• Kayne

Three things I Loved Three I Didn't Assassin's Creed Valhalla

For anyone out there who is still thinking about picking up Ubisoft's newest addition to the Assassin's Creed franchise, I've compiled a short list of things I absolutely loved about the new game....and three things I didn't. To be clear, I left bugs off this list since I didn't really encounter too many that broke the game, although I've seen reports of some pretty nasty ones.


This isn't a full review where I assign some kind of score, since I feel like can sometimes mischaracterize the overall impression of a game (fun doesn't necessarily equate to a high score)

Instead, I want to talk about the aspects of the game that stood out to me the most. I also included a few short impressions at the end that should give an idea of whether or not I think you should take the time to try it out.

*Blows raiding horn*




Loved

Abilities

I seriously cannot get enough of the new tricks our assassin has at his/her disposal. There are a few reruns, like the fire and poison strikes that coat the with the effect of your choice. But there are a few moves that truly bring the game to life. My two favorites right now are the Rage of Helheim and Harpoon. The first has Eivor tackling the enemy and basically pulling a Brad Pitt from Fight Club on any poor Saxon or Dane that's on the other end. The leveled up versions even add a bad ass finishing move to quickly dispatch the target.



No joke, these abilities are fun as hell. The way in which you unlock each one was also reimagined, since you have to explore the world and discover book of knowledge to uncover each move, while some of the more passive ones are achieved through the skill tree. Speaking of the skill tree....



Didn't

The skill tree

Yeah I'm definitely not crazy about this one. While I appreciate the attempt to try something new, I have never been a fan of skill trees that simply add +2 to *insert cliche gaming attribute here*. Nearly every unlockable trait is just a minor increase to one of your main attributes, with pretty much zero indication of how much an increase actually does (seriously what the hell does +2 stealth even mean?). These kind of systems always seem to get in the way of my overall experience, since even though I know I should be paying more attention to the attributes and what they do, I really just use my two skill points in whatever pops up first or whichever play style I'm currently using. There could totally be an explanation, chart or something in the game but I'm not really up for hunting it down.


That's not to say it's a total flop. There's a center node to each group of stat increases that can sometimes include a pretty rad ability (I'm looking at you missile reversal). These were fun to work towards, but it's stuff like the ambiguous stat increases that makes leveling up feel mostly just lame and annoying. Thankfully, there's more than one way to upgrade your viking. I also didn't mind that a lot of the tree is hidden behind a fog until you level up enough. One more pro, I love being able to reset your entire skill tree at any moment.


Loved

Gear

Ok so this is actually a love-hate thing. I love that you can upgrade your gear through the blacksmith and within your inventory menu. The fact that you can take your very first weapon all the way through the game is pretty awesome, not to mention each blacksmith upgrade also changes appearance for most items.


On an aesthetic note, most of the outfits look absolutely incredible. Kudos to the team behind the designs because they are some of my favorite since AC Black Flag. Especially on the PS5, the armor shines, fur bristles in the wind, details on the weapon handles and blades are mind blowing. These sets really are works of art.






Didn't

Gear

So for the not so great part. What I hate about the gear is probably more of a superficial problem...but still. Maybe it's just more frustrating? You see, I am always running into situations where the gear I think looks sick as hell comes with attributes that don't align with my preferred play style. Want to look like a viking with a classic AC spin? There's gear for that, but you better not run head first into a sword fight because you have +5 stealth where you probably needed +5 attack or whatever the other things are. Ok so that might be an exaggeration, but you get my point.


Loved

Exploration

I do not envy the task of any open world game developer. Make a world that's big, but not bloated, fun but not repetitive, dynamic AND beautiful. Few games nailed it.Red Dead Redemption 2 and Skyrim immediately come to mind, and while I'm not ready to say Valhalla rises to the standard set by those two games it certainly comes damn close. You've probably heard about Axe head, but there are tons of mini side quests, some lasting only a few minutes, that sold this game for me. From helping a family reign in their insane father who was stuck in perpetual war to a trippy sequence with an elk, moments like this helped build the world around me in a way I've only seen happen a few other times in a game. Plus the feeling I got every single time I synchronized with a viewpoint? Damn.


Whoa


Didn't

Runes

Yeah, I just don't get it. Maybe there's a secret guide that I was supposed to follow, some kind of lexicon to decipher all the different stat boosts, names and types but I never found it. Nor did I care to find it. That's the problem with systems like this, they aren't fun. At least for me, I don't enjoy tedious inventory management. I seriously can't think of a single game where this type of feature worked. I'm not sure how you can fix it, inventories are basically a landmark of videogames, but I've never been happy with combining, deconstructing or worrying about all the different kinds of currency.


Lame



Final Impression

Play it!

I have had a blast playing this game. My complaints are minor, especially compared to other AC games, and I've already sunk several days into my viking adventure. Here's a summary of my overall experience.


Photomode: Meh. No light mode, depth of field is glitchy, and the exposure setting can quickly blow out any image.

Story: Incredible

Gameplay: Fun as hell.

Side Content quality: great world building mini stories

Side Content quantity: tons of distractions

Animations: Awesome combat, so-so facial animations

Graphics: amazing. Aside from some non-game breaking bugs this game is gorgeous.

Music: Second favorite AC soundtrack behind Black Flag

Voice Acting: mostly superb

Replayability: so much to do for the first round I'm not sure if I'll ever get to replay it


Noticed anything I missed? Have impressions of your own you would like to share? Reach out on the platform of your choice!


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