Content of the article: "My Review of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla"
I've been working on this review for quite a while now and I finally finished it. Sorry for the very long post and I'd love to hear your opinions as well. Also, this review has spoilers, so if you haven't finished the game I'd recommend not reading it.
Open World & Environment
The game was absolutely beautiful in terms of scenery and graphics. I don’t think I’ve been pulled in as much as I did in the Norway section of the map by any other game in the past, with the exception of Red Dead Redemption 2. Ubisoft really did a good job as well with making the world feel populated and alive, not as much as Unity, but I still felt like I was actually part of a world with actual people in it. I often felt compelled to stop and read a document, loot a house or camp, collect an artifact or do a world event. And that shows, just how well the “side quests” were handled in this game. A huge problem with both Origins and Odyssey was that all of the side quests were boring, repetitive fetch missions that weren’t interesting enough to bother doing after finishing the main story. In Valhalla, I was more than happy to run around the open world and collect the rest of the Roman Artifacts, do some parkour to get the pages or do a world event, with a short, fun and completely unique story each time. Wealth and finding weapons and armor were handled better than Origins and Odyssey as well and the abilities of the weapons and armor were much better and more realistic. Other stuff such as drinking games and Orlog were also very fun and filled the world with life.
In terms of gameplay, Valhalla is better than both its predecessors in this RPG genre, but it’s definitely still not perfect. The combat still feels clunky at times, though it feels much better to play. Another thing they improved upon, was the fact that enemies used to be sponges, but now they can go down rather easily, especially with headshots and by exploiting the weak spots. Most of the bosses were good as well with a lot of different fighting styles and ways of taking them down. That said, combat is still one of the weakest in the Assassin’s Creed franchise and that is really displayed in the raids, where quite frankly it’s a bit of a clusterfuck at times, but still feels fun to play. Stealth is also a step in the right direction, towards the classic Assassin’s Creed stealth. Social blending was a welcome return to the series and worked pretty good for the most time, except for a couple of times when it was mostly my fault for not taking my time. Also, I was so excited to finally have the hidden blade back and I wasn’t disappointed at all. The skill tree was definitely intimidating at first, but after seeing how easy it was to earn skill points, it was much easier to plan out which way to go and what skills to pursue.
Hidden Ones & Order of the Ancients
Finally the Assassins and the Templars have a central role in an Assassin’s Creed game again, just in their prototype versions. Hytham and Basim were both great as members of the Levantine Brotherhood of the Assassin’s, in terms of their mindset and commitment to the brotherhood. The Bureaus around England were an amazing addition as well. with great documentation, diving deep into the British Brotherhood of the Western Roman Empire, and the fantastic return of Bayek, for one last, as it seems. It was also very fun to hunt down the Order, especially with the Cultist system, which was the only good thing from Odyssey, although it lacked depth and character for the Cultists, which Valhalla provided with all the confessions, whether long or short. The last scene with Aelfred and Eivor was great as well, as we finally learned how the Order transformed into the Templars. It was also very cool how basically a Hidden One, or atleast a man working with them, helped create the Templars. The only thing I didn’t like was that Eivor didn’t become an actual Hidden One in the end, but there are 2 DLCs left.
Eivor was an amazing protagonist. His combination of wisdom, charm, comedy and pure bad-assery was very compelling and refreshing. Magnuss’ performance was fantastic as well and even though I didn’t play as female Eivor (although I plan to), from what I’ve seen her performance was pretty good as well. Sigurd was a great secondary character with a great relationship with Eivor. His path to finding out he was a “sage” and his transformation after Fulke’s torture was amazing as well. However, Basim was easily the best character for me, after Eivor. From the moment he was introduced, I was compelled by his character with every word and wanted to learn more about his past and his intentions. At some point, it was made obvious that he had his own goals, so I didn’t really trust him, but then there was THAT scene. The campfire scene between Basim and Eivor was probably the best and most meaningful scene in the game for me. It dove further into Eivor’s character and his relationship with Sigurd, in a crucial point of the story and it solidified Basim as one of the best side characters in the franchise. Bare in mind, I haven’t played the Asgard Arc at this point in the story, so it didn’t even cross my mind that Basim was Loki and that scene made me want an entire game centered around Basim as the main character. Valhalla also nailed all the “unimportant” characters, by giving them a personality.
Overall I found the story awesome, however it was VERY long. Even so, every single arc was interesting, however some were obviously much weaker than others and there were times I felt like I just wanted to get this arc over with to move on to the next one. That said, London, Jorvik and Wincestre were phenomenal arcs with superb writing. I just felt like I was playing classic Assassin’s Creed, constantly blending with the crowd or moving in the rooftops to avoid detection. Not to say that the arcs were bad, which was not at all the case, but they were mostly too viking-centered to even come close to those 3. The ending was absolutely amazing as well and it tied everything from the Asgard/Jotunheim visions together with the modern day as well, which was by miles the best it’s been since The Ezio Trilogy.
Another strangely good part of the story were the dream sequences/visions of the other realms. I absolutely loved how the game combined Eivor’s memories from his Odin DNA from the Isu era, with his beliefs in Norse mythology to actually make me care that much about the ridiculous concept of Asgard and “gods” in Assassin’s Creed. It was so fun and satisfying, realising which god/character represented which Isu and trying to understand what happened between Loki, Odin and Aletheia. That said, I still don’t like the mythical aspect in Assassin’s Creed, but I think it was handled very well in Valhalla, along with pretty much everything else in terms of narrative. The only thing I absolutely didn’t like was Eivor not joining the Hidden Ones, not necessarily because I’m dying to play as an actual Assassin (which I am), but because I felt it disregarded Eivor’s development in the end of the guy, by rejecting Odin.
To sum up, I absolutely loved this game. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t perfect and there are a lot of problems with it. However, I really think this is the best Assassin’s Creed game we can get until they stop using this engine and making RPG games. Most of my problems were also very minor and didn’t bring my enjoyment down that much. To end, I’d like to congratulate and thank Darby McDevitt for making Assassin’s Creed feel like Assassin’s Creed again in terms of narrative, storytelling and characters. I’ll be definitely replaying the game multiple times in the future, and I can’t wait for the DLCs to conclude Eivor’s and, maybe, the modern day story as well.
Final Rating: 8,5/10
- My review of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (spoilers!)
- (Valhalla spoilers) To me, I could think of a few major faults of the game’s storyline that stops it from going from good to great.
- My overall thoughts on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla [mild SPOILERS]
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