The newly-launched Assassin's Creed Valhalla includes a range of optional cosmetic extras and time saver packs in its in-game shop, just as in Assassin's Creed Origins and Odyssey. But, unlike Odyssey, Valhalla does not sell any XP boost packs.
Back in 2018, when Odyssey launched, there was a kerfuffle over the fact it sold temporary XP boosts as part of its in-game store offering. The issue was amplified by the fact Odyssey was a very long game that levelled you up relatively slowly, and required you to indulge in side-content some wanted to ignore in order to see the game's endings (of which there were three!) before the turn of the century.
Instead, Valhalla offers an expanded range of optional cosmetic items for your character, ship, and mount, including for the first time the ability to buy even more of the game's tattoos, customise your raven familiar (a replacement for previous games' eagles) and decorations for your Viking settlement of Ravensthorpe. You don't have to pay to do any of these things, mind, but these cosmetics provide many more options.
At launch, the most eye-catching options include the Draugr theme, which gives characters a skeletal look and green glowing eyes, and the Valkyrie theme, which bestows glowing gold armour. Both themes offer their own armour set, gear, mount and raven if you want to colour co-ordinate everything.
In terms of items which actually affect gameplay, there is once again the ability to buy time-saver packs that highlight where treasures and locations are on the map instead of finding them yourself. As someone 50 hours deep into Valhalla and loving the way its world's secrets organically unfold, I have no idea why you'd ever want any of these.
There are also packs of in-game resources and currency, which you can just find in good amounts lying around the open world. I don't know why you'd want to buy these either, but you can. Again, after a lot of time spent with Odyssey, there's zero requirement to grind for any kind of in-game resource in order to play and progress naturally.
As ever, you cannot purchase these cosmetics directly with real-world money. Instead, you buy packs of Helix Credits which range in price from a dollop of 500 (£3.99) up to 6600 (£39.99). And no, as someone who bought Helix Credits in Odyssey, any leftover from that game do not carry over to Valhalla.
Finally, there's a section in the in-game shop for add-ons, which includes items actually available for real-world money from your console's store - such as Valhalla's season pass, which will eventually add new map regions set in Ireland and France.
It's also here you can see some of the pre-order packs, which in Origins and Odyssey have generally become available separately down the line. It's here I have to highlight the one cosmetic item I think people are going to enjoy: the ability to turn your mount, which is typically a horse, into a hulking white wolf. (Available in the Berserker Pack.) Not only does this wolf mount have its own animations, but it will sit and howl whenever you climb off and leave it standing around.
I've often been in the middle of a quest and heard it crying in the background, and felt bad for just letting it sit there abandoned. Actually, maybe you shouldn't adopt the poor thing after all.
Don't want to pay? As ever, there's a way to grind out cosmetic items by undertaking quests from a certain merchant, who sets up shop in your settlement early on after reaching England. These daily and weekly quests (which mostly involve going somewhere to kill something) drop Opals, the new currency replacing Odyssey's Orichalcum that is also found sparingly dotted around the open world. Opals can then be exchanged for specific cosmetic items as they rotate in and out of the merchant's stock.