Fair warning this is more of "my personal take and opinions" than anything else.
**all spoilers should be covered I'm sorry if anything is not please let me know in the comments below**
Quick backstory on my history with Assassins Creed (you don’t have to read this so you can scroll past if desired): Started with Origins, been obsessed with Egyptian mythology and aesthetic so this was the perfect introduction for me into the series. Story line was alright, but the exploration and adventure throughout Egypt is what kept me going. Absolutely loved Odyssey and became fascinated with the concept of the Isu. I could not stop playing it. It wasn’t the perfect game, had some minor things frustrations of course and I didn’t do every zone or side quest, but I loved playing through all the important story lines and dlc’s.
Downloaded the Ezio collection, thought it was very outdated (of course, a decade+ is a long time with technology) and a bit corny but didn’t stop me from playing through the first installment. Didn’t appreciate Ezio as a character but hey not everyone is perfect. Couldn’t get through the first sequel and decided to google the rest of his collection from then on.
Was going to play everything else after but since I had a bad taste with the Ezio collection and saw some mixed reviews on AC3 and other titles I decided to wait until Valhalla came out to get my toes wet again with AC lore.
I am kicking myself for not playing everything else as there are plot points in Valhalla that had completely gone over my head, but that’s not what made me hate Valhalla because a quick google search could just give me the answers I needed.
So now after that long introduction, my review (and ventilation) on AC Valhalla … Side not I’ve saved all spoilers towards the “end” of my list, before the conclusion.
I’ll start with the good.
1. Exploration – perfection. The landscape and scenery was GORGEOUS. I was so happy to wait to play until I got the PS5. I would have preferred to have more Norway to explore, but they didn’t fail at creating a beautiful landscape with England. Personally, the blue mysteries were the best parts of the game – WAY more interesting than 80% of the zone story arcs. Plus they were short, optional and did not take up space in my quest log incase I didn’t want to do them – but that made me want to do them even more. Thought it was a really nifty alternative for “side questing”. And the stone puzzles/atlars/mushrooms weren’t too shabby either and a quick way to gain some experience points.
Now this is where it goes downhill.
2. Armor & Weapons – mediocre. Loved the fact that we didn’t have endless amounts of gear to deconstruct like from Odyssey, was even more excited that each piece was unique, but there was just not enough variety and some of them didn’t have a “wow” factor. Each zone *should* have had a specific set, without having one set being scattered across 3 different zones, and some extra weapon choices wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Why on Earth were there so many cool options in the Online Store for extra cost. Greedy greedy companies. I spent probably near $100 for mediocre story lines and future dlc’s to come, why would I spend more for stuff that should have been in game? At least give us a couple thousand credits to pick and choose maybe one or two sets as we please, and if we wanted others we would THEN spend money. Each “major boss” or “world boss” or “zealot” or even “Order Member” should have come with a specific armor or weapon piece, and maybe an even better rune than the ones spit out.
3. Loot & Treasure – I felt like I was playing “Thieves Creed” and not “Assassins Creed”. There were so many treasure chests that took FOREVER to get, and as a roleplaying moment why would I even want to steal a chest from an ally. Just put that extra loot into the end of the quest, thanks? I am one of those people where if I am in a zone I want to complete it 100% to make sure I reap the benefits, but those benefits were tedious and not worth getting. Sometimes the puzzles to get the chests were neat, other times they were time consuming and not worth it. Probably my fault for wanting to search for them, but shame on the dev team for wasting resources and time on creating content that doesn’t fit to the theme of the game. I would rather have gone hunting and mining if the resource nodes had higher numbers of resources to offer.
4. Artifacts – those little white nodes were the bane of my existence. Again, my fault for wanting to be a completionist, but also didn’t realize until the end that none of it even mattered. Roman artifacts? Why waste time looking for random masks to get Roman Statues? I’m a Viking. Why do I need those? I could have at least sold them for silver since there was so little to be given/taken. Literally felt like the poorest Viking there ever was. Did England not have enough coin to give around? What was the point of being a Viking if there weren’t any riches? And don’t get my started on those curse areas. There was no point. I could imagine that if they actually “made Vikings and Danes weaker” and altered my stats in each zone then yes I would be inclined to go break them. But nah, they literally held no point whatsoever besides a box to fill. I’m not even going to talk about chasing flying tattoo designs and the awful-lazy-coded parkour mechanics to get to them. The amount of times I had to restart because the pathway thought I was going a different way than what my controller was doing …
5. Choices – Waste of time. Waste of the company's resources too. 70% of the choices given had no impact on the story except for what the immediate reactions might be. Sometimes they were labelled “lie/barter/etc” in the beginning and then that system disappeared. Sometimes the choices given didn’t even indicate clearly what Eivor was going to say. Made for an awful guessing game. Seemed like there was no point except for your choices with two characters. Lazy writing in my opinion.
