Game Review: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Genre: First Open World/Role Playing Game

Originally Released: November 10th 2020

Series: Assassin’s Creed

Certificate: 18

Consoles: PlayStation 5/4, Xbox Aeries X/S/One & PC

After many rumours and speculation, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has landed! Ubisoft’s twelfth instalment in the highly acclaimed Assassin’s Creed franchise is a continuation of the open-world, RPG approach that was so wonderfully implemented in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Origins that preceded it.

After several years and a number of sub-par releases, it appeared that Assassin’s Creed was becoming stale and needed a fresh perspective.   What is clear is that Ubisoft has truly found their calling with these ‘new-look’ Assassin’s Creed titles, well and truly transitioning from their routes as a stealth franchise.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla locates you to Anglo-Saxon Britain in approximately AD 873 where you control of male or female marauder Elvor during the Viking invasion of the region. Like all Assassin’s Creed titles, Valhalla follows the narrative trend of intricately connecting historical periods with the conflict between the Templar Order and the Brotherhood of Assassins.

Although this is a heavily relied-upon concept for the series, it is given a new lease of life after being cleverly interwoven into this complicated historical period. This theme is heavily revolved around the sixty-or so hour main story mode that sees your clan of Vikings come to blows with the forces across the four kingdoms of England.

Gameplay

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla re-introduces the quick, lock-on based combat that pioneered in previous titles to the series. However, I found that the dexterity of Odyssey’s hack and slash melee somewhat took a backseat in Valhalla, at least for the initial ten hours or so of playing time. The combat progression just seems to drag a little, requiring a number of skill upgrades and a level of grind to bring it up to speed.

This reveals another gripe I have with the game, the skill-tree leaves a lot to be desired. New perks remain hidden until they are unlocked, which makes it harder to focus on a certain character build. And there are far too many that are simple stat upgrades, which granted are useful but lacks a feeling of reward for many hours of grinding.

As you raid, pillage and bull rush your way through the four kingdoms; you will acquire a collection of weapons. From daggers and swords to axes and hammers with the option for single or dual-wielding purposes. For those situations that call for a bit more precision, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla offers you a variety of bows, each with distinct stats and functions. Although the number of weapons you loot is not the overwhelming amount of previous titles, you will certainly find the right tool for every job.

Quests

Overall, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will keep you entertained for rough sixty-hours and that is before the abundance of side quests, raids and exploration is taken into account. This game is full of content but never feels overwhelming like previous titles when your quest list quickly begins to fill up after the first few hours of gaming.  

All in all, quests feel like they had a purpose and the world was filled with details, locations and vistas to explore. This is a big positive for the title as games of this nature can often fall victim to boring or menial quest lines. I will not go into detail to avoid spoilers but gone are the days of copy and pasted fetch quests. Completing objectives and reaching milestones gives you a real sense of accomplishment that other titles have lacked in the past. 

Performance, Fit and Finish  

Played in 4K with a steady sixty FPS, this is perhaps the biggest and the most beautiful setting in the franchise to date.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a shining example of Ubisoft’s adept ability to create massive, encapsulating worlds that completely absorb you. I found myself on many occasions pausing play to simply admire the beauty of a golden, sun-soaked valley or the misty, ominous mountaintops that line your horizon. I would even stop to gawk at the realism of moving water currents and the detail of every ripple just popping out. Truly a spectacle to behold.

However, as the saying goes ‘all that glitters is not gold’, sadly applies to this otherwise aesthetically gorgeous title. On a number of occasions, I found the game to completely freeze, quests would sometimes not progress as they should and various on-screen HUD issues. That being said, games of this size and ambition usually have shortcomings in the technical department and this is no exception.

Verdict

When it was first rumoured that the next entry in this iconic series would revolve around Vikings and the Dark Ages, it left many people excited, myself included. Furthermore, a bold question that needed answering was how would Valhalla top the Greek epic that came before it. Graphically and visually, there are few games that can compare and its sensibly varied loot system helps to control any potential clutter in your inventory.

That being said, the title is let down by its wonky ability system and as it stands, there are clusters of noticeable technical issues. Although, it is very early days still with a series of bug fixes and updates guaranteed in the future.

Overall, a bold, achingly beautiful addition to the series that strives to delve into new realms while implementing what makes the franchise so popular. Certainly rough around the edges but a great addition to the Ubisoft mainstay, a must-buy for fans of the series.

Overall: 8/10 – Very Good