Assassin's Creed

How to improve the Valhalla Formula for the next game

With Valhalla now several months behind us, the general consensus seems to be that while not a bad game and has interesting moments, it had an overly bloated story and lacked the assassin’s creed elements people desired, and those that were in the game felt half baked. While it told an Assassin’s Creed story through and through, it lacked the assassin fantasy, so today I wanted to discuss things that need to be done for the next game, be it Champions or China.

  1. We need to play as an actual assassin no matter what in the next game, for the majority or all of the game. The past 3 games you weren’t an assassin at all (except Origins DLC), and before that Black Flag and Rogue have you play as a Pirate or Templar for the majority of the story. This means of the past 7 games that launched since the Xbox One and PS4 launched, you haven’t played as an assassin for all or the majority of the game for 5 of those games. That’s 42% of the series as a whole! Nearly half of all the games NAMED Assassin’s Creed you don’t play as what the box tells you! This is unacceptable, and we need to be an assassin. We need the Assassin iconography like the hood, hidden blade, targets, and importantly we need conspiracy back! Valhalla did far better than origins or Odyssey did on this front, but still felt so lacking at delivering that Assassin fantasy.
  2. It appears the choice between male and female characters is here to stay, and allegedly Darby (the narrative director of Valhalla) felt pressured from up above to have such a long and drawn out story to fit the size and scale of the map, likely due to criticism of Origins and odyssey not using much of the map. While the idea to then make the long story feel like a Viking Saga was interesting, for the majority of us, it failed to capture our attention all the way through, largely because of the near 100-hour length. If this idea that the game has to be a certain story length to utilize the world is true, then rather than having one drawn-out story, I’d propose two shorter stories. When you pick Male or Female, you pick one of two canon characters who have weaving and intersecting stories that explore mostly different parts of the world. This would be extra work in some areas, but it would not double the work. Rather than having 1 story that’s 100 hours, you have 2 stories that are 40 hours. Side quests can be split evenly among the two characters, or they don’t even have to be, same with PoI. They can be easily written off as the DNA in the animus merging due to poor recall of the events, and thus both characters can do the same side quests, but maintain different stories. There’s plenty of different ways to do this, and it’s far from impossible, having been done in 2016 for Dishonored 2. While not every mechanic from other games works well in another series, if we’re forcing gender choice, there are better ways to do it.
  3. Stealth needs love for the next game for sure. In Valhalla, it mostly felt unviable. For a period around launch, killing all the guards and starting a raid would respawn the guards, there was no option for stealthy raids despite having been an actual tactic used by Vikings, social stealth felt inconsistent due to strange guard noticing and near-instant guard detection. Bringing back social stealth was a good move, but we need it to be more consistent with guards, have moving social groups, maintain the ability to enter into blending animations. Guard placement also makes it nearly impossible to get by unseen, and killing guards will always alert others due to proximity and thus inability to attract with arrows or whistles. However, social stealth shouldn’t just be used as a substitute for bushes to get closer to guards to kill them, but provide an opportunity to reach targets and locations without killing anyone, and truly adopting the blade in the crowd fantasy. TL;DR: Combine AC1, Ac2, and Valhalla stealth and give better AI with more intuitive and stealth-focused detection.
  4. Cities used to be the heart of Assassin’s Creed, placing the majority of the game in a city and having the ability to travel the entire city on the rooftops. Since Origins, that hasn’t been possible. Valhalla did better with parkour than Odyssey or Origins, having only a handful of unique parkour routes that allow for fun tricks. Though most of the time they’re simple routes for catching papers in the wind, and can’t be used for travel. Since Unity, a grid system has been employed for parkour, and it often makes Eivor snap to objects strangely. A common issue related to this is where Eivor will jump down onto a ledge rather than onto the next pole or roof. While this can definitely be partially user error, it remains a system error as well, feeling clunky and like we’re not in control. This issue combined with the lack of back eject, side eject, and animation canceling while not even having parkour routes in the cities means


    can often be seen as having better parkour than Valhalla. A larger focus on dense urban environments, with level design that facilitates parkour from both a vertical and horizontal perspective, needs to be fundamental.
  5. Finally, we need to have some more set-piece variety. Valhalla has one major set-piece at the end where you enter the Yggdrasil Temple, which is better than odyssey which I often blast as having no true set pieces. I think the best definition of a set piece is a moment or section of gameplay that delivers a unique experience. So this can be taking you to a unique area or introducing unique mechanics. Think about Ezio going to the Vatican, the Flying Machine, Leonardo’s War Machines, the Siege of Viana, or the Tomb missions. Odyssey uses the conquest battles as set pieces, and after doing them for regular gameplay and several story moments, they no longer are unique. The same happens with Valhalla using raiding-like mechanics and a battering ram and calling it assaults, then making us assault like 15 different castles and forts. It was cool the first few times, but by Arc 15 when you’ve done this exact same setup 14 times before, it feels boring and stale. Like if the next game is the hundred years war, we should only participate in Poitiers and Calais for example. Let the one or two big battles stand out. Give us more one-offs like visiting London during the Black Plague, have a flying machine, use the Apple of Saint-Denis to control rats, and spread the plague, just something more than generic big battles.

There’s a ton more that I can go into, but these are just a few ideas to improve on Valhalla. Ultimately, the series needs to be re-evaluated and systems need to be made deeper, not wider. But that’s a conversation for next week.


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