Also On: PS4, PC, Xbox Series X, PS5
At this point, I don?t think I could even come close to guessing how many Assassin?s Creed releases there have been, but I think it?s pretty impressive that this franchise still manages to be solid, if not downright great on occasion, with each successive entry. There are a couple of duds, sure, but Ubisoft?s track record with Assassin?s Creed is fairly solid overall. The last two mainline entries, Assassin?s Creed Origins and Assassin?s Creed Odyssey were both really fun, and managed to even push the series forward a bit with combat and other mechanics.
The newest release being reviewed here, Assassin?s Creed Valhalla, is very much in line with those two titles. You might say it?s a little less inventive than the previous two, there?s very little in the way of in-game mechanics or features that help differentiate Valhalla from Origins and Odyssey outside of the setting and side activities. But that doesn?t mean that Valhalla is bad by any means, just a tad bit safe heading into a new console generation.
While the early Assassin?s Creed entries were at least somewhat focused on stealth, Valhalla, much like Origins and Odyssey, is more of a general open-world action game. Stealth is certainly an option but rarely feels necessary, as your Viking protagonist Eivor is more than capable of handling themselves in most encounters. In fact, I would argue that stealth is even less important this time out, considering one of the few new mechanics introduced here is one that allows you to lead raiding missions on small towns and villages.
When exploring the expansive map of Assassin?s Creed Valhalla, Eivor can command a longboat filled with fellow Norsemen and Norsewomen, drifting up and down the rivers and waterways of England and Norway. There will be towns highlighted on the map as prime raiding spots, useful for gathering supplies that can be brought back to your hub and used to expand and create new structures that open up additional shops, NPC?s, quest lines, and more. When the raid begins, everyone from the boat will unload and pour into the city screaming, eliminating any chance of stealth, and pitting you against a horde of soldiers and defenders. It?s actually a fun mechanic, but also a bit repetitive after you?ve gone through the motion a handful of times.
Outside of raiding, a lot of Assassins Creed Valhalla is similar to the prior games. Eivor can climb virtually any structure, combat consists of light and heavy attacks with the ability to block or parry depending on equipment, and the map has a number of little secrets and items to collect. The environments in Valhalla are lovingly rendered, both for the England map and Norway, which isn?t a huge surprise for the series but it?s still worth pointing out that Assassins Creed has some of the best in-game vistas around.
Eivor will gain experience for completing quests, killing enemies, looting chests, and uncovering new areas while exploring. There?s no traditional level per se, just an overall power level, which ties into the map like the previous two games. Each area of the map will show a suggested power level, but you can also freely explore regardless of your current level. The biggest danger will generally come from elite enemies or the named members of the Order you?ll be tasked with killing throughout. There is a sort of leveling up to the experience despite no traditional character level, and upon doing so Eivor will gain skill points. The skill trees are divided up into stealth, ranged, and melee, and are honestly pretty expansive. Unfortunately, a lot of the skill tree is obscured until you start progressing through it, which limits your ability to know what stat increases or abilities you?re chasing after.
Side activities are varied in Assassin?s Creed Valhalla but again can start to get somewhat repetitive as you progress forward through the main story. Out of the optional activities, my favorites were always the small little side quests you?d occasionally encounter. These are pretty short and don?t involve much, but they?re also unique from one another and often times the brightest point of humor in the game. I?d say they are all worth seeking out, making map exploration feel worthwhile.
I?ve also really enjoyed the main story. I have virtually no working knowledge of this bit of history, other than agreeing that Vikings seem pretty cool, and I dig all their little dialogue traits, hard party attitude, and general badassery. And all of that is certainly present in Valhalla. The overall arc of the game (minus the Animus stuff which is still a thing) is pretty entertaining, and generally well written and acted.
I?ve played through the game on an Xbox One X for this review and have found the game to be technically sound throughout. Outside of some minimal screen tearing here and there, I?ve not seen much to complain about. You?ll run into occasional pathfinding bugs with NPC?s, which isn?t uncommon with open-world games, but I never encountered anything that felt game-breaking.
If you?re in the mood for another open-world action game, Assassin?s Creed Valhalla is a fine choice. It is a little too similar in aspects to the last two games, making this feel like the point where Ubisoft may want to consider re-evaluating the series once again, but the settings, characters, and overall world are enough to overlook most of the repetitiveness. So provided you don?t have open-world burnout from the other like-minded games that released this year, I think Valhalla is certainly worth checking out.
Note: Ubisoft provided us with an Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Xbox One code for review purposes.