Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has a massive, terrifying skill tree. The options, which are unlocked by power level points, feel overwhelming and endless. When I first started playing the game, I mindlessly clicked skills and upgrades that followed along a singular path, the other too daunting to follow down.
But eventually, I found the two options — the only two options — I needed: Auto-loot and Breakfall. These are two skills I consider essential, and I wish every game offered them immediately from the start.
The thing about fall damage, as my former colleague Karen Han once said, is that it’s bullshit. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as with most Assassin’s Creed games, that there are a lot of tall places to climb. It’s one of the best parts of the franchise — looking out over a glorious world from atop a gigantic ruin. But when you’re an idiot like me, you end up not flinging yourself off that ruin and into a pile of hay, but miscalculating and just falling to your death.
It’s happened, embarrassingly, a lot during my playthrough, before I got the skill called Breakfall. That skill is exactly what it sounds like — it breaks your fall with a roll. You’ll still take damage, but it is often negligible. In fact, when I unlocked the Breakfall skill (not to be confused with Valhalla’s abilities), I jumped off things without fear. A mountain I need to cross? No reason to bother scaling it back down. I’ll just jump right off! The best part is that this is an automatic skill, which means I don’t even have to push a button to roll.
Auto-loot is similarly useful for the clumsy-fingered players like me. Picking up loot on the Xbox One version of Valhalla requires the use of the Y button. Something else also uses the Y button: carrying dead humans. After (or sometimes during) a large battle, I typically run around the remains of my enemies mashing Y, a way to quickly pick up loot so that I can move on. But what happens more often is that I end up randomly picking up the bodies of my enemies, from which I then need to drop or throw. It’s an act that’s not a good look for any Viking warrior.
Auto-loot works only when I’ve killed an enemy through melee or a stealth maneuver, so there are times when I have to run around manually picking up my loot. But it’s a lot less than usual, and that rules. It’s even better when the loot is something I needed, like a key to unlock a door or chest, so that I don’t have to go hunting around for it after the battle.
A lot of the skills in Valhalla’s skill tree are useful. Many of them give huge buffs to different attacks, like Missile Reverse, which lets you throw back projectiles. But I’d gladly hand those skills in for my two essentials, Auto-loot and Breakfall.