The crazy saga continues as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is out there and ready for us all to carry on the way of the assassin but with Vikings this time. One of the many points in history that fans have been demanding Ubisoft brings us for the franchise and now it is here in all of its glory. At least, presumed glory, which is why we are here with our review to let you know for certain. There is a lot riding on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla here given the timing of it all, so for those that were still holding out on picking it up let us inform you if you should or hold off a bit. Kind of how these reviews are supposed to go. No more gilding the lily here. Let us take that leap of faith right in.
It is 873 AD and the world is a weird place in the Norway and England area of the world. The Vikings of the area that Eivor partially leads are looking to expand out there and fight back against those holy crusaders out there that have it in for the Heathens. They do just that but slowly come to realize that there is something strange afoot out there and thus Eivor has to take up arms for a different future for the people. Will things turn out for the best or will it lead to an epic fight with a living god? We will have to slay our way through the lands to truly find out here.
Just as I have had with various Assassin’s Creed titles in the past, I have an issue with how the combat of the game flows out there. Given the setting, it seems like it would be fitting for more combat and less stealth given how the honor of the Vikings was generally held. It just sadly, by default, moves away from the normal settings of melee-based games by placing the controls on the trigger buttons instead of the face buttons. This is something that can be changed, with a bit of work, in the settings but by default, it feels very off and required a bit of re-learning. Even if they are remapped, there is still a bit of timing between being able to strike from stealth for that perfect assassination or if the game decides you meant to break stealth and just come out swinging. This is where the controls faulted a bit for me and it leads to so very many frustrations when trying to sneak into the area and out but then set off the whole town guard because the prompt did not show up when it should have.
My only other real issue with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has to fall in with what the character progression and RPG elements of the game came about. In the past few titles, it was easier to follow a path and build out the character you want earlier in the game then expand out to the options you will most likely never use in your playstyle. in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the skill tree is obscured mostly until you lock a few options down a path and then the abilities need to be found in the world at places that do not inform you before what you are going to unlock. You can respec for free at any time when it comes to skills, which is nice, but hunting down abilities you will actually use in the game was a crapshoot. At one point, given how random they seemed, I had eight different abilities but still only used one as the others did not fit my playstyle. It does hold up the mystery to help explore but even subtle clues would have been nice before going through the effort of unlocking an ability I may or may not ever use.
That all said, the world of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feels insanely open and vast with Ubisoft ever-expanding on the formula in a great way. I literally spent a good few hours exploring the starting area before I even saw the title card for the game. It has been quite some time that I have had that experience in a video game and even in some past Assassin’s Creed titles. All of which have some level of fun to explore and see and not just moving from marker to marker on the map. It can get a little time consuming, sure, but it is something that gets ignored rather quickly when you see how much is placed in each location out there. Even if you spend minutes climbing up the side of a mountain, you will find some kind of reward even if it is just a glorious view of the landscape below. There is so much world out there and it needs to be explored.
Next, we have the mission flow in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. This is something that seems to be getting improved upon with each new iteration in the franchise and they took a giant leap forward with it here. To go along with that living and breathing world above, everything seemed to flow just as well and had a good reason to explore and re-explore areas. That, or in some instances, have Eivor accidentally come across items needed to complete further quests while not even on them. Items just never seemed to appear in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla when a mission started as I found many things that sat in my inventory for hours before progressing to the point in the game where it was needed. Another huge step to give us a world that feels truly lived in and not something that just populated because we hit specific milestones in the game.
Speaking to that a bit more, and I cannot wait for the Explore mode to release, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla also does an amazing job at educating on the culture and life of the Vikings that I never knew about. Given that the team does their research for these games rather extensively, I feel like I am learning quite a bit about a culture and period I generally had little interest in before now. Sure, you might not be playing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla for an educational purpose but it is slipped in there so well and thorough that even those looking to hack and slash through the game will have something to learn here. All of which builds into the expansive world that we can attack from all sides. Not to mention build into the other fun gameplay mechanics we have here.
I do have to mention that I was a little sad to find out that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla would not have Naval combat in here given how well it was done in other titles. It makes sense for the setting and thankfully had some solid things in there to replace it all. Things like Raids and the Settlement design we have to go through. Raids being just what they sound and required to progress things in the game and find some of the amazing loot out there. Also, something that Eivor can call in at any point in the other settlements. All of which starting a giant combat in the town and allow for groups to take some Raw Materials to build out Raventhorpe just a bit more. It was like having those mass combats from the past titles whenever we wanted instead of set places and times. An amazing touch for a mechanic I originally thought I would be skipping past when first shown off. Now it is one of my favorite things to do in the game.
Is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla a perfect game? No, but there really is no such thing as that. Does it offer up that power fantasy with an engaging story, vast world to explore, and many different gameplay experiences to be had? You gods damned bet it does. I have spent hours playing before this review and will spend even more time after given how engaging and vast it is. Thankfully, after learning to deal with the default controls a bit more it has become a bit easier to do so and it looks like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is another great notch in the belt for the franchise. The only reason I would say to hold off, as of this writing, is to make sure you can play the game on the newer systems or PC to limit down some of the loading times and you will need to use fast travel because of the world's size and that can quickly pull you out of the massive amount of fun you can have here. If you can deal with that and the other small issues I had, then you should add it to the collection once you are done reading this.
I give Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 45 Viking Raids on the Viking Raiding scale.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla — Extra Life 2020 Stream To Help Those Sick Kiddos
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla — Extra Life 2020 Stream To Help Those Sick Kiddos
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was developed and published by Ubisoft for the PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC on November 10th, 2020 with the PS5 version to launch with the system. A PS4 copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.