Warning: May contain mild spoilers for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.
I finally finished Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (hereon AC: Valhalla, or just Valhalla) last night. I say finished – what I mean is I have completed all branches of the main narrative storyline: Norway, England, Asgard, Jotunheim, and the recently released Final Chapter update. Although I own and have played most of them, I’ve not completed all of the optional content and DLC packs. I might do so one day but for now I’m not in a rush to get back to the game.
So… Let’s get one thing out of the way first: AC: Valhalla is a good game. I’ve played roughly 110 hours of it, so it must have had something going for it…
It’s just that Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey was a much more fulfilling and enjoyable game – for me – on just about every level. Kassandra (I didn’t play as the brother, whatever his name is) was a much more “connectable” character than Eivor, and I found the story and setting of Odyssey more engaging. Combat was also more enjoyable and more varied, I found. The fact it also got me to sink days into the naval combat element, despite initially wanting to avoid it like the plague says something. I’ve put 150+ hours into Odyssey, and there’s still stuff I want to do in that game (when I eventually find time to get back to it).
One of the complaints about Odyssey I’d heard is that Kassandra was a “Mary Sue” character. I personally didn’t really get that from Kassandra, but Eivor gave me that feeling by the bucket load. No where was this more pronounced than in the optional Isle of Skye chapter where the two characters come face-to-face. Some of it can be put down to Eivor’s bravado and brashness, but a lot comes across as just Eivor is, well, The Chosen One™️. (Although I guess The High One would be more appropriate…)
So what did I like about Valhalla then? Well, the overall story was interesting, if you’ve been mildly paying attention to the meta-plot of the Assassin’s Creed games (if you haven’t, then you may not enjoy it as much). I do wish they had spent more time on some elements, less on others, and some elements seemed to come out of nowhere – more than once I felt like I’d missed some thread that explained why a thing was happening, or a character was doing what they did. But I digress. A lot of the character interactions were genuinely heart-warming, and you got a real sense of a “found family” feeling between the various inhabitants of Ravensthorpe. The setting was interesting – I enjoyed Dark Ages England overall, and each region felt just distinct enough to the others… but it didn’t feel there was as much to accidentally discover as there was in Ancient Greece. Combat was fine, if a little repetitive, and stealth gameplay didn’t always feel as viable as going full jomsviking – particularly in the early game. After a bit of progression, Eivor becomes a walking paragon of death-dealing and it doesn’t really matter how you play – you’re unlikely to die, and enemies very much will. It’s fun, in a power-fantasy way, but can get old.
One thing that came out of playing Valhalla was that I really wanted to get some fantasy Viking and Saxon miniatures to paint up. By “fantasy” I basically mean stylised and not historically accurate. But I haven’t been able to find a range that quite matches what I’m looking for, so that project is on hold for now.
It might seem like I’m negative on Valhalla, but like I said a couple of paragraphs ago, it is a good game. I think my problem is I had high hopes and expectations after Odyssey that it might be a great game, and it didn’t meet that threshold. But that’s on me, not Valhalla. If I hadn’t come into it without a game to compare to, I might have loved Valhalla more.
But – it has got me interested enough in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Mirage, that I’m definitely going to pick that game up. Basim was one of the highlights of Valhalla, so I’m looking forward to exploring both his back-story, in a return to more traditional Assassin’s Creed gameplay than the RPG-lite recent games, and hopefully find out a bit more of where he’s going in the future.