Assassin's Creed Valhalla Reviews

  • PoozeyPoozey396,217
    08 Feb 2021
    13 1 3
    Ethics Note: I played over 100 hours of the game on an Xbox Series X. I popped 47 of 50 achievements.

    Assassins Creed Valhalla is Chocolate Cake: The Game. Chocolate cake looks great, tastes great and it feels great to eat but if you have too much of it, you never want chocolate cake again. Also, the cake is full of bugs. I probably won’t play Assassins Creed: Valhalla again despite the fact that I absolutely love it. Valhalla tells a compelling story during one of the most tumultuous periods of history and is set in a truly beautiful world. It is also seriously, insanely long, maybe too long. If you can put up with the bugs, there is a fantastic journey to enjoy in Valhalla.

    Valhalla tells the story of Eivor, who you can play as a male or female, a senior ranking Viking who decides to splinter off from the politics of Norway and take part in an invasion against the Anglo-Saxons in England. As with previous entries in the series, there is also a modern storyline taking place that relates to the historical tale. Better efforts than previous installments have been made to tie the historical and the present and the story is very engaging. There are influences from Game of Thrones and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in the way that Valhalla deals with political machinations. Politics is more of a feature of the story and choices than previous games. Eivor is a very likable protagonist, and the performances from both the voice actors are overly theatrical at times for comedic effect but can be hauntingly somber when needed.

    The core gameplay is classic Assassins Creed. The one-hit kill hidden blade makes a welcome turn, but it isn’t exactly a one-hit kill. Stronger enemies require a quick time event completion to pull off the kill. Combat is very satisfying and appropriately brutal for the level of proficiency in Viking combat. This is easily the most violent game in the series, but the violence is fitting for what was a dark period in history. Stealth plays a massive role as usual but Eivor is perfectly capable of dealing with the fight when you are discovered. Once again you have the aid of a bird that can fly about and provide information on the layout of the land and enemies. If you have played any of the other recent RPG games in the series, you will feel right at home playing Valhalla.

    The wider activities in Valhalla are initially very enjoyable. It is a very Ubisoft world where you have their standard massive map filled with icons. You might have to lift a curse or collect an artifact. There are platforming puzzles and a rock stacking minigame that is very charming. These activities become a victim of the game’s monstrous length however, I loved the rock stacking game for the first five or so instances but by the time you are onto the final ones in the game I absolutely hated it. They get very, very difficult and there are so many. The game's length works against the quality of the content and it simply becomes too much of a good thing like having way too much icing. This is a real problem if you suffer from a completionist mindset. Side quests have had a makeover in this installment, you are presented with a short mystery or encounter. The solution will not be marked on the map, so you need to pay attention. It is a very refreshing and engaging, digestible way to approach the usual tsunami of side content that is handed to you in these games.

    Visually, Valhalla is gorgeous. Playing on a Series X in performance mode, the game runs beautifully and holds the 60fps target very well. Foliage, water effects, and sunlight have never looked better in the history of the series. I am very excited to see what Ubisoft can achieve as they become more familiar with the hardware available. The level of detail presented given this size of the game is very impressive. One noticeable weak part of the presentation is lip-syncing, it isn’t terrible by any stretch but doesn’t really hold up with the rest of the game. Audio is superb, with great performances across the game, and accents seem suited to the setting of the game. The score is always perfectly matched to what is happening on the screen and never feels over the top or intrusive.

    Valhalla’s biggest issue by far is the plethora of bugs that the game is riddled with. There were multiple instances of main quest progress being stalled by a bug necessitating a reload. Crashes occurred and even the game failing to load past the initial developer screen. Weird audio bugs are present throughout the game. Recurring background sounds can become stuck on a loop which requires a reload to fix. Plenty of weird clipping glitches. One infamous glitch where movable crates become stuck has only just been fixed 3 months after launch. Obviously, many of these issues should have been ironed out by now compared to when I finished the game, but this was my experience.

    Bugs and the games monstrous length aside, Assassins Creed Valhalla is a great time. With a charming protagonist, incredible setting, and excellent gameplay, fans of the series will love what is on offer here. I will not complain if we get a slightly smaller cake next time, delicious though as it may be.
    Showing all 3 comments.
    This is a much more objective review by comparison. Thanks. I also like Valhalla a lot but it is flawed, though the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion.
    Posted on 13 Feb 21 at 00:27
    thomaskoratFor me, the biggest issue is "too easy combat on maximum difficulty, except the bosses".
    Posted by thomaskorat on 16 Jul 21 at 15:19
    MattricusI am inclined to agree with the main parts of the review too. I have always been an AC fan however I was left a bit disappointed by the world itself... it seemed very rushed and uninspired (lots of copy and pasting evident). I would give it maybe 3.5 stars for this reason, but I agree the story is great and the gameplay is excellent.
    Posted by Mattricus on 14 Aug 21 at 21:27
  • JessikaShoJessikaSho218,600
    13 Nov 2020 13 Nov 2020
    37 88 33
    Let me start things off by saying that I have REALLY enjoyed the whole Assassin’s Creed series. Like, a lot. I ADORED Odyssey. Even a good portion of the die-hard fanbase has their qualms with either 3, Unity, or both, but I finished those and didn’t dislike them at all despite their flaws. Valhalla however, is quite possibly the worst game I’ve played since the gamecube days and it’s quality of life features make it feel an additional decade older than that.

    Ubisoft was onto something beautiful with Origins in 2017. The world felt alive and the shift to action RPG was unexpected but definitely not unwelcome, quite the opposite. Sure it didn’t have the meticulous planning and precision elimination of each target like the Ezio trilogy, but the mechanics were tight and the game was fun while keeping the assassin vibe. Odyssey took this new gameplay loop and perfected it.

