the other tombs are located (apart from checking the internet). Three are currently available. But there are also other Odin runes out in the world – suggesting that more tombs will follow.
Each mini-dungeon feels a bit like the platform tombs of the Ezio era from the old days with a handful of physics puzzles inside thanks to later influences like Breath of the Wild and Immortals: Fenyx Rising. Several times you will need to unlock doors using weights carried a bit through obstacles in the cavity system. One section includes a fun / frustrating ice maze with traps waiting behind some panels.
Each tomb is obviously of Isu origin, but look around and you will find notes from one named Manius Calvisius who served as an engineer for the Roman emperor Nero. Manius acknowledges that the tombs were built by non-primitive local Britons, but is more concerned that they were currently being used as places to gather and celebrate local anti-Roman heroes.
It is explained that the local British used the caves as large tombs for their own fallen heroes – locals who stood up to the Roman occupation, such as East Anglia’s infamous Boudicca. Manius is told by Nero to keep the British out of the caves and under control.
But instead of destroying the tombs and risking more British annoyance, Manius created their intricate puzzle-filled inner functions, which you now play through – and effectively seals them from most who would try to venture in.
Completing each grave will unlock a brief encounter with the local British hero buried in (yes, including Boudicca) during Roman times, and also a piece of a new Isu-era gear set. Its original rusty look is quite striking, although the fully upgraded look is nice too.
Each tomb also hosts a fragment of bonus elements that you can find – again, clearly Isu in design. When Eivor picks up, Eivor involuntarily utters a word in a language she cannot understand – “hàsm”, “rhobtoràs” and “oænosôd” – but which will probably become clear in the future. (My first thought was that this was a spoken excerpt from the hidden Isu-language fans who had painstakingly managed to translate this year.) Either way, there is no way to use these object fragments yet, and there are still more Odin Rune rocks that currently do not allow Eivor to go through them.
The proposal is then that a further round of tombs will be available in the future with more history, more fragments and a path through the giant stone door lurking in the initial cave just outside Ravensthorpe. (Just as Ubisoft has released yet another blob of extra content for its River Raids mode and will be adding more to its battle card Mastery Challenge activity in the future.)
Speaking of Valhalla’s battle card, an interesting Easter egg can be found here in Venutius’ tomb – messages from the mysterious Hideran, who led / tricked Eivor into discovering Odin’s eye for her. Hilderan has also explored these tombs in the past, and there is clearly a bigger story going on here with her and Isuen, which we will have to wait for future updates to uncover more of.
And that was it for the graves of the fallen, for now. Next time for Valhalla is a slightly delayed spooky seasonal event – the Oskoreia festival – which begins tomorrow. This dives into the origins of the Wild Hunt myth, which was originally based on an Odin-led hunting party that caused chaos. Sounds like fun. All of this comes before the game’s next paid expansion, whose details keep popping up, though it’s not expected to be released until early next year.