Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Review: Ragnarök and Roll

0
733

Assassin’s Creed as a series has evolved in a way that I truly appreciate, from being an open world stealth game, to an open world RPG game, the direction it has taken since Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Origins, continues to be one of the few reasons I’ve come to appreciate the series. However, traditional Assassin’s Creed fans who crave for their stealth gameplay and actually assassinating an enemy will also get their satisfaction in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

Valhalla, takes you on a journey as a Viking as you play as Eivor, a Norse Viking that can be Male or Female or as the game wants you to play, both. Eivor follows the hero’s journey where you follow your brother, Sigurd as you start the game to exact revenge.

A Saga for the Dark Ages

This journey sees our protagonist travel from Norway through Dark Age England in what I can easily say is the most beautiful Assassin’s Creed story you’ll play. You’ll encounter, the Danish, the Norse and the English across England’s main four kingdoms, Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex and East Anglia.

Like all Assassin’s Creed storylines, Valhalla also follows the game’s overarching Assassin’s Vs Templar Plotline that we’ve seen from the first game and Valhalla does a lot to further this story which I cannot say without spoiling a few things. Just that the game ends on such a cliff-hanger that will leave you wanting more and quite honestly make you excited where the story could go when it comes to real world protagonist, Layla who you play as she plays Eivor.

This is Ubisoft’s best technical showcase in an Assassin’s Creed game

I played this on the PC and Xbox Series X enjoying this in 4K 60 on the console and 2K 120 fps on the PC. Assassin’s Creed is stunning, bold and a good reason to pick up the Xbox Series X right now. You’ll be spending easily over 20-30 hours to get everything done and that’s not counting the main story. The sound and environments are rich and stimulating to the senses, whether you’re walking on crushed snow or waving your axe to break an enemy’s shield, a lot of effort has gone into the modelling, voice acting and facial animations, though some bugs do appear but are at a minimum.

Cast any doubt if you think that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be going through an action adventure route. The overall atmosphere is dark, some quests are brutal and it will remind you that you’re fighting for survival, whatever the cost. There are also some choices you’ll have to make that will twist your moral fabric so you’ll not really be too sure if you picked the right choice, much like real life.

There’s a fair bit of gameplay that involves base building, improving the lives of your clan and deepening your relationship with Eivor as the character. Valhalla gives plenty of storytelling opportunities in this regard. As you build your settlement, you’ll gain access to new weapons, upgrades and further quests to level up your character. You’ll also have to defend it from various factions which make for a great gameplay loop. Which brings me to the next game mechanic I really enjoyed, Raiding.

You are a Viking after all and while a lot will question that this goes against the morals of being an Assassin, they’ve made it work. Resources are scarce and you’ll need to pillage your not so friendly neighbours to get what you need to survive and progress, you can do this while travelling on your longship and when you reach your destination, the game gives this great feeling of allowing you to blow your horn and start the battle. I’ve enjoyed doing this repeatedly and it never got old for me.

If you do want to be a stealth player, Ubisoft has provided the option of a guaranteed assassination that will one shot your enemies, no matter how levelled they are. This mechanic allows you to play the game as it was done traditionally. There’s a caveat to this however as Ubisoft will say that it is not the way the game was meant to be played and some missions will become ridiculously easy.  

Do as the Vikings do

The game allows you to play the way you want, how you want it. You can wield two shields, two axes or swords, whatever weapon of choice combination you want, you can try it. The other thing this game solves as compared to the previous games is that you can level up your gear and the looks of it as you go and you won’t be finding yourself carrying a sack full of weapons you’ll probably never use. The skill tree also lets you upgrade talents that you can acquire over time and some through exploration which is quite a time sink if you’re going down that path.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a fantastic new direction that streamlines the RPG direction from the previous games while adding new mechanics that relate to the story well. Ubisoft have delivered a gift for those asking to play as the Vikings. It’s bold and beautiful and delivers excellent storytelling as you walk down the path of adventure, the thrill of battle, betrayal and loss as the Vikings did. It’s definitely an experience that you shouldn’t miss on especially if you love the series.