    Both these games featured vast maps riddled with collectibles that could be located reliably by the player’s eagle companion who could also tag enemies in the surrounding area allowing you to plan your own path to completing the location. It was very rewarding to clear a fort without being spotted and equally rewarding to go in swords swinging and have to kill a few powerful enemies in the middle of the scuffle.

    Valhalla has a bird too. It flies, and it says caw. That’s the extent of its abilities. It can’t find collectible locations. Collectibles only show up on the map as little gold dots and they’re placed helter-skelter throughout England and/or Norway. One of these countries is a boring field with nothing in it and the other is a boring field with snow in it. Regardless of locale, when you reach the rough area where the dot is, everything comes to a halt as you use your ‘eagle vision’ which was honestly implemented way better in ACII [over a decade ago] to get a rough idea of where the chest is then spend upwards of five minutes literally “f– around and finding out”. Chests are always behind a locked door or underground or whatnot and your left to tediously scour every square centimeter of a 100 meter radius to try and find some incredibly easy to miss key/hole/stairway/breakable wall [which you can honestly bare tell are breakable] or whatnot. When you open the chest all it typically has is materials for your gear, but once you’ve hit the soft cap on your current set, everything else you find is essentially useless and the upgradability of gear in the game is severely underwhelming. You can only make a few enhancements before you need materials from higher level areas and you’re only collecting chests for a metaphorical pat on the back. Sometimes the chest has 'supplies' for the settlement, but that’s even more of a waste because you’re likely sitting on a surplus of it just waiting to get more ‘raw materials’ which can only be obtained by raiding monasteries.

    The gear system itself is so dumbed down from Odyssey that it's not even relevant. There's only a few sets of gear in the game and none of it is particularly interesting. The set bonuses and runes fail to provide any meaningful gameplay changes and really only serve to pay homage to the much better systems from the previous two games.

    Enemies can’t be tagged by the raven and the perimeters of restricted areas are very convoluted. You never know if you’ve cleared a place out or not, but chances are you didn’t. The enemies just keep coming. There are way too many enemies for a game with such clunky combat that completely lacks the fluidity of it’s two predecessors and really only boils down to stabbing things repeatedly until they die. Well, it sometimes works like that. Eivor can’t grasp the concept of stepping into an attack so you have to move within hugging distance of your enemy, set your feet, and then stab which is definitely at odds with the pacing of combat. If you have to dodge first, you might want to do the whole get close and set your feet thing three or four times just to be safe. Or if you’re underpowered for the area, combat consists of getting hurtled through the air like a shotput and spending the next five minutes trying to get whatever threw you to stop chasing you.

    The abilities that made Odyssey so engaging are sort of back, but they feel like an afterthought not really being overly helpful and also being acquired by finding books for them in the world (more dull and frustrating treasure hunts) instead of the skill tree. Instead the skill tree in Valhalla is needlessly cumbersome with hundreds of ‘nodes’ and only a few passive skills buried in all the minuscule stat changes that would’ve been much better suited happening automatically through leveling up like a typical RPG made this century. For the most part, the passive skills themselves are mostly just things we should have had from the start anyway, like auto looting.

    The looting in this game is abysmal. You can’t loot anything unless you can physically see the button prompt to do so, but there are so many tight spaces that cause the camera to be blocked from that button prompt. They also brought back the flying papers collectible type from III and Black Flag and it’s even more dreadful now than it was then. In order to properly perform the series signature parkour maneuvers [which again are a downgrade from where they were a decade ago] you have to hold A [X] while running and while holding that, pressing Y [∆] to pick up the papers mid run. Gripping the controller while doing this is awkward to say the least. If you get all the way to the end of the rather long chase of the papers, keeping them in sight, they will linger for a little bit, but literally every other function of the button is prioritized over picking up the collectible. This includes hold prompts like carry corpses, which will also make it nearly impossible to pick at the one body on the stack that has loot.

    There were many memorable side quests in Origins and Odyssey, but Valhalla essentially has none. None that you can track anyway. You come across ‘mysteries’ which show on the map as random green dots that are equally as unexciting as the gold ones for the chests and more often than not it’s an npc with a vaguely quest-like proposition with a completely asinine premise. Actual quests in the game:

    1. Help an old guy throw all his belongings off a cliff then watch him kill himself
    2. Listen to a guy complain and then tell him he has an axe in his head
    3. Convince to people to fight and then burn their houses down to convince them to stop.

    This list stops at three, but I could go all the way to twenty three and I’ve only seen the first two areas. Maybe one of these got a chuckle, but mostly they just left me asking "why?". Almost every npc in the game fails to operate on any recognizable plain of logic and we see them just long enough to wonder whether any actual human beings were involved with the writing in this game and then they disappear forever. The writing for the main story isn’t any better. Eivor is the most uninteresting protagonist that I can remember for the series and the supporting cast lacks humanity as well. Adding insult to injury, your adoptive brother’s wife is also just a shameless recoloring of Kassandra from Odyssey. For the first time in the series, I care way more about what’s happening in present day than I do about what’s going on in the animus, but even Shaun and Rebecca lack the personality they had in the games with Desmond.

    I cannot honestly remember the last time I picked up something so uninspired and unmoving. I played for about 20 hours, but I only pushed through that on the wings of being mesmerized by just how badly the developers destroyed a working formula. I wish I could sit here and point to something in the game and be like ‘that! That was satisfying!’ but there’s really nothing worth noting. Origins was really really good. Odyssey was absolutely fantastic and probably in my top 3 games of the Xbox One/PS4 generation. Valhalla is...just not worth playing. Even if I had waited and picked this up on sale for $20 I’d still regret it. Did you know that ‘norse’ is an anagram of ‘snore’?