6. Story & Quests – If you want to skip and head to the conclusion, you have been warned. This is where I get picky and start rambling. If you tune out, I don’t blame you as it is relatively a long essay. I will at least divide into parts as best I can. Overall this was probably the worst part for me with AC Valhalla. It is just filled with lazy writing, repetitive story arcs and repetitive character types. Could have spent money and time on other titles.
Here are my points as follow: A) What I Dislike. B) The Endings. C) What Should Have Happened. D) Eivor’s existence in the Assassins Creed World. Whichever you choose to read is up to you.
a. what I disliked: The first 20-30 hours were terrific! With the first 4 zones I could not put the game down. The next 5-6 were very very very boring and repetitive. I am just utterly mad that most of the zones were “lets make alliance” nonsense that most of the time had nothing to do with the Hidden Ones vs Order of Ancients. Otherwise what’s even the point of making an “Assassins Creed” game if you’re not centralizing that theme? Ubisoft could have just made a pure Vikings game instead that didn’t exist in the AC Universe. Probably would have been better than the hybrid mess we got. There was no point of Eivor to have even gone out in search for other order members until about halfway through. Origins made sense, Bayek in his un-ending need for revenge hunted down the members of the order that killed his son. Psychotic at points but a journey that was sort of worth watching. Odyssey made sense, Kassandra/Alexios searching for their sibling and taking out the order that has been causing havoc and death in his country. Valhalla? It was by pure coincidence that the killer of Eivor’s parents was part of this super-secret order that needs to be stopped. She took care of her business early on in the game, had no ties to stopping the order in England so like why even bother when she had a whole settlement and town to worry about. It wasn’t until Sigurd was captured by Fulke that it became a problem. Besides the major cities (Lunden, Jorvik and Westcestere) only a couple of zones had direct influence from the Order, otherwise the other members were part of the “open world” formula. Most of the zones had arcs that were all random political boring bs (excuse my French) that was unnecessary. Every antagonist in each of the zone should have been tied to the order. This is why I loved the first installment of AC2, and despite being “outdated” in terms of graphics and gameplay, its what kept me going. Leonardi Da Vinci was a corny concept but so incredibly innovative (pun intended) and well thought out! He was probably my favorite part of that game. Yea some of the history was “wrong” but they at least adapted and incorporated history and historical figures into the “Assassins vs Templars” story arcs and gave them featured dialogue and scenes instead of a written blurb in the menu (if I wanted to read I would have picked up one of the many books on my shelf that I am neglecting and not a roleplaying video game). The major cities were great because they had 3 members and each member’s plot was relatively short but still had significance, even so some of these could have had more depth or importance but overall flowed nicely. But there weren’t as many large regions with order members for story arcs as there should have been, especially because you “had to do everything”. So on top of having these side plots for forging alliances you had to go and have a hide-n-seek chase for most of the order members which just added to painstakingly longer hours and watered down plot lines. Personally, I found the best zones were those that had the order members. Kjotve (Rygjafylke), Wigmund (Grantebridge), Gorm (Vinland), and Herefrith (Lincolnshire). Fulke’s plots weren’t bad, but she had too many zones (Oxenford, Cent and Suthexe). All other zones could have been optional. That’s why I liked Odyssey, there was so much to be explored buy we didn’t actually have to go there until after the story was done, giving us time and freedom to explore the rest of the world after. Or as an alternative I could say take away Fulke’s plot in Cent, have all other zones after Oxenford that didn’t have order members to actually have been “the hunt for Fulke” with finding other order members to gain information on Fulke and Sigurd’s whereabouts, and in the process gaining an alliance for the “battle of Suthexe” because you have freed the other Thegns, Danes, Vikings and Ealdormen from an opposing corruption. Sorry for the ramble of a sentence. Yes it would have been similar to past AC games, but at least it would fit the template of “Assassins Creed”, and they could spin it into Eivor’s own story (saving her brother from the same fate her parents had at the hands of this order). From this I would have felt more inclined to go and explore other regions. Otherwise it was just “you need more alliances don’t be hasty” and I was less inclined to go forge these alliances because I had other matters to attend to. I even felt it was against the nature of the game to do so. Aren’t Vikings (and especially Eivor) in their nature hasty for battle and to knock down doors and deal with the aftermath when it comes? I felt like she/he wouldn’t have even cared and pressed onto Suthexe without a second thought. But