Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Review)


INTRODUCTION

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the latest main entry in the Assassin’s Creed series.  However, as its trailers and early gameplay so aptly demonstrate, it seems to not really notice there’s the word “assassin” in the title.


GAMEPLAY

…you are going to do a lot of brutal killing…

We normally associate the word “assassin” with finesse: a precise kill targeting a precise victim for maximum effect.  But that’s not here: instead you are going to do a lot of brutal killing, and the game knows this and will remind you you’re not an assassin.  In fact, by the time you’re done with the game, you’ll have murdered a small army.  A complete lack of finesse and precision, then.  The good news is that combat is competently visceral, and though it can feel a little wonky at times, it works like it should.  If you insist on going stealth, it’s there, but you’ll find it clearly takes a back seat to brutally murdering everything in your way.  Despite all this talk about combat, though, the real star of the show isn’t the combat at all.  No, it’s the way in which you form alliances with every shire.  You should know Eivor is THE hardest working game character in the history of videogames.  The work you put into making these alliances happen not only presents you with such a variety of character development (Ivarr is particularly a standout) but is filled with its little surprises.  And then the game itself surprises you with variety.  I fought with mythical creatures, did platforming over digital objects, and even got into Dark Souls-like fights.  And I don’t dare cover it all because I’d rather not spoil the adventure… at least not more than I already have.


CONTENT

…this is a properly completed and whole game…

Not only will you play as the hardest working character ever, but you’ll also do it for a long time, too.  I kid you not, this is a properly complete and whole game spanning at least 50 hours.  And even after you finish the main mission, there’s the endgame for you to grind out with the The Order and one final push into the last standing territory.  And while all this content is primarily in the Animus, thus leaving the real modern-day story progression paltry and paper thin, you almost won’t care.  That’s not because it’s the usual open-world map for Ubisoft, either: the world is less cluttered.  This intelligent move exercises “less is more” and makes the world feel easier to navigate despite its size, and not loaded with in-your-face things to do.  They even reduced gear clutter to better effect compared to Odyssey.  I rarely say this, but I’m impressed.


PRESENTATION

…once again a last-gen-dialed-up-to-11 showing.

As a cross-gen title, this is where I don’t have the kindest things to say.  Yes, it’s a good-looking game because its budget pretty much says it would be.  But it’s a last-gen-upgraded good-looking game complete with funny glitches and ridiculously poor draw distance issues.  Granted, they clearly targeted greater performance on current gen consoles: my Xbox One X was absolutely struggling with nasty screen tearing and the framerate is often below 30fps.  Sadly, the Xbox Series X also has screen tearing due to falling below 60fps regularly, but this target massively smooths out the gameplay regardless of its poor current gen performance, though this becomes a non-issue with a VRR display (which most of us don’t have).  The last gen underpinnings do also pervade to general dialogue animations being stiff and robotic, so while the world itself is pretty from a static standpoint, this is once again a last-gen-dialed-up-to-11 showing.  Bummer.


CONCLUSION

…it gives you an excuse to turn your console on day-after-day…

If you secured yourself a current gen console, this is one of the games you should definitely buy.  That is mostly because it gives you an excuse to turn your console on day-after-day for potentially weeks of content to play.  It’s an impressive feat to say the words “complete game” in a modern game review, but this is more than!  It just faulters in its own identity: it recognizes you are not an assassin which takes away a bit of what made this franchise so unique.  And then its higher framerates but overall poor current gen performance make for a bit of a weak opening show.  Still, I can’t deny that was a truly adventure-filled 50+ hours I’ve put into it.

I give Assassin’s Creed Valhalla…

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