To Valhalla or to Valhellyea

When Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla launched, I wrote a first impression about the game and mentioned I would be writing a full review later on. That time has now finally arrived!
It is time to dive back into the English countryside and claim the head of King Aelfred.
Valhalla Awaits!


What is Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla?

I know, I know, I’ve already covered this in the first impression.

So you can skip this part if you’ve read that one.
For whoever has not read my first impression though (shame on you),
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is the latest installment in Ubisoft’s long lasting franchise, Assassin’s Creed.
It is the third game since the genre change of the franchise and is considered a full-fledged RPG with all the bells and whistles.

Performance

Unlike Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla does not suffer from performance getting worse over time. (by now, Watch Dogs: Legion has also fixed that)
The game runs at a stable 30 fps, on both 1080p and native 4k.
I did notice however, that the stability has increased significantly since launch.
Some users claimed it might be 60 fps now, but upon checking the game still runs at 30 fps.

I compared the game on Stadia with PC at ultra settings and would say the game holds out pretty well on Stadia. I’m usually not a fan of direct comparisons, since, in my opinion, you won’t notice that unless you are directly comparing it anyways. For the sake of it though, I’ll include the comparison under here:

Gameplay

The gameplay in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is, even after more than 30 hours of playing, still one of it’s best aspects. It never bores me to clear out a base completely stealth with my hidden blade. It gives this special satisfaction when you’ve cleared out a base without getting detected. Although, I admit that I do sometimes like to call in my crew and raid a location with my entire squad by just going in guns blazing.

There are PLENTY of story missions, and a lot of side quests as well. The side quests are harder to find than in other Assassin’s Creed games though, instead of showing up on the map, you need to look around you when playing for possible exclamation markers above NPCs. Those will give you side quests.

Even though I like the gameplay loop of the side quests, the stories of them are mostly uninteresting. I’ve only come across a handful of side quests that actually managed to make me interested in the backstory behind it. Those side quests are completely optional though, since you get enough XP from the main missions to progress through the entire story.

I still have issues with that though, because I always did the side quests because they were actually fun. But in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla they feel like filler content, and filler content is never a good thing in my opinion.

The game also has, just like Odyssey, a lot of RPG elements. There is gear, weapons, skills and items to collect. But unlike Odyssey it is much better refined this time. The game doesn’t force you to grind through side quests to level (since there is not levelling), and the weapon system is much better. If you find a weapon you like, you can keep it and upgrade it, and it’ll still be strong in the end game.

Story

The story of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is pretty interesting. I love vikings and all of the mythology behind it and this game makes great use of that. You meet plenty of well-known characters from viking series or stories. From the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, to King Aelfred of Wessex, most of the important Viking characters are not missing from the game!
I’ve also enjoyed how the story was done.
This is the spoiler part, so skip through the rest of this story section to avoid them.

Alright, now that everyone who doesn’t want to get spoiled is gone:
The story is about Eivor, a young Viking trying to become famous together with his/her Brother. They decide to leave their hometown and travel to England where they want to make their name well-known. They do this by forging all sorts of alliances. This is where Eivor comes into play, because you as protagonist have to forge these alliances. This is done by travelling to a certain area and following a short story to get the leader of the area on your side.
The Assassin’s also make a return in the game, but they are still named “The Hidden Ones”.
I appreciated that they made a return, as well as the hidden blade, but I thought their story was a bit bland. They tried to mix the two stories together, but because of this it feels less like you’re trying to join the Assassin’s and more like you’re using them to get famous, which is definitely not something they would accept.

Controls

Like I mentioned in my first impression, the combat feels a bit hack and slash. I suspected that by unlocking skills this would be less, and that is the case. With skills unlocked the combat is much more enjoyable and fun, and you’ll find yourself often enough stomping an enemy on the head when he falls over or beheading an enemy because you could do a stun attack.

The controls feel good and the game plays nice, it’s not too slow, but also not too fast, movement is great and the free run has some great animations in it again.
Stealth gameplay can feel awkward sometimes, because an enemy will do something weird and then all of a sudden see you because they turned around because of an issue with their animations. This could also just be me blaming the game for my bad skills.
Other than that, playing with the hidden blade is super satisfying and the game has some brute kill animations. The quick time events to one-hit kill an enemy with the hidden blade also makes one-hitting enemies slightly more rewarding.

But what do I think?

I’ve mostly enjoyed this game, it lived up to my expectations and is another great title to the franchise. Despite the franchise getting a lot of critique, it looks like most people have really enjoyed Valhalla as well. The gameplay loop was fun, and Ubisoft have done a great job in finding a balance between the game being an RPG and not having to grind too much.

The return of the hidden blade is easily my favourite feature of this game as well as having a boat to roam through the English rivers. The world looks stunning and immersive, you actually feel like you’re in England while playing for a while.

Dómr (verdict)

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is another great addition to the franchise. With some minor flaws, like boring side quests, and somewhat unsatisfying combat, the game totally lives up to its expectations. With a beautiful and immersive recreation of post-Roman England and a super great Viking story, this is definitely a game you want to pick up if you like open-world games.

The return of the hidden blade is easily one of its best features and makes for rewarding and satisfying stealth gameplay. If you want to put tens of hours into a great open-world game with a lot of stuff to do, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is definitely worth picking up.

Therefor, I give this game a 4 out of 5.

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