Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the latest adventure in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Always reinventing itself, the latest entry in the series yet again deviates even further from what made the original titles unique. That being said, Valhalla feels a bit more focused than the previous two entries in the series.
While Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey were fun titles, the connection to the feud between the Assassin’s and the Templars was a bit underwhelming. Although it’s still not the focus of the franchise in Valhalla, this slight improvement, along with other major overhauls, has made Assassin’s Creed Valhalla one of the best in the series.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Details
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Stadia, Amazon Luna and PC
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X|S
Developer(s): Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Action-role playing
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Setting Sail for England
In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla you play as Eivor, a fierce Viking raider, who is bound to blood rather than the land. The game takes you to a dynamic and beautiful open world set against the brutal backdrop of England’s Dark Ages. Norway is becoming a crowded place for many of the Viking clans and the constant feuds and shed blood is further destroying the region.
One king looks to unite all of Norway under one banner and with little left for Eivor’s friend, and would be future King, Sigurd, they set off for England to begin a new life. The story in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla might not be the most unique or intriguing, but it serves the goal of getting our protagonist out of Norway and onto the rolling hills of England where the real fun begins.
Eivor, alongside Sigurd, builds up the Raven clan’s settlement in England while completing various tasks around the country. From finding treasures, to raiding settlements, to removing burdensome kings from thrones, there is plenty to do that drives the fate of the Raven clan forward. Of course, there is an underlying story thread that will keep players engaged. Who is Eivor and why does he see visions of Odin? Through various story chapters, Eivor travels to Asgard and unravels more of the mystery around himself, Sigurd, and others.
Continuing the Assassin’s Creed Revival
When comparing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to the early titles in the franchise, there is a night and day difference. However, when comparing Valhalla to Origins and Odyssey, the changes are a bit more subtle. The continued focus on RPG elements remains, with upgradeable weapons and armour, skills trees, and more. Although, everything has been slightly tweaked, mostly for the better.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes to gameplay has to deal with loot within the game. In the past two titles, weapons could be looted from most enemies. As a result, your inventory often was cluttered with low-level spears, swords, and bows. Thankfully, looting weapons off enemies is completely gone in Valhalla. It has been replaced by weapons and armour treasure chests scattered around England.
Eivor can collect these treasures and add the loot to his supply of weapons and armour. Each armour item is specific to a type of animal—bear armour, raven armour, wolf armour, etc. This is important when spending skill points as specific upgrades provide boosts to certain armour and weapon types. As a result, choosing which set to wear and which upgrades to invest in, has game play consequences.
Quality of life improvements to gameplay
In the inventory menu, armour and weapons can be upgraded to increase various attributes. You can also take advantage of the settlement blacksmith to enhance armour and weapons even further. This focused approach to weapons and armour is a major improvement over past systems and declutters the inventory screen menu making for, what I think, a better overall experience.
Another system overhauled for Valhalla comes with mixed results. New abilities are now mostly tied to other treasure types around England. Specific books can be found that will teach you new abilities in combat. However, since these books are spread around England, so many amazing abilities will be completely missed. Many gamers will not know what they are until books are obtained. And, with such a massive game to explore, it’s more than likely players will miss obtaining a few of these books, and therefore, abilities.
Not all changes to gameplay have positive results
Spending skill points in the skill tree has taken a major step backwards. In previous Assassin’s Creed titles, there was a logical sense of progression through the skill tree. Future abilities could be seen before being purchased, allowing for a better use of skill points. Unfortunately, that is not the case in Valhalla. The skill tree has been replaced with constellations, all of which are hidden.
This means, when you get to the “end” of one constellation, another will appear. While it is great for the excitement of progression, it isn’t so helpful when attempting to find the perks and upgrades that will benefit you most. Although you can reset all your skill points at any point during the game and reassign them, it is not something I want to do because of poor game design.
There are more positive changes to gameplay than negative
Although some of the gameplay changes are questionable, the majority are positive. For example, the new weapons system is quite possibly the best overhaul in recent years. And, the inclusion of the Settlement, is positively the best brand new addition. Another new feature in Valhalla is the ability to command a group of warriors and go raiding around Europe. Performing these raids nets you resources that can be used to build up your settlement, which plays a huge role in character progression.
The point of leaving Norway for England is to establish a new colony and a new way of life for the Raven clan and Ubisoft goes all in with the Settlement. You can build barracks for your Norse warriors, a blacksmith to upgrade your gear and so much more. It is a nice, useful distraction from the main story and is a major reason for my time spent in the game.
Great visuals, fast load times along with some bugs
A hallmark of Assassin’s Creed titles has been how they look, and like previous entries in the series, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is absolutely stunning, especially in 4K on next generation consoles. I found that the loads times have been drastically reduced and thus kept me more engaged with the game.
However, fantastic graphics and load times cannot Valhalla escape from the biggest issue—performance. Recently, the game’s first post launch update was released. A new option added for next-generation consoles was a performance and visual fidelity mode. Performance aims for 60fps, while the other favours resolution. Additionally, the screen tearing that I encountered on Xbox Series X is all but gone.
Though I still come across NPCs stuck running in tight circles, canoes floating in mid-air above rivers, item prompts not registering and so on. I’m sure over time these bugs will be ironed out, but I experienced these while playing and reviewing the game.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is one of the best games in the series
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has seen a great amount of additions and tweaks to gameplay. While I have highlighted the major gameplay changes, there are even more that help make this game one of the best in the series. The inclusion of settlements, the overhauled loot system and a much more focused and less cluttered quest menu puts Assassin’s Creed Valhalla right at the top with the best Assassin’s Creed games ever.
With that being said, the random bugs and glitches can be annoying at times. Thankfully, they never really took away from my overall enjoyment of the game. In the end, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is one of, if not the best games in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. If you are a fan of the series, you will not want to miss this game.
+ Overhauled loot menu makes things more manageable
+ Inclusion of Settlements is a welcome addition
+ Streamlined Quest menus make keeping track more manageable and focused
+ Beautiful 4K graphics
– Performance issues
– Controls can be a bit cumbersome at times
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 4.1/5 (82%)
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