Assassins Creed Valhalla had me incredibly excited by it's huge prospect of being able to raid England as Vikings. This was enhance when fans where shown the in-game map of England to see how much of it we would be able to navigate our journey through, showing the majority of it being included. Now after over 100 hours of gameplay and completing the game in its entirety I thought I would share my thoughts about the latest Assassins Creed entry, covering all of the good, the bad and the ugly to help you decide whether it is a game worth your money. To be clear, this is not a review of the game, but is a good coverage of how I thought the game played out from beginning to end. This article does not include any Late story heavy spoilers, but will give early story spoilers and light spoilers in the way of locations, armour and weapons.
The first point to cover is our protagonist Eivor. You can chose whether Eivor is male, female or even let the animus in game change your character gender to match the scenario. This is because the strand of DNA being used to generate the memories is so corrupted that it is not clear whether Eivor was a man or a women. I chose to play as Eivor as a women, so in this article that is how I will address this character. Eivor is a powerful and intelligent Viking, that is open to understanding. Instead of simply just killing a person for not following the same belief pattern as her, she choses to understand her peers/foes. Although, insult or disrespect her and Eivor will quickly wedge a weapon right through your gut within seconds. Her temper can be quick to envoke and as the Vikings were known for, will result in your untimely death. What's most engaging about this character is that as a protagonist of an Assassins Creed game, she isn't very much like any Assassin that we've had the joy of playing as before. Stealth in Assassins Creed Valhalla, in my opinions is at it's weakest. Eivor doesn't have many traits to help her navigate through enemies with stealth. Most noticably from other stealth games, there is no way to split up groups of people with distractions to be able to take enemies down one by one. Additionally, once an enemy starts to detect her it's way too quick before it you go full Viking and begin a bloody brutal battle cutting off peoples limbs as you tear through an enemy camp. On the face of things, this exactly matches the stylisation of Vikings. They were known for their brutal upfront fighting, and not very well known for using stealth. I usually opt for a more stealthy approach in games, and am quite good at it. Although I'd say that Assassins Creed Valhalla makes this ALOT harder to do. Eivor never really truly adopts the assassins techniques, minus the hidden blade on her wrist. I feel like Ubisoft tried to help the stealth mechanics, by re-introducing hiding among the people and religious bodies to get past guards un-noticed, but these moments where not as obvious to find, resulting in you usually just chopping the guards up to enter a restricted zone.
England is a beautiful place, full of ruins, fields of crops, animals and Saxons. Ubisoft has made a beautiful playground for players to experience, which gives an entirely different visual pallet to what we found in Origins and Odyssey. England is a colder country than both of the previous entries, meaning we now have to wade through snowy areas, rain soaked lands, swamps and so much more. In my opinion, England is the perfect ratio of size and content. In Odyssey, the map was massive and vast, although there wasn't much to do in it. where-as in Valhalla, the land is a lot more contained than Odyssey but has way more to do in it, which is something I preferred. Although, by not using a more realistic scale of England, there are a lot of key historic places which are missing, but the key things you'd expect are there. In England, there are all kinds of keeps and castles that Eivor is able to loot, most note worthy are raids. When you find yourself in a land that has crossed weapons on the map, or is highlighted with a yellow circle whilst on your boat, you will have the option to begin a raid on this area. Eivor will jump out the boat with her band of Viking familiars met on your journey, and begin to attack the area. Vikings will throw fire at thatched roof houses to burn these down, smash boxes to steal loot, and attack the local guards. This is pretty accurate to what Vikings actually did during the Saxon Raids. Although one little thing that frustrated me about these raids is the fact that if you kill a civilian you get a warning that will eventually reload your last save if you do it too much. Vikings, where extremely brutal, if you got in the way of their raid, they would either kill you, or kidnap you to sell you as a slave. I feel, that Ubisoft adding this mechanic, contradicted entirely the ethos of the reason you are there.
Next I want to discuss the story and the Assassins of this entry. Assassins Creed has so many stories that occur within it. You've got the 'Future story' which is continuing the journey of Layla Hassan helping the Assassins Order. You've got Eivor's Story for the domination of England and you have the Assassins Story which is the bringing down of the 'Order of the Ancients', known as the Templars in more modern times. Assassins Creed Valhalla does move the over-all story forwards, but my frustration with it, is how slowly it does it. To be honest, the Assassins story is delivered mostly around texts found in old Hidden Ones ruins, and finally, small part of the story is covered at the very end. Eivors own story to dominate England is boring, if i'm honest. Although the game is really fun to play, Eivor simply travels from state to state, does a few tasks for a leader and then allies with them. There are a few twists and turns, but it never really tells a story, in a really engaging way like some of the older games. The future story is probably the one takes the biggest move in this game, but I warn you it only serves to make it way more confusing and raises more questions opposed to answering ones that were set in previous games. What is nice though, is that in really subtle ways Assassins Creed Valhalla does link up to the older Assassins Creed games. Although, whoever wrote the lore of this game did make a mistake that I noticed when playing. Based on everything that happening in Valhalla, and according to some logs you get, the events of this game take place around 750 BCE. During the events of the story in this game, you meet a young Assassin called Hytham, (not pirate templar Hytham). Now if you leave the Animus, and real a log on a wall, you can find a passage that suggests Hytham is the assassins that set up the first official Assassins order (evolving it from 'The Hidden Ones') in 420 BCE. This means that Hytham is nearly 330 years old. Its a little mistake that most people will miss, but it causes confusion to the timeline for those who are big fans of the series, like myself.
Assassins Creed Valhalla's side stories are the strongest that the series has ever delivered. Previously in the games you would wonder around, find person asking for help, and then do a boring task for them, which usually involves going 100 miles away to kill a boar and return. In Assassins Creed Valhalla, you find blue wisps on your map, if you follow these you'll find an event to get involved in. These events are usually quite funny, but involve you solving a unique puzzle to complete it. For example, I came across two Vikings claiming to be sons of Ragnar Lothbrook. These two Vikings wanted to practise raiding, so asked Eivor to set their house on fire, with the intention that they would run in and save all the important things in their home. Once you do this though, they are unable to open the door, and tell you that the last remains of their mothers Axe is contained within. You have to find a way into the building to find the axe, although once you get in there and have searched for a while, you hear the two "sons" outside, state they found the axe outside, throwing you into danger for no reason. The interaction with Eivor and these two sons is extremely funny and is one of many great experiences to come across. Additionally, in this entry there are loads of interactive activities that you can do to pass time. Such as fishing, playing an addictive dice game called Orlog and playing drinking games at the local long house. Each of these serve as a change of pace, allowing you to take extremely warrior centric battle activities to tranquil resting as you catch large fish at a rivers side. I will add that everyone should experience Orlog, as it is a really fun and addictive dice game. My only complaint is that I cant play against my friends, as me and Jordan have had many of a debate about who would win in a game between us. Seriously, Orlog is just as fun as games such like Gwent from the Witcher series.
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