Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla | AIM Video Game Review

Ubisoft lets us play as a pirate, a literal Renaissance man, and now a Viking. The only awesome protagonist left is a samurai. But does it live up to the hype?

Gameplay

Assassin’s Creed® Valhalla

A new inclusion into this installment involves using pulleys and shooting through windows in order to either create a new passage way or open a door. It was difficult to adhere to this new change.

There are many call-backs to the previous installments, such as the boom every time you assassinate a target from the pre-III games, and the use of double assassination with Bayek from Origins. In fact, I can definitely see Bayek and Eivor tag-teaming in a hypothetical match. I will say that there is a massive improvement which is the ability to throw back a projectile back at the enemy, or any weapons of dead enemies lying about. This definitely saved me in any battle.

What definitely makes the gameplay an improvement to Odyssey is that the game does not level as you do. What ultimately made me not play Odyssey anymore, and never having interest to go back despite the expansive world of Ancient Greece, is the fact that no matter how much stronger I got, even a boar could desynchronize me. I never had to worry about that in Valhalla. In fact, whenever I had to face a particular enemy which required a change in the armor sets–such as using the Huntsman set for fighting legendary beasts–the fighting felt natural. However, a major gripe that I have is that I had to manually enable all of the armors one at a time, which was quite frustrating.

I was hoping to hear more of the shanties as I sailed on the knarr through the rivers of England. However, I found that I used it a lot less than I had hoped. I only seemed to use it either for missions or for raids, in which case the latter does provide you with the option to choose whether to go into an encampment either in old-fashioned AC stealth style or to engage in an all-out Viking raid.

I will say that the open world feels compact, since there are many options to level up, either through Legends or the Cursed Object side-quests. There is always some part of the kingdoms that have yet to be discovered, even after the official completion of the game. However, there were plenty of moments when I was doing a Legends side-quest and was completely lost because I could not capture anything in the green highlights within the eagle vision.

Graphics

Assassin’s Creed® Valhalla

This has definitely have to be among the worst graphics in any Assassin’s Creed games, which is a shame since it could not even compete with the previous titles. Maybe the older games had clunkier graphics, but at least they were a feature of the time. I say this because there are so many lags and bugs. And the game always shuts me out whenever I move during an autosave or I buy an item from Yanli. I would have been alright with Valhalla being released in 2022 with cleaner graphics. I could be wrong because I played the PS4 edition. I cannot say whether the PS5 version is any better.

Instead of King Alfred looking like the robust machiavel the commercials portray him as, he appears less regal and more of a peasant. In fact, the other characters constantly call him the elf-king, and it most certainly has to do with his appearance.

I will say, however, that the most notable positive graphics would definitely have to be the Roman ruins scattered throughout England. There is an eerie beauty to them, since the moss grows on them and the Saxons and Norse still live in them even after the Romans left. One of the characters mentioned how ruins are a testament, and indeed they definitely tell the story of the Roman giants who built them. It definitely recalled memories of the Italian city-states of the Ezio Auditore trilogy, the first Assassin’s Creed series, and the Mayan ruins of Black Flag.

Characters

Assassin’s Creed® Valhalla

Like in Odyssey, you get to choose whether the protagonist is male or female, and along the way, you meet many unique characters as a king-maker. Either they become kings or they rulers over a principality. There is the two men from Lunden, who are clearly a couple who keep it very low-key but you can tell. I definitely think that the bantering and the empathy between them is definitely what makes a relationship like this realistic without anything schlocky and just downright cynical. In a series that attempts to make all the dialogue snappy, it was refreshing to hear dialogue that is down-to-earth and natural.

However, as for the modern-day plotline, I was expecting Layla to be driven mad, especially following Fall of Atlantis. However, the only signs of that are her constant medication and her obsession with the Staff. It did not affect her friendship with Rebecca and Shaun, and they even seem intent on enabling her obsession. There was no humanity in her in this installment, but there was when she was constantly going in the Animus, being fascinated by the historical characters to whom she is not even related.

Plot

Assassin’s Creed® Valhalla

The story involves Eivor and his brother Sigurd who are involved in a clan war in Denmark, which leads them to migrate to England and make a settlement. And, as expected with a pre-Altair timeline installment, the Hidden Ones and the Order are involved.

I used to think that the dialogue choice was pointless, however I have given it much thought during the writing of this review and realized that there are some points of history which confuses us and does not give us accurate answers, either because of lack of archaeological evidence or conflicting accounts by biased sources. This is especially relevant to the actual historical figures in the series whose fates and deaths are unknown. I can’t say for certain whether this played out in Valhalla, though I can definitely see it playing out in this game and in Odyssey.

I did like the part where the indigenous Newfoundland tribe and Eivor started sharing stories, in spite of the fact that they could not understand each other. Though there is the historical inaccuracy of Newfoundland being settled by the Vikings, which actually happened two centuries AFTER Eivor’s time. However, this is the only game that I played that let me play a Viking in Newfoundland. I was ashamed that I could not bring my gear with me even after completing it. I think there is so much potential for this part of the game, which is where Layla and her team are located, that was just lost potential for this installment. It would be one thing if there was a DLC addition connecting this part of the game with Connor Kenway, though it has yet to appear if ever.

As for the humor, I can see that the Ubisoft team has given this title more Sandlerian humor, with constant toilet and sexual humor which can be really irritating.

The ending was definitely making me look forward to the sequel. It made me understand all of the loose knots throughout the series and how the stakes have been raised to a point where a sequel is needed. Normally, I would not care for the modern plot-lines, however, this one was an exception, since everything was coming together and starting to make sense. I also liked how meta the game was when one of the characters has to acknowledge that the Hidden Ones have become known as the Assassins.

Recommend This To…

Assassin’s Creed® Valhalla
  • Those Assassin’s Creed fans who need more explaining about the story thus far. As someone who played the Assassin’s Creed series from Altair onwards, this game has left me most conflicted, since there are elements that I really liked and those I really did not. I will ultimately state that Valhalla is a minor improvement to Odyssey, by a razor-thin margin. If only the graphics were rendered right and more time was spent in development, I would have considered otherwise.
  • Normally to any Viking enthusiast. However, I definitely think that if you are going to play this game purely for the aesthetics, then you will be turned off by the toilet humor and the lagging graphics.

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Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. Ubisoft. 2020.

Image Attribution: Micky Milkyway

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