Another holiday season arrives and with it another Assassin’s Creed game. This is the 12th game in the series if you don’t count the smaller handheld/mobile games. So it’s safe to say that there may be some fatigue setting in with this franchise, but this latest iteration has one major thing going for it, the Viking era it’s set in.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla starts of incredibly slowly, like most of the games you appear to do some very menial tasks in initially and the game purposefully slows you down. This is a bit jarring when all we’ve heard about the next generation consoles is that everything loads super-quick so we don’t need things like this. However, because this is a cross generation and cross platform game, it comes as no surprise that it’s had to be developed for that lowest common denominator.
The story continues from the previous game, and the main protagonist is Layla Hassan in the real world, but you play as Eivor the Viking when she gets into the Animus. The outer world is still not the best, and there are times where you do think “is this part even needed?” The reason for that is because the Viking-era game is far more interesting, and Eivor is a much more interesting character. Unusually you can choose Eivor’s gender in the game, so I stuck with male simply because his name reminded me of Ivar in the Vikings series.
Eivor and his adopted brother Sigurd are leaders of the Raven Clan, Sigurd decides to relocate to England which causes Eivor to follow. Once they realise that there are several wars happening within the land, Sigurd decides to make peace with each of Englad’s kingdoms. Eivor is left behind to look over the settlement, but is at times called by Sigurd for help to do certain tasks. When you speak to Sigurd’s wife, Randvi, she will give you options to do different tasks, and this will kick off a short story arc. Once that is done, you can continue and do other story arcs.
This way of telling the story is actually quite refreshing, because the game is extremely long. It means you at least get some closure from certain parts of the game, and whilst each arc has its own story, there are elements that tie them together loosely. Each arc tends to introduce new characters as well, so if you do find a certain character annoying, it’s unlikely you’ll see them after that arc has ended. This does however mean that character development is a little rushed for almost all of the supporting NPCs.
Eivor on the other hand is a great character, and there’s a really good story within Valhalla for him. Which is good considering you could easily sink 100 hours into this Assassin’s Creed without breaking a sweat, so having an interesting protagonist is important. The biggest issue with how long the game is, is that it takes a long time for you to really get into it, roughly 12-15 hours. That’s probably been the problem for every Assassin’s Creed game since Assassin’s Creed 3, and it’s still an issue now. There are some very memorable arcs and overall the pacing is good, but the beginning of the story is very slow and focused along a few specific things you can do. Once you get past a certain point, things open up and you have more choice on where you can go and what you can do. I can’t help but think this is intentional, perhaps because many people have in the past complained that there is too much to do initially and no focus.
Environment traversal is just as fun in Valhalla as it is in previous games, which is a surprise considering there weren’t many tall structures in the 9th Century. With that said, the developers have done well create large natural structures you can climb, such as the new synchronisation points which are essentially giant rock faces. Combat is also quite fun, and you can earn skill points and invest these in further skills depending on how you want to play the game. These are essentially; stealth, melee and ranged skills. I’ve never been a fan of the sailing in any of the Assassin’s Creed games, but for those that are, sailing is still a thing because you’re a Viking!
Graphically, this game looks great on a PS5, especially the outside environment. Character models aren’t great, and although the main characters do still look decent, I expected more for a PS5 game. Audio quality has been discussed around the internet regarding Valhalla, but I didn’t notice it to be any better or worse than other games in the series. One thing that is very disappointing is that Valhalla doesn’t take advantage of the DualSense controller’s more unique features.
One of the biggest comparisons that kept coming to mind whilst playing Valhalla is with the Vikings TV series. Eivor isn’t as exciting as Ragnar, but there are a lot of elements, right from the get-go that will remind you of him in this game. So if you are a Vikings fan, you’ll definitely have fun with Valhalla and in terms of value for money, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is up there.
- Replay Value