- Game: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Consoles: Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), PS5, PS4, PC
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- A copy of the game was provided by the publisher.
- This review is still in progress.
In what will likely end up being the swan song for Assassin’s Creed titles on the current generation of consoles, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla sends the series out on this platform on a very high note, if you’re a fan of the direction the games have been going in since Origins that is.
Now more of a game that’ll be compared to The Witcher 3 versus Assassin’s Creed 2, Valhalla takes us to an England that is being invaded by Vikings from Norway. You step into the shoes of Eivor, leader of the Raven Clan, as you leave your old home and its king in an effort to find somewhere you and your people can feel at home.
What entails is you going to the new land, making new friends (and several enemies) and just fulfilling your Viking fantasies. To be clear, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is different from any of the previous AC titles you’ve played, including Odyssey – and that’s not a bad thing.
Things Get Bloody Fast
You’ll start this game off without having any of the assassination abilities that you’ve been accustomed to over the years, and instead, you’ll have to tackle situations head-on.
The combat in Valhalla is definitely one of the bright spots and you can tell Ubisoft spent a lot of time making it feel good. There are several weapons to choose from between flails, spears, axes, dual wielding and bows so you’re bound to find something that suits your playstyle. It’s nothing that will be ground-breaking, but I’d say it’s the best combat has felt in the AC series to date.
Don’t be surprised to see lots of bloody finishing moves and body parts flying across the battlefield either as you raid areas with your team. While we’re on the topic of raids, let’s talk about how much of a game-changer this new feature is.
Instead of sneaking around outposts by yourself and grabbing the loot, Valhalla has overhauled that and introduced raids.
These special events will see you and a longship full of Vikings storm a location as you wipe the enemies out and take all the loot for yourself. You’ll frequently find chests or doors that’ll Eivor will need assistance with opening, so you’ll have to call for one of your raiding buddies for help, which helps the whole experience feel more lively.
The end result is gear and supplies to upgrade your settlement and it’s easily one of the standout parts of the game.
Another cool change made in Valhalla is that your gear is static, meaning you’ll just have to upgrade your armor and weapons once you get them instead of hoping for better versions to drop.
Gone are the days of just dismantling all of your gear, which helps you spend less time in menus and more in the actual game.
Embrace the RPG
Another feature that helps Valhalla stand apart from previous titles is actually something that makes a return from the earlier games. Having a living, upgradable settlement is something that actually makes all of the progress you make feel like you’re going somewhere.
After a raid, you can come back to the settlement and create new buildings that will be used for upgrades like getting a speedier mount, or a food hall that’ll give you a buff. The cool thing is you can upgrade and build things in whatever order you’d like, so you can definitely suit it all to your playstyle.
Speaking of playstyles, Valhalla has a very large skill tree that allows you to build your character in whatever way you’d like. However, there are some caveats and it’s that although Ubisoft brought back a lot of stealth options like social blending, it doesn’t really seem to mean a whole lot.
You can spec strictly into assassination and stealth, but you’ll find that even if you do sneak up on some powerful enemies, you won’t even be able to take them out with a single stab unless you get a particular ability that I didn’t even come across until 140 Power.
It’s frustrating for players who want to play Valhalla like Assassin’s Creed games of old, but that’s just not what the series is anymore. It’s nice to see Ubisoft at least try to appeal to longtime players, but it ultimately falls flat. On the bright side, this game does have more tie-ins to The Hidden Ones than Odyssey did.
This is a Looooooooooong Game
If you thought Odyssey felt bloated, which was one of the common complaints that game had, then you’re likely not going to have your mind changed by Valhalla.
Quests are a lot more streamlined in the 2020 title, but there are still a lot of them, and even if you stick to just the main story, you’re still looking at easily 50+ hours of playtime here.
If you’re a completionist, then you shouldn’t be surprised to see yourself cracking the 100-hour mark with still plenty of things to do. That’s not even counting the content that’ll be released post-launch either.
The basic gameplay loop is pledging yourself to a territory which will give you a quest chain that culminates in the storming of a castle, and then you repeat it again for each area on the map.
It’s a nice concept the first few times, but I found myself getting pretty bored after the while, despite having hours upon hours of story left to do.
Despite my issues with the length and the difficulty of trying to play stealthy, I enjoy Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. No, it’s not a game I could ever see myself replaying again in the future because of how long it is, but I’ll definitely be interested in seeing any of the new story content it gets in the future.
It does fizzle out if you try to power through it in a matter of days and looking back at it, this does feel more like a game that you’d want to play over the course of several weeks instead of just rushing through it, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do as I near the end.
There are many things to see in this game that you’ll miss out on if you plow through it, so try to take some time to explore this beautiful game. Whether you’re on current-gen or next-gen, there’s a lot to love here. I will say that playing it on the Xbox Series X after spending time on the Xbox One X, the difference is just night and day from 30 FPS to 60.
If this ends up being the last Assassin’s Creed title to release for Xbox One and PS4, then what a swan song it is. If only it was a tad shorter.