Assassin’s Creed: Vahalla isn’t about the Nordic Gods but about the people brought their tales to life. It shows that there’s a fine line between Gods & men and how sometimes this can become blurry and interchangeable.
To start things off, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feels like a competitive RPG that provokes you to explore the vast lands of Norway and England. As you explore, you will start to discover the secrets of the world and the enigmatic local legends.
Each region is different in a way that looks more than just being a change in aesthetics ranging from a variety of clothes and people. But there’s a difference of culture as well and this shines brightest when you first make your way across to England. The game has a ton to offer when it comes to content and there’s never a dull moment. The closer you look at core game elements, the more it helps to discover new things. There’s endless potential for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and everything seems to hit the mark.
The best thing that you can say about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is that it completely ignores Ubisoft’s tried and tested formulaic success approach. The game dares to express and in that you see the art come to life. Playing this game took me back to my very first Assassin’s Creed memory where I was submerged in this new world.
Assassin’s Creed, gladly, pays homage to its predecessors. Small details and mechanics are hidden to honor the legends of Assassins Creed. Valhalla is Ubisoft’s attempt at culminating all of those ideas and making an art piece strong enough to stand on its own. With some hiccups and bumps, we begin our journey of Valhalla, exploring the ins-and-outs of this game. In the end, we all decide together if the Vikings succeeded to make their place in the hearts of gamers or there’s still some unfinished business.
Story: A Chink In the Armor
Your story starts off right from Eivor’s childhood, which deepens the connection between the protagonist and the player. Every character that you share a bond with will hold themselves to their word and expect the same from you. From a young lost prince to a ruthless warrior there is a lot that shapes the characters and later the true journey of Valhalla begins. All these things are character’s development arcs, from the name that you are given to the status you grow into.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla perfectly executes the Viking story, but adds elements that will constantly take you back and forth through different timelines.
Right from the start, you get to see the world through the eyes of one of the fiercest Viking that has ever walked the earth but what made Eivor special is the fact that he could ascend to Asgard and come back to earth.
While the Viking adventure seems never-ending, there’s a narrative outside the Animus that connects all of the games together and seeing how Valhalla ties things from every game bringing an element from each title. Animus and the present-day story will have you piecing the puzzle together for the full reveal at the end.
By having to bring everything together in one game Ubisoft’s efforts have been marvelous but this overwhelms at times and can be a bit distracting.
Gameplay: Virtuous Oddity
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is defined very much by the tale it has to tell and yet will have you indulged heavily by constantly delivering a variety of tasks to keep you occupied with a sense of optimism.
Action – Archaic Crude And Violent; Befitting A Viking
There are a lot of people that you will have to kill and while the main story isn’t as big as everything around it, every action feels deliberate and pushes the narrative ahead.
The core gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the same – you get to express all of your Assassin abilities but it doesn’t stop there. There’s also an expression of thought in the violence of the game that will take you back to the stories of the Viking raiders and their adventures.
While the game does not subject you to the brutal climate and hardships of sea voyage the Vikings were known for. You get to see the strength of their might in full force. Each weapon is crafted to kill and the small indentations and marks on the hilt of the weapon will give you a look into what the individual treasures the most.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has two striking and yet opposing gameplay style in full force, you can use your wits and outsmart your opponents with your Assassin’s trademark stealth. Or you can just run at full speed towards your opponents, often scaring them away from the battlefield to gain victory.
For the first time, we get to see Settlements being brought into the game and while most of it is basic and comparable to other games, there’s more to it than just upgrading different buildings and sustaining them. There are a lot of people that you will have to kill and while the main story isn’t as big as everything around it, every action feels deliberate and pushes the narrative ahead.
Settlements – A Remembrance of The Culture Left Behind
At your settlement, you will come across different NPCs, and along with them come tales from lands far and beyond. It feels like being at the center of a raconteur fair and each person has so much to add to the story. The settlement was smartly implemented in RDR2, a camp of bandits filled with intriguing characters, each has a parked mission. Adding that element to Valhalla makes the game more interesting. You can focus on playing main missions or else take a break, groom your character, train your horse, prep up for your next battle.
Other than that, exploration will often get you to come across interesting characters in the game, these characters add to the flair instead of being just a distraction. They will have quests, treasures, and stories that can fill your heart with wonder and fulfillment.
Raids – Pillaging and Invasion seems second nature
Raids can often take center stage of your experience in the game.