of course, my “completionist” mindset got the better of me to have all the possible allies I could. I just think the devs set up the “open world” aspect in terms of “gaining whatever alliances you want in whatever order you want” up for failure because the method didn’t reflect the urgency in completing each zone and I ended up resenting most of the arcs because of it. It was too “Dragon Age Inquisition” for me. Lincolnshire, Sciropescire, Snotinghamscire, and Essexe all had decent story lines (not the best but could have definitely been better …) but because of the pressing matter at hand they were overshadowed by “I need to save Eivor’s brother” – yes it was my choice to do so and yes it was just a video game that I wasn’t physically in, but that’s what role playing is about right? If the formula doesn’t fit the needs to maximize the concept of “role play” in creating the best story possible then what is even the point? Overall I thought the plot was unpolished and lazy with only a few solid moments out of endless hours of gameplay. None of it made the endings (and I say endings plural because there are multiple plot points) worth it. The visions were probably the best parts because they were filled with lore and depth and did not have any slow plot points. In fact, for how good Asgard and Jotunheim were I was upset they were too short. (Too much content, not enough content). Its quality vs quantity, and that’s what AC Valhalla was. Which is why I thought the exploration and random blue side quests were so much better because that’s where the quality was, they were more interesting and thought out. I would have rather just explored everything else and not have done the story arcs. The “Assassins Creed” side of the game was lacking so why even bother …
b. the endings: I felt no sympathy for any of the deaths at Hamtunscire. Also Hamtunscire’s arc was anticlimactic. Our ending battle was in a village (A VILLAGE) and that’s where one of these great Viking warriors died??? … Makes sense. I felt Soma’s death, but because Eivor was basically just standing there screaming and watching, I felt like it had no point to the story or emotional impact. Eivor didn’t do anything to stop it and she really could have (especially with the amount of abilities and ranged tools she has on her belt …). I had no sympathy for Hunwald dying. I hated the boy. He was just another version of character types we have already seen (Oswald and Ceolbert) but more annoying and even weaker. I didn’t really cry for Hjorr because we didn’t have that much encounter with him, but gosh did Ljufvina’s monologue tug at my heart strings. So as a couple losing each other I really felt for them. The only emotional part of the ending I could get behind. Everything else was just unsupported nonsense that the writers were like “oh this seems good enough lets do this”. Lazy. I can’t even talk about Swanburrow wailing because honestly I wasn’t paying attention … Then we go to find “the poor fellow soldier of Christ” (which if you had seen the Order menu halfway through the game you would have known who it is from the obvious silhouette which was infuriating to even glance at … didn’t expect the game to spoil the plot for me) and the whole time Eivor is like “okay old friend *smile* *walk away*” LIKE WHAT. He just killed a handful of people you cared about, including the heart wrenching scenery of Ubba’s bloody body pierced by a bunch of spears (granted I only saw that after the conversation which was kind of annoying … but also Eivor would be furious and would go back to take revenge … also lets talk about the fact that that’s not where historians have believed the real Ubba to have died so I don’t consider the gorgeous man’s death in this game to be canon … ) and Eivor to Alfred is like “okay sir … you do whatever you want.” NO. I don’t believe that for ONE second. Utterly poor and unthoughtful writing. Totally unbelievable. Not even an escape scene, he just stands there baking cakes and you’re like “well I better not interrupt the town’s bakery …” like COME ON. And like yea we’ve seen this plot point before (Odyssey’s main head of the Cult of Kosmos had a very similar plot point, except that time we had the option to kill or spare them) so like what was even the point if it was just repeating? (I guess history repeats itself? Teehee …)
Also no attachment to the wedding scene because I don’t like Brigid’s significance (or lack there of) and the comedy was completely lost on me because at this point I just didn’t care. To me, nothing was worth leading up to any of the end stuff … except for the lesbian love scene, happy to see some 21st century progression in a protagonist’s tale. If we want to talk about the Layla & Loki/Basim ending then what I can say is this … if I didn’t spend 140 hours to get to a plot twist that could easily have been halfway through the game then what was the point? Literally I don’t know why all the nonsense we just went through had ANYTHING to do with what transpired at Yggrdasil. I didn’t appreciate being stuck in England, so I was happy to see the Ireland and Francia dlc’s coming out, but I’m hoping the speculations are correct in that those dlc’s will wrap up the Lokie/Alethia plot line. If not I am simply not going to sit through another painful 100 hours in the next AC installment to find out.
