One of the best in the franchise

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is my absolute favorite of this latest series of updated franchise games, but the reasons why I enjoy it might put others off. Improved fighting and raiding with a platoon is the emphasis of the game, and while it’s well done, it actually leaves out the stealth roots of the franchise.

This is a move the series must take; build on what these games outlined nearly a decade ago to become the norm for action RPGs.

I’d also like to clear this up: if you were thinking of running this game on your PC, don’t. Not to say that the console version can’t be slow at times, but the PC version was almost unplayable for me (a challenge I also had with Watch Dogs: Legion) and I got bored struggling to figure it out by continually crashing after a hour. Another writer on our team had a dead NPC issue and they had to talk to that NPC in order to progress. They are now banned from the game, and that is the day one patch.

Originally family friendly, the story goes to interesting places.

Many of the Assassin’s Creed games revolve around setting their campaigns around family, deception, and political unrest, and Valhalla is no different. Set in the 9th century, Eivor, who can be portrayed as male or female at various plot points, seeks revenge for the death of his parents at the hands of a rival clan chief. To get what they want, they make clear choices that ultimately lead them and their brother Sigurd to make a new home in Anglo-Saxon England.

From there, the main focus of the game is for this small group of Danes to expand their reach through destructive raids or diplomatic alliances, expanding their base camp of Ravensthorpe into a flourishing city.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is my absolute favorite from this latest updated franchise game trilogy.

In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the core family in the game is often remarkably similar to the dynamic of Kassandra and Alexios. As time goes on and the plot gets a little more room to breathe as the Raven clan spreads across England, Valhalla makes some fascinating variations that set it apart from more recent editions of the series, but I sincerely hope the next game in the franchise to break completely. of this configuration.

The narrative that directly relates to the gameplay of the Raven clan’s expansion across England is the story that I found most compelling, but sometimes off balance. Eivor and his people are not refugees who have no choice but to flee Norway; they expressly chose to go and enjoy the benefits of practically greener pastures.

Although they arrive with the intention of being as friendly as possible, they move very quickly to the raiding and looting part. The game then produces antagonists who are so spiteful and power-hungry, you have no choice but to root for Eivor. Valhalla sometimes tries to put the claim on both sides, but it never works as well as expected.

Pretty soon I ended up taking it more at face value and ultimately appreciating the story for what it was. But it never escaped me that Ubisoft is an organization going through its own internal issues over the misuse of power, so I never completely gave up evaluating the game’s storytelling.

A more organic and varied world

Another big drawback for me in Origins and Odyssey was the sheer size and vastness of the game and activities. This isn’t to say that the Valhalla universe isn’t vast or lacking in quests, but it still feels much more manageable, and reaching goals is less like ticking things off a checklist and more about natural exploration.

England, the largest map in the game, but not the only one, is a single region that can be navigated on foot, on horseback or by boat through its rivers that extend throughout the region. Smack in the middle is Ravensthorpe, and the game coming to Eivor’s home base also offers more meaning to the environment that simply doesn’t exist in the ever-nomadic lives Bayek and Kasandra/Alexios lead in their games.

Every swing of my ax felt smooth and exciting, and even after hours of play, the screams of disbelief at Eivor’s cruelty kept coming from my mouth.

Rather than feel compelled to tone down every marker on an island and inevitably struggle to do so like I did in Odyssey, Valhalla makes your ability to bolster the Raven clan your cross path, and the side events you run into seem so much more important.

The need to rely on your bird companion to scan an environment, marking every enemy and asset you see before moving from marker to marker. Although you have a Raven as a companion who can scout for you, it’s more about having a preliminary layout of the terrain than getting to know every nook and cranny intimately.

Odin’s sight, a throbbing ability that identifies landmarks and enemies in your close environment, is much more useful this time around, allowing players to stay more in the aggressive action and interact spontaneously.

Of course, this is Assassin’s Creed, which means that our contemporary protagonist, Layla, also has some modern bits. The game seeks to make it feel more important by bringing in characters tied to Desmond’s story in the original trilogy and spin-offs, but it feels half-hearted, both narratively and visually. Like stealth, modern stuff is something the series feels compelled to have, but without it, these games would be better, and I wouldn’t mind if they cut it out entirely.

The gameplay is the best the series has ever had.

There is a term that people sometimes use when criticizing video games: Gameplay is king. While I never fully subscribed to that theory, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t hold true in the context of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. What ultimately turned me back from Origins and Odyssey is the impression that the restored battle system was just part of the process there. The two year gap in the title helped the development team improve it and I’m very excited about the results.

Valhalla makes some fascinating exceptions from the last few entries in the sequence.

Eivor and her clan are a powerful and persistent force, something the game captures. Every swing of my ax felt smooth and exciting, and even after hours of playing, the screams of disbelief at Eivor’s cruelty kept coming from my mouth.

Quite often, Eivor is followed by a squad of Viking warriors to help them extend Ravensthorpe’s reach and it works better than any previous Assassin’s Creed game. He feels like the Brotherhood should have felt.

This illusion of reliably operating with NPC allies means there are also fewer instances during this time involving stealth. The points game urges you to use it, but it is rarely needed, or the most valuable tool to complete your objective. Although restoring the opportunity to blend in with the crowd was one of the main selling points, hacking and slicing your way through enemies is still the most rewarding and effective solution.

The idea of ​​stealth taking a backseat to aggressive warfare is an improvement, but for others, it may be a concern. Fans of the series who wanted to see a big return to form for stealth would definitely be frustrated by the increased focus on head-to-head combat.

Both metasystems sound more elegant than the previous series. Instead of getting a bunch of slightly better weapons and armor, I see buffed upgrades more often, reducing the need for constant inventory management. Similarly, the skill tree slowly unfolds as you go through it, rather than giving you everything it has to give from the jump. It makes the game’s RPG features, which many fans have found to be off in recent years, much easier to understand.

our take

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla promised to return to the series’ roots in Origins and Odyssey after two important steps, but what it seeks to revive ends up holding it back, and what it does best is what makes it so decidedly different from Creed. Assassin’s Many willing to embrace Valhalla will find an action RPG compelling and rewarding.

Should you buy it?

Yes, especially if you choose a next-gen console that will increase frame rates and minimize load times.

How long will this last?

Hundreds of hours at least if you’re a completist.

Is there a better alternative?

The only other major action RPG on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 is Watch Dogs: Legion, but Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is by far the better of both games.

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