The battles in the game are hard and each victory will feel earned once you keep rising the power ratings in the game. Raiding will allow you to get to the Nordic instinct of pillaging and looting and will offer you the chance to bring back the loot and upgrade your own settlement.
Raids can often take center stage of your experience in the game. Nowhere else do you get the urge to clean off a place of its inhabitants and wipe them off the face of the earth with your axe. Approaching these said raids is completely up to you, there’s freedom in this game that has lacked in earlier titles and I was so excited for it.
To begin with, I wasn’t that hopeful and honestly thought that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla would just bring things over from For Honor and rebrand it but never have I been so gladly wrong. There’s a personality to this game that stands apart from the rest.
Grind: Endless Cycle Made Fun
I didn’t think it would ever be possible, but Assassin’s Creed Valhalla somehow made grind fun, there are a lot of hidden treasures buried in the game and most of the gameplay is focused on you getting loot. Never before has this thing felt so light yet persuasive enough that you’d spend hours repeating the same thing over and over again without making it feel so.
This is largely due to the fact that the game has so much and it never gets tiring. You’d easily strain your eyes out by spending 10+ hours in the game and it will still feel like a moment has passed as you’ll be so engrossed in the game.
Graphics: A Royal Feast For The Eyes
From the icy hills of the Nordic lands to the tamer environments of Mercia, you will come across different areas with different settings. Even the sunlight differs from one place to another.
This is where Ubisoft excels and has maintained its level as one of the top developers over decades and the same can be seen in this game. The characters look sharp and their tattoos tell more about the characters than they often do.
Each weapon has a personality embedded in it. This often goes unlooked in a fast action-packed game like this, but even in those moments a glimmer or a shine of the blade of your weapon will catch your attention for a split second.
There are lots of games on Vikings already so Assassin’s Creed Valhalla needed to come up with something that would help it stand apart visually. Here’s where the game makes use of its greatest ability, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was made with the next-gen console in mind and this allows the game to push boundaries like never before.
You can even count the blades of the grass as each detail is given attention to and how different elements react to fire, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a battle between fire and ice and both of these elements are the biggest elements that you will get to see in the game.
From the icy hills of the Nordic lands to the tamer environments of Mercia, you will come across different areas with different settings. Even the sunlight differs from one place to another. Swamp infested areas have cool green hues that provide comfort to your eyes while the icy chills of the mountains will blast your eyes with bright white light all the time.
These sensations help to understand the situation the player is in and plays a huge role to convey the feel of the game. While the game and everything around it was amazing, it does take a toll on your system.
Performance: Smooth Sailing
But while the game’s climate can be taken into consideration the performance of the game. We tested the game with Nvidia’s 2070 Ti + Ryzen 5 and it was smooth to the extent we went greedy and played Valhalla for over 10+ hours non-stop. Things got heated up so much that we had to turn off the PC for a while.
While the game barely suffers from any blemishes or issues, Valhalla delivered us a stable FPS performance between 70 to 100 as RTX 2070 card was able to handle each and every texture.
Background Music: Calmness in a storm
Together what comes to life is the perfect blend of stillness and war cries.
How do you make music for a game that at times can bring the pacing of the game to a walking speed and at the next moment set you up for a Raid or a boss battle? You hire Einar Selvik and then pair him up with Jesper Kyd and Sarah Schachner.
Together what comes to life is the perfect blend of stillness and war cries. The songs that you hear in your ships on the way to war will charge you up with an appetite for blood while the serene landscapes of Mercia will often time make you stay watching the sunset.
The sounds of the game do a lot of the heavy lifting but it’s not compensating for another element, it helps to set the mood and pacing of the action and what you’re about to experience. Every character sounds different when they’re in different locations. The conversations echo in the longhouse and during wars, screams can have as little sounds like a whisper as you cut through your enemies.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla renewed my faith in the series once again and brought all the elements that I loved back while giving an experience befitting a tale etched in the mountains of Valhalla. It feels like a never-ending Odyssey at times that will have you search for each treasure and make grinding elements seem more fun and interactive.
Never before has an Assassin’s Creed game in the series perfected the basics and hit every note. This game proves as a reminder that if you just get the basics right there’s greatness that you can piece together.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla may just be the perfect game that you should take over from the current-gen consoles over to the next-gen just to see how much more this game has to offer. It is a love letter to past games in the series while spearheading us into the future setting, benchmarks that should not only give Ubisoft but every other developer to try and create something better.