Assasssin’s Creed Has Never Held My Attention
Maybe it’s the stealth mechanics, or maybe it’s that the player is forced into using those mechanics without much choice in play style. It might also be the forced office scenes (I just wanted to be a pirate, not work in an office). While I have yet to finish Valhalla due to its massive size, it so far seems to have fixed these things that previously turned me off of AC titles.
As can be expected with a large open world RPG there are the inevitable bugs. Some quest progression issues have come up, but luckily none on the main story. The controls tend to be a bit wonky at times, and find myself continually wishing it was more like Witcher 3, which has a similar and in my opinion, more refined combat system. Sometimes your character does things you don’t intend with occasional lethal consequences. I’d like to see more choices and consequences from them, but that’s typically not how AC games go so it should not be a surprise.
That’s….pretty much all for the bad, unless you count the almost overwhelming number of side quests, contracts, events, etc.
If you’re looking for skull splitting pagan violence and have been dying to team up with Odin, Thor, and Freyja in Asgard or raid monasteries looting and plundering then Assassin’s Creed Valhalla may be for you. In fact, the Norse mythology wrapped up in this game is one of the most pleasurable aspects, next to the excellent story telling and outstanding voice acting. By the way, did you know Vikings invented rap battled? I didn’t. It’s called flyting, and it’s basically a rhyming insult poem and it plays a minor role in the game as well- maybe not real exciting, but interesting nonetheless.
The character modeling is very good, but I can’t help but compare it to Hellblade which has has a similar theme… to be fair though, I’ve yet to see anything that can touch Hellblade in that department. I’m playing on an Xbox One X and the graphics are also very good, but perhaps not the best I’ve seen.
There are many interesting encounters and side missions. Some involve fascinating mythology, others involve interesting people- one has a guy with a hatchet buried in his skull who needs your assistance. I’ve gotten high on mushrooms and taken part in large amphibious assaults (see video below). Bottom line, you can spend countless hours exploring the world and never stop finding interesting things.
Stealth Not Required
Stealth games for me can be hit or miss. I enjoyed the stealth of the Metro series for example, but the forced stealth missions of other games often come up short for me. The stealth mechanics of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla are easy to understand generally not overly frustrating for players like me. Of course, the best part about them is that you never have to use them if you don’t want to. If you want to go in axe swinging and send the Saxons to whichever god they wish, then you are free to do so.
Finally, although there is a brief scene where you find yourself in the modern day, it is blessedly brief, and you can get right back into the “simulation” within a few minutes. Other than that, if you avoid the “animus anomalies” in the world, you can stay playing as Eivor without the immersion breaking office work.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is engaging, interesting, and fun. While some complain that Valhalla is not a standard Assassin’s Creed game, that is in fact why I find it to be worth playing. I bought it on sale for $35 and have found it well worth the price of admission.