Content of the article: "As someone with a mixed history of AC games, a die hard early on who fell off around Black Flag, Valhalla is exactly what I needed to rejuvenate my love for this series."
So I’m writing this to get a bit of discourse going on a game and series that I’ve had a complicated history with. I’m in the minority of AC players when I say AC3 was one of my favorites and Black Flag was what turned me off for a while. Now before anyone begins raising pitchforks, as a child I was drawn to the AC games for stealth action and parkour, things that seemed to get set aside for the expansive pirate epic BF sought to be. I’ve returned to Black Flag recently with the Switch port in anticipation for Valhalla and loved it and I’m glad I did because it set the stage for my overall positive feelings towards this newest installment. Black Flag was the first AC game i didn’t finish and after a few years hiatus from gaming I returned and bought Syndicate with a new PS4, played a bit and while looking back and considering it a solid entry, it didn’t hook me at the time. This year my interest was renewed with this new one coming out and while I didn’t finish Black Flag in time for the new release, I loved my time with it and plan on going back to it along with Rogue which came bundled. Now, with my context out of the way, the things I’m enjoying playing through this title basically fall under two categories: stuff that brings me back to the old games and stuff that draws inspiration from other games outside the series. I’ll start with the more nostalgic side. As I said, AC for me as a kid was about the assassin’s fantasy, having hits you are tasked with taking out while free running through a historical setting and story. The modern day stuff appealed to me as well, but looking back it’s definitely forgettable compared to epic set pieces like flying DaVinci’s glider or the Revolutionary War battles from AC3. With Valhalla, I found the Order’s presence to be just the right amount compared with all the other things these games have now been injected with. I love the list of targets I have to slowly work through, finding clues and planning out my assassinations. On the topic of assassinations, social stealth was always one of my favorite aspects and while it’s a bit watered down I’m glad to see it return. One of the first targets I took out by sending a drunk to distract guards in a busy vendor’s district before sneaking up and shoving my hidden blade into their collarbone. It made me feel like a kid again and I can’t wait to find more of these opportunities sprinkled throughout the world. Now on the flip side, much of this entry draws from other open world games like The Witcher, Breath of the Wild, and Skyrim to touch on some big ones. I’m stoked that exploration falls more in line with Zelda’s and even playing BOTW I noticed there’s sort of a conversation happening between these series’ influences on one another. When it comes to interacting the world itself, Valhalla adds natural world events that feel inspired by The Witcher 3’s overall choice making and side content. The quality here is varying, some more interesting than others but regardless one thing I think they captured was a sense of surprise around every corner. Previously, AC can get fairly predictable, BF is littered with follow missions and the side content while fun isn’t all that varied. I found myself enjoying the sense of discovery here way more than I thought I would and I’m happy to see them departing from some of the previous trappings of the series. I know there is a lot more to the game and just because I didn’t mention it doesn’t mean I particularly dislike it or like it for that matter. Combat, the settlement, the story, I have opinions on these but wanted to mention the things that stood out as overall positives to get the discussion going. What is your history with series and how are you liking or disliking this one? I haven’t played the other two newer games since Syndicate, how does this one compare to those and are they worth going back to after I finish this one?
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