|Release Date||November 10, 2020|
*A copy of this game was provided by Ubisoft to FYIG for review purposes*
It’s crazy to see how far the Assassin’s Creed series has come and how far it has changed. Gone are the days where you’re trying to silently get through a fortress of armed enemies undetected. This game has become more of an open-world action RPG than a stealth RPG which is a polarizing spot to be in. One of the things I loved about this series was that it brought something different to the table and now it feels like it’s becoming very similar to the other games in Ubisoft’s portfolio. This is a game that is more about the battles of war than quietly taking out an enemy and fading into the night. This is easily the game that could lead to its own spinoff series.
After a rather lengthy prologue in Norway, we lead the Vikings to England as Eivor. You can choose to play as the male or female version and I chose the female one. The plot is pretty simple, the Vikings are intent on making England their home and taking over the land by any means necessary. Eivor is tasked with taking over each region by overthrowing whoever controls that particular area to forge a Viking alliance. This is where the story feels a bit disjointed because it feels more like a series of mini-stories than one over-arching adventure. The whole thing kind of gave me Shadow of Mordor vibes.
One of the biggest issues I had with Valhalla is just how big the game is without a whole lot of substance. I didn’t feel like there was anything hooking me into the game to keep on playing. In fact, I had a really hard time playing for more than a couple of hours at a time because it all felt so similar. There is a pretty massive amount of Templars that need to be assassinated but there’s no big payoff to this whole side story other than some interactions with a resident of the base camp. It’s fun to go after these people but after you do it a few times, it’s just more of the same.
Fortunately, the combat in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was fast and fluid and carries over the same system as Origins and Odyssey. It’s a stamina-based light and heavy attack system in which you can dual wield weapons of your choosing. You can choose two weapons or a weapon and a shield if you’re more interested in defending yourself better. Abilities hinge on an adrenaline meter once again which works well enough and there is a wide variety to unlock.
Valhalla is much less of an RPG as Eivor doesn’t have a ton of say in the story nor do the conversation options provide any meaningful direction change in the story. The leveling structure has been changed a little bit. You no longer have a character level, instead, you have total skill points earned. Eivor is awarded two skill points to spend on a huge web of perks each time she fills a progression bar. A lot of these points give you small boosts in your attacks, defenses, or stealth but there are also abilities mixed in there. I liked the skill tree but I felt like there could be more abilities sprinkled in to make it feel more meaningful. I really felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere with it for long periods of time.
On a positive note, the gear system has been streamlined in that you’re not finding tons of different average pieces of gear. You’ll only be finding more important pieces as a reward for exploring. This cuts down on the time spent switching everything around. The best thing about the way this whole system is is that you won’t have issues with a level-gate which I felt was a bit of an issue with Odyssey. Each region does have a suggested power level but it’s more of a discouragement than anything. I was always able to tackle whatever region I felt like going to at the time without too much grief.
It can be fun to explore the open-world in Valhalla even though I feel like it can be barren in some spots and tedious to get around. Every once in a while you’ll have an encounter with someone in the world that will put you on a short mission. One I remember was trying to help someone out only to find out he had been sent to bring me to an ambush. I was able to spare his life or kill him for lying to me. I spared him but I probably should have taken him out. There are other things like tripping on magic mushrooms or destroying cursed objects as well. These were nice breaks where Valhalla didn’t take itself too seriously and I enjoyed that.
Playing this game on the PlayStation 5 really shows off some beautiful graphics especially when it comes to the water effects and sunsets. There were definitely moments where I felt the game looked almost photorealistic. The audio was equally as good with details as simple as footsteps through snow being absolutely spot on and the spatial sound being nearly perfect. It really felt like I was immersed in the world. I didn’t face any technical issues in my playthrough which I was dreading a little bit because of my poor experience with the recently released Watch Dogs: Legion but everything seemed to run pretty smooth.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a good game, but it’s a game that’s been done dozens of times before and better. There’s nothing here that stands out to me as brand new or revolutionary, it’s not even one of the best Assassin’s Creed games. I really feel that this type of game should have been a new spinoff series because this game really discouraged everything that made Assassin’s Creed different. If you like a good open-world action game, you’ll enjoy this one but if you’re expecting classic Assassin’s Creed, you might be disappointed.
|Great graphics||Scale for the sake of scale|
|Fun combat system||Stealth discouraged|