An honest Assasssin’s Creed Valhalla review: “They think we are barbarians… do not disappoint them!” Well, Assasssin’s Creed Valhalla certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Valhalla fully embraces the Assasssin’s Creed heritage but feels new in a way many of the 12 major releases in the series haven’t.
There’s a level of satisfaction you experience during Valhalla that takes things to a new level. Fanboys and girls will be thrilled at the added sense of reward in this now well-trodden – but heavily expanded – format.
Yet those new to the series can play without being restricted by a lack of knowledge of Assasssin’s Creed games.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Viking raider in the Dark Ages
Set in 873AD, Valhalla tells a fictional story set during the Viking invasions of Britain. You control Eivor, a Viking raider (you can play as a man or woman) who becomes embroiled in the conflict between the Brotherhood Of Assassins and the Templar Order.
Valhalla features a familiar structure of main story missions and optional side-missions. While the main storyline in past Assassin’s Creed games moved linearly through the game world, Valhalla has the player returning to settlements or areas. England opens up as the Vikings learn through reconnaissance or by making contacts.
The catchline for the game – “they think we are barbarians… do not disappoint them!” – doesn’t suggest much room for one of the big elements of all Assasssin’s Creed games – stealth.
It’s not all violence, but often pillage
And while it’s true combat probably plays its biggest role in Assasssin’s Creed to date, not all missions dictate a violent conclusion. Some can be resolved diplomatically, which has an impact on your characters and their political alliances with non-player characters.
I also carried out several successful raids on areas and islands using nothing but stealth. There’s less reliance on the traditional Assasssin’s Creed levelling system here. The focus instead is on selecting skills through skill trees.
In previous Assasssin’s Creed titles I have become frustrated by the clumsy camera, controls and parkour system in and out of combat.
But issues that bugged me previously have been smoothed out sufficiently. Combat no longer feels the grind it has in previous iterations of the series.
Long-time questions for the Assassin’s Creed franchise are finally answered. It gives the series a clear direction that – for me at least – feels long overdue.
Eivor is a brilliant protagonist who has you onside from the outset. The game sets the story out with him/her as a young child watching traumatic events unfold that shape our hero.
Exploration isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Time is precious for many 30-something gamers so while exploring for hours on end is amazing and rewarding, sometimes you just want to pick up and take on the missions.
The beauty of exploration, however, is a bounty of weapons and abilities that make you more powerful. Strategy is key in combat and you’ll feel the benefit of a carefully planned battle using the best and most powerful weapons at your disposal.
Assasssin’s Creed Valhalla review: The pace picks up
Some critics have complained the main story takes too long to get going and becomes a bit boring. I can see where they’re coming from – it rings true in many ways.
But, put the time in and the pace picks up to a more satisfactory speed. By that time you’ll be mastering combat and reaching a level of skill and weaponry that makes progression quicker and easier.
There are a staggering number of things to do in Assasssin’s Creed Valhalla as you explore Dark Age England by land and sea.
I was one of many Assassin’s Creed fans who started to tire of the cut and paste nature of the series from one instalment to the next. Same stuff, different setting.
But as far as I’m concerned this is comfortably the best, most engrossing, engaging, fluid and enjoyable Assassin’s yet. The franchise is pushing the openworld RPG boundaries yet further.
Light in the darkness
The Dark Ages are brought to life in breathtaking and atmospheric style in a wonderfully woven storyline, particularly surrounding the main characters.
The awesome level of detail and sheer expanse coupled with the fact Valhalla runs in 4k at 60fps on PS5 and Xbox Series X makes just watching someone else play an enthralling spectacle of its own.
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