c. What should have happened: Realistically, England’s stories should have been trimmed, Francia & Ireland should have been part of the main story with other dlc’s to be released, and everything would have been just so much more interesting. Kind of like AC2 where we weren’t confided to one area of Italy but different regions, we could have gone throughout ‘other regions of Europe in the Dark Ages’ instead of being confined to England. There should have been less England, and more of other regions to conquer (also more of Norway, that lack of content annoyed me). They tried too hard with the open world aspect. It really only worked for Origins and Odyssey somehow. For as rich as Viking history could be portrayed, I can’t imagine why we would choose just England to be stuck in. Its called “Valhalla” not “Anglo-Saxon”. They could have saved England for an Arthurian/Camelot saga, which could have been RICH with Isu lore and expansion on “what is legend and what is history”. I get this is where the studio wanted the “Order of Ancients” to die out, but it wasn’t that interesting. Yes I loved the graphics and world development (especially on a PS5), but some of the landscape was as repetitive as the plot lines. Thus we could have seen where else the Order of Ancient had progressed, and if Loki’s children are in Ireland and Francia as some speculators believe to be then that would have ended this saga very nicely for some other regions and dlc’s to open up. Maybe have parts of England in the current game be dlc instead, like a whole campaign with Halfdan instead of a short story arc that he was sick and frail for half of the time. Or other parts of England. Like the river raids (but better …). Or even go into a “pre Arthurian/Camelot” mythology with the Lady of the Lake instead of that insane lady who was running around her house trying to dodge my attacks in Glowestescire … Idk, just spit balling. For as slow and as boring as the arcs are, there was just too much England back-to-back. Not enough variety in between.
d. Eivor in Assassins Creed Universe: I believe it would have given Eivor much more incentive to go after the order members if they were directly tied to conflict surrounding her settlement and her family. She has other stuff to deal with than to be the “Secret Savior” of England. The only time she has to do it is for Sigurd. Why not for her other allies too? Why couldn’t we expand upon that? And what really grinds my gears is that at the end she says “I don’t want to be an assassin” because of her own beliefs contradicting those of the creed – which also is another issue I have (here comes the tangent …) because the game itself even contradicts the Hidden Ones belief of “working in the shadows”. Hytham and Basim and their headquarters are SO very much out in the open – smack in the middle of the settlement for pete’s sake! And the whole time you’re learning about the 4th century Hidden Ones in England and how their decline was because they were “no longer a secret”, so shouldn’t they have learned from their mistakes and established an importance on one of their creeds for the other bureaus throughout the world to learn? Twas a major plot hole that was (in my opinion) awful. Anyways, tangent over, not only did I feel like my time was wasting from hours upon hours for the endings to not be worth the journey, Eivor’s declaration of “yea thanks but no thanks” to Hytham’s invitation makes the game utterly pointless. On the cover screen, male Eivor’s body is under the words “Assassins Creed” so we can assume this is about how a Viking becomes an Assassin, right? Wrong. Another dumb plot twist: he/she does not want to become an assassin EVEN if the player with the controler/keyboard in hand makes them go through an assassin based playthrough. Its nice they gave us the options to also be a “warrior” or “archer” archetype, but those options should enhance our experience as an assassin, not take it away. The whole point of playing an Assassins Creed game is to go through the evolution on how that character is part of the creed, otherwise they are not. Maybe Eivor indulges in Hytham’s invitation to secretly be part of the Hidden Ones while also finding glory on her Viking adventures but over time found the life of a Hidden One just wasn’t for him/her? I could get behind that. The version that was released for us? Lazy. Unpolished. Unthoughtful. Sloppy writing. I guess that’s just me being picky …
I understand that Covid was not the best of times for anyone and that all sorts of companies and businesses got hit hard. But that’s what “pushing back dates” are for. Many video games have done it in the past and present so as to hopefully release better content – and not just during covid. Honestly what screams to me about AC Valhalla: it was just a way for a company to make bank off of a bloated title with a Viking theme using very little resources to shoot out an unpolished game. By even looking at microtransactions you can see they favored “paid for play” content rather than having actual in game content. I rave about the exploration and the many little things to do, but that’s not Assassins Creed formula. That’s Skyrim. That’s Witcher 3 content. AC Valhalla is trying to be too many things at once all the while losing in what makes the game “Assassins Creed”. Yes, by my history with the franchise I am not an expert on Assassins Creed. But if I wanted to play an up-to-date-game that wasn’t in the “Assassins Creed Universe” then I would have picked something else up instead of wasting over 100 hours of my time and probably $100 of my own money into this brand. I wanted to further my “Assassins Creed” experience, not delay it by not playing the right titles. Idk how this game has a score of 8/10, I give it 5/10. What I was hoping to be my favorite game of the newer generation of consoles was now a huge disappointment.
So now this puts a sour taste in my mouth and a question I have about the other titles: are they even worth diving into an “Assassins Creed” fantasy?
That was my intake. If you have any points you agree or disagree, or other things you'd like to add or say, by all means go ahead! That's what the internet is for. 🙂
- Does assassins creed Valhalla follow the 10 rules set out by Patrice Desilets and his team?
- My review of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (spoilers!)
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Spoiler Discussion [Spoilers Allowed]
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